Italy is the European destination that no one can fail to like: the laid-back people, unbeatable cuisine, and historical architecture. A sunny, Mediterranean destination that millions flock to each year, Italy is perfect for solo travelers, families, and groups of friends alike.
Many of Italy’s cities are already well-known tourism hotspots. Milan and Naples are among these. While these are much loved for a reason, you may be looking for a quieter “hidden gems” kind of vibe. If so, here are some quieter cities we recommend checking out.
This city is known as “small Florence” and it happens to only be about one and a half hours from Florence itself. Siena is a hidden treasure that deserves to be better known. It’s an artsy place with an old medieval center named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
View the shell-shaped city square and the red roofs from above, climbing the 400 steps that run up Torre del Mangia Tower.
And don’t forget to see the marble-floored cathedral, graced by the artistic work of Michelangelo and Nicola Pisano.
Descend below and discover the underground labyrinth of aqueducts. They have been used to circulate water to the city fountains since the Middle Ages.
You’ll find Palermo in the toe of the boot of Italy. It is Sicily’s main city but it’s not too big and bustling, with a population of around 850,000.
Due to its southerly Mediterranean location, it may come as no surprise that Palermo is the “most conquered city in Europe”. The Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, Spaniards, and Bourbons have all left their mark on the city.
With so much history to explore, a walking tour could be the best way to be sure you haven’t left any stone unturned.
Stroll through the street markets, and marvel at the stunning Piazza Pretoria, Quattro Canti, and the Massimo Opera House. Enjoy some traditional Sicilian treats, such as ‘fruttini di Martorana’, a dainty, realistic-looking marzipan fruit.
This ancient city was virtually unheard of until it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It is one of the oldest cities in the world to still have a population, built by the Romans in 251 B.C. You’ll also find Neolithic caves that were occupied 7,000 years ago.
Known as the ‘City of Caves’, plenty is worth seeing here. In the 1950s, people called it the ‘Shame of Italy’. This was because of the poverty and disease, by-products of cave-dwelling. In the 50s and 60s, people started moving into new, modern homes elsewhere in the city.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t see your share of historical Matera caves today! You can even stay in a luxury underground cave hotel if you so choose.
This tiny walled city is rich in Rennaisance history. It is here that the famous artist Raphael was born, and you can now visit the museum at his birthplace.
Based on a hilltop, you’ll see some spectacular views. The Ducal Palace is one of those, standing watch on the skyline. In the heart of the city itself, you can admire the cathedral a your leisure.
Because the city isn’t too crowded with tourists, it’s not too hard to find hotel rooms and restaurants here with reasonable prices, either!
When you travel to some of Italy’s less well-known locations, you’ll see that the heritage and history of Italy are even richer than you thought! While some of the popular destinations are lovely, it is worth taking the time to discover the beauty of some of Italy’s quieter spots, too.