Face it - everyone flocks to Italy to see its most iconic cities, like historic Rome with its significant world history, and Venice with its unique canals and vibrant culture. But beautiful and bucket list-worthy they may be, they easily get overcrowded - particularly during summer and peak holiday times.
However, Italophiles who've already explored this charming European nation's most famous tourist traps will be in their element when venturing off to discover its lesser-known destinations. Thus, to Italy-bound travelers in search of history, culture, food, and beauty without the crowds, these lesser-visited, underrated Italian cities and towns should be more than alluring.
10 Alberobello, Puglia
Located near the city of Bari, Alberobello is a gorgeous little town that looks like something out of a fantasy fairy tale show. It's home to the Trulli, which are unique white buildings shaped like cones, making for some extraordinary photography. Because of the one-of-a-kind nature of these buildings, the town's narrow streets are utterly postcard-pretty and are also lined with quaint shops and traditional piazzas. For further photogenic scenes, there's also a beauteous belvedere where stunning panoramas of the town can be taken in. Overall, with so much beauty in one small place, it's no surprise that Alberobello has been awarded the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
9 Bergamo, Lombardy
The town of Bergamo in Lombardy can give Milan a run for its money. Most tourists never even think about this attractive town and are instead lured to the region's capital city. However, travelers who give this walled urban center a chance will be enchanted by its beauty; think cobblestone streets, old palaces, historic architecture, and traditional shops all within one small scenic spot.
8 Sperlonga, Lazio Natural
Skip the capital and its overbearing crowds and venture to Sperlonga - one of the most magical seaside villages in all of Italy. This hidden jewel is a real treat for discerning travelers looking for a unique Italian vacation, where old palaces, floral gardens, picture-perfect beaches, and a fascinating archaeological museum offer exactly that.
7 Bologna, Emilia-Romagna
Bologna is a trendy student hub that's home to the oldest university in all of Europe. It attracts the hip, cool, and young for that reason, but it's also popular amongst Italian cuisine aficionados. As one of Italy's food capitals, Bologna is a must for anyone who appreciates Italian delicacies, boasting a prolific restaurant scene where dishes are made fresh by with local produce. Particular favorites to taste during a visit to the town are lasagne and tortellini, which according to both locals and tourists alike, are exceptional Bologna treats.
6 Bolzano, Alto Adige
If medieval castles and sprawling vineyards sound divine, then head to the delightful bilingual town of Bolzano in Alto Adige. The town's official languages are both Italian and German and to the German-speaking population, it's known as "Bozen." What makes Bolzano so special, though, aside from its castles and landscapes decorated by grapevines, is its idyllic location near the Dolomite Mountains, which make for incredible views of dramatic peaks and glistening alpine lakes.
5 Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche
Just to the east of Umbria is a secret town tucked away from the tourist trail. Ascoli Piceno is situated in Le Marche, which is one of Italy's most underrated regions often brushed aside in favor of glossier touristic hotspots. It offers everything from picturesque hamlets and jaw-dropping landscapes, to medieval buildings and lovely beaches bathed by turquoise waters - so it bewilders why it doesn't get the attention it deserves. And as another plus, the town is also enticingly close to Monti Sibillini National Park - home to stupendous mountains, sensational hiking trails, and a wealth of wildlife to discover.
4 Treviso, Veneto
Want to visit Venice without the crowds? Then consider Treviso - a beautiful historical "mini Venice" with old canals that connect the town's piazzas, buildings, and gardens. There's also a photography-worthy walled center peppered with palaces, cobblestone streets, and stunning medieval churches.
3 Verona, Veneto
Literary and theatre fans might just foam at the mouth at this one. Verona is one of the most romantic, or rather tragic cities in Italy. Why? It's the famous setting for William Shakespeare’s iconic Romeo and Juliet story. Shakespearean fans in particular will relish a visit to the stunning 14th-century palace, which features the world-famous play's notable balcony. Plus, there's real history to be enjoyed at the glamorous Roman amphitheater, where opera performances often take place during the summer season.
2 Tropea, Calabria
This enchanting hidden gem in Italy's south is often skipped by tourists - the reasons for which truly elude anyone who's lucky enough to set foot in the place. The old-world town's beauty appeals to the intrepid traveler, who seeks to indulge in Italy's off-the-beaten-track spots that offer an attractive mix of beaches, pretty architecture, and history.
Even Tropea's picturesque buildings alone are more than enough for an Instagram reel, and when combined with its hearty restaurants, sandy beaches, and impossibly blue ocean, the town is an ideal all-rounder for spending a few days, or even a whole vacation since it's so difficult to leave.
1 Cefalù, Sicily
It's well known that Sicily is among the most breathtaking islands in the Mediterranean, and undoubtedly, Cefalù takes the trophy as the island's most beautiful spot. It's a remarkable medieval city full of history and culture, where historic churches, pretty piazzas, and a gorgeous oceanfront promenade invite travelers to experience a unique Italian seaside getaway far from the hoards of tourists.