These most scenic villages of Italy are underrated but totally worth adding to your bucket list. They include charming towns and rural villages with possibly the most magical backdrops you’ll ever witness and photograph on your travels. Italy has no shortage of picture postcard spots, but we’ve narrowed these down to idyllic villages and communes that truly stand out. If you are planning on visiting the famous Amalfi Coast, here is a list of 5 Things to know before Visiting the Amalfi Coast and if you need help planning your road-trip, here is my itinerary to Spending 48 hours on the Amalfi Coast.
To discover Italy’s most beautiful places, you might need to put some extra effort and time into your travel plans. Some are on far-flung islands, hidden bays and scenic clifftops, while others are inland on some of Italy’s highland plateaus. Ultimately, each will reward you with an amazing prize view. Choose your prize from our compilation below:
A Colourful fishing village on a rocky cliff – Manarola is among the oldest and most popular towns in the Ligurian Cinque Terre coastal region. Its stacks and blocks of 12th-century houses in different pastel colours look over the tiny bay from the top of the rocky cliff. You can walk down to the bay to enjoy the closer view, and even enjoy a host of recreational activities such as boating or swimming in the beautiful blue waters. Follow the footpath along the adjacent cliff west from the bay and you’ll find the best viewpoint overlooking the whole town – magical both by day and night. Location: Riomaggiore, La Spezia, Liguria, Italy
The port of dolphins – This fishing village dates to Ancient Roman times and its name means the “Port of Dolphins” thanks to the many sea mammals that visit the bay. Nowadays, its bay area is dotted with rows of fishing boats and regal superyachts gently bobbing over the calm waves, but it remains a scenic and quiet place to be. Overlooking the small bay is a quaint cobbled square lined with small cafés and restaurants, and the Chiesa di San Martino is high up on the green hillside, with its campanile towering over the port. Location: Genoa, Italy
City of stone – In the Basilicata, one of Italy’s driest regions, Matera stands out as a medieval “stone city” – aptly nicknamed “Sassi” (‘stones’ in Italian). It’s picturesque from afar, with a series of stone buildings carved out of the rocky mountain. From up close, as you walk along the stone paths and stairways that connect one level to another, you may come across stone towers – they’re actually chimneys of houses that are underneath your feet! While beautiful, this is a barren city. Living conditions were poor and it was finally evacuated in 1952. Location: Basilicata, Italy
Beautiful village carved into the mountain – Castelmezzano is one of Italy’s most unique ancient villages, with most of its building and interconnecting pathways fused into the mountain’s contours and rocky terrain. The village is in the region of Basilicata, around a 2-hour drive east from Naples, among the jagged peaks of the Lucanian Dolomites. The rocky features make up its scenic backdrop, best viewed on your drives towards the rural area. After exploring the small town, consider enjoying the view from up high on the Angel Flight – an exhilarating zipline ride over the rugged valley, between Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa. Location: Potenza, Italy
One of the jewels of the Amalfi Coast – As one of the most dramatic communes along the Amalfi Coast, Positano is worth the combined train and bus trip from Naples. Admire the breathtaking sight of the village’s colourful houses perched over the cliffs. Down below, you’ll find a pebbly coast with steep and narrow paths, where you can choose a spot at any of the cafés for a drink with the view. Positano inspired and won the hearts of many, including top celebrities, such as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Location: Salerno, Amalfi Coast, Italy
One of Cinque Terre’s quaintest towns – As one of the most popular seaside towns of the five Cinque Terre, Vernazza charms with its beautiful setting of colourful houses clustered together overlooking the quaint harbour. Cobbled lanes lead you up to an adjacent hillside, from where you can look down to the prize view of the harbour town. Pathways such as Via Roma are lined with small cafés where you can sip a cappuccino with the view, and which easily lead you to main points by the sea such as Piazza Marconi. Location: Cinque Terre, Italy
Gorgeous lakeside town – Bellagio is a lakeside town on Lake Como that combines the classical and contemporary. Modern 5-star resorts and facilities are set beside quaint harbourfront promenades that are lined with cafés and fashionable clothing and jewellery boutiques. A series of sharp and abrupt steps wind through cobblestoned lanes, along which you can reach some of the town’s special landmarks. These include the Romanesque San Giacomo Church and the gorgeous 18th-century Villa Serbelloni, which is a popular spot for enjoying scenic views over Lake Como. Location: Lake Como, Italy
Idyllic Italian island life – Corricella is the idyllic coastal village of Procida, a small island off the coast of Naples. You can take a walk along the promenades with the view over the marina constantly in view. The houses on the cliffside feature vivid colour schemes, adding to the village’s picturesque look. The Via Vittorio Emanuele is one of the town’s pleasantly uncrowded walking streets, lined with small shops and cafés. You can also roam winding and cobbled residential lanes, which lead you to some of Corricella’s landmarks like the Santa Margherita Monastery. Location: Procida, Italy
Ancient city under the Tuscan sun – A series of bell towers and buttresses rise over the medieval houses at the ancient hilltop town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. Soak up the vibes of this enchanting city from its triangular piazza, the bustling Piazza della Cisterna (named after a cistern or well that has served as the town’s centrepiece for centuries).
From here, you can check out some of the important landmarks built by the Knights of Malta, and roam the narrow streets lined with local vendors showcasing their best ornate porcelain-ware and ceramics. Location: Siena, Italy
A testament to the forces of nature – The breathtaking plateau around Castellucio has a hilltop village as the icing on the cake. The village overlooks the great flowing plains that are famous for its “fiorita” or midyear blooming (roughly from May to June). It’s when nature brings in dazzling colours over the highlands, with violets, wood sorrels, poppies and many other flowers. Ironically, the forces of nature also reduced the centuries-old village to rubble with a series of earthquakes. The damage is barely noticeable from a distance, but the town’s off-limits for safety reasons. The spectacular countryside remains a big draw, though. Location: Perugia, Italy
Where Italy meets the Alps – Como is the lakeside village on the southern end of namesake Lake Como, around an hour’s train ride from Milan. Far from the buzz of the city, Como is where you can take in the immersive beauty of the Alps, with elegant 19th-century villas and majestic church buildings like the Gothic Como Cathedral in the foreground. The lakeside promenade can be one of the most scenic walks you’ll ever have in Italy, and there’s the Como-Brunate funicular railway that’ll take the experience a notch higher. Location: Lake Como, Italy
Italy’s “Little Jerusalem” – Set on top of a stony cliff in Italy’s Tuscany region, the medieval town of Pitigliano is an amazing sight. Most of its buildings and towers were built using the same rock from the cliff. Pitigliano has a longstanding Jewish community, and among its main sights are a series of ancient caves carved into the cliffside, once believed to have served as reclusive synagogues during the times of Roman persecution. Check out the former Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Paolo, as well as the medieval Orsini Fortress. Location: Pitigliano, 58017 Province of Grosseto Italy
Civita di Bagnoregio
Amazing hilltop village – This charming village comprises a few ancient towering buildings set on top of a hill. From the ticket office in the Bagnoregio village, you’ll need to cross a pedestrian bridge to get to the hilltop Civita di Bagnoregio. Quaint brick lanes meander under 12th-century Etruscan archways, transporting you to another world as you go deeper into the village. Find the Romanesque San Donato Church with large ancient pillars in the middle of the piazza. Walkways throughout the village provides extraordinarily scenic walks overlooking the rolling hills. Location: Bagnoregio, central Italy
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