Beautiful golden Lucca’s city walls created by Leonardo Da Vinci? Or epic Matera? Syracuse’s star nights? Learn these secret and beautiful places to know.
Many think Rome, Venice, Florence, when they think of trips to Italy. But Italy has several cities that are a little more secret, but certainly as beautiful and exciting – just a little less known, and therefore a little less touristy!
See these five Italian beauties and try one of them next time you want on the weekend or getaway:
01. Bergamo – via Milan
This beautiful city is often overshadowed by the nearby Milan – but be careful with it, because Bergamo is a gem! The town sits on a hill near the foot of the Alps, close to Lake Iseo and the city is really two cities: In the historic Citta Alta you will find Venetian walls that encircle the picturesque Piazza Vecchia and Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, but further down in Citta Bassa – there is Bergamo a modern and vibrant city.
It is fun to drive with cable train that runs between the two boroughs. Are you looking for action or architecture? You are just a little bit way from some of the Alps’ best ski runs for both skis and snowboards in the winter and plenty of opportunities for hiking and trekking in the summer. Or relax in a cafe – there are plenty of cozy places to enjoy an espresso and watch the street life in Bergamo.
Ice cream lovers will shudder with delight if they try the cold delights at La Siesta on Via Sant’Allessandro. Another local delicacy is to sample the city’s famous “polenta e osei” cake that is decorated by skilled confectioners, so it looks as if the cake is the verge of a whole bunch of small marzipan birds.
02. Lucca – via Pisa
Turn modern life from and enjoy a medieval break in the Tuscan city of Lucca. The nearest airport is Pisa, from here Lucca just a 20-minute train journey away. Or you can rent a car you pick up when you land. Lucca’s charming surrounding walls designed by none other one Leonardo Da Vinci! See the fine view over the city’ and throughout the Tuscan countryside from the top of Guinigi Tower, or stroll around the atmospheric oval Piazza dell’ Anfiteatro where restaurants and cafes are like strings of pearls with outdoor seating and delicious Tuscan cuisine, including various pasta specialties and farro soup, thick soup made in the barley grain.
Lucca is also host to a large cartoon and computer games event every October / November, which attracts a large, internationally audience, participate in games demonstrations, lectures and concerts.
03. Montalcino – via Florence
Montalcino is tucked away on a Tuscan hilltop south of Siena, and the town is surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, the most beautiful hit a city can dream of having. You may not have heard as much about Montalcino, but the city has its own stars: This is where some of the world’s best grapes have his home, Brunello grape, which provides some of the world’s finest wines, delicate wines are exported to the world.
You can take a trip to one of the overwhelmingly beautiful wineries, taste wines, olive oils and enjoy a gourmet lunch at the winery. You can also make a stop in Sant’Antimo monastery on the road. At night the city a little mysterious, dimly lit alleyways filled with local connoisseurs (and a few tourists who found their way here) – all are in search of the taste bud-pampering portions of Tuscan delicacies, like polenta or roast wild boar with completely fresh tomato sauce.
In the morning you wake up tll a scent to warm pastries, and are hungry all over again. The easiest way to get to Montalcino is to fly to either Pisa or Florence and take the train – or rent a car and get on the trails in the area.
04. Siracusa – Via Catania
Here we are on the south-eastern Sicily, where the city of Syracuse is located on the coast, right on the sparkling Ionian sea. Syracuse is home to some of the friendliest people you will ever meet in Italy – but remember to always say Sicily here. The restaurants – many of which are right on the ocean’s edge – specialize in dishes such as frutta di mare (seafood) and pasta con sarde, a classic Sicilian seafood dinner.
But few first appetite by exploring the city’s ancient Greek – yes, Greek – Ruins at Neapolis Archaeological Park, an ancient city ruins and also the place you find the Greek Theater and the Roman amphitheater. Discover Siracusa secret piazzas and strange terraces, surrounded by charming houses, painted in bright pink or purple colors. On Sunday afternoons Piazza Santa filled with families enjoying a rest in the warm Sicilian sunshine.
This square is also the Cathedral (Duomo) built in honor of St. Lucia, the patron saint. Fly to Catania and take a bus directly to Siracusa from the airport.
05. Matera – via Bari
Matera resembles a movie set for an epic film with biblical theme – and the city has also just been the backdrop for movies such as “King David”, and Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ.” Matera is in the southern region of Basilicata and the city and its surroundings look like they still live in ancient times – the oldest part of town called Sassi, and is filled with 9,000 years old cave-dwellings.
Even the bread you get here in the region has their roots in the historical – it is made from durum wheat and is produced by ancient methods. Have a glass of wine this good bread, or try Matera’s own liqueur, rosollo made of rose petals. Good wine and a good book are a nice combination, and there is plenty to find at the city ’s annual women’s literature festival held every year in September. You get to Matera by flying to Bari, from here there is a half hour scenic train ride to Matera station.