There are certain monuments that instantly come to mind when you think of a certain country. For the United States, it’s the Statue of Liberty. For France, it’s the Eiffel Tower. And for Italy, it’s the Colosseum.
That’s why, whenever someone travels to Italy, people will instantly assume you’re going to Rome. After Rome, it’s either Venice or Florence, maybe even Naples.
Rome a center of world history; a city filled with areas and artifacts over 2000 years old. Florence was the birthplace of The Renaissance, and Venice, well, Venice is a city quite unlike any other, with its curving canals and gondolas around every corner.
If you’re only going to be in Italy for a week or so, you should definitely head to those cities. Not just because they’re wonderful and unique, but because there have always been rumors of the sites falling into disarray or being purchased by third party companies.
But, if you’re lucky enough to have a bit more time on your hands in Italy, be sure to check out these cities that aren’t usually at the top of tourist destination lists. You might be surprised that they’re just as unique – after-all, Italy is full of hidden gems!
The Top 4 Off-the-Beaten Path Destinations in Italy
Situated on the northwest side of Sicily, Palermo is a beach paradise for travelers. While you’ve surely heard of the Amalfi Coast, Palermo boasts equally pristine and clear blue waters that are filled with beach-goers during the year.
In addition, Palermo is quite close to a number of other small cities to escape to, like Monreale and Isola delle Femmine. The city is very easy to walk around, with beautiful markets and shops lining the streets.
It wouldn’t be Europe without a trip to a cathedral, and Palermo’s cathedral is one of the most beautiful in all of Italy. In Old Town alone, you will find hundreds of historical relics, structures and traditions, all part of a cultural diversity that the city retains from having seen close to 15 ruling bodies throughout its history.
Make sure to try arancini, Sicilian street food that is rice balls stuffed with an amazing array of fillings. The arancini in Sicily come as big as your hand, meaning the snack could easily turn into a meal.
Reggio di Calabria
Heading north to the toe of Italy (literally), worth checking out is the small city of Reggio di Calabria. It has one of the most beautiful coastal walks in the entire country, with a marble promenade overlooking the beach filled with nightclubs and bars.
In true Italian fashion, there are plenty of ancient historical sites to visit, like Faro Point and the Aragonese Castle. The historic center is also great for a quick stroll and walk through.
You’ll be doing a lot of walking and there’s no shame in calling it an early night. If you’re wanting to travel with your own entertainment, with Troypoint you can easily stream your content from anywhere in the world, so you won’t need to watch friends on the hotel TV in Italian!
Let’s go from the toe all the way to the heel of Italy!
Bari is the capital of the region Puglia and is yet another perfect beachside city. One of the top sites in the city is the 11th century Basilica di San Nicola. This church used to be an important pilgrimage site for backpackers of old.
You’ll also want to make sure and check out the Bari Castle and the old town. If you’re not too tired, make sure and walk along the beachfront and find a quiet cafe to enjoy the peaceful nighttime air. It’s half-mile long promenade is the most ideal location for a night out.
Bari is the perfect city to satisfy your food cravings. You can either dine on seafood or go with your typical Italian dishes. Or, why not both? You really can’t go wrong!
Image: Jason Chung (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
Finally, we’re going to be heading up north! The city of Ravenna is located about two hours south of Venice, meaning it could be a good day trip if you’re already in the area.
Ravenna is a UNESCO World Heritage listed city, famous for its mosaics that line the city’s churches and buildings. Some of these mosaics trace their lineage back to the 5th century while others were made within the last decade.
For literary lovers, you’ll want to check out Dante Alghieri’s tomb. Common knowledge might make you think it’s in Florence, but many people believe the great poet’s body still rests in Ravenna.