19 of the most beautiful villages in Italy
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Italy has some of the dreamiest villages in all of Europe. From hilltop medieval hamlets to mountain retreats to colourful seaside towns, it’s near impossible to narrow down the list.
And now that British travellers will no longer have to quarantine upon arrival in Italy from 31 August onwards, as long as they are vaccinated and can show a negative test result, you can make plans to visit Italy to see some of its most beautiful villages.
This village descends down verdant Tuscan hills, flanked by the majestic Rocca Antica fortress and castle at the top and the imposing Villa Garzoni at the bottom. Families should plan to explore Pinocchio Park, dedicated to the author of “Pinocchio,” Carlo Collodi, who adopted the town’s name as his pen name after spending many summers there.
Limone sul Garda
Full of Italian appeal, Limone Sul Garda sits on the edge of Lake Garda in the Lombardy region. Wander past tranquil lemon and olive groves, a vibrant town centre and pebbly beaches. If it seems familiar, the James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace” had scenes filmed there.
Although the whitewashed, hilltop village of Ostuni seems like it could be set in southern Spain or on a far-flung Greek island, Ostuni feels distinctly different. Its winding streets hold a maze of Italian secrets: historical churches and convents, lively squares and breathtaking views of the surrounding olive groves and Puglian coast.
An easy day trip to escape the hustle of urban Rome (about 50 minutes away by car), Bracciano is a village located on Lake Bracciano. Pay a visit to the towering Castle Odescalchi, head out for a boat ride, swim in the lake or visit other charming lakeside villages such as Anguillara Sabazia.
If a visit to the Italian Alps sounds enticing, head straight for Chianale. The village, which sits at the base of the mountains in a lush valley and is made almost entirely out of stone, is ideal for a snowy winter getaway or an autumn hiking or cycling break.
All of the Baroque villages in Sicily’s Val di Noto are stunning, but Ragusa’s lofty hilltop location makes it one of the most breathtaking, whether you’re wandering the village itself or spotting it from afar. A visit to the Duomo di San Giorgio is a must, and simply exploring the Ragusa on foot, camera in hand, is the best way to see the sights.
It’s tough to select a favourite of Cinque Terre’s glittering villages, but Riomaggiore, the easternmost village of these rugged, clifftop Italian Riviera hotspots is TPG U.K.’s top pick. The bold and colourful buildings built into the rocky uneven cliffs overlooking the crashing sea make for one of the most picturesque spots in all of Italy.
Bosa’s vivid pastel houses are among the most colourful in Sardinia. A visit to the crumbling Serravalle Castle is a must, and make sure to visit the Sas Conzas, the old tanneries located along the Temo River.
A favourite Sunday afternoon excursion for Genoan residents, this former fishing village doesn’t have much to do, but that’s all part of its relaxed charm. Stroll past the small port and bright homes or catch some rays along the pebbly beach.
Civita di Bagnoregio
This formidable hilltop village swathed in stone was founded by the Etruscans in the 7th century. You can enter by crossing the steep footbridge. You won’t find many big sites to visit — instead, wander through the village enjoying the views and indulge in a leisurely lunch.
Set on jagged rocks overlooking the sea, Vieste is worth a visit — and so are its surroundings, the Gargano National Park. Once you’ve seen the village and its 11th-century cathedral, bask on some of the nearby beaches or view the Pizzomunno, a legendary limestone monolith.
It’s difficult to pick just one of the many awe-inspiring villages along the Amalfi coast; they all have dramatic cliffs lined with houses rising high over the sea. But the village of Amalfi itself wins points for its beautiful cathedral, bustling atmosphere and family-run restaurants.
Bassano del Grappa
Located north of Venice, Bassano del Grappa’s claim to fame is its 13th-century Ponte Vecchio, a wooden bridge over the River Brenta. Traverse the town, then drive farther northeast through the Strada di Prosecco (Prosecco Road) to admire more beautiful villages and vineyards.
Just east of the famous Cima Tosa mountain peak, Molveno is a lake and small village perfect for skiers in the winter and hikers or outdoor enthusiasts in the summer. The village is ideal for those wanting to relax in the shade of the Dolomites.
One of Italy’s most unique villages, Alberobello is famous for its small, whitewashed huts with conical roofs. For a truly memorable experience, spend the night in one of these special huts, which the Italians refer to as trulli.
The medieval hilltop town of Montepulciano is full of historical wonders: the famous cathedral, 14th-century Piazza Grande and a number of other churches and sites to see. And don’t forget to taste the wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is produced in vineyards surrounding the village.
Peschiera Maraglio (Monte Isola)
The main village on the island of Monte Isola, located in Lake Iseo, this town is reachable only by boat. Once you’ve walked the Peschiere Maraglio, which artfully weaves up the hill, rent a bike for a few euros and lap the entire island, jumping into the lake to cool off along the way.
Known as Italy’s “Little Jerusalem,” Pitigliano rises out of volcanic rock, a village founded by the Etruscans that once had a thriving Jewish community. A walk through the Jewish quarter is a must, as well as a trip to the Orsini Palace and Museum.
This medieval town set at the base of Mount Ingino is a short gondola ride from the peak, home to the Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo (beware, this birdcage-style open gondola structure is not for the faint of heart). Don’t miss the iconic Palazzo dei Consoli and a visit to the ancient Roman Theatre.
Italy has some seriously stunning villages to visit. So, whether you’re in the mood for a seaside escape, an olive or wine tasting experience or an adventure in medieval times, Italy has a beautiful village perfect for your holiday.
Featured photo of Pitigliano courtesy of Andras Jancsik/Getty
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