Here are a 10 undiscovered Italian locations you probably skipped over in the past — or haven’t even heard of — that boast as delectable cuisine, gorgeous scenery, and rich history and culture as their famous neighbors.
A unique and very special little village in Italy, which is classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site, mainly because of its peasant homes made of limestone and dirt, is Alberobello. The area that has many of these dome-shaped homes is known as the Trulli zone. Italians have known of this town for years and they visit it quite often – its the foreign tourists who are not aware of the village. Visitors will start to notice these Trulli homes as they start to get close to the town; some are spread out near the olive groves before getting to the city. The town itself is home to thousands of the conical-shaped homes. Alberobello has a bunch of neat shops, restaurants and bars to enjoy as well. The beauty of the historical Italian town is like no other youve seen before, and it is definitely worth the trip.
2. Aeolian Islands
The Italian Islands that get their name from the demigod Aeolus, who controls the wind, are one of the best places to go to discover volcanoes. The Aeolian Islands are the result of 260,000 erupting volcanoes, two of which are still active to this day. Because the islands are completely made of hardened magma they have given life to some unique flora and fauna that cant be found in the rest of Italy. The Aeolian archipelago is made up of 8 islands; Limpari or Aeolian island is the largest of the group. The collision of the African continental shelf is what caused all of the archipelagos volcanoes to erupt and form the islands and is better known in the scientific community as a “volcanic arc”. Throughout the 1,600 square kilometers that the archipelago covers there are thermal baths in almost all the lands, even if they are small.
In the heart of the Tyrrhenian Sea is the island of Ponza. The islands legend is that Pontius Pilate had a home on Ponza and that the island was named after him, but recently that has been under fire from historians. At one time the island was heavily forested but in present day the islands forests have disappeared and the trees are extinct. Now you can only find some terraces on the land, which were used for growing grapes and other foods. Monte Guardia, which is the tallest hill on the island, still has the rotting stumps of the extinct and massive trees, some of which are over 8 feet wide. Throughout the islands long history it was invaded several times by many different cultures and evidence of that can be seen in its English fortress ruins that are spread out on the island. There are many more legends to the island that make for interesting travel, too.
Siena is a small UNESCO-registered town in Tuscany Italy, most famous for its fine cuisine, historic artworks and of course, “The Palio”, an annual horse race that takes place throughout the city. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world bringing in well over 163,000 foreign visitors a year. It is also well known for the medieval architecture found in its historic center. Discovering the history of the town is one of the main attractions and there are many sites to see with some structures dating back to the 12th century. The oldest of the sites features Romanesque gothic-style architecture. The town is home to one of the longest-surviving banks in existence today. There are also more than 10 historic churches in the town, as well. When it is time for the medieval-style Palio, the streets fill with visitors and residents taking part in the huge festival that lasts for nearly a week.
This town, which can trace its founding back to the 5th century, established for the main purpose of sheltering its inhabitants from barbarian raids, is known as Ravello. The time in history when this occurred was also the noted end of the Western Roman Empire. By the 12th century the town was one of the most populated of that time, and was home to over 25,000 people. There are many 12th and 13th-century homes to see, including the Villa Rodolfo, which is a grand mansion built on the ledge of a cliff. There are many festivals in the town every year – one of the biggest being the celebration of Richard Wagner. The city was home to many artists, poets, writers and philosophers through the years, including Andres Gide and Richard Wagner. The area is full of breathtaking views and wild legends – the sights are all worth seeing and the legends are worth being heard.
A village in the northern region of Italy that obviously gets its name from the Roman god Saturn, is a place known as Saturnia. The small town only has a population of 280 year-round residents. The legend of Saturnias creation by the Greek god says that the god grew tired of mans constant quarrels, so he threw a lightning bolt down to earth creating hot sulphurous springs that would have the power to calm men. These springs are found in Saturnia and come flowing out at around 37 degrees Celsius. The waters flow into a catch and people enjoy swimming in the warm, hot-tub like waters. The town has many historical sites such as the ancient tombs of the Roman era; they are actually in open spaces around the city. There are also some Roman structures as well; most of them are in ruins now but there are some quite intact.
Castelmezzano has history reaching as far back as the 5th and 6th centuries, when Roman settlers colonized and founded a town nearby. Saracen invaders later took the city over in the 10th century forcing all who made their home in the town to find a new place to go. A pastor of the town did find a new place and that place later became known as Castelmezzano. The reason the land was chosen was for its steep hills and cliffs that allowed for boulders to be rolled down onto possible invaders. Later on the town became a refuge for bandits and it was attacked many times but because of its many hiding places in the rocks people would survive the attacks. The bandits found their spots in the rocks and vegetation, too. Now the town brings in visitors to enjoy its splendid landscapes and to explore the deep history it holds.
For a little more than 70 years Ravenna, Italy was the capital city of the Western Roman Empire from 402-472 AD. Even though the specific culture that founded the town is unknown, it has a lot of Roman history and during the Roman rule the town was very prosperous. This led to many great architectural examples and Roman-style buildings. The seaport of the city on the Adriatic Sea was one of the most important stations for the Roman Empires Imperial Fleet, while under the Roman rule. It wasnt until the middle ages that the port lost its value. The citys history is the main event of the town and it boasts eight UNESCO world heritage sites within its borders, mostly early Christian monuments dating back to the year 406. The land was occupied by many and conquered by many different cultures throughout the centuries and a piece of each can be found in the city.
Bolanzo is a beautiful city settled in a mountain valley of Italy, with a long stand history dating back to 15 BC. It is the home of some highly recognized natural features, landscapes that are noted by UNESCO. The beautiful town has flourished through the war-torn centuries and was once inhabited during Roman rule. The town is also the capital city of the Alps and home to the museum that houses the Ice Man. The culture is comprised of deep mountaineering roots and reflects the culture of mountain civilizations. The city actually is quite unique in that it has one half that primarily speaks German and the other half that speaks Italian. The population is about 100,000 year-round, and gets even bigger, especially during Christmas. The town is known as the “Italian Capital of Christmas” due to it Christmas-like characteristics. It is a great town to spend some time in for any traveler.
Aosta is at the very edge of the Northwest Italian border and is quite the place to visit for travelers looking for historic value and a lot of things to do. The town is surrounded in part by the Alps and has a great selection of ski resorts to enjoy as well as many other outdoor activities. Aside from modernization, it is a place full of historical sites, especially of the Roman Empire. Augustus used the city as an outpost in the mid-Roman occupation and monuments dating back hundreds of years are still found in the city. There are also ruins of an ancient Roman theater and other well-preserved structures can be found in the citys historic district. The strategic location of the tiny town attracted many cultures that tried to gain control of the land throughout the centuries, such as the Franks Ostrogothes. The place is great for anyone who loves history, and for nature enthusiast as well.