10 Amazing Hidden Gems in Italy You Can’t Miss
It can be hard to know where to find these hidden gems, which is what prompted me to create this list. I have been to Italy several times and am always looking for new areas to explore and discover. Italy has never disappointed me on my travels! From charming small towns to stunning coastal scenery, these hidden gems in Italy are not to be missed!
1. Hot springs of Saturnia
Located in the heart of Tuscany, Saturnia Hot Springs consists of many turquoise hillside pools. This beautiful place is created thanks to the natural warm water flowing into the travertine rock pools on the hillside. Water of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) flows constantly through the pools, keeping them at the perfect temperature for relaxation.
To access the hot springs, you can easily rent a car and make a quick day trip from Florence or Rome, as they are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The hot springs are free to visit and there is plenty of parking nearby. Be sure to bring water shoes, a towel, drinking water, and snacks, as the only facilities on the property are restrooms/changing rooms.
Professional advice: Visit the hot springs early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the crowds!
2. Aosta Valley
Italy’s Aosta Valley is a dreamy region near the border of Switzerland and France. Although the area is most popular during the ski season, it is also great to visit in the summer. I love the fact that the castles are located only on rocky hills bordering the wonderful mountain scenery that surrounds the area. The area is a popular destination thanks to its many hiking and biking trails, perfect for exploring on a summer’s day.
You can explore the small town of Courmayeur, which offers excellent skiing, hiking and the circular Skyway Monte Bianco cable car. Or you can visit the many castles in the Aosta Valley. Castles in the area are easy to see on road trips, but they can also be seen up close with a guided tour. During the summer and winter seasons, many small shops and restaurants are available to ensure a wonderful experience in this remote area of Italy.
The colorful town of Camogli is located on the beautiful Italian Riviera, but is often overlooked due to its famous neighbor Portofino. The length of the beach is marked by tall, colorful houses that line the coastline and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Once a quiet fishing village, Camogli is now a foodie’s delight. The city’s bakeries offer the perfect snack or snack, while the quaint restaurants and cafes serve up some of the best seafood and pesto sauce you’ll ever taste! When you’re ready to whip up some of that delicious food, take a walk around and explore Camogli’s attractions, such as Camogli Lighthouse and Dragonara Castle.
4. Scaligero Palace
A visit to Scaligero Castle will make you feel like you are back in the Middle Ages. This well-preserved medieval castle sits on the shores of Lake Garda and is one of Italy’s many hidden gems. Built in the 13th century, the castle is a great place to explore.
Scaligero Castle has everything from a magnificent bridge to an enormous fortified harbor and moat! If you climb to the top of the castle, you will be rewarded with extraordinary views of Lake Garda. Whatever the occasion, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Scaligero Castle and Lake Garda. You won’t regret it!
Cornaiano is a small Italian town on the South Tyrolean wine route at the foot of the Dolomites. This small village is surrounded by several kilometers of hiking and cycling trails that take you through the Italian countryside. The many wineries and vineyards in the area are another reason to visit Cornaiano. Combine all this with the great food and stunning views of Cornaiano, and it’s easy to see why it’s one of Italy’s best hidden spots.
Another amazing, little known place in Italy is the coastal town of Bogliasco. Being located on the west coast of Italy, Bogiasco has impressive coastal views. As you walk through the city, you will be surrounded by colorful Italian houses and charming cafes. Enjoy fresh Mediterranean cuisine with alfresco dining at Bogiasco before enjoying a glass of wine by the ocean. You’ll quickly understand why this town has such an amazing little community.
Trieste is a hidden gem in Italy with a unique style. One such aspect that makes Trieste unique is the city’s dialect, which combines Greek, Croatian, Austro-German and Italian. This unique dialect is due to the fact that many cultures have influenced the region throughout its history.
Located on the border with Slovenia, Trieste is a beautiful mix of historic buildings, excellent museums and stunning seaside views. The harbor is full of beautiful yachts, and Piazza Unita Italia hugs the seafront. History buffs will want to visit the many historic sites throughout the city, including the Roman Amphitheater, Trieste Cathedral, and the Palace of St. Giusto. After exploring Trieste’s beaches and surrounding vineyards, you’ll fall in love with this Italian gem.
8. Trulli houses
Italy’s south-central region of Puglia is home to a unique house style known as a trullo (or plural Trulli). These limestone houses with conical roofs are usually painted white and are built using dry stone masonry, meaning they have no mortar. Visit the town of Alberobello to see more than 1,500 groups of these houses. The city is so special that it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Don’t forget to visit Trullo Sovrano during your visit. Trullo Sovrano is the only trullo with two stories. Once inside, you can take a tour of the trullo and visit a small museum. After the tour, grab a gelato at Arte Fredda Gelateria before checking out the Church of Sant’Antonio.
9. Ostia Antica
When we visited Ostia Antica during the summer tourist season, I was surprised to see how few people made the 45-minute trip from Rome to this ancient seaport town. A must-see in Italy, the city is filled with incredible ruins that let your imagination run wild. Stroll through the ancient streets to see the magnificent theater of Ostia (still used for concerts today), visit a small museum and admire some of the sculptures there.
Of course, like most ancient Roman cities, there is a large forum and a large bathhouse. The rest of the mosaics in the bath depict Neptune riding four horses across the waves of the ocean and are in great shape considering his age. As you wander the streets of Ostia Antica, keep your eyes open for hidden clues about the purpose of various buildings. Some have mosaics on the outside that serve as ancient symbols of their purpose. Ostia Antica is a little hidden gem in Italy that makes for an easy day trip from Rome. Visiting is like going back in time.
Visit the Ostia Antica website for ticket prices and opening hours.
10. Antoltz Valley
In the northern part of Italy, close to the Austrian border, lies a stunning, storybook-like route called the Antolz Valley. Famous for its biathlon center, the valley is a true Italian hidden gem for any outdoor enthusiast. During the winter months, the Antolz valley is full of skiers, and in the summer the mountains come alive with hikers and nature lovers.
One of the most popular places for hiking and skiing is the Rieserferner-Arn Nature Park. This huge park covers an area of more than 31,000 hectares (over 76,500 acres) and contains many glaciers. If you want to walk, you should go to the flat area around the beautiful Lake Antholz, which is near the Biathlon Center. Take time to explore the region’s delicacies and taste some handcrafted Grappa to complete your experience in this pristine valley.
Tip: Ask a local
Exploring Italy’s lesser-known regions is a way to experience the true charm associated with the country’s various regions. When visiting big cities, I often ask locals what hidden gems they recommend. Specifically, I ask them to tell me where they like to escape to when they want to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a few days. This question has opened many doors to discovering the many hidden gems that Italy has to offer.