Silvia Marchetti, CNN
Travelers tend to head to major destinations like Venice, Florence, Rome and even Naples when visiting Italy.
But there are many equally, if not more, beautiful villages in the European country that are largely unknown even among some Italians.
In fact, Italy is dotted with over 5,000 gorgeous under-the-radar villages with great food, pristine landscapes, and few people.
Here are eight gorgeous Italian villages you’ve probably never heard of before.
One of the best kept secrets of Lazio, the central region of Italy, Castel di Tora is a great place for a day trip to Rome. The country road to town passes through deep woods, so visitors may spot wandering cows and sheep along the way.
The town itself sits on a leafy hill overlooking the man-made Lake Turano, built by Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini, where locals can bask on stone benches while sunbathing or bathing in the shimmering turquoise water. .
A metal bridge connects the main road to the old quarter, which consists of various elegantly restyled stone dwellings with panoramic balconies suspended above the lake.
The small town square is a great place for lunch and/or a quick espresso. Fresh fish is served in the lakeside taverns, which have panoramic open verandas.
Fishing for two meter long carp, which you then release, swimming or taking a relaxing boat ride along the shores of the lake are among the many activities to be enjoyed here.
It’s a bit tricky to reach, and there’s a chance you’ll get lost in the country roads or find yourself at a Buddhist retreat along the way, but this incredibly well-maintained medieval village is well worth a visit.
Located in the heart of Italy’s Lazio region and close to the town of Rieti, Frasso Sabino is a throwback to simpler times.
Forget the bustling bars and restaurants, Sfilata Frasso — Moda e Riciclo, an eco-fashion show showcasing dresses made from recycled items such as plastic bottles and empty coffee capsules, is probably the only major event of the year. social occasion of the city.
The remains of the Castello Sforza Cesarini, which dates from the 11th century, dominate Frasso Sabino.
To approach the fortress, visitors must climb the wide stone steps of its open defensive walls on foot.
Located in Tuscany, this perched village overlooks the beautiful beaches of the famous Etruscan coast.
Fishermen once found refuge there. And today, day-trippers go to Campiglia Marittima in search of tranquility, nature and good wine. On a clear day, views from the community, based around 90 kilometers southwest of Florence, stretch to the Tuscan Archipelago and Corsica.
The ruins of the fortified Rocco fortress overlook this medieval town, surrounded by greenery, while its old quarter is a maze of narrow cobbled lanes and passageways.
Perched on the heights of the Alps in the region of Trento, Luserna is an incredibly unique place. The small village is home to around 200 villagers who speak an ancient and unusual dialect of Bavarian origin called Cimbro (or Cimbrian) which was imported by medieval settlers.
Road and location signs are displayed in different languages, the locals are very proud of their roots, so you might wonder if you’ve wandered into another country while navigating the area’s many forests.
Luserna also has wonderful ski slopes and visitors can also enjoy winter activities such as dog sledding and snowshoeing.
The Bear Trail (yes, you might come across one) contains miles of hiking trails, which lead to a wonderfully scenic location overlooking snow-capped peaks.
This Emilia-Romagna village seems to be the filming location of the television series “Game of Thrones”.
Upon entering, visitors are greeted by the imposing sight of Ponte Gobbo, an ancient stone bridge that crosses the cold Trebbia River to connect Bobbio to the main road.
The irregular structure, also known as “Devil’s Bridge” or “Hunchback Bridge”, is 280 meters (about 920 feet) tall and features 11 uneven arches.
Founded by the Celtics during their invasion of Italy, Bobbio is made up of pretty gateways that lead to a maze of winding lanes lined with aristocratic palaces.
Saint Columban, an Irish monk, contributed to the greatness of Bobbio by establishing the monastery of Bobbio Abbey, one of the town’s most notable landmarks.
There is also Bobbio Cathedral, a picturesque cathedral with valuable ancient manuscripts, as well as other treasures. As for town activities, Bobbio often holds small fairs featuring delicacies such as snails, grapes and truffles.
Its name might come from an ancient word that roughly translates to “burial place” in the local dialect, but Petritoli is actually a coveted wedding destination these days.
Couples have flocked to this remote corner of Italy’s Marche region in recent years to exchange vows amid the pristine pastures and clean air of this tiny village.
Overlooking green hills dotted with olive trees, vineyards and mulberry trees, Petritoli offers stunning views of the Adriatic coast.
As for local specialties, the handmade moccolotti (more commonly known as rigatoni) with a dense meat sauce and pecorino sheep’s cheese, are among the specialties.
Located near Syracuse, Sicily, Buccheri offers a peaceful respite from the crowds, while being close to pleasant beaches and incredible sights.
The rural village is home to the ruins of a majestic castle, but perhaps the most scenic sites to visit here are the ancient snow caves, or “niviere”, which are natural refrigerators built to preserve ice and snow, as well than the small town village. dammuso-style chapels and cottages.
In the Middle Ages, special snow collectors called “nivaroli” collected ice from the mountains to make ice cream and delicious slips called granita.
Although it is made by much simpler means these days, granita is still very popular in the village. Other local specialties include pasta dishes with saffron and local truffles.
Perched on a promontory of reddish-brown tuff near the Umbrian border, Civita is a place where time stands still.
The long and winding main road of the city leads to the old quarter, overlooking the clefts and caves, built by an ancient Italian tribe called Falisci, which are said to have once been used as hideouts for bandits.
Its nearby rivers feature porous rocks with deep chasms and clefts, where the burial grounds of ancient pre-Italic tribes once stood.
The main highlights here include the city’s mosaic-covered duomo, the cathedral of Civita Castellana, as well as its majestic old fortress.
There are also the various artisan ceramic shops, as well as fresh ricotta and premium ham, which visitors can buy directly from the farmers.
Correction: A previous version of this story contained a photo incorrectly labeled as Civita Castellana. The image has been replaced with one showing the correct city.
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