Today (September 7, 2020): Top 10 most picturesque villages in Italy.
The southern European country of Italy ranks among the top summer destinations for discerning travelers, an unsurprising feat given the country’s historical legacy, delicious cuisine, cultural highlights, breathtaking scenery, and uber-chic luxury hotels. To get a true taste of the essence of Italy, many travelers take to the countryside to explore the rustic and authentic villages which have made Italy synonymous with old-world charm. In the face of so many stunning towns to choose from, many travelers find themselves overwhelmed when planning their Italian escape. To help you, I pulled together a list of the prettiest Italian villages (or the ones I like the most).
There is more info below the slide show. Think I missed one? Leave a comment, or take my poll below!
10. SAN GIMIGNANO, TUSCANY
Tuscany is one of Italy’s most iconic regions, and the jewel of Tuscany is definitely San Gimignano. The small village, in the heart of Italy’s wine country, is marked by narrow streets, quaint squares, and 13 centuries-old towers (there used to be about 70 such towers). And although the towers are great for photographs, they were built for defense and aggression against noble families within the same region. It’s a perfect place to escape for a few days and enjoy some homemade pasta, a glass of Tuscan red, and the unbeatable sunsets over the farmland (but beware of tourist crowds in the summer).
- Recommended hotel: COMO Castello Del Nero Hotel & Spa (14 km or 8 mi from San Gimignano).
9. POSITANO, AMALFI COAST
An hour’s drive south from Naples, the cascading village of Positano is located along one of the world’s most scenic roads on Italy’s spectacular Amalfi Coast. Of course, the village has a pleasant beach and cozy restaurants, but Positano can only be truly appreciated when you look at it from a distance: only then one realizes how the village clings precariously to the mountains and how there are just layers and layers of Moorish-style houses in an upwards sprawl.
8. ALBEROBELLO, PUGLIA
Alberobello – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – can be found in the Puglia region not far from the coastal town of Bari. Alberobello is a beautiful village famous for its many trulli, 1,500 to be specific. The trullo is the name given to the conical roof structures that are made without mortar. All trullos are painted glaring white that almost blinds you when you visit during the southern Mediterranean summer heat, and many of them are available for rent for short stays, making Alberobello a perfect place for a few days of rest, food, and history.
- Recommended hotel: Borgno Egnazia (25 km or 15 mi from Alberobello)
7. BELLAGIO, LAKE COMO
Few places are as romantic and picturesque as Lake Como, and even fewer villages as beautiful as Bellagio (and I am not talking here about the more famous Las Vegas hotel). Called the “Pearl of the Lake”, Bellagio has several world-class hotels and restaurants that provide the perfect place to soak up the best panoramac views of the scenic lake and the towering Alps in the background. The village is characterized by century-old buildings, stone lanes and picturesque cobbled stairways filled with shops showcasing the finest Italian designer wares.
- Recommended hotels: Grand Hotel Tremezzo (a 15 min boat ride from Bellagio) or Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni
6. MANAROLA, CINQUE TERRE
Widely regarded as the most beautiful of the five villages which make up Italy’s Cinque Terre region (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Manarola is a stunning community of brightly-colored homes cascading down the rocky slopes between the hills and the Mediterranean. Like most coastal towns in Italy, Manarola boasts delectable regional cuisine and a small beach, and since access is limited to only one small regional road, your Italian getaway is sure to be a peaceful one.
- Recommended hotel: Grand Hotel Portovenere (30 min boat ride from Manarola)
5. CASTELMEZZANO, BASILICATA
Perched high amid the Lucanian Dolomites, the cliffside village of Castelmezzano has everything for an authentic Italian experience: amazing regional wines served in quaint village taverns, fresh food from the surrounding farms, and quiet, narrow streets full of history and tradition. The village of Castelmezzano is also home to the Volo dell’Angelo (“Flight of the Angel”), a spectacular walking path which runs along the top of the bluffs, considered to be one of the best hikes in Italy.
4. CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO, LAZIO
Civita di Bagnoregio is a magical, surreal, fantastic place located on top of a tuff hill that can only be reached by crossing a narrow pedestrian bridge. Nick-named “the dying city” or “città che muore”, due to the constant erosion of the tuff rocks where it is placed, this citadel half-way between Orvieto and Lake Bolsena has Etruscan and Medieval origins. Suspended in time and space, Civita di Bagnoregio is beyond doubt one of the most beautiful and characteristic Italian villages.
3. CEFALU, SICILY
Wedged between mountains and coastline, just an hour’s drive east of Palermo, lies the idyllic town of Cefalu in one of the world’s most scenic islands, Sicily. Cefalu is tiny but popular village, especially among sun-seekers from other parts of Italy. Besides gorgeous beaches and narrow medieval streets, Cefalu also offers great Sicilian restaurants and a hip nightlife scene, particularly in the summer months when its population triples. The sight from the beach towards the village and mountainous background is one you will not easily forget.
2. MATERA, BASILICATA
Known as the “Città dei Sassi”, the city of stones, the village of Matera is located in southern Italy, in Basilicata. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its beauty and uniqueness. Matera is actually one of the most ancient and most beautiful towns not just of Italy but the world, and served as a backdrop for several Hollywood movies. The village derives much of its fame from the sassi, ancient cave-homes carved directly into the rock of the surrounding hills. The sight is extraordinary!
- Recommended hotel: Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita
1. RAVELLO, AMALFI COAST
A tiny, utterly charming village 350 m (1100 ft) above the sea, Ravello represents nature’s music. The charm of its landscapes, the quality of its monuments and its spectacular vistas ravished a lot of European artists who came here to find inspiration. Nowadays, the village of Ravello is most famous for hosting summer classical concerts alfresco in its beautiful patrician villas with spectacular Italian gardens, the Rufulo and Cimbrone, one stepping closer to the sky than the other.
- Recommended hotel: Belmond Hotel Caruso