Italy has long been a favorite destination for travelers, with cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice drawing huge numbers of visitors every year. However, there’s a wealth of hidden gems waiting to be discovered elsewhere in the country.

Exploring these lesser-known destinations can offer unique experiences and a more immersive experience. But where can you find the country’s best-kept secrets? Well, we’ve pulled together a few of them to help you!

Matera: The city of caves

Located in the southern region of Basilicata, Matera is renowned for its ancient cave dwellings known as “Sassi”. These unique structures are carved into limestone and offer a glimpse into a bygone era. The Sassi di Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site featuring an intricate network of caves, churches, and monasteries. You can also stay in a cave hotel for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Once you’re done exploring underground, you’ll still be able to enjoy the amenities of a modern town. It’s the perfect blend of past and present.

Sardinia: Unspoiled beaches and rugged landscapes

Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean and is home to glorious beaches and imposing mountains. The crystal-clear waters and secluded coves of the Costa Smeralda are a major attraction. Additionally, the ancient nuraghe (stone towers) and impressive archaeological sites provide fascinating insights into the past.

You can enjoy water sports like snorkeling and diving, sample some traditional Sardinian food, or tackle the trails of Gennargentu National Park for an unforgettable and secluded hiking holiday in Italy.

Bologna: A culinary haven

Bologna is a lively city in the Emilia-Romagna region known for its rich culinary heritage and well-preserved medieval architecture. Stroll through the historic Piazza Maggiore, visit the Due Torri, and explore the University of Bologna ­– one of the oldest education institutions in the world.

The city’s food scene is legendary and includes delicacies such as tortellini, mortadella, and ragù alla bolognese. This means that a food tour is a must, and traditional markets like Mercato di Mezzo offer an authentic taste of the region’s cuisine.

Puglia: The heel of Italy

Enjoy a delightful mix of picturesque coastal towns, whitewashed villages, and ancient olive groves on a trip to Puglia.

The Gargano National Park’s dramatic cliffs and forested landscapes make it a must-visit, while the trulli of Alberobello is an incredible example of ancient building practices. You can even stay in a traditional trullo house as you indulge in the area’s famous olive oil and wine. If that’s not enough, the pristine beaches provide a perfect escape.

Umbria: The Green Heart of Italy

The landlocked region of Umbria is home to the charming town of Assisi, which was the birthplace of St. Francis. Meander through the medieval streets of Perugia before relaxing on the shores of Lake Trasimeno or head further afield and connect with nature at the breathtaking waterfalls of Marmore. You can even go hunting for truffles between tours of the phenomenal local vineyards.

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