3 More Reasons to Visit Italy
To be bored of Italy is to be bored of bliss. Whether pouring that second glass of prosecco on the edge of a glistening Lake Como, sampling pistachio gelato outside the Colliseum or stealing another forkful of tomato laden fresh pasta in a Tuscan ristorante, there really is no destination more reliably decadent and delicious new world of Italian splendour still to be discovered. Discover the magical hidden villages just beyond the beaten track. Pack a bag, grab your passport and start your next adventure with one of these gorgeous unspoilt hideaways.
Literally translated as ‘Roman Castles’, this spectacular volcanic area is famous for its stunning lakes, rolling hills and sprawling vineyards. With a fresher climate than nearby blazing hot Rome, the cluster of 13 pretty towns is a popular summer retreat for wealthy Romans.
Amid the area’s unmissable towns, one stands out: Castel Gandolfo. The Papal summer residence is located here, it dates back to the 13th century and the Pope’s private rooms are now open to visitors, it also features immaculate gardens, ideal to wander through on a balmy afternoon.
Lake Nemi is so proud of its wild strawberries that it hosts an annual festival in their honour every June. ‘Sagra delle fragole’ sees local ladies dress up in traditional costume to hand out punnets to tourists. If you prefer something boozier, head to the medieval town of Marino in early October for a wine festival unlike any other. Dedicated to the almighty grape, the ‘Sagra dell’Uva’ features historical re-enactment, fireworks and wine flowing freely from the town’s fountains.
The town of Ariccia is famed for its juicy porchetta, a slow-roasted, succulent pork stuffed with herbs and spices. It’s available everywhere in generous portions, served either on its own or in a sandwich. Wash it down with a glass of locally produced rose or pop across to Frascati, for one of Italy’s most celebrated bottle of white, best enjoyed overlooking the city of Rome.
This unmissable UNESCO World Heritage Site in north east Italy is a hotbed of history, tradition and hidden wonders. Once the jewel in the Roman Empire’s crown, the forgotten city may not be the economic hub it once was, but it’s a riveting and glorious place to visit.
Lose yourself in ancient ruins and behold incredible historic art, from ninth century frescoes to Aquileia’s huge fourth century mosaic, which can be enjoyed from glass walkways within the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta. The National Archaeological Museum is the best of its kind.
Aquileia is located within the beautiful Friuli Venezia Giulia region, which inspired writers like James Joyce and Ernest Hemmingway. If you’re overwhelmed with history, pop over to nearby Grado to experience the annual asparagus festival.
If you like a cheeky sip of grappa you’ve come to the right place. The local distillery is bursting with different varieties to sample, each as rich and unique as the next. Foodies can look forward to the most delicious gnocchi in Italy – the regional speciality is mouth-wateringly good, especially with an Aperol Spritz.
SAN VITO LO CAPO
This Sicilian seaside spot is one of Italy’s best kept secrets, with pristine white beaches and clear blue waters to rival and Caribbean resort. Familiar only to locals and a few savvy kite surfers, it’s the perfect place for quiet relaxation.
If you can prise yourself away from the beaches, wander over to the impressive caves, where you can see ancient paintings, drawings and engraving dating back 40,000years. There are sights to be seen in the old town too, with its winding narrow streets, beautiful piazzas, and the local church – once a fortress, but now the home of monks in white robes.
Visit in September for the ‘Cous Cous Fest’ – a ten day foodie extravaganza. Featuring tempting food stalls and live music, it welcomes famous chefs from around the world to reinvent the classic dish with exciting new recipes. If you’re feeling energetic, the town also hosts an annual ‘Climbing Festival’, when athletes, climbers and mountain bikers take on the dramatic Sicilian landscape.
San Vito’s seaside location guarantees fresh, melt in the mouth seafood, especially fresh tuna, but the region is also a dessert lover’s paradise, thanks to locally grown almonds that make exceptional pastry. There’s fun to be had deciding with family-run trattoria really does have the best cannoli in Sicily.