The Best Underrated Cities in Italy

Written by Rem Malloy, since 1995 Rem has been guiding and designing trips to Italy and all of Western Europe and is considered an expert in his field for over 30 years.

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Does the thought of crowds and long lines at tourist attractions make you not even want to go to the top cities everyone goes to? Venice, Rome, Florence, sure we all know them but sometimes your vacation can take a stressful turn when it’s in a popular city overrun with tourists. Italy is a country filled with charm, beauty, and history. And you don’t always have to visit the tourist destinations to experience that. There are many less crowded cities with rich history and stunning landscapes.

Here are some underrated beautiful cities in Italy worth adding to your vacation.

THE BEST UNDERRATED CITIES IN ITALY

Sperlonga

Sperlonga is a beautiful coastal town located between Rome and Naples. It is about a two-hour drive south of Rome in the province of Latina. A more quiet seaside town, Sperlonga offers Mediterranean relaxation away from the bustling cities.

The towns name “Sperlonga,” derives from the Latin word “spelunca,” meaning cave or grotto. And here you can explore an ancient Roman Sea Grotto in the Villa of Tiberius, from the 1st century A.D.

Emperor Tiberius is said to have thrown extravagant parties sea level in the cave with renowned musicians of the time. While you might be able to throw parties here, the grotto is a beautiful piece of Roman architecture worth admiring.

The Tyrrhenian coast boasts magical sunsets, with views of the Ventotene and Ponza islands. In Sperlonga, summer lasts six months, so you can still come in October for a warm seaside getaway. The town can be busy during August when Roman locals need to escape the heat, but it is generally not crowded by tourists.

Cefalu

Located in Northern Sicily near Palermo, Cefalu is a charming city rich in culture. The area has Arabic, and medieval influence and the architecture in contrast with the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean is pleasing to the eye. In the medieval district, the town’s Duomo is a popular attraction with its cathedral and detailed mosaics.

A short climb to La Rocca of Cefalu gives sweeping coastal views and holds ancient history. Cefalu also has some of the freshest fish around, so make sure you enjoy a night at a restaurant on the water.

Chieti

North of Rome in Abruzzo, Chieti is a charming town with sweeping views of the mountains as the backdrop. The area is hilly and mountainous with beautiful lakes, if you like to hike this is a great area to experience the nature of Italy.

National Archaeological Museum of Abruzzo is a well-known museum to visit, housing the most important Roman artifact in central Italy, the 6th-century-BC ‘Warrior of Capestrano.’ The Abruzzo region is also known for their white wine, and home to several Michelin Star restaurants.

Rimini

With its’ white sandy beaches and Roman ruins, Rimini is a beautiful town to visit that you might not have thought to put on your list. Rimini Beach is one of Italy’s longest beaches filled with resorts, restaurants, and bars to keep the whole family entertained and relaxed.

Rimini is known for the beach, but you might not know Rimini also has famous historical Roman sites. Some points of interest are:

The Ponte di Tiberio

Also known as the bridge of Tiberius, it dates back to 21 A.D. and is something you don’t want to miss in Rimini.

The Arch of Augustus

A triumphal arch that was built in honor of Augustus, Rome’s first emperor in 27 B.C.E.

Italia in Miniatura

Kind of an odd phenomenon, this is a miniature park with a replica of Italian and European buildings to scale.

Piazza Tri Martiri

An interesting square said to be the place of where Julius Caesar addressed his troops infamous “the die has been cast speech,” there is a statue here in his honor.

Bologna

Bologna is often overlooked by tourists as a destination despite its rich culture and beautiful historical sites. Bologna is known as the food capital of Italy, so if you are a foodie this is an Italian destination that should be on your list.

You can take a food tour in Bologna and eat all the pasta you can possibly dream of. After you eat all you can, take a walk through the Porticos, the architecture of the porticos in Bologna are something to behold that you won’t find anywhere else. Another cool activity located just outside Bologna is a motor valley, where you can race Italian sports car, and who doesn’t want to do that?

Parma

This charming town in northern Italy is a little riverside town famous for a cheese like its name, Parmesan. But that’s not all that’s great about Parma. Colorful, and quaint, Parma was built by the ancient Romans in 183 B.C. The city once flourished in trade because of its location and still has Roman historical sites worth seeing. Unesco named Parma a “Creative city for Gastronomy.”

Like Bologna, if you are a foodie, Parma is a city to visit. Home of the Parmigiano Reggiano, you can take a cheese tour and see the interesting process of how cheese is born. Parma is also famous for its balsamic vinegar and prosciutto di Parma, which all pair nicely with some Parmesan. Are you hungry yet?

Cava

Cava is a unique town in Italy where you feel you have completely stepped back in time. And it is completely Italian, meaning you will barely see any tourists if any at all. Cava is a town rich in ancient history, where you can visit ruins from the Lombards (Dating before the Romans).

There is a picturesque Badia, or church where you can catch a glimpse of the monks and hear them chanting Gregorian chants. The old town is only open to pedestrians which makes for a peaceful experience. Hotel Scapolatiello is the place to stay and has a guest book that dates back to 1821.

Ravello

A coastal town near the Amalfi coast, Ravello has breathtaking views. The stunning cliffside gardens along the Mediterranean makes you feel you jumped into a painting. This is the kind of place you want to book a private villa and stay put.

Also known as the city of music Ravello holds the famous Villa Cimbrone and Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium along with many concert venues. While the Amalfi coast can be busy, Ravello is still a relatively hidden gem of Almafi.

Cuneo

Located in northwestern Italy, Cuneo is a fun town underrated by tourists. Located in the Piedmont region, Cuneo is surrounded by the mountains and offers great views and activities.

Piazza Galimberti is one of the most stunning town squares in Italy and there are many concerts, festivals, and more held there. For those who like to mountain bike, exploring the mountains of Cuneo are an adventure. For the history buffs, a visit to the Museo General Bonaparte, located in an old castle is a must where you can see paintings of the French military leader Bonaparte.

When planning your trip to Italy make sure to take your time planning and making sure you know where you want to go and what you want to see. Start by Creating your own trip online

About the Author

Rem Malloy started Italy4real back in 1995 with his mother, Deborah de Maio.

He specialises in Italian tours as well as customised tours to France, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. He was also featured in the Travel Channel show Mysteries at The Museum in 2016.

Rem has family in Italy and his mothers home town is Cava di Terrani, near the Amalfi Coast. The family has a street named after them in Sorrento, Via Luigi de Maio; a relative who was mayor of Sorrento.

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