Aug 29, 2023



Travel Inspiration

Unique Places to Visit in Italy: 8 Hidden-Gem Destinations

Fora Author Fora

The Modern Travel Agency


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Quiet seaside villages, ancient cave systems, stunning nature reserves…beyond iconic cities like Rome, Milan and Florence, the most unique places to visit in Italy round out the allure of one of Europe’s most coveted destinations.

Ready to get off the beaten path in Italy? Plan and book your trip with Fora. We’ll hook you up with insider recommendations and VIP perks at the coolest luxury or boutique hotels in Italy, not to mention one-on-one support from a true travel expert. All the while, you’ll get a truly unique vacation experience tailored to your travel preferences and goals. What's not to love?

The 8 most unique places to visit in Italy

Everyone knows the best places to visit in Italy — Venice, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany…you get it — but if you’re the type of traveler that loves to get off the beaten path, here are eight of the most unique places to visit in Italy.

1. Puglia (a.k.a. Apulia): southern Italy’s most unique coastal region

Image courtesy of Borgo Egnazia, Savelletri

Dotted with quiet villages, scenic beaches and a beautiful rural countryside, Puglia offers a super relaxed atmosphere similar to more popular destinations like the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre, but with fewer crowds and an (arguably) more authentic vibe. 

Itinerary recommendation: don’t stay in one place in Puglia. As we said, there are plenty of fun villages — including Lecce, the “Florence of the South,” and Alberobello — to explore, each with its own distinct character and appeal. 

Our guide to Puglia has the full lowdown. Or: connect with Fora to plan and book your stay in Puglia with tailored recs.

2. Matera: ancient cave settlements make this province one of the most unique places to visit in Italy (& Europe)

Immediately southwest of Puglia, you’ll find the province of Matera, famous for The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches

Even in a country famous for its ancient empires and ruins, the Sassi cave system stands out as one of the first known settlements in Europe — with some estimates suggesting the original occupants lived in these caves at least 12,000 years ago. And yes, travelers can visit many of these caves, some of which have been converted into museums, churches and even hotels. 

Matera isn’t just one of the most unique places to visit in Italy because of the Sassi caves, though. The city presents travelers with a distinct culinary experience that focuses on hearty pastas and soups, as well as a variety of delicious lamb dishes. Plus, the clifftop city of Matera is a neat destination for architecture junkies because of the city’s unusual stone façades and Byzantine influences.

3. Camogli, Genoa: an underrated beach resort on Italy’s Portofino Peninsula

Camogli doesn’t get a whole lot of international attention because of its proximity to Genoa and the popular village of Portofino, but it’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for a laid-back seaside retreat. 

Colorful houses line Camogli’s waterfront while fishing trawlers regularly traverse the small village’s harbor. Nearby, you’ll find calm beaches and hiking trails overlooking the Paradise Gulf — a perfect choice for couples looking for a quiet and romantic getaway.

Connect with Fora to plan and book your stay at the coolest hotels in or near Camogli. (Or check out our guide to Portofino if you want a more upbeat, coastal destination.)

4. Orta San Giulio: a unique & gorgeous lakeside community near Milan

Orta San Giulio is the perfect place to complement an electric vacation to Milan, one of the best places to stay in Italy for nightlife and fashion. Juxtaposed with Milan’s lively art and shopping districts, Orta San Giulio is an enchanting village nestled along the shores of Lake Orta. 

Here you take in the sights of the historic center, enjoy a peaceful cruise or take part in any number of the cultural events regularly held all year round. Overall, if you’re looking for a place to wind down and connect with nature, Orta San Giulio is a top choice (and one of the most unique places to visit in Italy, of course). 

(BTW: if you’re wondering where to stay in Milan, read our guide.)

5. Porto Venere: a unique place to visit in Italy for access to one of the country’s most beautiful nature preserves

Porto Venere will appeal to travelers seeking an escape into nature. The seaside town itself is a gorgeous collection of coastal monuments, seafood restaurants and small boutiques (check out our Cinque Terre and Porto Venere guide). But the real appeal is Porto Venere Nature Park, which features lengthy hiking trails, opportunities for rock climbing and plenty of wildlife to (responsibly) encounter. 

Connect with Fora to plan and book your stay in Porto Venere with expert travel recs, VIP hotel perks and more.

6. Bassano del Grappa: a laid-back town famous for its unique landmarks & gastronomy

Bassano del Grappa is a small town about an hour north of Venice, one of the best places to visit in Italy for the first time

Architecturally rich, Bassano del Grappa’s most interesting sight is the Ponte degli Alpini, an ornate wooden bridge from the 16th century, but you’ll also find scenic landmarks throughout the town.

Bassano del Grappa is also the birthplace of grappa spirit, a strong, wine-like liquor with heavy aromatics. Likewise, the town is famous for its unique take on Venetian cuisine, particularly as it incorporates freshwater seafood. 

(Sidenote: here’s where to stay in Venice if you’re interested.)

7. Procida: a unique and authentic place to visit in Italy off the coast of Naples

Procida is a tiny island found just outside the Bay of Naples known for its vibrant, shoreline houses and medieval walls. You can either stay on the island itself, enjoying the refreshing Mediterranean breeze or make a day trip out of it from nearby Naples (read where to stay in Naples for the best access). 

The island is a bastion of traditional Italian culture, rejecting heavy commercialization and crowds. Throughout the island, you’ll come across trattorias serving fresh seafood, friendly locals and a decidedly unhurried pace. Overall, Procida feels like a window to the 20th century, making it one of the most unique places to visit in Italy.

8. Bologna: home to the first university in the West and a unique destination for history & culture enthusiasts

Bologna doesn’t get nearly as much attention as other storied cities like Florence, which is only about an hour and a half away by car or train. But we think this is a disservice. 

Aside from being the home of the University of Bologna, the oldest university in the Western World, the city of Bologna is a masterclass in medieval and Renaissance architecture, with stunning examples around every corner. Active archeological sites allow visitors to take tours through old Roman streets and structures while a variety of theaters and other venues allow travelers to connect with Bologna’s historical classical music scene. 

And don’t fret if you’re looking for more contemporary attractions, our insider’s guide to Bologna highlights the city’s awesome gastronomy and expansive museum collections.

(P.S. Interested in a tour of northern Italy? Check out where to stay in Florence and where to stay in Tuscany.)

Want to visit the most unique places in Italy? Plan with Fora

Ultimately, whether you want to stay at the best places in Italy (maybe you’re wondering where to stay in Rome or Milan) or you’re looking for some of the more unique places to visit in Italy, Fora is your friend on the inside. 

We’ll build the trip of your dreams — like a 10-day family trip to Italy — that combines our expertise with your distinct travel preferences. And on top of it all, we’ll score you VIP status and perks at the best hotels in Italy. 

All you have to do? Connect with Fora to start planning today.

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