Italy is a country of incredible natural beauty. It really has it all, Rome, Naples and Florence are modern cities built on top of ancient ruins, Venice with its’s watery canals in place of roads, there are mountain towns, seaside villages, scenic hill towns. Here are a few of what we think are Italy’s prettiest towns.
This whitewashed spot has something that almost no other hill town in Italy has. Sperlonga is a seaside fishing village. As long ago as Roman times this was an escape from the city. Sperlonga is located halfway between Rome and Naples. The Roman emperor Tiberius built a villa at the seas edge. After the fall of the Roman empire the town was a town in peril from Saracen pirate attacks. You can explore the Roman ruins of Tiberius estate and the accompanying museum, the narrow streets and labyrinth of alleys with shops and cafes or rent a sun bed and play in the sand and blue Mediterranean sea.
Civita di Bagnoregio
Accessible only by foot by a sweeping bridge, the town of Civita di Bagnoregio looks like a fairytale. Often referred to as a dying town, this town is most certainly coming back to life. Once an Etruscan town that was easy to reach, 2,500 of erosion of the “tuff” soil has made Civita di Bagnoregio a kind of floating island. The town has seen Roman rule and medieval and renaissance architecture and the birthplace to the 12th century theologian and philosopher Saint Bonaventure. An hour away from Rome, Civita di Bagnoregio is a perfect day trip. There are several excellent restaurants and shops to buy local food, olive oils and wine.
San Gimignano is one of Tuscany’s most picturesque towns. It’s sweeping views filled with mighty towers (13 of the original 70 still stand) and picture perfect streets lined with gourmet salami and cheese and wine shops, this UNESCO world heritage sight is a must on your itinerary. Wander the streets, stopping to sample the countless variety of cingiale salami, paneforte, olive oil and wine that is offered.
Located about 2 hours from both Rome and Florence this charming town is known as Tuscany’s little Jerusalem is over 1,000 feet above the Tuscan countryside. The town was originally settled by the Etruscans and in the 16th century became a safe haven for Jews who were persecuted by the Papal states in Rome. Over the centuries, the Jewish population was a part of a thriving economy ruled by the Orsini family, working as cobblers and moneylenders and then restricted to a ghetto under the Medici family. In modern Pitgliano there are very few Jewish townspeople left. The long and rich history is still very much intact. Visit the forno delle azzime, where bread was baked until the late 1930’s and the 15th century synagogue. There is also a small museum.
All the charm of an Umbrian hill town, none of the steps. What is unique about this pretty place is that it sits next to a small, flowing river and is not perched high up on a hill. You can park the car, cross the bridge and you are there.
There is a wonderful tour of traditional artisan shops where you can see medieval techniques for candle making, paper making, ceramics and silk.
Spello, probably best known for it’s intricate fresh flower mosaics, infioriata, made for the Corpus Domini celebrations 60 days after Easter is full of charm no matter time of year. There is a very well marked and scenic walk through the town along the via Roma. Spello has some of Italy’s best preserved city walls. Wander slowly through the medieval streets, take in the views over the Umbrian countryside, rest in the large main Piazza dell Republica and have a glass of local Colli Perugini DOC wine or cup of coffee at one of the nearby cafes or enotecas.