Italy is amazing! If I were to choose a place to live in, it would most probably be Italy, no doubt about it. But not in the crowded touristic cities. Sure, Rome is charming, Milan is stylish, Florence is one of the most romantic places I’ve ever seen, but you won’t see the real deal until you have visited one of these 11 less known Italian cities nobody told you about.
I love being by the sea, and of course, most of them are by it, but not only, because there are plenty of other things that can steal your heart and make you get back to a place over and over again..at least in your mind.
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11 less known Italy cities nobody told you about
1. Noli, Liguria
When you say Liguria most probably one destination pops up in your mind: Cinque Terre. But there is so much more to this province than that. Sure, the 5 little villages will charm you and make you fall in love with Italy forever, but if you are looking for a less crowded place, still small, still by the sea, Noli is where you want to be.
With a rich history, the small and elegant town of Noli, has beautiful beaches, alleyways you can get lost in, and some terraces overlooking the sea where you will want to spend your mornings sipping a good coffee and your evenings tasting a delicious gelato.
The best place to stay in Noli:
Palazzo Vescovile Hotel – offering the most incredible view over the pretty small town of Noli, the beach, and its old buildings. Here is where you’ll also have the chance to indulge in amazing meals at the one Michelin star restaurant. Check it out here!
TIP: Make Bologna your base and travel around Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, and Veneto in the search or some famous Italian destinations, but also some small hidden gems. Find them all in this day trips from Bologna comprehensive list!
2. Trieste, Friuli – Venezia – Giulia
Moving more to the Eastern part of Italy, stopping at one of my favorite cities (I know I might say that about all the cities in Italy, but who can blame me for that?): Trieste.
This city adopted me for half of the year and showed me the real face of Italy. Here is where I’ve learned how to party, love sunsets by the sea, and do aperitivo like a local. Whenever I close my eyes and think about this place, the first thing that comes to mind is the smell of salty water and the noise of coffee mugs in the morning.
Why you should not miss it if you get the chance? Simply because you will fall in love with its magic and romance. And who doesn’t want to drink a delicious Illy coffee right in the place of origin?
Check out also the best Italy subscription boxes to get directly at your place!
TIP: If you somehow get more time and since you are in the Northern part of Italy, why not extend your trip and head over to the Lake District as well? Why miss seeing the beautiful towns on Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Como?
The best place to stay in Trieste
Savoia Excelsior Palace Trieste – Starhotels Collezione – I might be biased when it comes to Trieste, but I think the most amazing place where you can stay is in Piazza Unita’, close to everything and with the sea at your feet. Check it out here!
Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta – Another amazing option for Trieste, the 4* hotel is located in the heart of the city. Wake up and take breakfast in the square with the sun on your face and the sea in front. Check it out here!
3. Portovenere, Liguria
Very close to the Cinque Terre, but still not part of them, Portovenere holds the same charm especially if you come by boat, case in which you will be welcomed by the long line of beautifully colored houses.
Still touristic, the port is a bit more remote than the ones part of the Cinque Terre, since the Cinque Terre Express does not stop here, but you still need to expect plenty of people on the narrow streets.
I really loved our stop here and if I were to go back to this part of Italy, I would most probably search to spend here a few nights, the town is a bit bigger then others in the area, but holding a particular charm.
The best place to stay in Portovenere
Grand Hotel Portovenere – why not choose the best of the best if you get to this hidden gem on the Italian Riviera? The 5* hotel is not only located on the seafront but will offer a unique experience being situated in a 17th-century monastery.
Villa Bianca – a more affordable accommodation option, in a superb location, with a small outdoor pool, a terrace from where to spend your days in style, and stunning room views.
Read this guide and choose the most charming Airbnb in Cinque Terre
4. Finalborgo (Finale Ligure), Liguria
I bet you’ve never heard about this place, I hadn’t either until I took a trip here during our Mediterranean cruise this Summer, and convinced myself Liguria is the place to be (or move) in Italy!
Finalborgo (or Finale Borgo as you might find it), is a small historic, fairy-tale-like town hidden between the hills, but still not far from the sea. You won’t need much time to explore it, but either way, you can still choose to spend a couple of days and take things slow.
If you won’t visit the ancient town with a group, chances are that you will find the empty streets meeting only locals every here and there, making the experience even more unique and novel. Climb the hill following the castle’s wall and you will get to this impressive view.
Best place to stay in Finalborgo (Finale Ligure)
5. Tivoli, Lazio
Visiting Rome for the first time and you have more time available? Or even better, you have already been to the Eternal City and you have returned and want more? Tivoli with its endearing Villa D’Este is the perfect place to visit for a day trip (or even half-day) from Rome.
Part of the UNESCO World Heritage, the villa will charm you both on the inside and on the outside with its amazing garden filled with many impressive fountains.
Best place to stay in Tivoli
Antica Villa di Bruto – imagine staying in a place with ruins of a water storage facility beneath the hotel and roman crypto-portico on the extensive grounds attached to the property. This is one place where you will surely feel like stepping back in time, yet staying in a very well maintained place. Check it out here!
Read also: Steal this huge Rome bucket list!
6. Martina Franca, Puglia
During our expedition for 4 days in Puglia itinerary, we’ve managed to see so many wonderful Italian towns in a rather short time span.
Puglia is such an incredible Italian region, with so many authentic places, delicious food, and beautiful beaches.
Only an hour away from Bari, Martina Franca is the place you want to go when you are looking for a truly less known Italian city. It was August when we visited and we still got to explore empty streets, encounter lovely old ladies who greeted us, and take pictures with colorful doors.
Best place to stay in Martina Franca
7. Treviso, Veneto
Very close to Venice, and the place where most of the low-cost flights land, Treviso is often overseen by tourists heading to the more crowded and touristic town on the canals.
With its historical defensive fortifications still standing today, Treviso makes for a great less known Italian destination to include during your next visit to Northern Italy.
The Ancient walls and gates, the Treviso Cathedral, the beautiful and much less crowded canals, a coffee and some pasta in Piazza dei Signori, are only of the things you can do in a day in Treviso.
Best places to stay in Treviso
Read next: The best books about Italy, set in Italy
8. Bergamo, Lombardy
Another destination many pass through without giving it a chance. And I must admit I’ve been one of the many and had no idea about how beautiful Bergamo was until some of my best friends told me they are going to Milan only to see Bergamo again.
If you’re looking for a more romantic destination close to Milan, perched on hills, this walled city filled with cobbler stone streets might be just the destination for you.
Best places to stay in Bergamo
Hotel Excelsior San Marco – that view from the restaurant, the fact that it is perfectly located and offers affordable 4* accommodation.
Relais San Lorenzo – your 5* stay with a rooftop jacuzzi and breathtaking views.
Le Mura Suite – a more affordable yet amazing option to have in mind for Bergamo.
9. Vietri sul Mare, Campania
When it comes to the Amalfi Coast everyone has heard for sure about Positano (the crown gem), Amalfi, and maybe Ravello.
But not many will wander around to the far south of the beautiful Italian coastline in search of a smaller, yet amazing hidden spot: Vietri sul Mare.
Since we visited the Amalfi Coast in August when prices are extremely high, we ended up choosing an epic romantic location in Vietri sul Mare. Only a few kilometers away from Positano and all the other pretty villages, Vietri’s center should not be overseen either.
The best place to stay in Vietri sul Mare
Aquaboutique Wellness&Spa – ok, those rooms might look a bit too blue for some tastes, but just look at that jacuzzi with a view. That’s the best price you can get for such a stay on the Amalfi Coast. See more here!
10. Bolzano, Alto Adige
When I was studying in Italy, I used to have plenty of colleagues from this fairytale village in South Tyrol.
Very close to one of the most picturesque mountain areas, the Dolomite Mountains, Bolzano will charm not only the ones looking for adventures but also those of you passionate about photography and zen moments.
The mix of Italian and German reflected in culture, food, language, and traditions won’t let you get bored. The town is so close to Trento, another impressive destination in the Italian Dolomites, that should be part of any Italy bucket list.
The best place to stay in Bolzano
Gloriette Guesthouse – this place! Seriously, you will be lucky to find a spare room, thus plan your stay way in advance. I’ve seen it first at one of my Instagram friends, and I was just wow-ed, and just have a look, I bet you will be as well. Luxury and simplicity at its best, in the heart of the mountains with an infinity pool that offers the wow factor. Check out more here!
Learn all about Trento and Bolzano, and plan your next trip!
11. Syracuse, Sicily
When I visited Syracuse some years ago, I was stunned by the town’s impressive architecture and its ancient ruins. Imposing white buildings stood tall and proud on a dark rainy day
Walking along the restless sea I couldn’t help but fall in love with this hidden village on the Ionian coast of Sicily.
Every building had its strong personality, the Piazza Duomo was triumphant, and I will never forget that strong coffee we had in Piazza Archimede.
The best place to stay in Syracuse
Italy travel resources
- Have less time to spend in Italy but still want to live it up? Spend one day in Genoa on your way to the Cinque Terre. Or stop for one day in Rome on your way to some other amazing destination.
- Take the perfect pictures for your forever memories in these Instagram spots in Positano.
- See a lot more with these fabulous day trips from Genoa.
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