To get a true taste of the essence of Italy, you have to take to the countryside to explore the rustic villages and sprawling vineyards. From the enchanting Cinque Terre in the north, to sleepy Sicilian seaside escapes, we’ve rounded up the 9 most scenic villages in Italy.
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A trip to Italy without a stop on the Amalfi Coast is like going there and not trying their pasta. This cliffside village is considered to be the jewel of the entire coast. It has a beautiful beach and cozy restaurants. Many narrow paths are lined with shops where you can buy handmade pottery and sandals. The harbor in Positano is a launching point for all boat trips. From here tourists can explore many gorgeously picturesque villages in Italy. It is one of the most spectacular and romantic places.
Tuscany is one of Italy’s most iconic regions, but San Gimignano is the most famous. Once prosperous medieval hilltop town was said to be mostly wiped out by a plague in the 1300s. San Gimignano has managed to conserve 14 towers from this period. It’s a perfect place to enjoy some of the traditional dishes and a glass of Tuscan red wine. Ascending the steps of the towers is like stepping through time. Once at the top of the towers, you’ll have the best panoramic view of the region.
Vernazza is the most charming of the five villages that make up the Cinque Terre region. They are connected by mountain paths, winding through vineyards. And they all have killer views of the Mediterranean. Vernazza is one of the best-known fishing villages on the Italian Riviera. This can be seen not only in the beautiful harbor, but also on the plates of the village’s many restaurants and taverns. In 2011 the village was almost destroyed by massive flooding and landslides. Luckily, it’s up and running again. Its brightly-colored homes are still attracting visitors from around the world.
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San Teodoro (Sardinia)
The best part of San Teodoro is definitely La Cinta Beach. It has clean blue waters and brilliantly white sand. Facing east, it offers stunning views of the Capo Coda Cavallo promontory to the north and Isola Tavolara rising behind it. The beach is a great spot for boating, water skiing, horseback riding and mountain hiking.
Population: Less than 200
Castelluccio is a breathtaking mountaintop village. It is a place where men and nature blend in harmony. It is located atop a steep hill 5,000 ft above sea level, in the middle of a large plateau. Castellucio is the highest village in the Appenine Mountain Range—and arguably the most beautiful. The season from May to June is called here the “flowering” season. During this season the plateau is covered with thousands of flowers. An incredible mosaic of colors can be seen, from yellow and white to red and violet.
The medieval town of Cefalù is so postcard-pretty that many movies have been filmed here, including the much-loved Cinema Paradiso. It has already become a resort town due to its beautiful location, stunning views and gorgeous beach. Highlights include exploring the town’s many cathedrals, walking along its picturesque lungomare (seafront promenade), and catching the sunset from the towering La Rocca.
Located in Sardinia, this medieval town of 5,000+ residents features colorful buildings overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. On top of the plateau rises the Doria castle. There are also many spectacular beaches in the area ideal for sailing and windsurfing, especially Punta La Capra, Punta Li Paddimi and Lu Bagnu.
Polignano a Mare
This comune in southern Italy is located on the Adriatic Sea and has a popular beach. There’s also a hotel there called Grotta Palazzese, which has a cavernous restaurant that’s highly recommended.
Manarola is a stunning community of brightly-colored homes cascading down the rocky slopes between the hills and the Mediterranean. This small town is located on top of a very steep cliff. This small fishing village is also part of a UNESCO World Heritage site list.