10 Italy Destinations We Love!
Looking for some fresh destinations for your 2022 vacation to Italy? We’ve put together a list of timeless classics and lesser-known gems located throughout Italy. First-time travelers to Italy might consider pairing one of these destinations with Rome, Florence, or Venice. Those who have been to Italy before can use these places as a starting point for new adventures. No matter where you choose to visit in 2022, Italy awaits with its unique combination of rich history, magnificent art, outstanding food and wine, and truly remarkable scenery.
If you’re looking for a relaxing island getaway filled with Italian charm, and of course, stunning Mediterranean sceneries, look no further than the Phlegraean Islands of Procida and Ischia. Positioned on the northern edge of the Gulf of Naples, both islands have something special to offer visitors.
Procida, the smaller of the islands, certainly proves that good things come in small packages. The colorful 1.6 square mile island was named Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2022 and until this, it has perhaps been one of Italy’s best unknown destinations. With colorful houses, artisan workshops, historic sites, and pristine beaches, this humble fishing island has all the elements of an unforgettable Italian vacation — without the international tourist crowds. Unlike nearby Capri, Procida offers a laid-back atmosphere where color blends with tranquility.
Walk up to the ancient fortress walls of Terra Murata, the highest point of the island. A small observatory deck offers striking panoramic views of the colorful 17th century harbor, Marina Corricella, for plenty of Instagram-worthy shots. From here, visit the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo, one of the island’s most historic landmarks with origins that date back to the 11th century. Leave plenty of time to de-stress at one of the five black sandy beaches surrounded by calming deep blue colored waters that are perfect for a swim.
A short distance from Procida lies Ischia, Campania’s largest island. Of volcanic origins, Ischia has plenty of opportunities for nature enthusiasts including hiking, biking, and even geological tours to explore the island’s volcanic composition. Participants can view some of the island’s craters and an ancient lava trail. Adventurers fit to climb the one-hour trek up the slopes of Mt. Epomeo at Serrara Fontana should not miss this opportunity. Being the highest peak, visitors will be rewarded with stunning views over the entire island as well as Capri, Naples, and the Sorrento Peninsula. Ischia is also renowned for its natural hot springs and thermal spas where visitors can unwind after a day of exploration.
But Ischia offers more than just an outstanding natural panorama. Ischia is home to the Aragonese Castle, the island’s main attraction. The monumental fortification was originally built in 474 BC by the Greek Hieron I of Syracuse. In the 1400s when the Spanish Alfonso of Aragon conquered the island, the castle was rebuilt to its highest splendor. Having undergone a great number of attacks and dominions over the centuries, the castle’s more than 2,000 years of history are a true testament to the island’s cultural importance.
With plenty of interesting historic points within the fort, as well as beautiful spaces from which to take in the island’s views, visitors will want to dedicate at least a half a day exploring the Castle. Among its various churches, one must-see includes the former Cathedral’s ruins which date to the 1300s. Beneath the ruins, prepare to be amazed by the 13th to 17th century frescoes at the Crypt of Nobles. Other sites are the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Nun’s cemetery beneath the church, and the 16th century Convent of St. Mary of Consolation.
Whether you are looking to immerse in the authentic Italian island feel of Procida, unwind at the laid-back Ischia villages of Sant’Angelo, Barano, and Serrara Fontana, or experience the livelier Ischia Porto, Ponte, or Forio, where shops, cafés, restaurants, cultural events, and nightlife are part of a vibrant atmosphere, these picturesque Italian islands offer the perfect combination of activities and special spots for couples, singles, and families alike.
Just about an hour northeast of Milan, and within easy access to Italy’s northern Lake region, lies Bergamo, one of Lombardy’s most beautiful cities. Most often overlooked by tourists traveling between Milan, the Lakes, Verona, and Venice, this stunning city, along with neighboring Brescia, has been named Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2023, and makes for a more than pleasant off-the-beaten path stop.
Bergamo is split in two sections, the upper and most ancient part of town founded by the Celts, known as “Città Alta”, and the lower modern part or “Città Bassa”. While the walled upper city is the main attraction due to its wealth of historic palaces and architecture featuring a mix of Romanesque and Venetian Renaissance styles accented by charming cobblestoned streets, the lower section has an attractive city center largely built in the early 1900s that features wide avenues and a tree-lined pedestrian walkway known as the “sentierone”. Porticoed buildings along the pathway are filled with cafés and shops for a perfect break from sightseeing.
On the way to explore Bergamo Alta, be sure to take the 2-minute funicular to admire views of the historical center. Stop at the breathtaking Piazza Vecchia, an ancient square that is the heart of the historical center. Surrounding the square are the Renaissance Biblioteca Civica (the library), the 12th century Palazzo della Ragione (the town hall), the Palazzo del Podestà, and the medieval civic tower known as the “Campanone”. Climb the 230 steps of the tower or take the elevator to enjoy impressive 360-degree views over Bergamo’s red tile roofs. Both beneath Palazzo del Podestà and at the base of the Campanone, visitors can see remnants of the ancient Roman Forum, the center of public city life during the first and second centuries.
Just behind the town hall in Piazza del Duomo, you’ll be blown away by the Renaissance masterpiece that is the Chapel and Mausoleum of Colleoni. Its ornate white and pinkish marbled façade might just be Bergamo’s most beautiful building. To its right you will find the octagonal baptistery and on its left the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. Built in the second half of the 12th century, the church’s exterior has a Romanesque style that majorly contrasts with the magnificent baroque décor inside. Not to be missed is one of Bergamo’s most emblematic sites, the Venetian walls, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you have extra time and energy, stroll around the city walls to admire the Gate of San Giacomo and other historic city gates.
Bergamo is also the perfect city to try the most delectable of northern dishes. If you think you’ve had polenta, wait until you’ve tried polenta taragna bergamasca made with butter and local cheeses. Pair it with rabbit or mushrooms of the region and you will not be disappointed.
Overall, Bergamo is a captivating city that has it all; from ancient Roman ruins to splendid Medieval and Renaissance architecture, museums, culture, enchanting historic boroughs, and a rich cuisine, Bergamo surely deserves to be part of any itinerary to Northern Italy.
Located on the Portofino Peninsula along the stunning Gulf of Paradise, Camogli is a delightful town that perfectly embodies the quaint atmosphere of the Liguria region. A stone’s throw from the famed Cinque Terre villages, Camogli offers stunning coastal views that the Italian Riviera is known for, but without the bustle.
This charming fishing village consists of colorful buildings resting between the rocky Portofino promontory and the gentle waves of the Ligurian Sea. The grand Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, which features an impressive Baroque style, watches over Camogli. Another highlight is the 13th century Castello della Dragonara that rests atop a promontory on the edge of town.
While strolling through the narrow streets of Camogli’s center, visitors will find dozens of local restaurants serving up authentic regional specialties from the delicious focaccia flatbread to fragrant pasta al pesto, and, above all, some of the best seafood one could have in Italy. Active travelers should plan to explore the hiking trails that connect Camogli to nearby towns, such as Portofino or San Fruttuoso — there’s no better way to appreciate the remarkable panoramic views that Camogli offers.
Travelers seeking a respite from the crowds of Italy’s larger cities or the ideal place to spend a couple of lazy afternoons at the beach and people watch while sipping a spritz (or two) at a local café, should definitely consider making a stop in Camogli where a splendid sea, blue skies, bright sun, and breathtaking views abound.
Nicknamed “The Green Heart of Italy”, the central region of Umbria is home to several off-the-beaten-path gems that are more than worthy of a visit. Among the most representative areas in the region is Gubbio, a Medieval town perched atop Mount Ingino.
Gubbio’s long and rich history is best characterized by the Eugubian Tablets, which have become a symbol of the town. This set of bronze tablets contains one of the last surviving examples of the now extinct language of the Umbri civilization. Following the ancient period, Gubbio thrived during the Middle Ages when much of the town’s iconic architecture, such as the Cathedral of Saints Mariano and Giacomo and the Church of San Francesco were built. Gubbio is also well-known for its maiolica pottery, a traditional craft that dates back to the Renaissance.
Travelers who wish to see Gubbio should consider visiting the town in May, which is when Gubbio hosts the famous Festa dei Ceri celebration. This annual tradition takes place each year on May 15 as an homage to Gubbio’s Patron Saint, St. Ubaldo. During the festivities, locals carry 3 heavy ceri (wooden artifacts) while racing through the streets of Gubbio’s city center up to the hilltop Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo.
Not matter what time of year you travel to Gubbio, be sure to visit Piazza Grande, Gubbio’s main square, which offers unforgettable panoramas thanks to its elevated position. And don’t leave Gubbio without taking a ride on the open-air cable car that connects the city center to the summit of Mount Ingino.
With centuries-old monuments and lively customs, a visit to Gubbio offers a deep-dive into Italy’s history and culture.
In the northwestern corner of Italy’s Aosta Valley region, positioned at the base of the pyramid-shaped Mount Cervinio, on the border with Switzerland, Cervinia in the region of Aosta Valley, is not only a skier’s paradise, but also a haven for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, photography, and outstanding natural sceneries. The resort area expanding between Breuil-Cervinia, Valtournenche, and Zermatt across the Swiss border, is not only one of the largest, but the highest in Europe with summer skiing between June and September.
Cervinia itself sits at an altitude of some 6,581 feet above sea level offering a variety of activities for nature enthusiasts year-round. While it’s famously known for its world-class ski slopes perfect for freestyle, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding, the area all around features incomparable opportunities to immerse in nature during the warmer months, when activities like mountaineering, trekking, hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing, among many others, can be practiced. Golf enthusiasts in particular will find the 18-hole course at Cervino Golf Club, which at 6,725 feet is the highest in the world, a truly unique experience. A 30 minute walk from Cervinia’s center, be sure to visit the stunning Blue Lake in which the crystalline waters perfectly reflect the peak of the Matterhorn, the Swiss name for Mt. Cervinia.
During the winter, non-skiers can enjoy activities such as ice skating in natural rinks, ice karting, snow mobile experiences for adults and children, and even husky dog-sledding experiences through the snowy woods.
Set in a remarkable unspoiled panorama, Cervinia is one of the best places to immerse in Italy’s mountain sceneries. All you truly have to do is decide between winter snow sports or warm weather exploration, although in Cervinia you can have a bit of both during the summer months.
Tucked away in Italy’s northernmost region of Trentino Alto Adige, Trento is a beautiful destination surrounded by the enchanting atmosphere of the Alps. For decades, Trento has been revered for the high standard of living it offers as well as its university, the University of Trento.
Originally founded by the Romans, Trento’s most significant historic achievement occurred during the sixteenth century when the city hosted the Council of Trent. This influential ecumenical council spurred the Counter-Reformation movement and resulted in a significant portion of Europe returning to Catholicism.
History buffs and art lovers will enjoy admiring the city’s unique architecture and art, which were influenced by Trento’s many rulers (from the Etruscans and Gauls to the Lombards and Habsurgs). Highlights include the Cathedral of San Vigilio and the Castello del Buonconsiglio, which dates back to the thirteenth century. Also of note are Trento’s archeological sites, such as the Paleo Christian Basilica of San Vigilio, which is located below the cathedral of the same name.
Positioned between the Dolomites and the Adige River, Trento’s natural beauty is unparalleled. Active travelers will be amazed by the variety of hiking and biking trails within the surroundings of Trento. This is of course in addition to the impressive nearby ski resorts which are popular among Italians and Europeans during the winter. For the best views, hop aboard the Funivia Trento-Sardagna, a cable car that takes visitors to a panoramic area more than 1,000 feet above the city of Trento.
After climbing to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and tasting the legendary Chianti wine at a historic winery, you may be wondering “what else does Tuscany offer?” Well, look no further than the charming city of Lucca.
Nestled along the Serchio River, Lucca is surrounded by remarkably well-preserved city walls that date back to the Renaissance. The heart of the city is Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, a large square surrounded by historic buildings arranged in an elliptical shape. The square’s unique shape is due to the fact that it was built on the site of a 2nd century Roman amphitheater.
For the best views of Lucca’s Medieval and Renaissance architecture, climb the 232 steps to reach the top of the Guinigi Tower. Dating back to the 14th century, the tower was built by the Guinigi family, who were former lords of Lucca, and features shady trees on its rooftop terrace.
While wandering Lucca’s cobblestone streets, travelers will be amazed by majestic historic monuments including the Cathedral of San Martino and the Basilica of San Frediano. Be sure to dedicate time to the surrounding defensive walls, which offer panoramic walking paths. For a truly authentic experience, do as the locals do and bike atop the historic city walls.
From the remarkable architecture to the stunning panoramas, Lucca is bound to make you fall in love with Tuscany all over again.
Tropea is one of Southern Italy’s lesser-known, yet truly breathtaking, coastal destinations. Located in the Calabria region, this off-the-beaten-path town is perched atop a cliff overlooking the sea. As a whole, the Calabria region is highly revered for its pristine waters, and Tropea is no exception. Among Italians, Tropea is primarily a beach destination, but there’s also plenty of history, art, and culture to be experienced.
In the heart of Tropea’s historic city center lies the Cathedral of Maria Santissima di Romania, which dates back to the 12th century. Constructed upon a Byzantine Cemetery, the cathedral is well-known for housing the painting Madonna di Romania, which depicts Tropea’s Patron Saint.
However, the undeniable symbol of the town is the Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola. Resting upon a dramatic, rocky promontory, all visitors to Tropea must take the time to climb up the steps to visit this Medieval monastery and admire stunning panoramic views of the sea.
Tropea is also widely known for its red onions, which have a distinctly sweet flavor and a fragrant aroma. There are actually three different varieties of Tropea onions that are each harvested during different parts of the year (spring, summer, and fall). As Tropea’s greatest culinary treasure, these red onions can be found in a variety of local dishes from pasta and pizza to sandwiches and even gelato!
Set against the verdant countryside of southeastern Sicily, Ragusa is a city where old and new come together in a unique way. Ragusa’s current appearance as a city divided into two distinct parts is due to an earthquake that occurred in 1693. Following the earthquake, Ragusa was rebuilt as two separate areas: Ragusa Ibla (the lower area), which was constructed following the city’s original Medieval layout, and Ragusa Superiore (the upper area), which was built with a more modern layout.
Today, Ragusa and the other Val di Noto towns rebuilt after the 1693 earthquake represent the most revered examples of Sicilian Baroque architecture. While exploring Ragusa Ibla’s cobblestoned streets, travelers are sure to fall in love with the wealth of historic sites. From the magnificent Cathedral of San Giorgio, with its impressive dome, to the Giardino Ibleo, Ragusa’s historic public gardens, Ragusa offers plenty of opportunities to breathe in Sicily’s legendary history. In Ragusa Superiore, visitors can admire the Cathedral of San Giovanni Battista, which is renowned for its Baroque façade and gilded interior.
Then there’s the food. Thanks to the surrounding livestock farms, Ragusa is well-known for its local cheeses, such as provola ragusana and caciocavallo ragusano. Not to be missed is Hyblean Honey, which is made in the surrounding Hyblean Mountains and is considered to be one of the most revered types of honey in Italy.
To fully immerse in Sicily’s unique culture, history, and food, Ragusa is certainly worthy of being included in your next vacation to Italy.
As the former capital of the Western Roman Empire, Ravenna’s historic, cultural, and artistic offerings are truly unmatched. Today, the city is best known for the breathtaking early Christian and Byzantine mosaics found within its churches and other historic buildings. In fact, Ravenna is home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia and the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, each adorned with the colorful and intricate mosaics the city is known for.
The mosaics do not serve as simple decoration, rather they’re the main attraction. Extending from the walls onto the ceilings, the mosaics depict biblical scenes as well as religious motifs. Among the most iconic are the colorful mosaics found in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia as well as the mosaics of Emperor Justinian I and Empress Theodora in the Basilica of San Vitale.
In addition to the mosaics, Ravenna is also known as the final resting place of Italy’s most revered poet, Dante Alighieri. It was in Ravenna that Dante spent his final days as a guest of Prince Guido II da Polenta before succumbing to malaria. While exploring Ravenna’s city center, be sure to stop by Dante’s grand Neoclassical tomb next to the Basilica of San Francesco.
Art lovers well-versed in the offerings of Italy’s major art cities should include Ravenna in their next trip to Italy in order to immerse in the legendary historic mosaics.
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As we welcome a new year, we are excited by all the travel prospects 2022 holds. From enchanting island getaways to historic villages and incomparable art, these 10 destinations only scratch the surface of Italy’s vast offerings. When you’re ready to start planning your dream vacation, contact Trips 2 Italy to craft your special getaway with one of our Italian travel specialists.