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15 of Italy's Hidden Gems

Rome, Milan and Florence are often the most sought out places in Italy, but the boot-shaped country has so much more to offer than just those three cities. Italy is overflowing with all kinds of hidden gems – from castles and forests, to waterfalls and botanical gardens rich in exotic plants. These 15 places are shining examples of these gems, with the added benefit of not being very well-known, so they’re not riddled with tourists. They are, however, a true representation of Italy’s rich and magnificent history.

Click on the name of the site to see its location on the map

 

 

1. Ponte del Diavolo

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The “Devil’s Bridge” got its name from an old Tuscan folk tale that describes it as having rare mystical powers. This beautiful stone bridge was constructed in the picturesque town of Cividale del Friuli during medieval times and spans a gorgeous river that crosses the town. This spectacular piece of masonry only shines brighter against a backdrop of the fantastic natural beauty in the surrounding area.

 

2. Castello di Petoria

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Built during the Middle Ages, this castle can be found near the city of Gubbio in the center of Italy. The castle has changed hands many times throughout the ages prior to 1909. It was converted into a prestigious hotel during that year, and it has been one ever since. Visitors get to enjoy a unique sense of isolation from the outside world, making this a perfect place where you can take a “time-out” and relax.

 

3. Grotte di Castellana

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One of the world’s most captivating cave systems is located in Italy’s heel. The Castellana Caves, which contain two miles of breathtaking hiking trails, are over 90 million years old. Be sure to tour the “White Cave” – it is one of Italy’s most powerful experiences.

 

4. Bosco Monumentale del Sasseto

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At the foot of the Torre Alfina castle, there is a magical forest filled with trees whose twisted, moss-covered branches seem to have come straight out of a fairy-tale book. The rare and colorful flowers, along with birds chirping and the cool breeze, make walking here a surreal experience.

 

5. Isola di Loreto

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Some 100 years ago, on a small, secluded island in the Lombardia district of northern Italy, a huge castle was built between two lighthouses and a large marina. The place is surrounded by lush, green gardens that give it the feel of a medieval royal palace.

 

6. Civita di Bagnoregio

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 “A Jewel on the Hill” is the nickname given to this magical town, whose name loosely translates to “the dying town.” The town has been on this hill for nearly 2,500 years and overlooks a stunning valley. Due to weather conditions the town is closed off to visitors for most of the year, but you mustn't miss it if you’re there in the summertime

 

 

 

7. Cascate del Varone

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Nestled between the green mountains of north of Lago di Garda, is the magical Cascate del Varone waterfall. The breathtaking beauty of this place is synonymous with Italy’s natural landscape. The fall’s uniqueness is partially the result of the rich vegetation that envelops it. This area is one-of-a-kind, and tourists should definitely make a point to see it.

 

8. Ca’Sagredo Hotel

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Venice’s Ca’Sagredo Hotel offers an experience that you'll struggle to find elsewhere. Built in the 15th Century, the hotel is considered to be a work of art and makes patrons feel like royalty. The hotel overlooks the largest canal in Venice, and its rooms contain genuine and rare works of art.

 

9. Campo Imperatore

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If you visit this area during different parts of the year, you’ll have a hard time recognizing it. Nicknamed “Little Tibet”, this area transforms with the seasons. In wintertime, the whole region is white with snow and becomes a popular ski resort. In the spring, the hills become a kaleidoscope of shimmering green hues. In the summer, they are enveloped in yellows and browns, and in autumn the area turns a bleak gray.

 

10. Castel Savoia

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During the 9th Century, Queen Margarita made Savonia her royal home, and it's easy to see why thanks to the magnificent gardens filled with countless species of beautiful plants. The castle has five towers that offer stunning views of the surrounding Aosta Valley in the north-western part of Italy.

11. Lago di Como

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Lake Como is the third-largest lake in Italy, but arguably the most beautiful. Located in the Lombardia district, Lake Como’s beauty is partially dependent on the tall mountains that surround it. On the lakeside village of Brunate, tourists can enjoy a stunning view of the whole area, which gave the spot the nickname “The Alps’ Balcony”.

 

12. Erice Castle

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Some claim that this castle matches the one in the story of Rapunzel, while others claim its construction was influenced by the story of Venus, the Roman goddess of beauty. Regardless of truth or myth, this castle is quite unique. Built in the 12th century, it is considered to be one of the finest fortresses built during the era.

 

13. Cascate delle Marmore

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Nature lovers will love visiting Marmore waterfalls. The falls are located between lush grasslands and a thick forest, and enjoy a powerful flow throughout the year. It is said that these falls were a muse for many of Italy’s greatest poets and artisans.

 

14. Isola Bella

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The direct translation of this site’s name is “Beautiful Island”, which fits it down to a tee. This small island is home to incredible gardens designed in the classical Italian fashion, as well as the Borromeo castle. The planning and care is evident in every part of this island, which is indeed a rare sight to behold.

 

15. Giardino di Ninfa

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In central Italy hides a garden that incorporates the beauty of nature with the elegance of medieval buildings. Walking in this botanical garden, travelers will enjoy beautiful, sweet-smelling flowers, sprawling vegetation, stillness and tranquility.

 

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