Padula sits atop of a hill
18. Padula, Campania
When we arrived at Padula, the heavens had opened and what was meant to be a breathtaking view of this Campania town climbing up a mountain was more a hazy cloud and dodging newly created rivers running down the roads. The windy route up to the top provides you with tremendous views down on Certosa di Padula, a large monastery that dates back to the 1300s.
Padula itself is a relatively hidden gem in Italy, with most people speeding past it on the motorway, but it’s an excellent pit-stop if nothing else to explore the monastery and plentiful churches and squares in the commune. And, if you make it on a sunny day unlike me, the views looking at the town which rises up the mountain will be epic.
19. Santa Cesarea, Puglia
At the bottom of ‘the boot’ that is the Puglia region, you’ll find a whole host of blue hues awaiting you in the ocean, so much so you’ll feel you have been transported to a tropical land, not off the beaten path Italy.
The south of the country still sees far fewer visitors than the north, and in Santa Cesarea, sat on the strait of Otranto, you can lounge around on golden beaches, visit caves and grottos, and enjoy delicious Italian cuisine for a fraction of the price you would pay in the north. The thermal baths here are the main draw, but even if you don’t leave the beaches and family run restaurants, you’ll still enjoy a perfectly relaxed oceanside vacation.
Cinque Terre is devoid of crowds in Winter
20. Cinque Terre, Liguria (in winter)
Cinque Terre is by no means a hidden gem in Italy anymore, but if you visit in the off-season as I did, you’ll feel like you have gone off the beaten path in Italy,
On a crisp November day, with blue skies and beautiful waters, I arrived at the five lands, or towns, that make up Cinque Terre. It was basically empty, with just a few tourists to share the experience with and I was reminded just how much the crowds in summer can completely change the vibe of European destinations.
Each of the five villages built into the rocks along the ocean offers different experiences, from hiking and vineyards to sandy beaches, but if you visit in the middle of Summer expect plenty of other tourists, including group tours from the nearby cruise terminal. For an off the beaten path experience of Cinque Terre, brave the colder winter months, the views are still just as stunning.
Do you have any off the beaten path suggestions for my next visit to Italy? Some Italy hidden gems I should make a beeline for? If so, please leave them in the comments so I can keep adding more to this list of places to live la dolce vita.