12 Gorgeous Italian Locations That Are Strangely Underrated

Looking for alternatives to Bel Paese’s major tourist attractions? Get off-the-beaten path with these 12 incredible hidden gems in Italy.

Italy’s most popular tourist destinations have a downside. While they’re beautiful, historic, and full of intrigue, they get so crowded it can be hard to appreciate them.

So, between visits to Rome, Venice, and the Amalfi Coast, why not also visit some of the country’s lesser-known locations? Here are 12 particularly worthwhile hidden gems in Italy that are worth exploring in 2024.

1. Bergamo

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Bergamo is a small city in Lombardy, northern Italy, about an hour from Milan by car. While the modern part of Bergamo isn’t much to write home about, its old, medieval center is stunning.

It feels quintessentially Italian. Expect charming, maze-like cobblestone streets, expansive piazzas lined with bars and restaurants, age-old buildings with beautiful architecture, and amazing views from its 16th-century town walls.

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2. Lago d’Iseo

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Most tourists exploring northern Italy’s lakes flock to Lake Garda or Como. However, between those famous bodies of water is another that’s equally beautiful – and less touristy.

Lago d’Iseo (Lake Iseo) is great for cooling off on hot days; mountains surround it, and there’s an island at its center called Monte Isola, which is fun to explore. Throw in its lively lakefront bars and restaurants, and Lago d’Iseo is another hidden gem in Italy.

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3. Lago di Braies

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On the topic of beautiful lakes, Lake Braies near the Dolomites deserves special mention. It’s not exactly hidden, per se.

Many tourists visit to see its magical turquoise waters and snowcapped mountains. However, the lake is slightly off-the-beaten-path. To get there, you have to visit the far northeast of Italy, close to the Austrian border.

4. Pontremoli

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This hidden gem in northern Tuscany offers a taste of traditional, off-the-tourist-trail Italy. A historic market town at the foot of the Apennine Mountains, Pontremoli offers bucket-loads of old-world charm and easy access to nature. Expect baroque cathedrals, medieval bridges, two beautiful rivers, and quaint piazzas bustling with locals.

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5. Castelmezzano

View of Castelmezzano in Italy
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Few Italian towns have a location as unique as Castelmezzano. Picturesque is an understatement – it’s like something from a fairytale.

You’ll find it in the Dolomiti Lucane mountain range in southern Italy’s Basilicata region. Expect traditional terracotta rooves sandwiched between mountain peaks, with panoramic views over the area. History, adventure, and outdoor opportunities await.

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6. Gubbio

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Most people looking for a taste of medieval Italy head straight to Florence. However, if you want a similar level of beauty, history, and intrigue with fewer crowds, go to Gubbio.

The small hilltop destination in Umbria is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the country. There are cobblestone streets, Gothic palaces, 13th-century cathedrals, and even a Roman amphitheater. Monte Ingino towers above the town, too, offering terrific opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

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7. Canale di Tenno

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A short bus ride from Riva del Garda – a small town at the northern end of Lake Garda – is Canale di Tenno.

This 13th century village tucked away in the hills is as hidden and unique as Italian towns get! Expect stone buildings and streets that haven’t changed in centuries, with outstanding views of the surrounding area. The village is next-door to beautiful Lake Tenno, as well.

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8. Trabocchi Coast

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Abruzzo, southern Italy, is home to a 70km stretch of Adriatic coast named after the old fishing structures, called trabocchi, dotted along it.

Built on stilts that rise up from the water, these unique wooden platforms date back hundreds of years. Their original purpose? To enable locals to fish in waters too treacherous for boats. Wooden arms extend outward, dropping fishing nets into the deep waters below.

Nowadays, many of these trabocchi have been converted into restaurants. Visit for a unique slice of coastal Italian history and dinner with a view!

9. Val di Non

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Val di Non means something like “non valley” or “valley of nothing.” But don’t be fooled by the name. This district of Trentino in northeastern Italy enchants visitors with natural beauty, endless apple tree orchards, and legions of age-old castles.

Better yet, it’s far less traveled than neighboring South Tyrol. Aside from the locals, you’ll have this photogenic valley, complete with lakes, canyons, and waterfalls, almost to yourself.

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10. Aosta Valley

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The mountainous Aosta Valley, bordering Switzerland and France in northwest Italy, looks and sounds magical. Expect alpine scenery, giant castles, medieval towns, and endless outdoor opportunities.

Its natural attractions aren’t the only appeal, either. The city of Aosta is called “the Rome of the Alps” for its wealth of ancient archaeological sites. There aren’t many other places in the world where you can see snowcapped mountains casting shadows over millennia-old Roman ruins.

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11. Civita di Bagnoregio

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You’re unlikely to visit anywhere else quite like Civita di Bagnoregio on your travels around Italy (or the world, for that matter). An ancient city perched atop a rocky knoll overlooking an enormous canyon, it is worth seeing simply for the location. Everything else is a bonus.

Access is via a footbridge that leads to a stone passageway first hewn 2,500 years ago by the Etruscans – an ancient entrance that acts as a portal to the Middle Ages. Civita seems frozen in time. Expect cobblestone streets, piazzas, palaces, and one point of historical intrigue after another.

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12. Garfagnaga

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Garfagnana is a large valley in the province of Lucca, Tuscany, renowned for its natural beauty and rich history.

Get ready for rugged mountains and verdant rolling hills, plus more medieval villages and impressive castles, like the Verrucole Fortress. It’s also close to one of Tuscany’s most unique attractions, the Devil’s Bridge (aka, Ponte della Maddalena) in Borgo a Mozzano.

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14 Unmissable Things to Do In Italy (North and South Suggestions)

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Looking for the best things to do in Italy? Whether you’re exploring the north or south, read on to discover a bunch of amazing options for your Italy itinerary.


Tour in Rome

Useful Maps of Italy for Planning Your Bel Paese Adventures

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Are you looking for a map of Italy to help plan your trip or to display at home? Here's a collection of Italy maps that should do the trick. Click to see the locations of its most famous cities and regions.


Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including MSN.com and news sites across the US.