MORE GREAT ITALIAN TOWNS
A while back we wrote about great hill towns of Italy, this is a continuation of sorts with five more towns we enjoy visiting and hope that you will add them to your Italian itinerary, if you haven’t already.
A short drive from Orvieto is the tiny lakeside town of Bolsena. During the summer it is a bustling vacation hot spot with beaches, boating, food and fun.
It is also the place where we had one of our most spine tingling church visits ever at the Basilica of Saint Christina, visiting the tomb of Saint Christina and the ancient catacombs. A conglomerate of chapels, this church has so many stories to tell and amazing works of art, it is truly a hidden gem and incredible to visit. The rest of the town is a wonderful mix of medieval and modern with a number of shops and restaurants. The delicacy of the area is the coregone fish from lake Bolsena. A type of white fish, it is wonderful served simply grilled with lemon.
Montepulciano is one of my favorite hill towns to wander. Its beauty starts as you approach the town with its stunning silhouette rising before you against the rolling Tuscan hills. The spiraling town road winds its way to the top from a parking lot where you leave your car. We have never visited without stopping at Antico Caffe Poliziano for a coffee and a treat. They’ve been around since 1868 so you know they’re doing something right!
At the top, in the main square, sits the beautiful cathedral, town hall and one of the oldest wine producers in Italy, still producing wine from their family castle, Cantina Contucci. 100% of the production and storage of their wine has been done in the many basements below the castle for over 1000 years and 41 generations. You can visit the cellars for a tasting and buy a bottle to take with you, keep an eye out for the entrance on your walk to the top.
It was love at first sight when we set eyes on Todi, sitting in the lush green of the Umbrian countryside. From the parking lot at the base of Todi jump onto the tram that whisks you up to town level and out into a beautiful park with an epic view of the town and valley below.
Stroll into the main town square and you will immediately be impressed with very grand architecture and the spacious square hidden within. Setting off to explore, the town quickly dissolves into narrow winding roads with shops and restaurants and a steep staircase leading to the Basilica Concattedrale di Maria ss ma Annunziata at Todi’s highest point. Dining in Todi is another treat with a fantastic choice of places to eat serving some of Italy’s best olive oil and more fantastic local wine.
The walled hill town of Barga in the Serchio valley has a special place in our hearts. The old town is a marvel of pedestrian streets with only a handful of restaurants and shops mostly selling food stuffs and gelato. All paths lead to the duomo at the top and looks out across the valley.
The forests are filled with mushrooms, chestnuts and wild boar clinging to the marble peaks of the Apuan Alps. Ancient hiking trails connect all of the tiny mountain villages making the area a hiker’s delight. A special bonus of some of the best water on the planet, filtered through marble from deep springs below to many public taps and fountains you can find along the trail.
Sometimes overlooked for Pisa and Florence, Lucca is a wonderful alternative to add to your itinerary. The Centro Storico is accessible by foot only and has a ton of things to see and do including a couple of towers to climb, with a reward of stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Cafes, bakeries and restaurants are around every corner and hidden on every street so if you’re hungry Lucca will satisfy. Lucca also hosts an awesome summer music festival and has more churches to visit than most Italian towns, some recently renovated and all offering something fantastic in architecture, art or history.
Have you visited any of these towns or are there others you would add to this list?