Italy tops the travel list year after year as the #1 destination worldwide. The Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, Venice, Rome, Florence, Tuscany… the list of favorite destinations in Italy is long indeed.
But there are so many undiscovered gems that get overlooked. Since Italy is a repeat destination for travelers, why not expand your portfolio and take a trip focused on those little gems that so few visit? Take a chance and get acquainted with the undiscovered.
Sure, the most popular spots are popular for a reason. They are amazing. But on the flip side, there are crowds and inflated prices BECAUSE they are so visited and, dare I say, “touristy”?
Imagine this… rent a fun car and focus only on Tuscany. Not the ‘show’ Tuscany, but the real Tuscany. There are soooo many quaint, truly Italian villages dotted throughout the Tuscan countryside.
Drive to a smaller lesser-know town, plant yourself there for a few days and just explore. Let yourself get lost in the Tuscan countryside discovering destinations that you’ve never heard of. Then move on to another town and do the same, working your way through Tuscany.
Focusing on those lesser-known gems is sure to fulfill your travel spirit in a whole new way! For those who have ‘done Tuscany’ by visiting the usual spots, this is the magic pill for giving you an entirely new perspective on a region you may think you know. The little surprises around the corner may well reignite your Tuscan craving and give you an entirely new perspective. Food for the soul I say!
Another positive is that by visiting the lesser-known towns, you are spreading the wealth by providing those little communities with valued tourism dollars.
One of the least explored areas of Tuscany, the Mugello Region lies northeast of Florence. It boasts vineyards producing Rufina and Pomino Chianti wines.
- Vicchio is a small historic town with fantastic art history. It’s the birthplace of Fra Angelico… proof of the art history right there!
- Vinci is kind of the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci. He was actually born in Anchiano, which is a hop and a skip from Vinci, but his name assumes his neighboring village. Somehow, this village remains off the beaten path.
Just east of Lucca lies a quirky small hill town called Collodi. It was home to the writer, Carlo Lorenzini, the creator of Pinocchio. It showcases medieval houses cascading down the mountainside with a castle at the top. If you have children, Collodi’s Parco di Pinocchio will enchant the little ones.
In the midst of the Val d’Orcia lies Pienza. UNESCO within UNESCO! What I mean is that both Val d’Orcia and Pienza are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Heralded as a perfect Renaissance city, spend some time here strolling through the romantic alleyways and picturesque squares. And definitely take in the magnificent views. In 1459, Pope Pius II ordered a large scale reconstruction to make Pienza the “ideal city of the Renaissance.”
Pecorino cheese reigns here and there are some lovely farms dotted about where you can enjoy the cheese paired with wonderful wines. Although Pienza is not unknown, it still hasn’t reached the crazy tourist levels of other Tuscan towns. I suggest you get yourself there before that happens.
The Maremma Region is a part of Tuscany that sees far fewer tourists than the central Tuscan hill towns. Pitigliano is often overlooked since it is at the far end of Tuscany on the border with Lazio. Also known as The Little Jerusalem, it is a real treasure.
Visit Etruscan tombs, wells, and cellars as you stroll under arches on the narrow streets. This charming village is built high atop tufa stone and appears to be suspended in the air. The homes seem to be part of the rock itself. The Jewish history here is fascinating!
This is just a smattering of places to explore. How fun is it to tell your friends and family all about your discoveries? To be the first among your crowd who has visited towns and villages most have never seen! So get out there, rent a car and wander! “Oh… the places you’ll go” as dear Dr. Seuss said.