Finally here it is, the list of places that I would like to visit in Italy this year. With such a variety of landscapes and artistic towns, it’s been a tough selection process but I’ve finally come up with my top 15 places!
I hope this will inspire you to add a few more places to your wishlist. So let’s start…
The Fenestrelle Fortress
I’ve discovered this place only recently, but I’ve immediately added it to my list. Not only is it one of Europe’s biggest fortified structures, but it also features the largest covered staircase, with about 4,000 steps. The fortress can be visited by guided tours only and the full tour takes about 7 hours… no wonder that it is often referred to as the Great Wall of Italy!
This is perhaps Italy’s best-kept secret, a region that even Italians often ignore.
It’s rich in stunning landscapes and beaches and boast some pretty fascinating traditions and artisanal activities. For example, did you know that this little region is specialized in the production of bagpipes and bells for churches around the world? One of the few remaining corners of Italy untouched by tourist crowds!
Val di Funes
I love a good hike and this tiny, untouristy valley nestled among the Dolomite mountains makes for a fantastic, peaceful escape. Breathtaking mountain scenery and picturesque little churces … what else would I need ?!
The Sacred Mountain of Varese
Located just 50km north of Milan, this is a beautiful cobblestone path on the slope of a mountain, dotted with 14 chapels. These are filled with some impressive frescoes and sculpture depicting scenes from the Jesus’ life and lead to a cloistered convent. Definitely a unique place which makes for a peaceful walk away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, with sweeping views over the town of Varese and the surrounding lakes.
Trieste is an elegant port town close to the Slovenian borders. Things to see here include the amazing Piazza Unità Italia, a huge square facing the Adriatic Sea, and the Caverna del Gigante, one of the largest tourist caves in the world. Also, not to miss is the Bora Museum, a curious place that celebrates Bora, the wind Trieste is famous for.
No secret that Venice is the jewel of the lagoon, but there are some equally amazing places to visit there. I’m thinking about Torcello, once the most populous island in the lagoon, home to some spectacular Byzantine mosaics, and tiny Burano with its super colorful houses. Another gem of the lagoon is Chioggia, often referred to as the ‘little Venice’ due to the picturesque canals that cross the town center. It can be reached by boat in about 1.30 hour.
This trip has been on my wishlist for quite a while now and I really want to make it happen this year. Lake Braies is a place of unbelievable beauty. Located in the Trentino-Alto Adige region, it is surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Dolomites and is part of an area that was included in the Unesco World Heritage list.
Another fantastic region, perhaps a bit out of the well-trodden tourist trails but with plenty to offer. From charming hilltop hamlets to beautiful towns and an alluring countryside, this is a truly fantastic corner of Italy. Not to mention the dramatic stretches of coastline overlooking the Adriatic sea, like the Conero peninsula.
We all know the famous Bernina Express line, but there’s another charming train line worth considering. This is Ferrovia Vigezzina, a little blue train winding through the enchanting Vigezzo Valley, in the Piedmont region. On board of panoramic viewing cars, the train stops at various picturesque mountain villages before reaching the Swiss town of Locarno. A fascinating journey to take, particularly in October and November when nature reveals the unique colors of autumn.
With Trenitalia now connecting Milan to Perugia in just about 3.5 hours, visiting the central region of Umbria will be so much easier for me. There are lovely places to visit here, including pink-stoned Assisi, the town of St. Francis, surrounded by stunning nature ( a must-see is the Marmore waterfall). Oh, and the oldest olive tree in Italy (about 1,700 years old!) can be found here.
Located in central Italy, Abruzzo is a region of pure wilderness, with three national parks and many charming corners that are still unknown even to most Italians. It is also home to trabocchi, the traditional wooden fishing machines that dot its coastline.
It’s been ages since the last time I visited Bologna, and I want to go back to check if and how the city has changed in these years. Ok, I’m not gonna lie. I want to go mostly to eat. The local cuisine is unbelievable and I’m already dreaming of tortellini, ragù and mortadella!
Closer to Tunisia than Italy, Pantelleria is a remote island located off the western coast of Sicily.
I haven’t been there yet. I know, nothing to add.
Often overshadowed by Venice, which is just an hour away, Padova is a treasure trove of art. Must-sees here are the Scrovegni Chapel to admire Giotto’s frescos, and the university, one of the oldest in the world, attended by the likes of Copernicus and Galileo Galilei.
Will I manage to see all these places? Follow the blog to find out! In the meantime, tell me, whether it’s a little trip or a big adventure, where will you go in 2018? Comment below with your own wishlist!