Italy’s hidden gems

If you’re looking for something a little bit different when you’re in Italy, why not escape the crowds and discover some of these well-hidden treasures?

1. Porto Venere – Northern Italy

Tourists flock to the five coastal villages of Cinque Terre, but the lesser-known neighbouring village of Porto Venere, oozes the same charm and beauty, making it an ideal escape from the crowds.

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A stroll along the harbour takes you past vibrant, elongated houses believed to have been shaped in such a way to enhance the village’s defence system.

An afternoon here is best spent meandering the cobbled streets and when the air cools, a visit to the Gothic Church of St. Peter at the top of the hill offers spectacular views at sunset.

It’s easy to see how Porto Venere inspired English poet Byron, for it is here, in Byron’s Grotto, where he was known to meditate and draw inspiration for his literary works. Although Byron’s Grotto collapsed in the 1930s, it is still possible for visitors to access the area and soak up its silent beauty.

 

2. Grotta Palazzese, Polignano a Mare, Puglia – Southern Italy

Nestled in a vaulted, limestone cavern overlooking the Adriatic Sea, this romantic restaurant is certain to melt the coldest heart.

Naturally created centuries ago, the cave is an enchanting restaurant setting and has been the scene for many romantic moments.

Here, diners can take a table for two at the cliffs’ edge and enjoy world-class dishes, whilst listening to the waves crash beneath them.

A four course meal at Grotta Palazzese costs €100.

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This is a very popular restaurant and booking is highly recommended.

 

3. Lake Orta – Northern Italy

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Located in Piedmont, enchanting Lake Orta, is the Italian Lakes’ best kept secret.

Lush mountains conceal this beautiful lake and the tiny island of Isola San Giulio that sits proudly in the middle of the water.

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Famous for its Benedictine monastery, this quant island is also home of Salla Tallone, where unforgettable concerts can be enjoyed in late June.

Occasionally, veiled in a light mist, this majestic island has an air of mystery surrounding it. It’s no wonder this treasure has been kept so quiet.

 

4. Atrani, Amalfi Coast

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Hidden between two cliffs, this stunning little fishing village is often overlooked as tourists gravitate towards the more popular towns on the Amalfi Coast. This fact alone, means visitors are gifted a blissful serenity in which to appreciate the architecture of the Medieval Church of San Salvatore de’ Birecto built in the 10th century, and the 15th century fortress of Torre dello Ziro.

After a spot of lunch at one of the laid-back restaurants, why not mosey on down to the small, sandy beach for some time out – a perfect spot to admire the breathtaking views.

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