Hidden Gems in Italy You Shouldn’t Miss

Breathtaking Vernazza, Italy

As sad as it is to admit, in most cases, the vacation time is not unlimited. The reality is that the huge list of things we want to see and do is way too often crushed by the necessity of prioritizing what we actually have time for. And when it comes to such a remarkable destination as Italy, where the list of A-list places that will take your breath away is not that much smaller than The Great Gatsby, it’s no surprise that a lot of humbler destinations fall into the cracks.

Not because they are in any way lacking, but simply because most people (us included) won’t choose skipping Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, in favor of visiting Ivrea, a small town full of character that most people have never heard of. But if you’ve already been to the Italian cultural capitals 20 times, have seen them through and through, and now look for something slightly different, here are a few interesting options for you to consider.

Top Underrated Italian Cities 



While it might seem like a mistake to start the list with such a big name as Naples, hear us out. After all, the city gets its fair share of international tourists, but it’s not even close to the number of people coming to Rome or Florence. Truth be told, Naples has quite a reputation for being a high-crime destination, too bleak, and too busy for an enjoyable stay. And while the crime thing is nothing more than a stereotype, and it’s safer to visit Naples than Paris if you take basic precautions, it’s true that the city of Naples is hectic, loud, and very alive. The traffic situation there is even worse than in the heart of Rome (yep, it’s possible), the house facades even in the city center are much less polished than you would expect, and some streets are narrow enough to make claustrophobes uncomfortable. But we still think that Naples is one of the must-visit places in Italy.

The thing is that the city doesn’t have the glorified museum vibes and refined beauty you can expect from the tourist-favorite Italy destinations, making a lot of people uneasy when visiting, but Naples feels authentic and true to itself. It’s a place that never puts tourists’ comfort above the convenience of the locals. Well, see for yourself. Neapolitans still live in the treasured buildings nestled in the historical city center. The local churches boasting breathtaking art are not just must-see attractions but functioning houses of God. There are close to no tourist trap restaurants simply because the city is not a touristy place. And while we can’t guarantee that you will fall in love with Naples, don’t skip this destination without giving it a chance. Despite its questionable reputation, the city has a tendency to surprise in the best possible way.




Often overlooked in favor of Milan, which is nestled a 2-hour drive away, the city of Turin is a hidden gem of Northern Italy. This remarkable destination is much less about sights to cross off your must-see list and more about enjoying the subtler things that make Italy so irresistible as a travel destination. Turin boasts stunning architecture, and beautiful baroque palaces, ancient Roman ruins, and churches with amazing interiors are scattered all around the city. And you can explore all these gems without the suffocating crowds of people impatiently waiting to take a selfie rather than appreciating what’s in front of them.

When you visit, you will find that the food is unsurprisingly amazing, the local wines are exquisite, and living Dolce Vita, aka the life of mundane pleasures and beauty, feels incredibly easy in Turin. And if you see a beautiful cobbled piazza when exploring the city, you can go to one of the cafes nearby, order coffee and tiramisu, and let yourself savor everything—the views, the dessert, this moment in time—instead of having to walk a few blocks in a random direction, so you can find some off-street cafes to avoid the overpriced tourist trap venues with bad coffee. And while the places you find this way can turn out to be absolute gems, sometimes it can be very nice to enjoy the things you want here and now.




Charming colorful houses, stunning coastline, clothes hanging on ropes pulled under the windows to dry—this is what Genoa is about. Even though the destination is by no means a small city, it hasn’t lost the charm of one over the years. Apart from the iconic cathedral, the destination doesn’t have many world-famous sights, so most people don’t pay Genoa attention and treat it as a transit stop for an overnight stay on their way to Cinque Terre at best.

But if you have a chance to stay there for a few days, you will surely fall in love with this remarkable place. Imagine exploring stunning Ligurian Hills hiking trails, taking old funiculars to explore the majestic castles up the hill, watching sunsets as you enjoy the best seafood of your life that you got from a small takeaway place by the docks, or losing track of time on one of Genoa’s beaches, ranging from soft golden sand to small pebbles. Sounds great, right? Dedicated sightseers, museum enthusiasts, and people in love with vibrant nightlife destinations will likely find the city lacking, but if you love the atmospheric places that breathe history and you find the idea of losing track of time exploring the narrow streets of the beautiful city more appealing than terrifying, Genoa might be exactly the place for you.


Vietri Sul Mare


The stunning Amalfi Coast is one of the most popular Italian regions, and rightly so. It’s a place where the jaw-dropping beauty of the landscapes will take your breath away, and the air smells like the sea, happiness, and the best homemade lemon ice cream in the world. As we speak, cities such as Positano, Sorrento, and Amalfi welcome hundreds of tourists from all over the world. But while they are all extremely popular choices, if you are looking for a getaway to Amalfi and aren’t afraid to go off the beaten path, consider spending a few days in less-known Vietri Sul Mare, Amalfi Spot for the Italians.

The place has everything the Amalfi Coast is famous for, from the amazing beaches and remarkable natural beauty to very Instagrammable colorful houses and wonderful ceramic shops. What it doesn’t have is the overwhelming number of visitors, as Vietri is one of Amalfi’s best-kept secrets, and you are unlikely to feel like a herring in a barrel even during the peak of the tourist season.



For the most part of the year, the little town of Ivrea is quiet. Nestled just a 40-minute drive from Turin, Ivrea is mostly ignored by globetrotters. Pretty much anywhere else in the world, its beautiful cathedral and majestic 14th-century castle would be a magnet for tourists, but as every second village in Italy can boast something like that, the town remains in the shadow of more famous Italian destinations.

But then January comes, and Ivrea becomes a hot spot in Piedmont, as it houses one of the maddest (we mean it affectionately) festivals in the country: the Battle of the Oranges, the ultimate food fight most children can only dream of. You can treat your inner kid by joining a tribe and taking part in the festivities that last for 3 days, or at least come to enjoy the spectacular show. Apart from the food fight with oranges itself, you can expect lively parades, beautiful floats, and entertainers of all kinds coming from all over the world. And don’t worry; no food is wasted. The oranges used for the grand battles are carefully collected and sent for further processing to be eventually transformed into compost or energy.

And don’t worry, no food is wasted. The oranges used for the grand battles are carefully collected and sent for further processing to be eventually transformed into compost or energy.


Of course, the list is only a small fraction of the underrated Italian gems. We can talk for hours about Brisighella, Val di Non, Cremona, and dozens of other incredible places that so often fly under the radar. But these five cities we’ve highlighted above are a solid start. Italy has a lot to offer for those who dare to venture beyond the beaten path, and we will be happy to show you the best of it.

by Ksenia Zaiceva