Summer is the most popular season to visit the beautiful country of Italy, and with that comes the hordes of travelers looking to explore the different regions, cities and beaches that make this destination so unique. With over-tourism becoming a desperate situation in many of Italy’s well-known destinations (think Cinque Terre and Venice), Discover Your Italy, a boutique travel outfitter known for showcasing the “Italian’s Italy,” is encouraging travelers to explore some of the country’s “not-so-popular” destinations. These lesser known gems still evoke the same wonder, elegance and history as your favorite Italian hotspots, just sans crowds.
LECCE vs. FLORENCE
Florence is world famous for being Italy’s Renaissance city, however the lesser known city of Lecce boasts amazing Baroque buildings and a young and vibrant atmosphere. The surrounding coastal area has charming beach towns (Gallipoli, Otranto), while the countryside has many Masserias (typical Puglia farmhouses) producing wine, olives, cheese and more. Here travelers can take intimate cooking classes in one of the Masserias or enjoy exclusive food and wine tastings to make their Italian Renaissance escape come to life.
ISCHIA vs. CAPRI
Capri has long been the preferred beach destination for the international jetsetters, however Ischia is just as beautiful and evokes a truly Mediterranean atmosphere. Ischia is a perfect alternative for travlers who still want the idyllic beach setting but also a true authentic experience. Not to be missed are the natural spas near the Maronti Beach. There are a number of places on the island where travelers can take advantage of these natural phenomenons, including the natural Hot Springs of Sorgeto, or the thermal parks and gardens such as Poseidon or Negombo. Insider’s Tip: If a hotel has the name "Terme" in it, then it's likely to have its own thermal spa or wellness center, using its own natural underground resources.
TREVISO vs. VENICE
Quite like Venice, Treviso is a small, beautiful, and romantic destination in Italy. Many refer to it as an “airport city,” however the historic center is full of Renaissance squares, palaces, richly frescoed churches, and streets threaded with ancient waterways. Here travelers will find the Palazzo dei Trecento and the Fontana delle Tette, a 16th-century fountain that used to dispense wine. Insider’s Tip: The countryside surrounding Treviso is a major wine production area where the famous Prosecco sparkling wine is produced.
ITALIAN RIVIERA (SESTRI LEVANTE, RAPALLO, SANTA MARGHERITA) vs. CINQUE TERRE
The Italian Riviera is known to have the most beautiful villages in Italy with colorful seaside towns, panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea and stunning beaches. Instead of heading through Cinque Terre, why not opt for some hidden gem towns such as Rapallo, anta Margherita and Sestri Levante. Insider’s Tip: Don’t leave without tasting the delicious Focaccia al formaggio (also known as Focaccia di Recco): made by spreading mild creamy cheese (usually crescenza) between two thin slices of bread made without yeast.
SIRACUSA vs. TAORMINA
The city of Siracusa, once described by Cicero as “the largest and most beautiful of all Greek cities,” is a great alternative to the popular destination of Taormina and still offers just as much Sicilian heritage and charm. The heart of ancient Siracusa is Ortigia, a small island linked to the modern city by bridges. Here, travelers can visit the folkoristic market and the Greek Archaeological Park which hosts the Greek Theater Festival each spring. Insider’s Tip: The coast surrounding Siracusa also has some of the most beautiful beaches in Sicily.
LAKE MAGGIORE vs. LAKE COMO
Framed by soaring Alpine peaks, Lake Maggiore sweeps majestically from northern Italy into southern Switzerland and just as majestic as Lake Como. Stresa and Pallanza, on the Italian western shore, are recognized as two of the most beautiful towns on the lake, with lush gardens and fine old villas. From these two towns you can take a boat to visit the Borromeo islands or take the Lago Maggiore Express, a journey by train and ship, to reach the southern part of Switzerland. Insider’s Tip: The little lake town of Arona is also home to one of Italy’s largest cheese refiners where several qualities of cheeses are aged until they become truly delicious.