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Top Five Most Underrated Destinations in Italy

A couple weeks ago I shared my Top Five Most Overrated Destinations in Italy, and today I want to talk about the five destinations that I think are completely underrated!

Verona needs to fire their head of PR. Even I had not visited Verona until this past February (and I have visited a lot of random Italian cities). It was simply not on my radar. I had no idea it had the best preserved Roman amphitheater in the world, or was a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty and charm of Verona. It is also much bigger than I expected with so many things to do and see.

I have yet to find a vacation spot that I love more than the adorable seaside town of Positano. I find Positano infinitely more enjoyable and relaxing than its famous neighbor, Capri. I love renting my reasonably priced beach chair (with this view) and eating fresh strawberries while sipping little bottles of prosecco. When you tire of the beach, you can explore the adorable town and purchase custom-made sandals from local vendors. The best part about Positano is that it is centrally located and you can easily bus, ferry, or drive to explore the other nearby towns of the Amalfi Coast.

Like Verona, Padua is a very old, and very important, city overlooked by modern-day travelers. Padua calls itself the oldest city in northern Italy (claiming it was established by a Trojan prince) and has the second oldest university in Italy. Yet despite its age, Padua (or Padova) maintains a hip and young feel today thanks to the still vibrant student population. Art and history lovers can marvel at the early (or proto) Renaissance frescos throughout the city (Giotto's Scrovegni Chapel being the most famous), while less art focused wanderers can explore the medieval streets and marketplaces. 

Milan is Italy's banking and industrial center as well as its cultural and artistic tastemaker. It is also arguably the most "modern" and global city in Italy. But not every thing in Milan is modern, although much of the city was rebuilt after massive bombings in WWII. There are still lots of important historical sites, like Da Vinici's Last Supper, the amazing Gothic cathedral (it looks like lace!), and the old castle complex. In addition to these sites, Milan has amazing shopping!

Italy in general is known for its amazing food, but I contend that the best Italian food is in Bologna. I mean they invented spaghetti Bolognese! Like Padua, Bologna is also home to an ancient university (the oldest in Europe, in fact) and remains a college town today. Thanks to this, the city is dotted with great cafes, bars, and unique boutique shopping. Bologna has had lots of nicknames over the centuries -- the learned one (because of the university), the fat one (because of the food), and the red one (because of the medieval red terra cotta that remains throughout the city). It also just a 30 minute train ride away from Florence!

Have I missed any of your favorite Italian cities? Please share what you think are the most underrated destinations in Italy!

Ashley B
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  1. If you like to vacation in Italy I would highly recommend the seaside resort Viareggio with its beautiful beach. It's located just south of Cinque Terre and it's easily reach by train from Florence (train station: Firenze Rifredi). I have understood that Viareggio is a popular holiday spot for Italians themselves, so it’s not that touristic. You would probably also love the small city of Certaldo, and especially Certaldo Alto, the old part of the city witch can be reached with an old funicular. Giovanni Boccaccio lived here, and it’s said that he wrote Decamerone here. I personally loved the Plazzo Pretorio and the nearby restaurant Osteria di Vicario witch has a fantastic view over the Tuscany countryside. Both Viareggio and Certaldo are hidden gems, and kind of off the beaten path- sites.

  2. Tony's LOVES Padua, so we can't fault you there. We're staying just outside of Positano this summer. I'm hoping the hike from our B&B to the town & beach does't kill me (or perhaps more importantly, ruin my sandals). I feel like I need to start training on the stair master now.

    jess | Bows & Bouquets

  3. tried to comment about Milan but I think it got lost! I loved it - it had everything: shopping, history, restaurants, nightlife, history, museums. At times it reminded us of London, Paris, and NYC. highly recommended!

  4. I love that you mentioned Verona! I had the PLEASURE and sheer LUCK of getting to spend a summer abroad at the University of Verona. It was a blast. Can't wait to get back to that city!

  5. I love Positano - I've been at least three times and my husband is from Bologna so definitely agree with you! I'd live to visit Verona next. Kirsty -

  6. Lecce, Lecce, Lecce.... I find it beats all of the usual Italian cities hands down. It's not swarming with tourists all year round. It's easy enough to see by bike (even if you'll probably be the only ones). The local "Pietra Leccese" (Lecce stone) gives off such an amazing glow to the streets, especially if your able to catch it at the crack of dawn. During the summer months the city stays alive well into the early hours, unlike most of the above mentioned cities, Street artists are welcomed with open arms. The service: I've found service in many places to be a whole lot slower but to be quite honest, it gives you even more time to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the view and pour another glass....

  7. Genova, Cinque Terre, Portofino of course! The most remote and gorgeous places. Everywhere you turn is Insta-worthy! Only the locals know these places...

  8. There are SO MANY places in Italy I want to go. I just take six months and explore the country!

  9. I have Bologna on my wish list hence how I found your fabulous blog! I really need to visit and didn't realise it was so close to Florence which I really want to revisit xx

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  11. I would say Turin is even better than Milan for a city feel mixed with excellent art and history. If you've never been, here's my blog post on my day in Turin:

  12. Stresa is one of the most beautiful places in Italy. It's just over 1hr north on Milan on the train. It's on Lago Maggoire.

  13. Love this! Headed to Verona later this week. Capri has been on my hit list for a while but now I'm thinking of Positano :) check out my post on Venice if you get the chance:

  14. Could not agree with you more. I was able to stay in Bologna for 5 weeks one summer and it was amazing. I also spent a day in Verona and loved it!

  15. I'm so pleased to read the comment about Viareggio as we have booked an Airbnb there for 5 days this Easter!


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