If you have been to Italy a few times or are simply looking for a unique holiday not packed with tourists, you best get advice from a local. Luckily, we are that local. We know all the hidden gems to ensure you’ll come away with a different impression of Italy.
The north is vastly different from the south of Italy and boasts many cosmopolitan cities which are easy to commute between. While the south offers a spectacular coast, cuisine, and hospitable locals, the north is rather a different side of Italy, And in some instances it is easier to get to from the UK if you fly into Milan and then hire a car to visit Lombardy and surrounding regions.
What’s more, Italy is so much more than a monument theme park. It is rich in nature – and of course culture – no matter where you go.
Here are our favourite hidden gems to visit in the north of Italy:
Northern Italy: Sondrio, Lombardy
A small jewel, made of wood, water and stone, the city of Sondrio was named Alpine Town of the Year in 2007. It is set in the Lombardy region 134km from Milan and conveniently accessible by regional train.
The mix of new and ancient streets reveals the Renaissance era that shaped this town. You can find characteristic fifteenth and seventeenth century architecture, neoclassical buildings, and contemporary sculptures. All this is complemented by churches and towers with unexpected views over the nearby valleys, terraced streets, and the vineyard landscapes.
Two main museums give visitors an insight into the culture and traditions, its history and its stories. Or if you want to get a feel for Sondrio today, simply sit in Piazza Garibaldi for some people watching with a Spritz in hand.
Vipiteno, Trentino-Alto Adige
Vipiteno is arguably one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Over the centuries, it was repeatedly the residence of emperors. Today, the medieval town has become quite modern, however retaining its medieval origins. Picturesque protrusions and cusps, colorful facades and suggestive corners decorate the main street, where the civic tower divides the new city and the historic center.
Today Vipiteno is a modern town buzzing with commercial activity. All its delicatessen shops and boutiques, as well as typical restaurants in the 15th-century Torre delle Dodici, give this town a Mediterranean charm backed by a long history.
Monferrato is a UNESCO World Heritage Sites thanks to its interesting architectural heritage. Over time it has become a wonder of ‘underground cathedrals’ which span the whole city and are linked to many wineries including the 190-year-old Bosca cellars.
Whilst their origins are unknown, the current cellars date from the nineteenth century following the boom in wine production in the area. Sweet and dry sparkling wines were first born a century and a half ago and are now imported worldwide.
Nesso, Lake Como, Lombardy
Nesso is on the eastern shore of Lake Como. Its position boasts a spectacular panorama and a view of the gorge where the two rivers to flow into the lake. Halfway between Como and Bellagio, it is a place of natural beauty and charm.
The village of Nesso is characterised by its picturesque streets an enchanting architectural heritage. These include the church of Saints Peter and Paul and the church of San Martino a Careno.
Visitors can also admire the mountainous landscape and architecture by boat and there is never a shortage of walking tracks for those who wish to get amongst the nature by foot.
Located in the southern part of Veneto, on the border with Emilia Romagna, Rovigo is a flat area about 40 kilometers from the Adriatic Sea. Rich in waterways, it is part of the vast area of the Veneto Regional Park of the Po Delta, a place of great naturalistic and historical wonders.
At first sight small and quiet city, it hides a fascinating history discoverable only on a private tour. For example, the impressive towers inside the city are part of a spectacular medieval fortress.
Temples, cathedrals, and museums are waiting to be explored. Learn more about what makes Rovigo a hidden gem worth visiting.
Looking to take a tour a little off the beaten track, organised by locals who take care of the hassle? Talk to us about a customised tour package suited to your tastes, preferences and travelling style. We can make it as action packed or as laid back as you like. But one thing is certain, it will be a holiday you’ll be reminiscing about for years to come.