Rome: Rome is often touted as the place to go in Italy, which is well-deserved thanks to its rich history and mouthwatering food. But there are several other spots throughout the country that give travelers a look at Italy’s dynamic culture.
To gear up for 2019, several travel-focused sites rounded up the best places to go for the year, and quite a few Italian spots that weren’t the typical locations of Rome, Venice and Florence made the cut.
Below, check out the cities and regions they recommended that are a bit under the radar for the average traveler.
Matera: The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera are a UNESCO World Heritage site. The European Commission named Matera this year’s European Capital of Culture (alongside Plovdiv in Bulgaria). The city also earned a spot on multiple 2019 travel lists, including Travel and Leisure’s “50 Best Places to Travel in 2019,” National Geographic’s “Best Trips 2019” and Architectural Digest’s “Top 20 Places to Travel in 2019.” It’s home to the Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches, a system of cave structures UNESCO collectively named a World Heritage site in 1993.
Ischia: Ischia, a volcanic island in the Gulf of Naples, is one of 50 places on Travel and Leisure’s “50 Best Places to Travel in 2019” list. Its stunning beaches attract many tourists looking for a day in the sun, while the Aragonese Castle brings sightseers and history buffs. But if you’re looking for a real view, Mount Epomeo offers a look from the highest peak on the island.
Piedmont: Italy’s region of Piedmont, which features the Mole Antonelliana landmark building in Turin, ranked at the very top of Lonely Planet’s “Top Regions” list this year.
Italy’s region of Piedmont, which features the Mole Antonelliana landmark building in Turin, ranked at the very top of Lonely Planet’s “Top Regions” list this year.
Lonely Planet’s team named Piedmont 2019′s No. 1 region to visit. Bordering France and Switzerland, it boasts several ski resorts and gorgeous views of the Alps. Turin, the region’s capital, is home to the National Automobile Museum as well as the former Lingotto Fiat factory, which featured a test track on the roof. Ivrea also has a massive food fight every year, if that’s more your thing.
Puglia: Lecce, a city in Italy’s Puglia region, has been called the country’s “Florence of the South.” Lecce, a city in Italy’s Puglia region, has been called the country’s “Florence of the South.”
Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot formation, made Fodor’s “Go List 2019” as well as The New York Times’ “52 Places to Go in 2019.” The region features Alberobello’s limestone homes known as “trulli,” one of several locations in Italy that have earned a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Last year, GQ described Puglia as “Italy’s most overlooked food destination.” It also offers several gorgeous beaches as well as the Baroque city of Lecce, a popular tourist destination in the region.
Emilia-Romagna: Emilia-Romagna is an Italian region that houses Bologna, which Vogue called the spot for the “ultimate Italian foodie tour.”
The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy made The New York Times’ “52 Places to Go” list for 2018, and this year, a few of its cities made an appearance on 2019 travel recommendations from Mic and Forbes. Italy as a whole is arguably one of the best countries for food lovers, and this region in particular ― with its signature prosciutto di Parma and tagliatelle Bolognese ― definitely makes the case. Lonely Planet called it the country’s “gastronomic paradise,” and Vogue described Bologna, the region’s capital, as the spot for the “ultimate Italian foodie tour.”
Palermo: Piazza Pretoria in Palermo features a gorgeous fountain and several statues. The capital of Sicily, Palermo made Condé Nast Traveler’s list of “The 19 Best Places to Go in 2019.” The Cathedral of Palermo, which features royal tombs, is often a pull for tourists visiting Sicily, as are the Norman Palace and the Palatine Chapel. For more of a local look, travelers can head to the Ballarò Street Market. And if you’re looking for an envy-inducing view, Mount Pellegrino offers a photo-worthy look over the city.