There’s a reason why Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world. Not only is it rich in history and culture, but the food is amazing and they have some of the best sites in the world.
Everyone knows and visits the usual suspects — Rome, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre and so forth. But there’s so much more to Italy then the typical tourist hot spots, which is why I thought I’d highlight some alternatives.
Obviously, nothing quite compares to seeing the Colosseum up close and personal or taking a romantic gondola ride along the canals of Venice, so of course do those too. But it doesn’t hurt to add a couple of different cities to the itinerary as well.
Lake Garda instead of Lake Como
Peschieria del Garda.
Lake Como is one of Italy’s most famous lake destinations. Often visited by the likes of celebrities and millionaires and known for it’s luxury hotels and villas. However, a couple of hours east of Como is the beautiful Lake Garda.
Whilst much less known to western travellers, the Germans and Dutch have been coming here for years. It’s Italy’s largest lake and is every bit as beautiful as Como but often without the price tag.
TIP: My favourite towns on Lake Garda are Sirmione, Peschieria del Garda and Lazise.
Bologna instead of Florence
Rooftop views from the Cathedral of St Peter.
In Italy, Bologna is referred to as la Grassa, la rossa e la dotta which translates to English as the fat, the red and the learned. The fat because of it’s rich gastronomy, red because of it’s terracotta rooftops (or political views, depending on who you ask) and the learned because it’s home to Italy’s oldest university.
Despite this though, Bologna has largely stayed off most people’s bucket list. Just half an hour from Florence by train, if you’re looking for an alternative to Florence, Bologna is definitely your girl.
TIP: Bologna is the home of bolognese sauce! So be sure to try a plate of it while visiting. Although typically, Italians don’t call it bolognese but rather ragù. It also has a leaning tower that just about rivals Pisa’s.
Emilia Romagna instead of Tuscany
View from Tenuta la Palina.
When it comes to rolling hills of greenery and sweeping views of vineyards and olive trees, Tuscany is the first place that tends to come to mind in Italy. But did you know it’s northern neighbour Emilia Romagna, has all of that to offer as well?
Take it from me, over the summer we were looking for a relaxing weekend away before work and training begun and I hopped on Airbnb and found this amazing little B&B with to die for views and I assumed it was in Tuscany. Nope, it was Emilia Romagna!
Verona instead of Milan
Nothing can rival Milan’s breathtaking duomo or its shopping precinct, but Verona is pretty up there in terms of beauty and charm, albeit a little smaller. Verona is one of my favourite Italian cities and I think I fall in love a little more each time I go.
Famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Verona has a little bit of everything. A beautifully in tact mini colosseum that still plays host to concerts and operas, great shopping and food, amazing look outs and green gardens.
TIP: Check out my previous post about Verona here, for a more detailed idea on what to do and see.