Italy is a dream destination for many – with its stunning architecture, rich history, and tasty gastronomy, the small country attracts millions of visitors each year. While most people head to famous destinations like Rome or Venice, you might want to add a couple of villages and small towns to your itinerary.
Full of hidden gems, Italy’s countryside is definitely worth a visit with some of the prettiest villages and small towns you’ll ever see, straight out of a fairy tale.
To help you decide which villages/small towns you should add to your bucket list, we’ve come up with a list of the 15 best small villages in Italy you should visit during your trip.
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Travel tip: before any international trip, make sure you get good travel insurance.
Related article – Most beautiful cities to visit in Italy
By Lisa from Planning Away
The Island of Capri is one of the prettiest cities in Italy. It is located off the Amalfi Coast of Italy.
The best way to get to Capri is by ferry. There are two ferry ports one is located in Sorrento and the other in Naples. It takes about 25 – 80 minutes depending on which port you depart from.
The most popular thing to do on the island of Capri is to take a boat ride to the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto tour will take you around the island by speedboat followed by a canoe ride into the grotto. An Italian singer will row you into a cave and sing beautiful music that echoes throughout the grotto.The light that shines into the cave makes the water the most beautiful blue you will ever see.
Capri is the tourist side of the island. There are amazing shops and restaurants. Capri is also known for its lemons. They grow all around the island and have become a symbol for Capri. Purchasing lemon souvenirs as well as the special Limoncello di Capri (a local drink) is highly recommended.
After you have experienced the tourist side of the island head over to AnaCapri. AnaCapri is where the locals live and is a lot quieter. You can take a chair lift up to Mount Solaro and hike down. It is a beautiful hike!
A day trip to Capri is the perfect way to see one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe! You can also plan to spend a night or two – treat yourself to the gorgeous Hotel Mamela with its infinity pool and breath-taking views.
By Annabel from Smudged Postcard
Taormina is located on the northeast coast of Sicily. The town sits high on a clifftop with the most incredible views over both the sea and the ever-smoldering Mount Etna – Sicily’s active volcano.
Taormina has wonderful streets to explore – full of enticing restaurants, shops, and cafes. One of the highlights of Taormina is its ancient Greek amphitheater which still shows live performances of everything from opera to pop concerts.
Taormina is at its best in spring and autumn – the summer months can draw huge crowds and the heat can be pretty intense. Taormina has very narrow streets so if you’re arriving by car, it should be left at one of the car parks outside of the town center. Better still, hop in a taxi from Catania airport and forget the car – Taormina is the kind of place where you can linger for days without going very far or doing a great deal, it’s such a beautiful town. Pretty Piazza IX is a great place for an evening stroll – locals and tourists alike come to socialize and stop for a drink in one of the many cafes.
Should you wish to explore further, one of the most popular beaches in Sicily can be found below Taormina which can be reached via a cable car. And a day trip to Mount Etna is definitely worth considering – the volcanic landscape is fascinating.
There are some fabulous hotels in Taormina, with something for every budget. At the luxury end of the market, the Grand Hotel Timeo is fantastic while the Villa Belvedere – considerably cheaper – is a delightful small hotel with bags of charm.
By Erki from Genem Travels
Castelmezzano is a small mountain town in southern Italy. It has been titled as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy due to scenic views over the town. It’s surrounded by the stunning Lucanian Dolomites mountain range.
One of its highlights is the small charming medieval town itself. Castelmezzano has three churches, a viewpoint of the village and dolomite hills from the main square, a cluster of colorful stone buildings, and the main landmark Gradinata Normanna.
The town is surrounded by several hike trails and walks like Via Ferrata Salemm for climbing on dolomite hills or an easier walk on Seven Stone Path, which also connects neighboring town Pietrapertosa.
The most popular activity in Castelmezzano is the high-speed zip line Volo dell’Angelo. It takes adrenaline junkies over the valley of Basento to Pietrapertosa and back.
The best time to visit it would be right before (April to May) or after (September to October) the summer months. Then the weather is still relatively warm and it will be quieter.
There are several accommodation options, which are mostly family-run businesses. For the views over the town and valley, it’s recommended B&B Al balcone delle dolomiti.
Castelmezzano is a bit off track. It’s connected with a few public bus companies. It would be an ideal day trip option from historical Matera, which is about 80 km away.
By Alessia & Toti from Italian Trip Abroad
There are definitely cute and hidden towns in Italy, often outside from the tourist’s maps and not well advertised as ultimate destinations in the “bel paese”. However, Alberobello is associated with unique cone-shaped houses well known worldwide. Despite that, it’s still in the range of the small villages. The cute whitewashed town in the heart of Puglia, Southern Italy, it’s home to the famous “Trulli”, particular houses with a cone as the roof.
Thanks to its cone-shaped roof, Trulli of Alberobello is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site worth visiting during your trip to Puglia. You might think that as it’s a small town there is not much to do but, actually there are so many things to do in Alberobello. Strolling around the little cobbled alleys you will see the Trullo Siamese, made of two cone-shaped roofs into another, and Trullo Sovrano, the biggest one. If you love panoramic places, you might fall in love with the view from the Belvedere of Santa Lucia.
Alberobello is situated in a strategic point that is easy to reach. From Martina Franca, a small town close by, you can take the train and arrive in Alberobello in about 30 minutes. Martina Franca, it’s the perfect location to visit the whole Valle d’Itria, with many other cute villages like Cisternino and Locorotondo.
It’s not needed a car to explore natural landscapes, easily discovered by public transport, however, renting a car might enhance your experience. At a short distance by car, you can also enjoy a perfect day trip to Matera as well!
Avoid visiting Alberobello in the summertime as the weather will ruin your trip due to its high temperature. Plan your visit during springtime or for mid-September.
By Claudia from Strictly Sardinia
The lovely Carloforte is the only town on the island of San Pietro, a small island off the southwestern coast of Sardinia that has yet to be discovered by mass tourism. The town was founded by a community of Tabarkine – Genoese merchants that lived on the island of Tabarka, off the coast of Tunisia – in the early 18th century. It’s interesting to notice that the language spoken on the island, other than Italian, is Tabarkine – which indeed resembles a dialect spoken in Genoa.
The town, which counts no more than 6000 inhabitants, is a lovely place to explore, with colorful buildings, narrow alleys, pretty squares, and plenty of good photo opportunities. You will find a couple of small but well-curated museums, a few nice churches, and plenty of good shopping opportunities.
The best time to visit is the summer, when the weather is good to also visit the many beaches scattered around the island – the best and most easily accessible is La Caletta. You can explore the town easily on foot, but to go around the island you are better off renting a car.
To get to Carloforte, hop on a ferry from Portoscuso (about one hour drive from Cagliari, Sardinia’s capital) or from Calasetta, another lovely town located on Sant’Antioco island and linked to the mainland via a bridge. The crossing lasts about 30 minutes. In Carloforte, sleep at Nico Hotel.
By LeAnna from WanderInGermany
While Venice is one of the most famous towns in Italy, the nearby little island of Burano is pure joy to escape some of the massive crowds, get a taste for daily Italian life, and enjoy some local Vino!
To get to Burano, it’s just a short, 45 minute, easy ferry from busy Venice. Take the No 12 Caporetto from either the San Zaccaria or Fondamente Nove stops.
If you really want to get away from all the people, head to Burano in the late afternoon after most of the day-trippers and cruisers have left and you will feel like you have the quaint canals and picturesque pastel houses all to yourself. This little island is perfect for just wandering without an agenda.
The town is known for its local sweet, white wine, and its handcrafted lace.
Take the afternoon to meander through the canals, stopping into little shops when something beautiful catches your eye. When your feet get a bit weary, stop for a pitcher of some wine. If you have a full day, you can even add on the nearby Murano island, known for its handblown glasses. No matter what you choose for your day, it is bound to be a bit more laid back and relaxed than your days in Venice, but still with just as much charm and Italian life.
By Mal from Raw Mal Roams
Situated on the southwestern coast of Italy, Sorrento is not only an excellent holiday destination but also an ideal base for exploring the gorgeous Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. It is conveniently located on a train line and can be reached within 2 hours from the Naples central station.
Perched on imposing clifftops, Sorento boasts some spectacular views over the Bay of Naples. For the best viewpoint, head to Villa Comunale Park, from where you can either get a lift or climb down the steep staircase leading to the coast.
Head to the beach to soak up some sun. As Sorrento is built on cliffs, by the beach, I mean attractive decking built on the water with sun loungers and umbrellas. Most of them belong to hotels, but you can either pay for a drink or rent out the loungers to enjoy them for the day.
Another must-do activity in Sorrento is strolling through its historic centre. The narrow alleys are jam-packed with charming cafes and souvenir shops filled with quality olive oils, wooden kitchen gadgets, and fresh herbs. Don’t forget to sample some locally produced limoncello. The best way to do it is at Limonoro, where you also get a tour.
Other places worth a visit include Piazza Tasso which is the busiest square in the whole town, the 11th-century Basilica of Sant’s Antonio, and the charming fishing village of Marina Grande.
Stay at Grand Hotel Riviera that comes with a private beach and infinity pool overlooking the sea.
Alba, Italy is located in the heart of the Piedmont region and is made famous for its delicious truffles. So much so that it hosts an international truffle festival every year, people come from all corners of the earth to buy, sell, eat and trade truffles. It is a bucket list item for anyone that enjoys truffles.
Alba not only hosts a truffle festival, it is also one of the best villages to visit in Italy.
Alba is located in the heart of Italy’s best wine region. So if you can’t make it to their annual truffle festival that is held in October, not to worry there are still plenty of reasons to visit, especially if you enjoy red wine. Here you will find the world-class wine of Barolo. Which just so happens to pair perfectly with a nice truffle pasta.
Alba truly is a hidden gem in Italy, one you won’t want to miss. You can easily reach Alba by train or car. It is only about 75 miles away from Milan.
However, I recommend renting a car to have the freedom to drive around. The piedmont region is so beautiful you will want to get out and explore it.
Spend your days driving around the piedmont region, but park your car up at night and stay at Hotel Calissano in the center of town. Alba is a great village to wander around checking out all the great restaurants and boutique shops they offer.
By Lori from Travlin Mad
The walled city of Vignola, Italy in the province of Modena is one of Emilia Romagna’s most charming towns. Vignola is an easy day trip from Bologna by train (one hour) or it’s easy to drive (2 hours).
Most often known as the birthplace of Renaissance architect, Jacopo Barozzi, his work can be seen behind magnificent structures big and small throughout Italy.
The buildings of Vignola glow a lovely orange and amber and if medieval architecture interests you, this place is a must-see — in fact, many residents still live in and among original buildings that have been standing since the Middle Ages.
The one tour in town not to miss is the Rocca di Vignola. This medieval fortress with its beautifully painted frescoes and richly decorated interiors was built in the 8th century to defend the surrounding land. Climbing to the top of the towers is the best way to enjoy the view of the city and rolling hills.
There are several good hotels in town but the 3-star Hotel Formica is a favorite. The hotel is lovely, but their restaurant serves up some of the best local food around.
By Dymphe from Dymabroad
Located on the Amalfi coast, near Naples, Positano is one of the best villages to visit in Italy. One of the best things to do is just to stroll around the village and have a look at the scenery from one of the many viewpoints. The village is built on a hill so you’ll get impressive views at every corner.
Besides that, you should definitely go to the beach. It’s a very relaxing place with a great view over the village and all its colorful houses. On your way back, don’t miss some of the many Instagrammable places in Positano and take some photos.
Another great thing to do in Positano is to shop at the local shops. You’ll find all kinds of local items, such as items related to lemons, and beautiful handcrafted souvenirs.
If you love hiking, don’t miss the Path of the Gods next to the village, an amazing hike!
There are many great hotels in the village. Le Sirenuse is a good option offering spectacular sea views and comfy rooms.
The best time to visit the village is towards the end of Spring, as the weather is most pleasant then!
To get to Positano from Naples, you have several options. The easiest way to do so is by first taking the Circumvesuviana train to the town of Sorrento. From there, there are buses with a direct route to the village of Positano.
By Krisztina from She Wanders Abroad
Located on the picturesque Italian Riviera coastline, Cinque Terre is definitely one of the best villages to visit in Italy. And what’s more, by visiting Cinque Terre, you can not only visit one village but actually five! As the name translates to five lands, Cinque Terre is made up of five little villages: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Monterosso al Mare.
These cute little fishing villages are located a 2.5 hours drive from Florence or a 1.5 hours drive from Pisa, so it makes a great day trip from either of these cities. Although five villages may seem like a lot, you can actually visit them all by just spending one day in Cinque Terre. Of course, if you want to spend longer, you can book accommodation for a few nights in one of the villages or the nearby cities of La Spezia and Levanto.
Cinque Terre is closed to car traffic so you need to leave your car in a nearby city. Getting around Cinque Terre is actually pretty easy as you can move between the villages by boat or train or if you have a longer time, you can even hike between them. Since the villages are small, once you’re there you can comfortably get around on foot.
Monterosso al Mare is the only village where you will find a sandy beach so if this is your thing, plan to stay there longer. If you’re looking for the best views in Cinque Terre, you can’t miss Manarola! It’s worth timing your visit to sunset and have a romantic dinner on the coastline while watching the sun dipping below the horizon.
By Lisa from Travel Connect Experience
Bracciano is a lake town located about 40 km north of Rome. It is the most panoramic of the 3 towns overlooking the crystal-clear Lake Bracciano, part of the lush reserve “Regional Park Bracciano and Martignano”.
In addition to being a favorite destination for local weekend travelers, Bracciano is also popular as a small town to retire to or buy a second home. In fact, although it is directly connected by train to nearby Rome, it offers a fairly relaxed lifestyle and many quality cafes and restaurants at affordable prices, with the calming view of the lake in the background.
The first thing to do when you arrive in Bracciano is a tour of the narrow streets of the medieval town center. Stroll along Via Principe di Napoli, Via Della Collegiata, and Via Della Sentinella until you reach the two belvederes. Near Piazza Giuseppe Mancini are the two best places to dine, Trattoria Pane e Olio and Trattoria del Castello, where you can taste dishes made with products from the countryside such as porcini mushrooms, truffles, chicory, and broccolini.
The main historical landmark in Bracciano is the Orsini Odescalchi Castle, whose present structure dates back to the 15th century, but which is certainly much older. The fortress is now a museum open to the public where you can discover more than 20 rooms with original furnishings and restored frescoes. The castle is also an exclusive location for ceremonies, it is here that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes celebrated their wedding.
The best time of the year to explore Bracciano goes from May to October when you can take a refreshing swim in the waters of the lake. The most beautiful beaches are those in Trevignano Romano.
To get to Bracciano, take a city train from Rome Valle Aurelia or Trastevere Station and get off at Bracciano, then walk for 5 minutes to the historical center.
Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Villa Clementina – a charming hotel with a spa and a big garden located near the lake.
By Emma from Travel on a Time Budget
Varenna is a beautiful town on the shores of Italy’s Lake Como. To say it is breathtaking is an understatement.
It is small, with narrow cobbled streets off a piazza that has an attractive church across the road. However, it is the lakeside that is the real draw. There are two main bays connected with a flower-covered walkway and lined with alfresco cafes and restaurants. On the terraces above, there are rustic houses and large cypress trees that can be reached by climbing steep steps winding upwards from the bays.
A visit to this idyllic location offers relaxation and the possibility of a slower pace of life. You can wander along the lake, swim in the clear water, or take a boat out. There are also treks uphill to vantage points that present panoramic views across the surrounding area. This includes Castello di Vezio, a small castle on the hill. For a more leisurely walk, there’s Villa Monastero, an old nunnery situated in a botanical garden.
Varenna has a ferry port, so it’s easy to pop across to neighboring towns. This includes the glitzy and glamourous Bellagio, around 15 minutes away. You can buy a ferry pass for unlimited travel around the lake to four different towns.
Varenna is around 85 km from Milan, under 90 minutes by car. The train journey is just over an hour. Alternatively, you could combine a trip with a ride on the Bernina Express train. You can pick this up in Tirano and embark on an amazing journey through some of Switzerland’s most spectacular scenery.
By Diana from The Globetrotting Detective
Stromboli is one of the Aeolian islands located off the coast of Sicily. The entire island is a volcano and it’s kind of a small town including a couple of tiny districts.
Stromboli is not only one of the three active volcanoes in Italy but also one of the most active volcanos in the world.
Believe it or not, it’s been erupting continuously for 2,000 years and it doesn’t seem like it will stop anytime soon. You can witness spectacular explosions from pretty much every corner of Stromboli.
You can only travel to Stromboli by slow ferry or by speed boat. The ferries depart from the Sicilian port town of Milazzo.
The most popular thing to do is hiking in Stromboli, namely hiking from San Vincenzo to the main crater of Stromboli to watch the blazing volcanic explosions. Generally, you will see 2-5 minute long and energetic bursts every 20-30 minutes. They are a few hundred meters high and carry ash, incandescent lava fragments, and stones.
Stromboli’s highest summit crater is 926 meters high above sea level. As of today, it’s only permitted to hike up to 400 meters due to the overly active volcanic eruptions and massive molten lava flows.
You can also go on short hikes on the island. The routes suitable for hiking are traversing through black sandy beaches and huge colorful volcanic rocks.
Moreover, swimming in the Tyrrhenian sea around Stromboli is an out-of-the-world experience. Its water is really warm, tranquil, and balmy. Imagine that you are watching volcanic explosions while swimming.
Watching Stromboli spewing ballistic ejecta is also possible from a kayak that you can rent on the beach. It’s a mind-blowing and unforgettable experience that you should definitely experience at least once in your life.
One of the best hotels in Stromboli is Hotel La Sciara. At night, from the terrace and swimming pool of the hotel, you can enjoy the glowing and flickering volcanic eruptions.
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