undiscovered alternatives

7 fresh alternatives to popular Italian destinations

26 Jun 2023

We don't like to discourage our travelers from visiting the most famous beauties our country has to offer - after all, it is what you have dreamed when thinking of the perfect Italian vacation. Plus, a walking holiday throws a different light on even the most popular destination!  

This said, you may have visited and loved the must-sees and wondering what else is out there for you to explore - and if you feel pretty nostalgic, you might be looking for a place that gives you the same kind of vibes, a similar scenery, a revival of the holiday you have re-experienced in your head a thousand time after having landed back home.  

Well, we are here to suggest a destination you will fall in love with, based on one you have already loved: a bit less popular, maybe, or someplace you have never heard or read of; places that you may feel your own, a perfect sequel to your dream vacation. 

From enchanted valleys in the North, on the border between France and Piedmont, from the green coasts of Sardinia; from the strade bianche of Via Francigena to the colorful villages of Cilento, a few hours from the Amalfi Coast: these "fresh" alternatives are everything you have always dreamt of when thinking of Italy, minus the crowds. 

If you liked Positano, try Otranto 

And if you liked Amalfi Coast, try Puglia.  

Puglia is an incredible destination, and one that we fall in love with daily: it's a perfect example of everything beautiful and delicious our country has to offer, and even if it's deservingly becoming more popular, it still encapsulates a genuine, spontaneous and carefree spirit that we adore.  

If you fell in love with the narrow streets, the seaside position and lovely little shops and restaurants of Positano, you will love Otranto: this enchanting village is the starting point of our Salento Coastal Walk and will charm you with its luminous atmosphere.  

Don't forget the visit the local Cathedral - the floor is decorated with an incredibly well preserved mosaic of the Tree of Life. 

 

If you liked Lake Como, try Lake Lecco!  

You are heading right to the same place: Como Lake, in all its charming splendor, a glistening heaven surrounded by the mountains, a few kilometers from Milan and the Alps.   

If you have loved Lake Como, we suggest you take a walk to the other side and explore the Eastern side of the Lake - which (even not officially) changes its name here, becoming "Lago di Lecco", the biggest city of this side of the lake, located right on the Eastern tip of its reversed-Y-shape. This is the more genuine and authentic side of the lake, everything Lake Como was a few decades ago, before becoming such a chic destination.  

You will find a similar atmosphere - small coastal villages such as enchanting Varenna, luscious gardens of tropical plants and all sort of flowers, stunning villas facing the lake and the mountains always in sight; walking from village to village, you'll always have a privileged view over the lake and the mountains. The best view can be enjoyed from the Castle of Vezio, a true haunted castle from which ghosts enjoy incredible panoramas on Bellagio and the two branches of the lake. 
 

If you liked Camino de Santiago, try Via Francigena  

We may be biased, but if you liked Camino di Santiago, we are pretty sure you will like Via Francigena even more.  

The Camino to Rome is the more popular and longest Camino in Italy, offering 1000 km of Italian beauty across a total of 7 different regions: from the St Bernard Pass in Aosta Valley to Rome. It's a walk of incomparable beauty, ever-changing and surprising.  

Sleepy villages and bustling art cities, forests and valleys, Roman and Etruscan roads, Temples and Cathedrals: this is an experience we could not recommend enough.   

Ok, but what if you have not walked the Camino de Santiago and are not sure which Camino to choose? Well, we have written an article to help you decide! 

 piemonte

If you liked Chianti, try Piedmont! 

If wine is your thing and walking among the vineyards - trying different, all delicious wines at every stop - then we would highly suggest Piedmont for your next walking holiday! 

This incredibly fascinating region bears an indisputable French influence mixed with a purely Italian charm: its geometric vineyards are iconic and its picture-perfect hills a dream to walk through. Every hilltop village is blessed with its own wines, every winery offers a cornucopia of delicious alternatives, all passionately cultivated in this heaven for wine lovers.  

The food is just top-notch: just know this area is well known for white truffle, hazelnut, chocolate and fresh pasta, rich and decadent braised beef cheek and chestnut desserts.  

Do you really need more? 

 

If you liked Dolomites, try Val Maira! 

Tucked away in the Southern Italian Alps near the French border, lies the beautiful Val Maira with its tranquil villages, chapels and churches settled in an uncontaminated landscape.  Val Maira is now slowly being discovered as a walker's paradise. You will not find busy roads, ski slopes and mass tourism, but pristine mountain scenery, lots of sun, small, charming accommodation and delicious food.   

Traditionally, the inhabitants of the Val Maira had more contact with France as the border is only a few hours walk away and is easily reached via the mountain passes, while the route to the Italian plains and Po Valley was difficult and went through a rocky gorge. Only when the road was built, more Italians arrived and the first language remains Occitan, a romance language also spoken in southern France. The second language is French and then Italian. 

Cilento

If you liked Amalfi Coast, try Cilento! 

Amalfi Coast is a dream for anyone wanting to visit the South – what's more iconically Southern than its colorful villages plunging into the sea, or more outstandingly Mediterrenean than lemons basking in the sun, boats exploring the azure sea with splendid, pastel-colored backgrounds? There is only one not so favorable characteristic in this poetic landscape – a lot of people want to see it, and there are not many times in the year in which you’ll be able to avoid them. 

 If you are dreaming the Mediterranean but large crowds are your own personal nightmare, drive less than 3 hours from Amalfi and you will find a well-kept secret not even a lot of Italians know of: the Cilento is best known to produce the best buffalo mozzarella the South has to offer, but  has much more to offer than just this gooey, decadent specialty.  

The long sandy beaches of Cilento boast blue-flagged, crystal-clear water, the hotels an authentic, warm hospitality that Amalfi Coast has often lost the grip on; the ancient Greek city of Paestum – once called Poseidonia to honor the Sea God Poseidon – enchants its visitors with three extraordinarily well preserved Greek temples and the impressive collections of artifacts treasured in the local museum.  

What’s more to like? A lot, if you like hiking. The Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park offers a plethora of scenic hiking trails for all levels – suspended between the verdant forests and turquoise triumph of Tyrrhenian Sea, the paths of Cilento are perfect to be explored with a self-guided walking trip.  

 

If you liked Portugal, try Sardinia 

Portugal has consistently proved to be one of the most appreciated travel destinations Europe has to offer – on the coastal walking paths in Algarve and Alentejo, the quintessentially Mediterrenean vibes are made even more captivating by the presence of the Atlantic ocean, the long, white sandy beaches, mixing with rocky cliffs, the smell of the sea interlacing with aromatic eucalyptus and thyme.  

If you are wondering if there is anywhere similar in Italy, the answer is yes. Affectionately known as "the island” by the locals – as opposed to the “continent "represented by the rest of the country – Sardinia may mainly be known for the luxurious resorts of Costa Smeralda, but it is truly a unique region that has always proudly preserved and protected its indomitable personality.   

The “Costa Verde” - Green Coast, in the South-Western part of the island – will look familiar to anyone who have appreciated Portugal’s rugged coasts:  sand dunes and wildflowers, ancient watchtowers and granite plateaus bestowing mesmerizing views of the sapphire-blue sea.  

 

Something all these lesser-known gems have in common? They are all located along Italian Caminos or walking itineraries, great to be discovered at your own pace during a self-guided walking trip.  

Self-guided walking trips allow you to choose the itinerary, the date you’d like to start walking, and your travel companions; you are free to walk at your own pace, following detailed documentation and a personalized APP to be used off-line.  

If you'd like to know more about this way of travelling, check the article we have written to tell you all about it! 

This way of travelling is perfect to enjoy Italy at its slowest and least known – these Caminos often run across small villages that may have had philological importance in ancient times, but are not touristic hubs in modern days; they are still relatively new to travelers but are now getting used to welcoming them – the kind of genuinely enthusiastic hospitality that may be more difficult to perceive in the most famous places.  

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Wanderlust Nominee Best Specialist Tour Operator 2023
Wanderlust
Nominee Best Specialist Tour Operator 2023
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Touroperating
S-Cape Countryside Travels srl
Borgo Allegri 16R
50122 Firenze FI
P. IVA 05227330486

 
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