Italy is rich in art and culture, wherever you turn you will find a story to discover. And this does not only happen in big cities like Florence, Turin, Rome or Naples, this also happens in small villages, hidden and little-known villages, where only the most curious and passionate enter the discovery of these wonderful places. From north to south, in our beautiful country there are many and they are more beautiful than the other.
Here 20 unknown places to absolutely see in Italy: from nature reserves to oases, from caves to be explored to places that are also a bit macabre and mysterious.
- Northern Italy
- Center of Italy
- Southern Italy
- User questions and comments
1 - Miramare Marine Nature Reserve, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
The Miramare Marine Nature Reserve is located in the Gulf of Trieste, where the Miramare Castle, now used as a museum. The management of this marine protected area is entrusted to the WWF Italy Association and was the first marine park established in Italy, due to its importance it is also classified as a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Interest.
The area extends for 30 hectares along 1,8 km of coastline, with a maximum depth of 18 meters. Inside the Miramare park there is the visitor center, and in a small area of the reserve there are also guided tours in apnea or with self-contained breathing apparatus.
- Best time: spring and summer
- in Trieste (10 km) - Hotels and b & b from € 50,00 per room -
- by car from Trieste in about 15 minutes, or by the G51 line of the public local bus service from the Trieste bus station (€ 1,60) - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: castle 9: 00-19: 00, € 10,00; park from November to January 8: 00-16: 00, February and October 8: 00-17: 00, March 8: 00-18: 00, from April to September 8: 00-19: 00, free admission
2 - Torri di Slivia cave, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
The Grotta Torri di Silvia is located in the municipality of Duino-Aurisina, in the province of Trieste. Its name is given by the presence of numerous stalagmite towers that characterize it. Existing since 1885, it officially became open to tourists in 1967 when the internal path and the iron staircase were created, and in 1968 the first entries were made to visitors.
The guided tour begins with a short journey aboard an agribus, a tractor with trailer that will take you to the entrance of the cave in a few minutes from the ticket office, then the complete visit inside will last about 75 min. The path inside includes the descent of 200 steps and the ascent, also inside there is a fairly low temperature and humidity makes it slippery some sections, for this reason it is mandatory to wear shoes with rubber soles.
- Best time: spring is ideal, in general on days that are neither too hot nor too cold given the low temperature inside the cave
- in Trieste (15 km) - Hotels and b & b from € 20,00 per room -
- by car from Trieste in 25 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: ticket cost € 12,00 full, € 8,00 reduced; departure times for visits: 10:30 am, 14:00 pm, 15:30 pm. In March, April, May, first half of June, October and November only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays; in July, August and first half of September every day. Other months by reservation only with min 10 people
3 - Lake Resia, Trentino-Alto Adige
Lake Resia is a artificial alpine lake located in the municipality of Curon Venosta, and with its 120 million cubic meters it is the largest lake in the province of Bolzano.
From the lake water emerges the top of the old bell tower of Curon, making the atmosphere even more beautiful and unique.
Furthermore from December to March on the frozen lake is practiced skiing and skating, and thanks to the strong and frequent winds also snowkiting and sledding.
- Best time: in winter for ice skating, in summer for the Tour of Lake Resia
- in Curon Venosta or in Bolzano (103 km) - Hotels and b & b from € 50,00 per room -
- from the center of Curon Venosta from Via S. Anna on foot in 20 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: free admission, always accessible
4 - National Park of Rock Engravings, Lombardy
The National Park of Rock Engravings is the first Italian archaeological park, was established in 1955 with the aim of protecting and enhancing one of the most important prehistoric and protohistoric engravings complexes in the Camonica Valley.
Inside it welcomes 104 sandstone rocks smoothed by glaciers and more, there are chestnut, fir, birch and hornbeam to admire. The ancient inhabitants of the Valley engraved images taken from their daily life and their spiritual world on these large gray-purple rocky surfaces.
- Best time: spring or summer
- in Capo di Ponte (2 km), Sondrio (65 km) or Bormio (73 km) - Hotels and b & b starting from € 36,00 per room -
- from the center of Capo di Ponte from Via Nazionale on foot in 25 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: full ticket € 6,00, reduced € 2,00, open Tue-Sun 8: 30-16: 30
5 - Oasis Valmanera Villa Paolina, Piedmont
The Oasis is located north of the city of Asti, at the entrance to the large wooded area of the Boschi di Valmanera and has an extension of about 10 hectares made up of meadows and woods; it is also crossed by paths along which there are illustrative panels of the natural and landscape features. Then you come across the numerous species of insects observable in the so-called "butterfly meadow", but also birds and reptiles and numerous botanical species.
At the center of the oasis is the ancient one Villa Paolina, with the holiday home and other facilities. Thanks to the educational apiary that is located in this Villa, honey of various types is produced, but also wax, propolis and all products derived from the work of bees.
- Best time: the Valmanera Oasis and the Villa Paolina are open throughout the year and new events are always held
- in Asti (6 km) - Hotels and b & b from € 30,00 per room -
- from Asti by car in 10 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: the activities are constantly updated and visits outside the event calendar must be booked, we recommend consulting the official website
Center of Italy
1 - Park of the Monsters, Lazio
The Parco dei Mostri, also known as Sacro Bosco, is located in Bomarzo, in the province of Viterbo. It is a nature park characterized by numerous sculptures which portray mythological animals, divinities and monsters. It covers an area of about 3 hectares, in a coniferous and deciduous forest.
Among the many sculptures that can be seen inside there are the Sphinxes, whose appearance follows both the classical models and the Egyptian ones, the Proteus, the first real monster you encounter upon entering, then there is also a Mausoleum. And again you come across the Pegasus Fountain and Hercules and Cacus, the largest statue in the Park depicting the struggle of two giants. But these are just some of the sculptures that you can see, the park is immense and with countless statues.
- Best time: spring and summer
- in Bomarzo or in Viterbo (22 km) - Hotels and b & b starting from € 59,00 per room -
- from Viterbo by car in 20 minutes or from the center of Bomarzo by car in a few minutes along the SP20 - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: open from April to August 8: 30-19: 00, from September to March from 8:30 to sunset; admission ticket € 11,00 full, € 8,00 reduced
2 - Sammezzano Castle, Tuscany
The Sammezzano Castle is located in the municipality of Reggello, in the province of Florence, is the most important example of orientalist architecture in Italy. The estate to which the castle belongs belonged over the centuries to several important families, from the Altoviti, to then pass to Giovanni Jacopo de 'Medici who in turn sold it to Sebastiano Ximenes. After the war it was used as a luxury hotel and set for numerous film productions. It has been auctioned several times in recent years and is now awaiting use.
It is surrounded by a great wonderful park, one of the most beautiful in Tuscany, here is the largest group of giant sequoias in Italy with more than 50 specimens, all over 35 meters in height. Among these, the so-called "twin sequoia", more than 50 meters high and with a circumference of 8 meters, is part of the circle of 150 trees of "exceptional environmental or monumental value".
- Best time: during the spring or summer to make the most of the surrounding park
- in Florence (46 km) - Hotels and b & b from € 55,00 per room -
- by car from Florence in about 50 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: the castle cannot be visited today; the park is always accessible and free
3 - La Scarzuola, Umbria
La Scarzuola is a rural locality located in the municipality of Montegabbione, exactly in the hamlet of Montegiove. In this location there is a ancient convent where, according to tradition, St. Francis of Assisi would have lived. Here there is also a villa conceived and built in the twentieth century by the Milanese architect Tomaso Buzzi as a personal interpretation of the ideal city.
During the guided tour inside La Scarzuola, you will have the opportunity to listen to words ranging from architecture, to esotericism, to conspiracy theories. Surprising and interesting at the same time.
- Best time: from April to October for nice days
- in Orvieto (45 km), Todi (47 km) or Perugia (53 km) - Hotels and b & b starting from € 51,00 per room -
- by car from Perugia or Orvieto in about 1 hour - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: the cost for the visit is € 10,00, it is mandatory to book the day and time
4 - Lake of Scanno, Abruzzo
Lake Scanno is a mountain lake belonging for about 3/4 of its surface to the territory of the municipality of Villalago and for 1/4 to that of Scanno. It originated from an ancient landslide that fell from Monte Genzana above and it is the largest natural lake in the Abruzzo region. It is located in the province of L'Aquila at an altitude of almost 1.000 meters above sea level, it has very reduced coasts which for some small sections have been adapted to the formation of artificial pebble beaches.
From some angles, such as from the Frattura Nuova viewpoint, yes presents in the shape of a heart. Along the southwestern shore is the Church of the Madonna del Lago.
- Best time: in spring or summer
- in Scanno - Hotels and b & b starting from € 52,00 per room -
- by car from Scanno in less than 10 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: the lake area is always accessible and free
5 - Frasassi Caves, Marche
The Frasassi Caves are gods underground karst caves which are located in the municipality of Genga, in the province of Ancona. The discovery of these caves dates back to 1971 and is due to the CAI Marchigiano Speleological Group.
Inside you can admire them real natural sculptures created over millions of years due to calcareous stratifications. The whole complex is made up of a huge series of underground environments, the first for example has an extension of 180x120 meters and a height of 200 meters, it is so large (over 2 million cubic meters of volume) that the Duomo of Milan could be contained within it without any problems.
- Best time: in summer
- in Fabriano (15 km), Gubbio (53 km) or Macerata (54 km) - Hotels and b & b starting from € 48,00 per room -
- from Genga in 10 minutes by car - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: guided tours from March to October every hour from 10:00 to 17:00; in August every 10 minutes; from November to February 11:30 am, 15:30 pm, on Sundays every hour from 10:00 to 17:00; full ticket € 18,00, reduced € 15,00
1 - Herakleia Oasis, Basilicata
The Herakleia Oasis of Policoro is qualified Regional Environmental Education Center, due to its geographical position it is part of the last wood of the plains of southern Italy. With its 21 hectares it includes the Provincial Naturalistic Museum and a Center for the Recovery of Wild Animals and Sea Turtles.
The peculiarities of this area are thehigh number of species present, the centrality for the migration and conservation activities of sea turtles. All visitors can participate in many experiences in close contact with nature. Inside it is possible to take guided tours in the two recovery centers and excursions in the Bosco Pantano Regional Reserve.
- Best time: from April to October
- in Policoro - Hotels and b & b starting from € 54,00 per room -
- by car from Policoro in 10 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: guided tours from 16 September to 15 June only Sunday min 6 people 9:30, 11:00, 16:00, 17:00. From 16 June to 15 September Sun-Fri min 6 people 9:30, 10:15, 11:00, 17:30, 18:30; ticket cost € 5,00
2 - Ducal Castle of Corigliano Calabro, Calabria
The Ducal Castle in question is a fortress dating back to the eleventh century located in the municipality of Corigliano-Rossano in the province of Cosenza. Is one among the most beautiful and best preserved castles in southern Italy, just think that from the tower you can see so far that some say you can also reach the city of Taranto.
Inside it's like making a real one dive into the past among all the rooms to visit, among them the monk's prison, the nineteenth-century kitchens and the Hall of Mirrors.
- Best time: spring
- in Corigliano Calabro - Hotels and b & b starting from € 29,00 per room -
- from the center of Corigliano Calabro, exactly from Piazza Vittorio Veneto, you can walk in less than 10 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: open Tue-Sun, winter 9: 30-13: 00 and 15: 00-18: 30, summer 10: 00-13: 00 and 16: 30-20: 30; full entrance ticket € 5,00, reduced € 3,00
3 - Norman-Swabian Castle, Calabria
The Norman-Swabian Castle of Cosenza is erected on one of the highest points in the city, at 383 meters above sea level, on the Pancrazio hill. The building dates back to the eleventh century, proper military stronghold, over time it was also used as a prison. A strong earthquake in 1184 destroyed the fortress making it unusable, and only with the arrival of Frederick II of Swabia did it return to its splendor, assuming an important defensive function. It was the Swabians who made it take on the typical layout of Frederick's castles with a rectangular layout, corner towers, and vaulted rooms.
The structure has suffered more and more damage as a result of numerous earthquakes that have had their epicenter in Cosenza. Today, the continuous restoration work made it possible to bring the Castle back into operation and to restore an important symbol to the city.
- Best time: mid-season is preferable, but not too hot
- in Cosenza - Hotels and b & b starting from € 25,00 per room -
- from Piazza XI Settembre, in the center of Cosenza, it is also possible to reach it on foot in 30 min, otherwise by car in 15 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: open Tue-Sun, from September to June 9: 30-18: 00, from July to August 9.30-13: 00 and 16: 00-20: 00; entrance ticket € 4,00 full, € 2,00 reduced
4 - Salty Lake Oasis - Puglia
The Salso Lake Oasis is aprotected natural area located in Manfredonia in the province of Foggia, consisting of 540 hectares of wetland consisting of reeds and stretches of water. This area welcomes during all seasons a large number of birds, and inside it is possible to make excursions and guided tours, even aboard electric boats.
There is also a bird watching route equipped with observation towers, in spring the arrival of the cuckoo hawks and lesser kestrels that sweep the whole area is spectacular, white storks are also visible from March to August. But besides the birds there is a big one concentration of amphibians, like the green frog, the small tree frog, equipped with suckers on the toes of the legs that allow it to climb trees and leaves.
- Best time: spring and summer preferable
- in Manfredonia - Hotels and b & b starting from € 54,00 per room -
- from Manfredonia by car along the SP 141 delle Saline in 15 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: entrance ticket € 5,00 full, € 3,00 reduced. There are no set times, the area opens by reservation, which you can make through their official website
5 - Lake Fusaro, Campania
This lake was formed from the closure of the stretch of sea between Torregaveta and Cuma. It is located in the municipality of Bacoli, in the province of Naples. In ancient times it was identified with the Acherusia palus, the infernal swamp formed by the Acheron river. Before the arrival of the Greeks, local populations cultivated mussels and oysters in the lake. Today there are mussel farms which are sometimes shut down due to pollution.
In this area a hunting and fishing lodge by order of the king of Naples Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, today it can be reached by crossing a wooden bridge.
- Best time: spring or summer
- in Naples (22 km) - Hotels and b & b from € 50,00 per room -
- from Naples in 30 min by car - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: the lake area is always accessible and free
1 - Living Nativity Scene Mangiapane Cave, Sicily
The Mangiapane Cave is part of the Grotte di Scurati, a ancient prehistoric settlement and speleological site located in the municipality of Custonaci, in the province of Trapani. Inside it welcomes a small hamlet of houses inhabited until the mid-twentieth century. The Mangiapane Grotto is the largest of the nine caves that make up the complex, about 70 meters high and 50 deep, it is also called the Uffizi Grotto. It was inhabited until the s and belonged to the Mangiapane family.
Here, since 1983, the living crib. Called "Living Nativity of Custonaci - The Nativity and the Traditional Crafts", it involves all the inhabitants of the village and on the occasion of this event the peasant and artisan traditions of the territory are revived.
- Best time: during the Christmas period
- in Trapani (18 km) - Hotels and b & b starting from € 49,00 per room -
- from the historic center of Custonaci there is a shuttle that will take you to your destination - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: Custonaci can always be visited; living nativity scene on days 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 December and 4, 5, 6 January, 16: 00-20: 00; ticket: € 10,00 full, € 5,00 reduced, including return shuttle service
2 - Red Rocks Beach, Sardinia
The Rocce Rosse beach is a site located in the town of fraction of Arbatax, in the municipality of Tortolì, at the entrance to the port and at the foot of the Bellavista hill.
This beach is characterized in part by pebbles of granite and red porphyry and for the rest by cliffs, golden sand and dense vegetation that borders the cove. The sea water has the bottom of white rocks and an iridescent color on the emerald green. All these details make the location very suggestive and to take your breath away.
- Best time: in summer
- in Arbatax - Hotels and b & b starting from € 65,00 per room -
- on foot in about 10 minutes from Viale Arbatax - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: the beach is free and always accessible
3 - Catacombs of the Capuchins, Sicily
It really is a destination interesting and impressive at the same time, the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are located in the basement of the convent attached to the church of Santa Maria della Pace. Visit them only if you feel really brave and with a cold blood, the tunnels are full of skeletons and mummies fully dressed and divided by sex and social category, there are 8.000. Merchants and bourgeois in their "Sunday" clothes, army officers in gala uniforms, women who died before marriage dressed in their wedding dress, family groups standing on high shelves bordered by balcony-like railings .
Among the bodies present, that of Rosalia Lombardo, the child mummy who appears so intact to the point of giving the impression that she is sleeping. The mummification process used is believed to be one of the best, if not the best.
- Best time: the catacombs can be visited throughout the year even on holidays
- in Palermo - Hotels and b & b starting from € 41,00 per room -
- walk from Piazza Pretoria in the center of Palermo in 30 min, otherwise with the local public transport bus line 124 from Piazza Indipendenza (10 min, € 1,40) - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: every day 9: 00-13: 00 and 15: 00-18: 00, entrance ticket: € 3,00
4 - The Enchanted Castle, Sicily
The Enchanted Castle of Sciacca is located in the western part of Sicily at the foot of Mount Kronio, in the province of Agrigento. IS' a garden museum where you can see thousands of sculptures made by Filippo Bentivegna, which arise in an environment surrounded by olive and almond trees.
It's heads carved and chiseled in the rock the main attractions of this place full of mystery. The artist, who was nicknamed Filippu di li texts and Philip the mad, bought a plot of land on his return from a trip to America, which he needed precisely to accumulate all the sculptures drawn in the stones, there are about 3000.
- Best time: it can be visited all year round, spring and autumn recommended
- in Sciacca - Hotels and b & b starting from € 43,00 per room -
- from the center of Sciacca by car in 10 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: every day, from November to March 9: 00-13: 00 and 15: 00-18: 00, from April to June and October 9: 00-13: 00 and 15: 00-20: 00, from July to September 9: 00-20: 00; entrance ticket: € 5,00
5 - Valley of the Moon, Sardinia
Valle della Luna is the name that has been attributed to Cala Grande valley, about 500 meters long and located in the municipality of Santa Teresa Gallura, in the province of Sassari, not to be confused with the other valley of the moon present in the territory of Aggius. This of Santa Teresa Gallura is characterized by the presence of granite rocks with unusual shapes that form a straight valley to the sea.
It is a magical, unspoiled and little known place, in the sixties it was considered the hippie paradise of Sardinia. To reach the valley you will have to walk a stretch of road between trees, uninhabited houses and a few annoying insects, so take courage and go.
- Best time: in spring or summer to better enjoy the unspoiled nature of the place
- in Santa Teresa Gallura - Hotels and b & b starting from € 33,00 per room -
- the only way is a long hike through the Capo Testa peninsula, by car to the Rena di Ponente beach and then walking for about 30 min - Get directions
- Useful info and costs: the valley is always accessible and free