The top unknown Italian villages

Not to be missed places you would have missed!

Italy is a country of endless beautiful places! In each region, you can find popular cities and lesser known villages that are definitely worth a visit. At Ferryhopper, we love off-the-beaten-path destinations, so let’s go on a mental trip to the most unique and secret Italian villages from the north of the country all the way to the south. Are you ready?

Traditional Italian house with green shutters

Traditional rural house in an Italian village

8 top-secret destinations in Italy

If you’re dreaming of a trip in the countryside for one or more days, combining popular destinations with off-the-beaten-track experiences, you’re on the right page!

Here are 8 villages in Italy ready to welcome you on a trip through nature, history and art away from the tourist crowds:

1. Cison di Valmarino (Veneto region)

Cison di Valmarino is a village in the province of Treviso nestled in a wonderful valley and only 1 hour from Venice. It has just over 2,600 inhabitants and is the perfect destination for nature and culture enthusiasts.

From its 12th century fortress (Castelbrando), you can admire a breathtaking view and take amazing photos. Don't miss the centuries-old cedar of Lebanon and the ancient monuments of Piazza Roma.

As for local celebrations, don’t miss the Artigianato Vivo, an exhibition that transforms every corner of the village into an open-air craft shop.

The province of Treviso is also known for its delicious prosecco, and Cison di Valmarino is one of the top producers. History, traditions and bubbles are a perfect mix, right?

2. Duino Aurisina (Friuli-Venezia Giulia region)

The ancient seaside village of Duino Aurisina is located between the southern slope of Mount Ermada and it’s only 30 minutes from Trieste by car.

Its beautiful castle overlooking the sea should be your first stop! Over the centuries, the castle has hosted famous people such as Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Johann Strauss and Mark Twain. Enjoy the view of the Gulf of Trieste and the breathtaking karst plateau, and then continue along the 3km path that leads to the bay of Sistiana.

Also, the Duino Cliffs Nature Reserve will surprise you with its unique landscape and you can even go canoeing and observe the coast from the sea!

Useful info: the castle of Duino is open every day from March to the end of October, except Tuesdays.

The village of Duino Aurisina and its castle

The beautiful village of Duino Aurisina and its castle overlooking the sea

3. Castro dei Volsci (Lazio region)

The village of Castro dei Volsci is located in the famous Ciociaria area (47km from Terracina) and it is perched on a hill.

Full of history and art, this village stands where once was the border between the Papal State and the Kingdom of Naples. Castro dei Volsci is full of alleys, centuries-old walls, churches and squares, and is also called the “Balcony of Ciociaria” for its beautiful view over the whole coast.

The local cuisine is also an excellent reason to visit the village. You can taste delicious lamb meat, snails and traditional homemade pasta!

We recommend that you visit Castro dei Volsci during the Christmas period to witness its famous real-life nativity scene.

4. Monteriggioni (Tuscany region)

Monteriggioni is a beautiful medieval village in the province of Siena, located just 1.5 hours from Livorno.

This magical place has been famous since the Middle Ages and even Dante Alighieri mentions it in his Divine Comedy! The intact walls of Monteriggioni go on for 570 meters and are interspersed with 14 towers that you can visit. From there you can admire the village and admire the fantastic view of the Chianti countryside.

Monteriggioni is so small that it only takes a few minutes to explore, but its legendary atmosphere will leave you speechless! Around the town you will find craft shops, typical restaurants and houses still inhabited.

Among the events not to be missed is the Monteriggioni in Torri si Corona, a medieval-style festival celebrated in July with music, jugglers, acrobats and contests.

The medieval village of Monteriggioni

The fairytale-like medieval village of Monteriggioni

5. Sant’Agata de’ Goti (Campania region)

Sant’Agata de 'Goti is one of the most fascinating villages in the Campania region, less than 1 hour's drive from Naples.

Located 160 meters above sea level, this millenary village is a melting pot of art, culture and traditions. Its ancient part, built on tuff rock, stands above a river and looks like a Hollywood movie setting!

Stroll through its historic center and walk along the elegant Via Roma, among old buildings, churches and shops; admire the suggestive panorama from the Vittorio Emanuele bridge and see the arches that support the village. Once you cross the bridge, you will find the Ducal Castle and its wonderful frescoes.

But the real “queen” of Sant’Agata de 'Goti is the Annurca apple! This particular apple variety is used for many local dishes, such as apple ravioli or cider sausage. You just have to try them!

6. Bova (Calabria region)

The Calabria region is one of the least explored in Italy, and the village of Bova is one of them. Located on the east side of the Aspromonte mountain, and 1 hour from the port of Villa San Giovanni, Bova has about 500 inhabitants and a rich, ancient past.

This village is in fact the cultural capital of Bovesia, an area in the province of Reggio Calabria, where some locals still speak the Greek-Calabrian dialect!

Walking through the streets of Bova you will have the feeling of being in a labyrinth made up of quaint alleys dominated by the famous Norman Castle. Discover ancient churches and museums, and then look out from the famous "balcony" of the village to admire the coast!

You could take advantage of the Easter period and visit Bova to attend the famous ritual of the Pupazze. Intertwined olive leaves are used to create beautiful female figures (linked to the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter) which are in display on Palm Sunday.

The village of Bova in Calabria, Italy

The hill-built ancient village of Bova in Italy

7. Orgosolo (Sardinia region)

Orgosolo is a little-known village located 1,5 hours from the town of Olbia. If you are a street art lover, Orgosolo is the ideal place to spend a day in colorful alleys!

Its streets host over 150 graffiti, making the village a real open-air museum! The walls of houses and squares feature works of art that showcase the history of the village or portray scenes of daily life and inspirational messages.

The Orgosolo area is also immersed in a unique natural setting, between caves, canyons and dream beaches: all the right ingredients to let go of your troubles for a day or more!

8. Borgo Parrini (Sicily region)

Borgo Parrini is a small hamlet located 30km from Palermo, in the municipality of Partinico.

This little gem has ancient origins and, in recent years, its 20 inhabitants have decided to enhance it by renovating their houses with an artistic style that recalls the architectural design of Gaudì.

This miniature “Sicilian Barcelona” will immerse you in a surreal atmosphere among brightly colored majolica tiles. Get your camera ready and take beautiful, super instagrammable photos!

The colorful houses of Borgo Parrini, Sicily

The unique houses of the Sicilian village of Borgo Parrini

Can't wait to visit these hidden gems of Italy? On Ferryhopper, you can book ferry tickets online with just a few clicks and continue your adventure inland to discover the most beautiful Italian villages!

Good to know: wondering how to reach some of your favorite destinations in Italy? Here are all ferry schedules for Italy in 2023!