When you think of an Italian vacation, where does your mind take you? The Colosseum in Rome? The canals in Venice? Shopping in Milan?
Every time someone mentions visiting Italy, I always hear the typical Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan. Which is totally cool!
Don't get me wrong, those places are wonderful (especially Florence my favorite), but today I wanted to share with you a few hidden gems of Italy that are off the beaten path from your typical Italian vacation destinations. I've been to all three and let me know tell you...they are amazing!
Isn't that photo unreal? I took it myself :) It was one of the most incredible sunsets I've ever seen.
So Perugia, the capital city of the Umbria region, is located in Central Italy. It is filled with rich history and architecture, housing medieval palaces, fortresses, and castles that are beckoning to be explored.
Home to a long list of famous artists, Perugia is a haven for art lovers. One of Umbria's most famous painters, Pietro Vannucci (nicknamed Perugino), painted a series of frescoes and has multiple pictures available to view at the National Gallery of Umbria. Perugino was the teacher of the great Renaissance painter, Raphael, who painted a frescoe in the church "San Severo" that can be viewed today.
If your wanting to feed your sweet tooth, Perugia's Eurochocolate festival in October should be added to your bucket list. Home to the Perugina Chocolate Factory, the Italian version of the "kiss" (known as the Baci) is a must taste.
But the best part of Perugia is the beauty of the city itself. Just walking through the streets looking at the stone houses and delicious restaurants hidden through back alleys; it is the epitome of a Tuscan city.
It has a wonderful piazza in the center and during the summer they have an awesome Jazz festival that I highly recommended checking out. Here's more information about that here!
What can I say about Lucca...magical! Located in Tuscany and just a quick 40 minute train ride from Florence, Lucca is a great city to stroll around on a day trip. The original, Renaissance-era built, city walls are still in tact and have been converted for a "pedestrian promenade".
You can rent a bicycle, or simply walk around the walls of the city and enjoy soaking in the views of the medieval and 8th century basilicas located in town. The best part is that most cars aren't allowed in the city so it's peaceful and quiet inside as you're walking around the walls.
There is a tower that you can climb right in the center of the city called the Guinigi Tower. It costs a few euros to climb to the top, but the view is totally worth it. Seeing the rooftops on the city with the hills as the backdrop is something spectacular. You can't miss the tower when you're in the city, so don't miss out on making it to the top!
And of course the food is incredible. One of the best restaurants to try in Lucca is called La Buca di Sant'Antonio. Let me know what you think!
This is one of my favorite little towns in all of Italy. I stumbled upon it when I was visiting Sicily for the first time. It's about an hour train ride from Palermo and it's a gem of a city.
Located on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Cefalù is home to the Norman Cathedral of Cefalù, built in 1131 A.D. It's soaring towers and byzantine mosaics are a great sight for art, history, and architecture lovers.
It has a little strip with with cobblestone streets dotted with shops and restaurants that stop at the edge of the sea.
But aside from the magnificent buildings, the sandy beaches of the Cefalù coast are to die for and are a prime vacation spot for anyone wanting to relax by the sea and get away from the hustle and bustle of busy city life.
Not only are there sandy beaches but they have some rocks to jump off of which I highly recommend if you're up for it ;)
The last thing that is out of this world here is...the sunset. When I was there I had a four hour dinner with some friends right on the water as we watched the sun go down. It was spectacular and something you shouldn't miss.
These three cities, although not your 'typical' Italian vacation destinations, are full of rich culture, history, food, art, and of course stunning architecture. They hold memories and experiences waiting to be unlocked and discovered by YOU.
Have you traveled around these cities? What was your favorite part? If not, tell me which one you'd like to visit first! Let me know in the comments!