Coming up with three of my best travel secrets for Italy is no easy task. Alas, I’ve been tagged by Robin Locker at My Mélange to come up with my list, just as she has over at her blog. In fact, since I had difficulty paring down my favorites, I’ve come up with my non-Italy list over at my personal site Miss Adventures. Have a look at both of them!
Of course, it’s not fair to really call these “secrets,” as there are plenty of other people who have gone before me and recommended the same places. So, just consider these as my current favorites among a bucket-load of tips.
Three Best Travel Secrets for Italy
Aventino Hill, Rome
There are so many wonderful places to stay in Rome, but I really like the Aventine Hill which rises just beyond the Circus Maximus. This is one of the most peaceful corners of the city, mostly because it is slightly removed from the constant buzz of the city. And the views from up here are spectacular and even unique. If you are lucky enough to charm the policemen who guard the headquarters of the Knights of Malta, then you can have a glance through their peephole, through which you can see a perfectly framed St. Peter’s Basilica. Though it’s largely a residential area, there are hotels on the Aventine. I like Hotel Villa San Pio for its garden setting, richly decorated rooms, and the fact that its on Via Santa Melania. 🙂
As a former capital of the Roman and Byzantine Empires, Ravenna is hardly unknown. Nevertheless, I rarely see it on must-visit lists for Italy. True, there’s so much to include that Ravenna is easy to bypass. But I think this little city in eastern Emilia-Romagna is one of Italy’s gems. Indeed, it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list for its incredible Byzantine-era mosaics, such as those decorating the walls and apse of Sant’Apollinare in Classe (above). In total, Ravenna has eight sites featuring spectacular mosaics. Ravenna is also a great place to get piadina, a special flatbread typical of Emilia-Romagna and very much like a Turkish gözleme. Grab one filled with cheese, spinach, or nutella (!) at a piadinerie and enjoy…yum!
Argentario Promontory, Tuscany
This is a place you probably won’t get a chance to go to unless you have a friend with a house here. The Promontorio dell’Argentario is a popular summer home spot for Romans and Tuscans. It has stretches of empty sand beaches, ideal currents for windsurfing, idyllic resorts at Porto Santo Stefano and Porto Ercole, and views of some of the islands of the Tuscan Archipelago. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll know that I’m a sucker for ruins and the Argentario promontory has Roman ruins at Ansedonia, known in the Roman world as Cosa. I’m also quite fond of La Parrina, an agriturismo where you can overnight or simply stop by to pick up the farm’s own olive oil, wine, and super fresh provisions on your way to your beach home.
So, those are my “secrets” and I’m also supposed to tag a few other blog friends to see what they come up with.
South of Rome
The Espresso Break
Katie of Tripbase, who started this whole shebang
If you’ve come up with a list, by all means tag me so I can have a look at your tips, too!
Photos © Patrick Medved, Gregorio Parvus, Alberto Bizzini
This post first published on 10 December 2009
Updated on 17 May 2023
Stunning pics, thanks for sharing your secrets!
Can you please send me your email?
1. The Oltrepo Pavese in Lombardy, where I live. Unknown and unspoiled. Beautiful hills, views, vineyards. castles and villages. See http://www.duepadroni.it for photos.
2. Sicily, in spring. Island of flowers! On the hills of the Etna or close to Zingarello national park (Scopello). Not to miss: the cathedral of Monreale near Palermo. Mosaics from ground floor to ceiling all over the cathedral, all still intact. Incredible.
3. Walking from Florence to the outskirts through small roads, ending up at an excellent trattoria. Far fromm the madding crowd.