How to find hidden Italy
This guest post is from Bookings For You, which offers holiday villas and apartments in Italy and France.
Even before the pandemic that has shaken society the world over, tourists were already searching for an undiscovered Italy, an Italy that hadn’t been the subject of countless guide books and that didn’t have a tourist menu on display around every corner.
Pre COVID-19, Italy was attracting over 60 million tourists each year, making it the 5th most popular country in the world when it comes to international tourism. News articles often spoke about overcrowding in key cities such as Venice, with local authorities starting to charge people to enter in order to try and control numbers. As a result, tourists were increasingly looking to find those hidden gems, off the tourist trail, where they could discover an Italy unspoilt by mass tourism.
However, with the change in behaviour due to COVID-19, this desire to find a new hidden Italy has definitely accelerated. So, what are the best places to visit in Italy away from the crowds?
First and foremost, think about where you want to stay. Italy’s busiest region by far is Veneto, which saw nearly 70 million nights spent by visitors in hotels here in 2018. But Umbria which is still well known, saw 11 times fewer visitors that year so if you’re looking to explore the sights away from the crowds, choose your Italian destination carefully!
Even if you want to explore the more well-known regions of Italy, you can still do so whilst avoiding the crowds. If you fancy a holiday in the Italian Lakes, opt for the lesser known Lake Maggiore or Lake Orta over Lake Como and Lake Garda. Or instead of visiting the most famous towns in Tuscany and Umbria, head for the smaller hilltop towns. Opt for Spello over Assisi or Suvereto over San Gimignano. It’s even possible to enjoy a city break away from the crowds too by opting for Pisa over Florence or Verona over Venice.
There is plenty of beauty still waiting to be discovered for the first time in Italy too. As an example, whilst everyone has heard of Marche’s neighbours to the West – Tuscany and Umbria – far fewer have heard of the Le Marche region which nestles alongside them. Situated to the east of Italy, the region boasts over 100 miles of stunning coastline as well as rolling hills and mountain slopes. Not only that, but its architectural and artistic history can easily rival that of Tuscany – Urbino was in fact one of the main centres of the Italian Renaissance and today is still viewed by many as an ‘ideal city’, with a perfectly preserved historic centre – so there is still plenty on offer for those looking to sightsee during their stay.
Alternatively, head further south in Italy to discover some other undiscovered gems. Whilst the popularity of Puglia has grown rapidly in the past decade and can now attract a large number of tourists, Basilicata (which attracted less than 3 million visitors in 2018) and Calabria remain off the beaten track for most tourist itineraries. And yet Calabria boasts some of Italy’s most beautiful beaches. Avoid the scenario of being packed like sardines on rows and rows of loungers and instead head to Calabria where you’re able to enjoy the beach all to yourself.
Choose a quieter time of year
If you want to escape the crowds, head to Italy in the quieter months of the year. You’ll find June to September are the busiest months for visitors but October visitor numbers are typically less than half that you’ll see in peak season whilst across the Winter months (November to March), you’ll see just a fraction of the number of people heading to the country. Even April is relatively quiet, with the exception of the Easter break. If you’re looking to sightsee, you’ll also find temperatures much more comfortable at this time, whilst the Autumn is a fantastic time for foodies with a number of wonderful festivals to enjoy.
Choose your accommodation carefully
Of course, the choice of accommodation can also impact your proximity to others. Escape the hustle and bustle of a hotel and instead opt for the privacy of a self-catering villa in Italy. You’ll have your own space to chill out in, usually with either a terrace or garden and often with a private pool. If you’d like advice on where to holiday in Italy away from the crowds, then get in touch with the team at Italian holiday rental company, Bookings For You.