In a country packed with picturesque towns and villages, set in an endless variety of landscapes, choosing the most beautiful places of all is no easy task. When considering the most beautiful villages, there are many different factors to consider. Would you choose a medieval walled town in Tuscany over the stunning vistas of a hamlet in the Italian Alps? Would a hidden seaside village garner higher marks than a whitewashed town set among ancient olive groves?
When a survey was recently presented to residents of Italy, as well as travelers who had stayed in the country, a list of 20 towns emerged as the top picks. The criteria for towns to be featured was actually rather broad. Each must be well preserved, feature characteristics indicative of the local area and have a population of less than 35,000.
In 10th Place: CAMPELLO sul CLITUNNO, UMBRIA: This magical fortified village seems suspended in time. Campello sul Clitunno has attractions ranging from the UNESCO-listed Temple of Clitunno and the Fonti del Clitunno, which were considered sacred by the ancient Romans. Then there is also its magnificent lakeside location and a well-preserved castle.
Number 9: SAN MINIATO in TUSCANY: Located in the province of Pisa, this beautiful Tuscan town has everything you’d hope for: ancient architecture, rolling landscapes and gastronomic wonders. The pretty Sanminiatesi Hills are the source of the area’s prized white truffles; the biggest in the world was found here in 1954. Other wonders include the 200-year-old Duomo, with its unusual clock and the Tower of Federico II.
THE EMILIA-ROMAGNA had the eighth selection on the list with Torriana. With a panoramic view of the sea, the town has been nicknamed the “balcony of Emilia-Romagna.” Torriana is said to have some of the best views in the whole region, set in a protected natural park. Together with the nearby village of Montebello, Torriana is a lesser-known tourist destination featuring castles, ruins, towers and art galleries.
TRICESIMO in FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA was seventh on the list. This ancient town of Roman origin, is in the province of Udine and won its place thanks in part to its remarkable scenery. It is located in a glacial valley and boasts an impressive castle, historic churches and quaint streets, which draw lovers of medieval history and religious architecture. With the holidays soon upon us, it is also worth mentioning that the town’s nativity scene is the most famous in the region.
Sixth on the list went to MAROSTICA in the Veneto region. Situated in the province of Vicenza, this town is best known for its giant chess game. During September in even years, the town’s giant chessboard on Piazza Castello comes to life. All year round you can enjoy the town’s famous cherries, walk under the arcades and enjoy the many shops and cafes in the ancient heart of the town.
Located on LAKE MOLVENO in TRENTINO-ALTO ADIGE, the town of MOLVENO was ranked an impressive fifth on the list. Lying between the cool waters of the lake and the snowy peaks of the Dolomites, it attracts millions of visitors every year with its dramatic natural surroundings. The village itself also boasts treasures such as the Church of San Vigilio and a 16th century sawmill, the Antica Segheria Taialacqua.
LENNO in LOMBARDY was ranked fourth. Situated on Lake Como’s Costa della Tremezzina, Lenno is set in a cove so stunning that it was named after the goddess of beauty. Lenno is loved not only for its lakeside views. The picturesque village attracts gourmands with its famous olive oil production, said to be some of the best in Italy, thanks to the mild year-round climate.
NOLI in LIGURIA was third on the list and the town, along with Spotorno to the north and Finale Ligure to the south, are among the most beautiful villages on the Riviera di Ponente. The ancient settlement, with its strategically important location, has been home to the Ligurians, Romans and Byzantines. It’s long been an important seafaring town, sitting on the edge of the turquoise sea and crescent-shaped white beach. The Castello Ursino stands over the city, giving it plenty of medieval charm.
CANELLI in the PIEDMONT ranked number two. This timeless village is found in the UNESCO World Heritage hills of the Langhe. It is famous as one of the world capitals of wine. As one would expect, the main attractions here are actually underground. It’s where Carlo Gancia, known as the ‘father of Italian sparkling wine’ decided to open his historic cellar, along with many other winemakers in the area. These cellars now make up the so-called underground cathedrals, a network of cellars and tunnels running under the town which are thought to be unique in the world.
And in First Place – AVISE in the VALLE d’AOSTA. With no fewer than three castles, the small town of Avise dates back to the Middle Ages, when it was home to the region’s oldest noble family. It wasn’t chosen just for its historical importance it is also incredibly picturesque. The town center features Romanesque bell towers and tiny wine bars where locals sip Petit Rouge, the fragrant red wine produced in the area and no doubt enjoy it even more, having been selected as Italy’s most beautiful village.