off the beaten path Italy, venice, grand canal, italy

Off The Beaten Path Italy: 7 Places For An Epic Experience!

Italy, is definitely on everyone’s bucket list, whether we plan to go there or we have already been there. With the Alps, the vineyards of Tuscany, and the coastal region. Italy has it all. In this post, we explore off the beaten path Italy. We will also explore the most beautiful city in Italy, Rome.

Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples, and the Amalfi are must-visit destinations. However, there is more to Italy and you are on the right page if you are looking for answers to off the beaten path in Italy destinations.

  1. Where is Italy?
  2. What is the most beautiful city in Italy?
  3. How many languages are there in Italy?
  4. What is the national dish of Italy?
  5. What are Italy’s famous dishes?
  6. Where are off the beaten path places in Italy?
  7. Is Italy worth visiting?

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Where is Italy?

Before we explore off the beaten path Italy, let’s explore where Italy is in the first place. The Italian Republic borders France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia. It contains the microstates of Vatican City and San Marino.

Italy is home to the Indo-European Italic people who gave this peninsula its name. Latins were the dominant tribe and it was they who established the Roman Empire.

Is Italy a safe country?

Italy is a safe country to visit. However, make sure to keep all valuables under wrap. Do note that Naples is the mafia hotspot. The good news is that tourists are hardly affected by the mafia there, which means making an off the beaten path Italy a doable choice.

Origins of Name

The name Italy originates from antiquity. Italia was the name of the peninsula which was derived from Vitalia. This is now Southern Italy. Dionysius of Halicarnassus says that Italia is from the legend of Italus. Aristotle and Thucydides mention these legends in some of their books as well.


Monte Poggiolo is a Paleothitic site where ancient artifacts were discovered. The excavations revealed the presence of the earliest existence of modern humans in Europe. Riparo Mochi is now the oldest pre-historic site in Italy where the historic remains of the Grimaldi Man were found here.

The Phoenicians were the first to colonize Italy. They developed urban centers along the coasts of Sicily and Sardinia. After that, the Greeks invaded the southern peninsula was known as Magna Graecia once it was colonized by the Greeks.

Rome was established by twin brothers, Remus and Romulus. According to legends, they were the sons of a Trojan princess. The empire reached its peak under Emperor Trajan.

The Italian Renaissance was the start of the modern era in Italy. During this period, some of the achievements were in exploration, painting, architecture, sculpture, music, science, technology, and literature. 

After a Constitutional Referendum, Italy became a Republic. The referendum was to determine the Head of State of Italy. Italy was proclaimed a Republic on 6th June 1946. 


The Apennine Mountains are Italy’s backbone. The highest mountain is Mount Blanc. With the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso, and the Dolomites all being international tourist destinations. Over 70% of Italy’s plains are from Po Valley.

With Po River being the longest in the country. The five largest lakes in Italy are Garda, Maggiore, Como, Trasimeno, and Bolsena.  

Italy is at the meeting point of two tectonic plates. They are the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate. This explains why the country has considerable volcanic activity. Italy has 14 volcanoes of which 4 are active. The four active volcanoes are Etna, Stromboli, Vulcano, and Vesuvius.

Vesuvius is the most active. And is famous for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the eruption of 79AD.  

Italy is the first country to use geothermal energy. With its first geothermal power plant in Larderello in 1904. However, the United States is the world’s largest producer of geothermal energy.


Italy has a culture that has flourished over the centuries. Its culture can be seen in arts, food, architecture, and music. Some Italian architectural styles are Roman, Baroque, Renaissance, and Neoclassical. Major fashion houses that are from Italy are Prada, Versace, Gucci, and Armani.

What are some cultural traditions in Italy?

The cultural traditions of Epiphany and Befana, Patron St Feasts Day, and Notte Bianca just to name a few. Check out the Top 8 Cultural Celebrations in Italy to know more. It is food that brings and establishes ties among family and friends. Italians are known to be open with their displays of public affection.

You can expect affectionate hugs and kisses when greeting. Light touches on the arms are normal greetings. Italians believe that someone who cannot look at you in the eyes is hiding something. Rome celebrated its 2,774 years birthday on April 21st, 2021. This day is known as Natale di Roma. On this day, historical re-enactments, parades, and gladiator fights are the highlights of the day.

Art is everywhere in Italy. It is not only in its museums. The famous Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michaelangelo is an example that ceilings can be used as a canvas.

Do you know that Italy has over 700 cultural institutes, 300 theatres, and 6000 libraries?

Visa Requirements

It is the Ministry of Foreign and International Affairs that manages and provides information for visas to Italy. To determine if you need a visa, click Do You Need A Visa To Italy?. There are two types of visa to be aware of, which are the Schengen Visa and ETIAS.

Schengen Visa

Schengen Area is a European Union passport-free zone that covers 27 member countries. The Schengen Area is the largest visa-free zone in the world. Here, 27 EU nations abolished their international borders to encourage trade and movement. This led to an expansion of business and trade within member nations.

Tourists with a Schengen Visa can travel to all 27 member countries. Citizens of the United States, Canada, Malaysia, and New Zealand do not need a Schengen Visa so long as it is for tourism or business purposes only.

With an increase in terrorism and the migrant crisis, there was a need for better management and to improve the security concerns of tourists and citizens alike.

European Travel Information And Authorization System

The European Travel Information And Authorization System (ETIAS) will launch on 1st January 2022. The goal of this system is to identify risks and threats to visitors traveling to any Schengen country. Tourists traveling to countries that do not require a visa are expected to complete the ETIAS before entry into Europe. To know more about ETIAS, read the ETIAS Application Form to know more. 

Americans, Canadians, and Australians will need to apply for a visa waiver. This allows them to stay up to 90 days. The good news is that ETIAS won’t be mandatory until 2023. This is to give time to travelers to adapt to the new system.

Where are off the beaten path places in Italy?

Cascate del Mulino

off the beaten path Italy, cascate del mulino, Saturnia hot springs
Photo by Michael Baccin on Unsplash

The first in our off the beaten path Italy is Cascate del Mulino. Saturnia Waterfalls are another name for these falls as they are located in the town of Saturnia, Tuscany. This town is 93 miles from Rome. 

The source of these falls begins at the slopes of Mount Amiata. It then passes through a natural underground passageway and re-emerges at the hot springs of a 5-star hotel resort. The water continues its flow through meadows before reaching these iconic waterfalls.

Fun Facts

  1. The water has flowed at a consistent temperature of 37.5°C for 3,000 years.
  2. It flows at a rate of 500 liters per second.
  3. The waters generate unique thermal plankton when it comes into contact with oxygen.

Benefits of Saturnia Hot Springs:

  1. The waters naturally smooth skin.
  2. Its waters have anti-aging, anti-stress, and antioxidant properties.
  3. It is rich in minerals and vitamins.

The Thermal Park is open for guests of the hotel through an exclusive online booking. There are two rates available. These are the “Club” formula which is €70 ($85) and the “Source” formula which is €85 ($103). According to Forbes, these hot springs are one of the Most Picturesque Hot Springs in The World

For hotels in Saturnia, check out:


Lake Como

off the beaten path Italy, Lake Como, most beautiful lake in Italy, boat, mountains
Photo by Maria Dolores Vazquez on Unsplash

The second in our off the beaten path Italy is Lake Como. Lago di Como is a glacial lake in Lombardi. This lake is the third-largest in Italy and the fifth largest in Europe. It is also the deepest lake out of Norway. The feature of Lake Como lies in its “Y” shape.

This lake is ranked number one in The World’s 20 Most Beautiful Lakes. Lake Como has always been a retreat for aristocrats and the wealthy since the Roman Empire. Check out the Best Places to Stay and Eat in Como and Spirit of the Italian Lakes to know more.

What is the best time of the year to visit Lake Como?

The best time to visit is summer. This is when the weather is humid and the lake waters are warm. Temperatures are highest in the months of July and August. This is the holiday season in Italy, thus, attractions would be filled with crowds.

If you prefer to avoid the crowds, then the months from Easter to the end of October are suitable. This is during the spring and fall months. 

For hotels in and around Lake Como, check out:


off the beaten path Italy, Tropea, window with a view, beach, buildings on cliff
Photo by Razvan Horhat on Unsplash

The third in our off the beaten path Italy is Tropea. This municipality is in Vibo Valencia which is a province in Calabria, Southern Italy. Tropea is one of the Most Beautiful Villages. Hercules founded this town upon his return from the Pillars of Hercules. The Pillars of Hercules is the Straits of Gibraltar. Tropea’s coast was where Sextus Pompey defeated Octavius in the Battle of Naulochus.

Santa Maria dell’ Isola Monastery is the main attraction here. This medieval church sits on a rocky cliff and is home to a Byzantine-era portrait of the Virgin Mary that locals believe protects the area. This town is on New York Times and La Republica.


For hotels in Tropea, check out:


off the beaten path Italy, Vicenza, clock tower
Photo by Stacy Ropati on Unsplash

The fourth in our off the beaten path Italy in Vicenza. This city is 37 miles from Venice and 124 miles from Milan. The City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto are UNESCO World Heritage Site to protect the buildings designed by Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.

The Palladian style was inspired by him. In this style, symmetry, perspective, and formal classical temples of the ancient Greeks and Romans are used as inspiration. Check out the 12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Vincenza and 15 Best Things To Do in Vincenza to know more.

Do you know that Vicenza is known for its red onions?


For hotels in Vicenza, check out:

Porto Venere

off the beaten path Italy, Lake Como, boats on a lake, colorful buildings
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

The fifth in our off the beaten path in Italy is Porto Venere or Portus Veneris. This town is home to Saint Venerius, who was the patron saint of the La Spezia. At that time, the village was a fishing community. The lake is famous for the luxurious villas that dot its banks.

Another name for this gulf is the Gulf of Poets. This is due to the fact that Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelly, and Lord Byron once lived here. The villages of Cinque Terre and Porto Venere are UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997. 

Check out 9 Reasons to visit Cinque Terre’s Gorgeous Sixth Town – Portovenere. You can check out the 18 Hidden Gems to visit in Europe to know more. 

Endless Possibilities

For hotels in Porto Venere, check out:

Civita de Bagnoregio

off the beaten path Italy, Civita di Bagnoregio, town on a cliff
Photo by Catherine Kerr on Unsplash

The sixth in our off the beaten path in Italy is Civita de Bagnoregio. This town is in the Province of Viterbo in Central Italy. The only access is via a footbridge. Civita is on a volcanic rock and is surrounded by deep ravines. Over the centuries, the rock is facing erosion.

This town is considered a ‘dying town’. This is due to continuous erosion, earthquakes, landslides, and floods that have threatened this town. There are two things which this town is famous for. Firstly, its feline population is more than its human population. As of October 2019, only 10 human beings live here.

Secondly, an entrance fee of €3 ($3.63) is on weekdays. It is €5 ($6) on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays. This town is on the Tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town wants to recognize its landscape and resilience towards the force of nature. 


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Castelmezzano & Pietrapertosa 

off the beaten path Italy, Castelmezzano, Pietrapertosa at night, town on a cliff
Photo by Paolo Santarsiero on Unsplash

The seventh destination in our off the beaten path Italy is Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa. These towns are on hills near each other. This town is in the Province of Potenza is in Basilicata. The Flight of the Angel links to town to Pietrapertosa. This zipline crosses the valley at speeds of 120 km/hour.

The Seven Stones Path is an ancient path. Oral stories are handed down through the generations and are bound together by keywords. Mimmo Sammartino wrote these stories based on three areas which are the literary walk, the visionary path, and the scenic route. He describes his land on La Repubblica.  

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What is the most beautiful city in Italy?


off the beaten path Italy, Rome, Trevi fountain
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Rough Guides has ranked Rome as the Most Beautiful City In The World. Rome is also part of Conde Nast’s 50 Most Beautiful Cities In The World. With a history that spans 28 centuries, it is the only city that is continuously inhabited city in Europe.

Why Rome the Most Beautiful City?

Rome has successfully incorporated modern and ancient architectural wonders within the city. This makes Rome a walking and living museum. You never know when ancient buildings might house modern restaurants. Although Rome isn’t an off the beaten path Italy, check out 5 Reasons Why Rome is the Most Beautiful City in the World and 10 Reasons Why Everyone Should Visit Rome At Least Once

What is the best time to go to Italy?

The peak season is between mid-May to August. These are the summer months. This is the time when international travelers flock to the country for its beautiful weather. This is the time when airfares, hotel rates, and crowds are at their highest. For a monthly guide, check out Culture Trip.

For hotels in Rome, check out:

For car rentals in Rome, check out:

How many languages are there in Italy?

Italy has 34 native dialects with Italian being the official language in the country. The native languages of Italy are a combination of Romance languages and Indo-European languages. Italy recognizes twelve minority languages which are Albanian, Catalan, German, Greek, Occitan, and Sardinian just to name a few. This is based on Article 2 of the Official Gazette No 297 of December 1999

What are Italy’s top languages?

The top language spoken is Italian with 93% speaking the language. The endangered languages in Italy include Griko, Gardiol, Vastese, Toitschu, and Molise Croatian. 

What are some common Italian phrases?

The best way to explore any country is through its language. And, learning a new language is always fun! Here are the common phrases you can use for your next trip to Italy.

An informal “hello” is Ciao while Salve is a formal version. “Good morning” is Buongiorno, “good afternoon” is Buonasera, and “good night” is Buonanotte. “Please” is Per Favore and “thank you” is grazie

Check out the Italian For Dummies Cheat Sheet and the 112 Basic Italian Phrases to Learn and Speak Now. For free online courses, check out Duolingo and The Italian Experiment.

What are some Italian sayings?

There are plenty of Italian sayings that convey messages of wisdom and humor. Some Italian phrases about life are Nulla Nuova, Buona Nuova which means no news is good news. The phrase Meglio Tardi Che Mai means better late than never. Check out 37 Italian Sayings That Italians Use and 12 Cool Expressions You Will Learn in Rome to know more.

What is the national dish of Italy?

Ragu Alla Bolognese

Ragu alla Bolognese, pasta, minced meat sauce
Photo by Ivan Vighetto on Wikipedia Commons

World Atlas mentions that Italy’s national dish is Ragu Alla Bolognese. Bolognese traces its roots to the town of Bologna. Tagliatelle is used. While meat, onions, carrots, and pancetta are sweat, braised, and sauteed over a slow fire to make the sauce

This dish is served together with the sauce. However, alternative kinds of pasta which can be used are fettuccine, rigatoni, pappardelle, and penne.

What are Italy’s famous dishes?

Italian cuisine is known throughout the world for its simplicity. It is a known fact that Italians love their food and this is evident from murals and paintings of Romans feasting on food. Whether it is on paintings or recipes that date back centuries.

With a culinary history that dates back to 2000 years and the impact of foreign exploration and trade, Italian food is a combination of its regions and the countries it has explored. In this post, we will look at the top 5 famous dishes in Italy and their impact around the globe.

Do you know that the first recipe book is De Re Coquinaria?

Neapolitan Pizza

Neopolitan pizza, basil leaf, cheese
Photo by Galen Crout on Unsplash

Tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil leaf are the main ingredients of this dish. The three colors represent the Italian flag. The New York-style pizza was inspired by this dish. The art of making this pizza is listed under UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage.

Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana states that the base is made from risen dough and cooked in a wood fire oven. Most importantly, only San Marzano tomatoes or Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio tomatoes can be used. Check out the recipe for this pizza on the Food Network.


off the beaten path Italy, lasagna, thin layer of pasta, tomato sauce
Photo by sunorwind on Unsplash

Lasagna, this flat and wide pasta is the oldest in the world. The word lasagna is from the Greek word, laganon. However, lagane appears in the works of Apicius. In his book, he describes lasagna as thin layers of pasta stacked with meat, vegetables, and cheese.

What are the 3 main components of lasagna?

The three components of lasagna are pasta, sauce, and cheese. 


off the beaten path Italy, carbonara, spaghetto, parmesan cheese, black pepper, pancetta
Photo by Rob Wicks on Unsplash

This dish uses spaghetti and the sauce is made of eggs, parmesan cheese, black pepper, and pancetta.

Who invented carbonara?

Renato Gualandi invented this dish. The most accurate story of the creation of this dish is that Gualandi was working in Riccione in 1944 when Italy was still a war-torn nation. The Allied forces wanted to celebrate once the town was free from war. It was Gualandi who was in charge of the banquet at that time. To create his new dish, he gained inspiration from Slovenian culinary traditions.

He created spaghetti carbonara with a sauce of bacon, cream, processed cheese, and dried egg yolk sprinkled with black pepper. For an ultimate spaghetti carbonara, check out the recipe on BBC’s Good Food.


lemon risotto, lemon
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

This Northern Italian rice dish is cooked with broth until it becomes creamy. Risotto is usually made from butter, onions, white wine, and parmesan cheese. According to a local legend, an apprentice of Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano sprinkled saffron to the risotto and served the dish at a wedding feast. The basis of risotto is its rice.

Common risotto rice is arborio, carnaroli, vialone nano which are considered good quality risotto rice. Long grain rice such as basmati and jasmine should be avoided. Unlike other rice, Risotto does not have to be rinsed. Check out the recipe for speck and wild garlic risotto on Financial Times.


prosciutto, dry cured ham, asparagus, olives, bread
Photo by David B Townsend on Unsplash

Cambridge Dictionary defines prosciutto as an Italian dried ham served in thin slices. The meat should come from the leg or shoulder of a pig or any other animal.  

The hind legs of pigs are the main ingredient of this dish. The prosciutto process can take between nine months to two years, depending upon the size of the ham. Salt removes moisture and gives the dish its flavor. Prosciutto di Parma is the most prized prosciutto in the world. The breeding of the heavy pigs used for this ham began in the 3rd century BC.

Check out 19 of Our Favorite Prosciutto Recipes and 10 Delicious Ways to Use Prosciutto in Your Cooking to know more. For prosciutto recipes and menu ideas, check out Bon Appètit.

Is Italy worth visiting?

Yes! Check out the 10 Reasons to Visit Italy. Italy is home to landmarks such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, the canals of Venice, and the white sandy beaches of Sardinia.

Do you know the 10 Things Italy Is Famous For?

Italy is a cosmopolitan city. One where you can walk past ancient buildings or marvel at its beaches, and learn from its museums. Before going, check out the 5 Things I Knew Before Going to Italy. Forbes gives you Why Italy Should Be Your Next Budget Travel and 5 Smarter Ways to Travel in Italy


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