Secret spots in Italy
Recommendations from Italian locals
There is no better way to get to know a country than by meeting the locals. They can help you to join in local traditions, eat authentic food and show you spots that other travellers may have missed. On this page, we're giving you the opportunity to meet 3 Italian locals from our Interrail community. They'll tell you about their favourite spots in Italy and why you should visit them... It looks like we should all be heading south to Sicily this year!
Maurizio Musotto's 5 Italian places
A seafaring village with an ever mild climate, famous for its seaside fortress and the Arab/Norman cathedral. Found in Sicily - land of sunshine, sea and cuisine. About an hour from Palermo.
The city of Palladian villas, built by the 16th-century architect Palladio, is a World Heritage site and easily accessible by train from Vicenza station.
Home of the Italian Renaissance, during which prestigious buildings famous all over the world were built. Downtown is a 2-minute walk from the central station.
Vernazza, Cinque Terre
One of the pearls of the five lands. A seaside village with narrow alleys and colourful houses. It is reached in 2 hours by train from Genoa.
Pompei and Ercolano
Roman cities which were overwhelmed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. You can visit museums in the open that provide a complete picture of how the ancient Romans lived. About an hour from Naples.
Giacomo Terenghi's hidden spots
Italy’s finest is usually associated with big cities like Venezia (Venice), Firenze (Florence) and Roma. But from my point of view there are several hidden spots and small towns that deserve to be visited. Indeed, they can show the real Italian beauty, full of surprises and marvellous places to be enjoyed quietly and unhurried at every turn.
Sacra di San Michele, Turin
This majestic abbey (1986 movie The Name of the Rose was shot here) is a peaceful location where you can go back in time and feel like an old friar during the Middle Ages. Moreover, it offers a unique view on the valley below and on all the surrounding Alpine peaks. The peculiarity of this place is that it can be reached by foot from two different train stations (Sant’Ambrogio and Condove – Chiusa San Michele). These nice walks through the woods will make you appreciate the destination even more.
San Gemini, Umbria
Have you ever wanted to live and enjoy life like a true Italian? The small village of San Gemini can offer you this opportunity. Located at the heart of Italy, in the Umbria region, time seems to have stopped here. With a short stroll from the local station, you are directly thrown into the narrow streets of the town. Getting lost is the best way to experience everyday life scenes among locals and, most of all, find tiny restaurants where you can eat specialities like truffle and wild boar.
This town near Palermo is mostly famous for its Norman cathedral, full of unique mosaics. But this is not the only thing it can offer. You can spend a whole afternoon enjoying the sun and the sea shore, enclosed with colourful houses. For a while you will think that you are in Africa and not still in Europe! After the sunset you can taste an unforgettable dinner in front of the sea. Pasta alla norma, cannolo and granita will be your must-have to become a real Sicilian.
Gian Maria's hidden gems
Rocchetta Mattei castle, Bologna
One destination that comes to my mind is Rocchetta Mattei, in the Appennini between Bologna and Pistoia, described as the world's weirdest castle. This amazing place, full of esoteric meaning, has been recently reopened to the public. I was there last summer. I think you can get there with the regional train that stops in Riola (from the station you can walk to the castle). There are also other nice places to visit along the road.
By train you can easily travel along the coast of Mar Tirreno, and you can find so many nice places. I've been several times to Castiglioncello, which used to be very popular in the 1960's - all the VIPs were going there. Even now it's still a classic summer location, full of life and attractions. Unlike most of the places on the Tuscan coast, this one has rocks and also quieter beaches.
Ascoli Piceno, central Italy
Last summer I went to an amazing town in the centre, on the Adriatic coast - Ascoli Piceno. It's more of a city than a village, but I was so surprised by how beautiful it was. You can get there easily by train. Very medieval... It's known because it's the capital of a province of the same name, but it's not very touristic.
Lucca province, Tuscany
From the city of Lucca, by train you can also reach the mountains and find beautiful places - probably the most special one is Barga. The food in this area is amazing and in autumn you can enjoy mushrooms and game here.
Join our community to keep up-to-date with even more itineraries, tips and Q&As from travellers just like you.
Discover more authentic Italian experiences on our Italy community page, with local recommendations from our Italy ambassador and favourite finds from travellers like you.