Most Beautiful Villages in Italy:Best Towns to visit in Italy

Most Beautiful Villages in Italy

Last Updated on Sunday 16th, February 2014 / 01:23 Written by
Most Beautiful Villages in Italy
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As some of the most beautiful villages in Tuscany are going to occupy most of the following list, I‘d like to give you my personal insight also on the best and most beautiful villages in Italy, not just Tuscany.

Italy offers so many spectacular places and enchanting borghi all across its territory that is quite hard to make any selection! I’ve chosen just some of them, so feel free to suggest your most beloved Italian town! 🙂

All of the following destinations have been chosen for their peculiar architecture, their special atmosphere, their amazing locations. There’s no a first or a last, each of them is peculiar and characteristic.

Let’s start our journey to the most charming, suggestive and spectacular villages and towns across Italy.

The Best Towns to visit in Italy

San Gimignano – Tuscany

San Gimignano, village with towers in Tuscany

One of the best preserved and most characteristic medieval hill towns of Italy, and the one with the most unique and unmistakable layout, thanks to its 16 towers looking at the sky. Traffic is not allowed in the town center, which contributes to make San Gimignano a real timeless place! Surrounded by beautiful verdant hills in the province of Siena, San Gimignano is definitely a must visit in Italy!

Pitigliano – Tuscany

Pitigliano, Italy

It’s enough to have a look at the picture to see why Pitigliano is one of the most spectacular villages of all Italy! Rising directly from a spur of tuff stone, you can hardly distinguish the houses from the rocks. Pitigliano is located in the very south of Tuscany, in a marvelous area called del tufo, where you find also other stunning smaller Etruscan towns like Sorano and Sovana. That’s one of the lesser known and most beautiful areas of Tuscany.

Pienza – Tuscany

Pienza, medieval town in Tuscany

This is a real jewel in Tuscany! We are in the Val d’Orcia south of Siena. The village was actually planned to be beautiful and perfect by the humanist Pope Pius II, alias Enea Silvio Piccolomini, that built the town in just 3 years (1459-1462) under the guidance of the great architect Bernardo Rossellino. In addition to the famous magical trapezoidal square and the Cathedral, Rossellino’ s masterpiece is also the splendid Renaissance Palazzo Piccolomini, with its elegant courtyard and extraordinary garden with a stunning panorama over the Val d’Orcia.

Montepulciano – Tuscany

Montepulciano, hill town in Tuscany near Siena

Montepulciano is pure beauty! One of my most beloved Tuscan towns! It is rightly also called la perla del ‘500. Its palaces from the Renaissance are incredibly beautiful and full of charm. Its alleys are enchanting, all leading to Piazza Grande, a wonderful square dominated by a stunning Town’s Hall. The Nobile di Montepulciano red wine is one the finest wines of Italy. The location of Montepulciano is again in the province of Siena on the border between the Val d’Orcia and the Valdichiana.

Civita di Bagnoregio – Lazio

Most beautiful towns in Italy

Civita di Bagnoregio is a rare gem! In my opinion the most striking and impressive of all Italian villages. Particularly spectacular for its fabulous location perched on top of an isolated cliff, that unfortunately is slowly eroding. Because of this, Civita di Bagnoregio is also called the dying city, la “città che muore”: It can be reached via a long dramatic bridge only on foot or on scooters. You see it and you’re soon captured; this is, in some ways, a magical and surreal place.

Orvieto – Umbria

Orvieto in Italy

Orvieto is Umbria’s most striking hill town, rising over a spectacular volcanic outcrop, and dominated by one of Italy’s finest cathedrals. Its wonderful Duomo, masterpiece of Italian Gothic architecture, would be enough for Orvieto to stay in this list, but the whole town is delightful and characteristic, enjoying fabulous vistas!

Manarola – Liguria

Manarola, Cinque Terre, Italy

Manarola is an ancient borgo of the Ligurian coast. Manarola is probably the most impressive and characteristic of the famous Cinque Terre in the Liguria region: Riomaggiore, Monterosso al Mare, Corniglia, and Vernazza. Manarola rises right on the rocks over the sea, its houses are colorful and stand side by side while the steep mountain range behind them seem to fall down at anytime.

Matera – Basilicata

Matera, Italy

Known as the “Città dei Sassi”, the city of stones, Matera is located in southern Italy, in Basilicata. It is a UNESCO world heritage site for its beauty and uniqueness. Matera is actually one of the most ancient and most beautiful towns not just of Italy but the world! I Sassi are the most ancient examples of “houses” carved into the rock. The sight is extraordinary!

Positano – Campania

Positano, Amalfi Coast

Just 30 miles from Naples, the village of Positano is the most spectacular and romantic village of all the Amalfi Coast. Its location on the sea is fantastic. Positano has a nice beach, cozy restaurants, wonderful shops (some of the best and most particular I’ve ever seen), but there is also a small enchanting harbor from which boats depart to explore the suggestive cliffs of the Amalfi Coast and its scenic villages. Amalfi, Ravello, Furore, Maiori, and Minori are all incredibly beautiful! The Costiera Amalfitana is a place you will never forget.

Sperlinga – Sicily

Sperlinga in Italy

The name Sperlinga derives from the greek word for cave and indeed the town itself is characterized by numerous caves excavated into the rock, some of them can even be visited. The Castle is definitely a must see for its incredible natural conformation being partly carved into the stone.

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About the author

Hi! My name is Elena, I'm a travel writer and a happy mom living near Florence. I love to explore Tuscany to discover special places and I have a great passion for Tuscan Cooking. On this blog I share my experiences on special hotels and places to visit in Tuscany and Italy, and about my grandmother's tasty Recipes! I'm happy to help travelers plan their holiday in Tuscany :-)

View all articles by elena nacci

24 Comments on “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy

  • Hi Elena,
    I like your blog very much. I am planning a trip to the Tuscany region with 3 cousins. Will be May 1 to May 5, more or less. Do you help travelers? We are trying so hard to find a nice farm Bed & Breakfast in the Umbria region, between Florence and Pienza if possible. We want to visit the countryside, the vineyards, and also Florence. What ever is not touristy in between. We speak some Italian. Our ancestors are Sicilian and we will be travelling down to Sicily after we visit Tuscany. We will take the train but are not sure how to do that. We may take a fast train but want to stop and do an overnight somewhere interesting but don’t know where to stop. We also want to take the overnight train across the water into Palermo but are not sure how that works. Any advice for us? Grazie! Linda Puntasecca

    We would like to stay between Florence and Pienza, (not Siena) but we are flexible on that. We will most likely visit Tuscany AND Umbria. We will have a rental car. I think we will be there for about 4 nights. We are not interested in luxury hotels. We really like farms or agriturismi. We saw this one: : Agriturismo Renai & Monte in Gambassi Terme, http://www.renaiemonte.com/en/‎ and also this one, in Pienza: http://www.cretaiole.it Both of those are beautiful! But we don’t know if they are convenient for travel, or in safe areas, or close enough to Florence, or what.

    And we are so nervous about figuring out how to get the train. I think we must take the fast train from Florence to Milano, then the sleeper train to Siracusa, then rent a car and drive to our final destination of Punta Secca Sicily. But we are not sure how to , or which train to choose. It is so confusing!

    If you know of the good restaurants in Tuscany, that are not tourist p laces,, we would love to hear that.

    And do you think we should go to the festival in Assisi during the first week of May while we are there, or will it be too crowded?

    Mille grazie! Lei e molto gentile.

    Reply
  • elena nacci Post author

    Ciao Linda,
    here I am!

    As to your request for a typical Tuscan Farmohouse and agriturismo, I can say I know Agriturismo Cretaiole, simply fantastic, one of the best in Tuscany. Please note, however, that it is located near Pienza, that is about 1 hour and 40 minutes drive from Florence and little less than one hour from Siena.
    Actually Pienza and the area known as the Val d’Orcia region, is probably the most beautiful of all Tuscany!

    However, if you wish a location, still incredibly beautiful but more convenient to Florence and all main sights to visit in Tuscany, you may consider staying in a farmhouse in san Gimignano, perfect location to explore Tuscany.
    As you probably know San Gimignano is a wonderful picturesque village with medieval towers, a must visit!

    The countryside surrounding is enchanting. It is located less than one hour drive from both Florence and Siena, the beautiful Chianti region is an hour’s distance. Pienza and the Val d’Orcia are at 1 hour and half distance. Starting from San Gimignano you can make also other great day trips to the wonderful Etruscan town of Volterra, Monteriggioni, the Crete Senesi. Pisa and its wonderful Miracles Square are just at 1 and 15 minutes away.

    I can suggest the following agriturismo near San Gimignano:
    Agriturismo Guardastelle
    Agriturismo Niccolai

    I don’t know Agriturismo Renai e Monte but it’s near San Gimignano.

    Coming to Sicily and the best way to get to it, I really suggest you do not use the train, the journey is too long and stressing and you will have to change train more than once and then also take a ferry to Sicily. I highly suggest you reach Sicily by air flying from Pisa Airport to Catania Airport (it will take just one hour and half. From Catania rent a car and reach Punta Secca. I’ve been often to Sicily on vacation, I love it! but I’ve always travelled by airplane!

    As for not tourist restaurants in Tuscany, I can say that you can actually eat well almost everywhere.
    Pienza, the town of the pecorino cheese, has exceptional restaurants and exceptional food. You may have a look at these restaurants I suggest on the blog and if you tell me the place you’re going to base, i’ll give further suggestions:
    https://www.tuscanychic.com/special-restaurants-tuscany

    I’m here for any further advice 🙂

    Reply
  • elena nacci Post author

    Hi LInda,

    I forgot to tell you about the festival in Assisi in May, the famous and extraordinary Calendimaggio.
    Of course there will be a lot of people! really! But the event is something extraordinary.
    For any other advice let me know:-)

    Reply
  • ELENA,
    We are coming to Italy on May 28 and staying in the San Gimignano area at the Locanda del Artista and was
    wondering about good restaurants that have vegetarian food. We are lacto-ovo so we do eat cheese.
    We love pasta, pizza, salads, etc. Any ideas, we will be in all the sorrounding hilltop villages, as well as Florence and Siena. We will also stay at the Castello del Nero for a few nights, Any help on restaurants will be so much appreciated.
    Thank you so much,
    Ellen

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Dear Ellen,
      San Gimignano is a great place to stay!
      Any good restaurant or osteria offers a wide choice of vegetarian food. In the center of San Gimignano I recommend Cum Quibus, restaurant serving very good dishes, also made with truffles, if you like them. In Florence you’ll be spilt for choices as to vegetarian restaurants; try Il Vegetariano and Ristorante le Fate e Le Stelle; both websites are only in Italian though. In Siena I recommend Ristorante Mediterraneo.
      Castello del Nero is beautiful and boasts a great restaurant!
      Please feel free to contact me again for any other suggestion,
      Enjoy your Tuscan stay,
      Elena

      Reply
  • Hi Elena,

    We plan to stay in the Crete Senesi during June. Can you suggest some restaurants in the area of Asciano, San Martino in Grania please ?

    Thank you
    Alex

    Reply
  • Dear Elena,

    We are coming to Tuscany for 4 days from next Thursday, We are staying at Relais Sant’Elena, but would love to explore the Tuscany hilltop villages, enjoy the sights and the local food&wine. We are a bit appart from the heart of Tuscany, however we have rented a car to travel around. Given your knowledge and experience in the region, we would love any recommendations regarding restaurants in the area around our accommodation, the must-visit towns and the routes you would recommend us to do during our three days of stay in Tuscany. We have already been to Florence and Pisa in advance, so those may not count.

    Thank you very much in advance for your advice!!

    Best,

    Miguel

    Reply
  • Ciao Elena,

    Do you have any recommendations for beautiful villages in the Piedmont region, and places to stay there?

    Grazie!

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Ciao Jocelyn,
      I love the Piedmont region! I’ve dear friends there and I’ve visited the place many times.
      Among some of the most beautiful villages in Piedmont certainly I recommend the amazing and peculiar Orta San Giulio, the beautiful Neive, or the lovely Candelo. Check a larger list here 🙂
      Also the area of Monferrato and its beautiful castles is all to visit!
      Among the best places to stay I suggest Al Dom, that enjoys a stunning location on the shores of Lake Orta, and the beautiful Castello di Razzano in Monferrato area.

      Let me know if you need any more help,
      Have a great time,
      elena

      Reply
  • Hello Elena
    My name is Saba and I wanted to visit some small towns or villages in Tuscany and around Siena with my family. I love agriturismo but the problem is we do not have a car and my parents can not ride bikes as well. I appreciate if you can give me some info since you seems expert 🙂 We will be in these areas for 3 nights in August.
    Thank you so much in advance.

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Hello Saba,
      thanks for contacting me.
      Have you already decided where to stay? Staying at an agriturismo in the countryside without a car is a bit problematic unless you use some organized tours, that are the best way to go exploring small towns and villages in Tuscany. If you don’t like the idea of a tour, you mat base directly in Siena’s center and use the bus to reach the beautiful hill towns in the area. Most of the best day destinations from Siena I recommend here can be reached using the bus, take a look 🙂

      Feel free to ask again,
      Have a nice stay!
      elena

      Reply
  • Hello Elena,
    My husband and I are planning a 40th anniversary trip to Italy in September. We have been to Amalfi and Capri and Rome. This time we want to see Florence and Tuscany and cinque terre. I love your suggestions of the most beautiful villages. Our trip will be two weeks. We don’t even know where to begin planning this. What is the best way to experience Tuscany? Should we join a tour? How is the best way to get to some of these villages? If we need to rent a car, is it hard to get around?
    Thank you,
    Fara Maggiore Carney

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Dear Fara,
      I’m deeply sorry for not answering you, unfortunately your message get lost among the many others.
      Now it’s September, but if you still need my help in any way, please contact me again,
      Enjoy your time in Italy,
      elena

      Reply
  • Hi Elena from Us in Australia,
    What an amazing job you are doing!

    Having spent a short time in Italy earlier this year we are keen to spend more time in Tuscany, Umbria, Cinque Terra and Venice, not particularly in that order. We are in early planning phase but considering whether it might be possible to rent a camper van and free camp or camp in designated campgrounds. On our previous trip we did not notice many camping areas so wondering whether you advise using this form of transport and accommodation?

    Thanks again for all your work.
    Neil

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Hi Neil,
      Here I am 🙂
      Thanks a lot for your nice words! I’m happy you like my blog.

      You’re right about camping areas, there are not so many in Italy and you can’t reach all touristic destinations with a camper, but you can still tour the country this way.
      As I’m not particularly well-informed about this issue, I suggest you give a look at this article about touring Italy with a campervan and this other post specifically dedicated to camping in Tuscany.

      Let me know what you think and I remain at your disposal,
      Have a great weekend,
      elena

      Reply
  • Hi, we are travelling all 3 of us from Canada to Portugal then to Italy on April 11, 2016. We wish to get an itinerary from what Italian city to the next to drive and see everything that you relay. We have approx. 15-20 days to enjoy it so please advise. Should we fly to south and drive north or? and where what and how should we accommodate ourselves, should we stay at one spot for a few days or? please help…we are at your mercy and advice. Thanks tish

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Hi Tish,
      I’m happy to help with some tips for your Italian trip next year.
      I suppose you have in mind an Italian tour, or would like to focus more on the Tuscany region?

      To start having an idea you may have a look at this itinerary that covers the best destinations in Italy, for me! 🙂
      Venice, Florence and the Tuscan countryside, Rome, Amalfi Coast… 15-20 are ok to cover it. I would start your trips from north to south, I suppoese you’ll arrive in Milan.

      The tour I suggest includes many Tuscan destinations! Here are Tuscany’s best sights for you to have a look at.

      For any further and more specific question, do not hesitate to contact me again,
      elena

      Reply
      • Yes we can start with Milan and work our way down, a road map would be great haha…and places to stay in each town or city would be welcomed. So excited!! We can all sleep in the same room with a roll away cot situation. Looking forward to hearing your reply! thank you so very much

        Reply
  • Hi Elena,
    I was excited to read your blog an the entries others have submitted. My husband an I are planning a trip to Florence in April for a month. We would like to rent a house an day trip/overnight trip from there. Any suggestions on location in the country ( my husbands dream Tuscan villa ha). Thanks for your time.
    Sue

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Hi Sue,
      Happy to hear you like my blog 🙂
      A full month in Tuscany? great!
      A wonderful villa in the countryside near Florence’s center (about half an hour by car) is The Renaissance Villa Medicea di Lilliano, that rents totally independent houses, all beautiful.

      For a more vast choice of villas and houses near Florence take a look at this good selection.

      For more suggestions do not hesitate to contact me again,
      Have a nice day,
      elena

      Reply

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