If you think there’s nothing more to Italy than the ‘golden triangle’ of Florence, Venice and Rome – you’re mistaken.
Italy offers a wealth of breath-taking architecture, landscapes and culture; all of which is rich and varied enough to offer visitors something new. Here are five of the best lesser-known places of interest to visit while in Italy…
Piacenza is the birthplace of Giorgio Armani. This fashion legend fashion has been making waves with his classy, yet ultra-modern Armani Exchange wrist watches; yet his home town is steeped in rich history and tradition. The Cathedral of Piacenza (Il Duomo) is built in the Romanesque style and was built between the 12th and 13th centuries.
Il Gotico (the gothic one) is the local nickname for the Palazzo Comunale – a medieval palace built in 1281. The lower section is made of pink marble, while the upper part is of red terra-cotta.
Parma is a town which takes its food very seriously. Not only is it the home of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), but it’s also famous Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano. Parma is easy to reach by train on the Bologna-Milan line and its historic town centre is a short walk away. If you enjoy your food, then a trip to Parma is a must.
Urbino is not easy to access as there are few buses, no train station and the only route in is a small mountain road. But if you think it sounds isolated now, that’s nothing compared to the way it was back in the 15th century. This makes it all the more remarkable that a prominent Renaissance court was established there.
The court was established at the Palazzo Ducale, which now accepts visitors and is the main reason to come to Urbino. It looms menacingly above the car park; yet despite appearing to be fortified from down below, this is a façade which embraces a wide piazza in the town centre.
Grotte di Frasassi
This place is an underground marvel in the Marche region; the nearest you can get to being on another world while still being on the planet Earth. For safety reasons, tourists are accompanied on group visits that take 1 hour, 10 minutes; this includes a 1.5km walk on easy terrain. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can pre-book a two or three-hour trail (guide and equipment are provided).
Elba is one of seven islands in the Tuscan Archipelago and is the biggest of them all. If you want beautiful cliff-side views and clear blue waters – Elba Islands is the ideal destination. There is plenty to do here; from boating to outdoor hiking. The beaches are also great; from the lesser-known coves, to the busy Fetovaia.
If you’re not too tired after a busy day, you can go to clubs like Capoliveri or Marina di Campo and party into the early hours.