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Unveiling Italy's Hidden Gems: The Most Underrated, Yet Breathtaking Cities to Explore this Summer!

Updated: 6 days ago

Ciao, fellow wanderlust seekers!

If you're planning your first trip to Italy this summer, you've already taken the first step towards an unforgettable adventure. While Rome, Florence, and Venice might be the usual suspects on every traveler's checklist, I'm here to let you in on a little secret: Italy's lesser-known cities are the hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.

Join me as we explore the most underrated, yet jaw-droppingly beautiful cities that will make your Italian summer adventure truly exceptional.

Lucca - Where Time Stands Still:

Imagine strolling along charming cobblestone streets, encircled by ancient walls, and enveloped in a serene atmosphere. Lucca, nestled in Tuscany, is a true haven for those seeking tranquility. Rent a bicycle and pedal around the city's intact Renaissance walls, discover hidden piazzas, and don't miss climbing Guinigi Tower for breathtaking panoramic views. Lucca is a dream come true for history enthusiasts and art lovers alike.


  1. Buca di Sant'Antonio: Located in the heart of Lucca, this renowned restaurant offers a delightful culinary experience with traditional Tuscan dishes. From homemade pasta to succulent meat and fish dishes, Buca di Sant'Antonio is sure to satisfy your taste buds. Don't miss their signature dessert, the buccellato, a local sweet bread.

  2. Osteria Cantine Bernardini: Tucked away in a charming corner of Lucca, this cozy osteria is known for its warm atmosphere and delectable Tuscan cuisine. Enjoy a wide selection of dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, including their exquisite homemade pastas, cured meats, and a variety of Tuscan wines.


  1. Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Mansi: Step back in time and explore the opulent world of the Mansi family at this fascinating museum. Admire the beautifully preserved interiors of the palazzo, including stunning frescoes, period furniture, and a remarkable collection of artworks. The museum provides an insight into the aristocratic life of Lucca's past.

  2. Museo della Cattedrale: Located within the Cathedral of San Martino, this museum houses a captivating collection of religious artifacts and artworks. Marvel at the exquisite sculptures, paintings, and tapestries that span several centuries. Don't forget to climb the bell tower for a panoramic view of Lucca's rooftops.

Matera - A Journey Back in Time:

Prepare to be awestruck as you step into a city straight out of a fairytale. Matera, located in the southern region of Basilicata, is known for its ancient cave dwellings, known as Sassi. These dwellings, carved into the rocks, have been transformed into unique hotels, museums, and restaurants. Lose yourself in the labyrinthine streets, visit the fascinating cave churches, and bask in the magical ambiance of this UNESCO World Heritage site.


  1. Palazzo Gattini Luxury Hotel: Located in the heart of Matera's historic center, this elegant hotel offers luxurious accommodations in a restored 15th-century palace. Enjoy the blend of modern comforts and historic charm, along with breathtaking views of the Sassi from the rooftop terrace.

  2. Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita: For a truly unique experience, stay at this boutique hotel nestled in ancient cave dwellings. The meticulously restored rooms feature rustic decor, stone walls, and ambient lighting, creating an unforgettable atmosphere. Immerse yourself in Matera's history while enjoying modern amenities.


  1. Osteria Pico: Situated in the Sassi district, Osteria Pico offers a cozy and intimate dining experience. Indulge in traditional Lucanian cuisine with a modern twist, featuring dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. Their menu showcases regional specialties like orecchiette pasta, lamb, and seasonal vegetables.

  2. Ristorante Francesca: Located near Piazza Vittorio Veneto, this family-run restaurant delights visitors with its warm hospitality and authentic flavors. Sample their delicious homemade pasta, grilled meats, and delectable desserts while enjoying a charming ambiance. Be sure to try the local delicacy, peperoni cruschi (crispy red peppers).

Bologna - The Gastronomic Wonderland:

For all the foodies out there, Bologna is an absolute must-visit. Often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts, this culinary paradise in Emilia-Romagna is a feast for both the eyes and the taste buds. Take a gastronomic tour through the city's vibrant markets, sample the legendary tagliatelle al ragù (Bolognese pasta), and treat yourself to heavenly gelato. Climb the Asinelli Tower for a panoramic view, and don't forget to embrace the warm hospitality of the locals.


  1. Grand Hotel Majestic "già Baglioni": This luxurious hotel is located in the heart of Bologna, just steps away from the famous Piazza Maggiore. Housed in a historic building, it offers elegant rooms, impeccable service, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of the city.

  2. Art Hotel Commercianti: Nestled in a historic building facing the Basilica di San Petronio, this charming hotel combines classic style with modern amenities. The rooms are tastefully decorated, and some offer views of the square. The hotel's central location makes it a perfect base for exploring Bologna's attractions.


  1. Trattoria da Vito: Situated in the lively Quadrilatero district, this traditional trattoria serves authentic Bolognese cuisine. Indulge in regional specialties such as tagliatelle al ragù, tortellini, and mortadella. The warm and welcoming atmosphere, along with the friendly staff, make dining at Trattoria da Vito a delightful experience.

  2. Osteria dell'Orsa: Located near the University of Bologna, this popular eatery is loved by locals and visitors alike. It offers a cozy, rustic ambiance and a menu featuring traditional dishes made with fresh, high-quality ingredients. Try their famous tortellini in brodo (tortellini in broth) or the hearty ragù alla Bolognese.

  3. Al Cambio: This modern and stylish restaurant is known for its innovative take on traditional Bolognese cuisine. The menu changes regularly to showcase seasonal ingredients, and the dishes are beautifully presented. With a carefully curated wine list, Al Cambio offers a memorable dining experience.

Trieste - A Fusion of Cultures:

Located on the border with Slovenia, Trieste offers a captivating blend of Italian, Austrian, and Slovenian influences. This coastal gem boasts a picturesque harbor, elegant buildings, and a charming old town. Sip on a cup of coffee at one of the city's historic cafés, visit the magnificent Miramare Castle, and take a scenic walk along the waterfront promenade. Trieste's cultural diversity and captivating ambiance are sure to steal your heart.


  1. Savoia Excelsior Palace: Overlooking the Gulf of Trieste, this historic hotel exudes elegance and grandeur. Its central location near Piazza Unità d'Italia makes it a convenient choice for exploring the city. The rooms are beautifully appointed, and the hotel offers top-notch amenities and exceptional service.

  2. Hotel Continentale: Situated in the heart of Trieste, this boutique hotel combines modern design with comfort. Its stylish rooms feature contemporary furnishings and offer views of the city. The hotel's central location allows easy access to attractions, shopping areas, and dining options.

Things to Do:

  1. Miramare Castle: Visit this stunning seaside castle, located a few kilometers from Trieste. Built in the 19th century, it offers breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea. Explore the opulent interiors, stroll through the scenic gardens, and learn about the history of the Habsburg dynasty.

  2. Piazza Unità d'Italia: Take a leisurely walk or enjoy a coffee in one of Europe's largest sea-facing squares. This iconic square is bordered by beautiful buildings, including the Municipality Palace and the historic Caffè degli Specchi. It's a perfect spot for people-watching and immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Trieste.

  3. Castello di San Giusto: Venture up the hill to reach this medieval castle that overlooks the city. Explore its fortifications, visit the museum housed within its walls, and enjoy panoramic views of Trieste from the castle's terrace. Don't miss the chance to attend events or concerts held in the castle's courtyard during the summer.

  4. Trieste's Old Town (Città Vecchia): Wander through the narrow streets of the Old Town, lined with charming buildings, boutiques, and cafés. Discover the Roman Theatre ruins, visit the Cathedral of San Giusto, and explore the vibrant local markets, such as