The world looks like a scary place right now. Travel feels like a thing of the past and we know that the tourism and travel industry is being hit extra hard. Since there is not much else we can do right now, we decided to take another perspective and think of travel as a thing of the future instead. We will fight the gloom and fear of these dark times with hope, by making amazing plans for the future. We hope we can give you something beautiful to think about too. Therefore, today, we are going to tell you about some of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy. Small, ancient Italian villages that are waiting to welcome us all back with their untapped beauty, their thousands years’ worth of history, their scents, and their unique flavours. Visit Italy as soon as you can – and as soon as it is absolutely safe to do so.
3 Italian villages you should visit as soon as you can
Vipiteno – Sterzing -Trentino Alto Adige
Vipiteno is one of the most beautiful towns in Trentino-Alto Adige and it holds some unusual records. In a research on life quality and general happiness in Italy, involving hundreds of Italian villages and cities, the inhabitants of Vipiteno ranked second happiest in Italy. The town also has the longest tobogganing slope in Italy and one of the oldest Christmas markets in the country. You won’t need more than a day to walk this gem of a village from end to end, but it is worth exploring it in-depth if you have the time to do so. Walk to the council house, on the main square, which is a beautiful example of Northern-Italian late gothic architecture, and take in the old tower – also known as Torre Delle Dodici. Take your time walking through the cobbled alleys and enjoy the traditional houses with their bow windows and their wrought-iron signs: up until the XIX centuries, these used to be an effective mode of communication for travellers who did not speak the language. Different symbols carved or painted on the signs indicated whether the building was a public house, an inn, whether it had rooms for rent and whether it was open until late at night. Traces of this simpler and wholesome way of life are still visible in Vipiteno. If you have a couple of days to spend here, you should also visit the nearby Tasso castle or hike up to the beautiful Stanghe waterfalls.
Panicale – Umbria
When entering Panicale you will feel light-hearted and relaxed. This village is like a natural terrace, where both nature and the action of man converge to create a relaxed atmosphere. Through the centuries, this amazing landscape inspired masters of Italian painting such as Masaccio and Perugino. Approaching the town, you will have the impression of stepping into a medieval fortress, with a moat (which is now empty and entirely crocodile-free) and the ancient wall allowing access through the original gates, oriented towards Florence and Perugia. Take your time to walk through Panicale, from end to end, and you will find yourself ascending (or descending, depending on where you start) through three levels. In Piazza Umberto I, stop and admire the renaissance fountain, standing in front of a magnificent late-medieval palace, the majestic Palazzo Pretorio. You will find that each level has its own square: if the first one belongs to the symbols of secular power, the middle one is the dominion of the Church, expression of the spiritual power. A church dedicated to the Archangel Michael presides over the square by the same name. The building dates back to the Lo Panicale is small, and yet it contains a wealth of artistic and architectural treasures. And, of course, it has all the warmth and the welcoming atmosphere of Umbria, its delicious cuisine and amazing natural landscape.
Palazzolo Arceide – Sicilia
Our journey, you might have noticed, is taking us south, to a beautiful village in the Sicilian inland, near Syracuse. Dating back to the XVIII century, Palazzo Arceide is part of the Noto Valley, a UNESCO Heritage site, famous for its superb baroque architecture. The very uniqueness of this town is the result of the locals’ ability to react to a major crisis. In 1693, an earthquake destroyed most of the settlements on the heights near Iblea. All the buildings and the churches in the valley were rebuilt, in an enthusiastic effort that generated one of the most remarkable architectural sites in the world. But there’s much more than baroque architecture here. This area has been continually inhabited since pre-Roman times and it bears clear traces of its subsequent dominations. Roman, Greek and Arabian influences are still clearly visible, along with Byzantine art and architecture. This area, more than any other in Italy, is a perfect example of how culture and spirituality can converge in syncretic harmony: alongside the many catholic churches, there are prehistoric carvings that have been traced back to pagan cults, that preceded even the Roman pantheon. Walking through this small village is like travelling through time, exploring the different expressions of human ingenuity and experiencing a variety of cultures and traditions, all coexisting in perfect balance.
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