I’m sure you’re expecting me to list off ten amazing characteristics of the Italian culture or popular cities and towns you should visit. However, that has already been done many times over. Instead, my ten reasons will be different. They will be things people don’t often see when they travel to the country, places they’ve probably never even heard of, but well worth the trip.
1. Scala dei Turchi (Stair of the Turks)
Scala dei Turchi, in Sicily, is a breathtaking expanse of white cliffs and stunning blue water. The white color comes from the limestone and white marl inside the ground. The origin of the name is two parts. Over time, wind and erosion have created the staircase look. While the Turks used to bring their ships into the bay for shelter.
2. The Sunken City of Baia
Heralded as the Las Vegas of the ancient world, Baia was a place where powerful members of Roman society often visited. Natural volcanic vents around the city eventually caused water levels to rise, leading to the city’s abandonment in the 1500s. Later, water overwhelmed the entire city, and now it can only be reached by scuba divers.
3. The Island of Burano
Located in the Venetian lagoon, Burano is known for its colorful houses and skilled lace makers. The tradition of painting the houses began so they could be visible from the water and so residents knew where their property ended and their neighbors began.
4. Castello di Sammezzano
Found near Florence, Castello di Sammezzano is one of the most colorful castles in the country. The castle’s overall aesthetic is a mix of Indian and Chinese design elements, which were popular at the time. Each of the structures 365 rooms, one for every day of the year, are uniquely designed, such as the Peacock Room and the White Room.
5. The Trulli of Alberobello
The Trulli are white stone houses with coned shaped roofs dating back to prehistoric times. Dating back to the 14th-century, the Trulli in Alberobello are the oldest existing structures in the country. The town is so significant the site has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. Gardens of Bomarzo
Often referred to as the Garden of Monsters, this place was the creation of a man who lost his friend in war, then returned home to find his wife dead. The statues are said to be embodiments of his grief. For more information about the garden’s backstory, click here.
7. Lake Resia
Located near the borders of Switzerland and Austria, Lake Resia hides another sunken city beneath its water. The town of Graun was lost more than 60 years ago when a power company took the land to create an artificial lake. The only remnants of the town is the lone bell tower that still stands above the water.
About 15 miles from the ruins of Pompeii, is another city preserved by the ashes of Mount Vesuvius. In Herculaneum, you won’t have to battle crowds of tourists to get an up-close look at the remains of this ancient site.
9. Loreto Island
This island, located in the middle of Lago d’Iseo, was once home to a 15th-century monastery. Not much is known about the monastery or the island up until the 1900s when Vincenzo Richieri purchased the property. Richieri saw the island and knew what it needed was a castle.
10. La Reggia di Venaria
Known as Italy’s Palace of Versailles, La Reggia di Venaria is a stunning estate filled with historical architecture and art. Located outside of Turin, visitors have access to the gardens, main castle structure, and the private apartments of its formal royal residents. For a more in-depth look, click here.