Most Beautiful Villages of Italy
Italian culture is admired around the world for its influential gastronomy, wine, art, and fashion. Combine this with the country’s beautiful landscapes, well-preserved history, ancient architecture, and friendly people and it’s no wonder Italy is the 5th most visited country in the world. Over 60 million visitors make their way to Bel Paese, or “beautiful country” as it’s nicknamed, to get a taste of the cuisine and immerse in the rich centuries-old culture and history that make this place so special. But once you’ve gone ahead and settled on vacationing in Italy, with so much to see and more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world, it can be daunting to narrow down your itinerary to an achievable list of sites and cities.
Why not do something different from the masses and venture outside of the more touristy and crowded places to experience another unique side of the country – Italy’s most beautiful villages.
When it comes to visiting beautiful villages, Italy is, without a doubt, a top destination. In fact, back in 2001, the Consulta del Turismo dell’Associazione dei Comuni Italiani created an official list of the most beautiful villages in Italy, ranked by both aesthetic beauty as well as cultural and historical significance.
To explore some of the most charming and remote villages, featuring gorgeous architecture and history but without all the crowds, we recommend taking a trip to the Abruzzo region. Abruzzo, located just a few hours east of Rome, is home to an impressive 23 of Italy’s most beautiful villages on the list. Here are a few of our favorite villages in Abruzzo to check out on your next trip to Italy:
Castel del Monte
This medieval hilltop village is located in northern Abruzzo’s L’aquila province, part of the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park. Castel del Monte is home to just a few hundred residents, and its spot sitting on the Gran Sasso mountain range offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. Take a trip back in time as you walk through the town’s ancient cobblestone streets. Learn more about its history with a visit to the local Museum of Traditions and the 15th-century Church of the Madonna del Suffragio, or just gaze at the view of the 10th-century Rocca Caliscio, a striking mountaintop castle.
An hour north of Castel del Monte, Abruzzo’s Teramo province is home to the awe-inspiring scenery in which the medieval town of Castelli sits. Also located within the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park, Castelli is built on a cliff surrounded by dense forest and has the impressive Mount Camicia as its background. Even more than the aesthetic beauty of this ancient town, Castelli is renowned for its maiolica style of painted ceramics, which date back to at least the renaissance period. Make the trip to this beautiful village and stop by their ceramics museum to learn all about this ancient craft. For those feeling artists, there are also possibilities to make your own pottery through an exclusive ceramic-making workshop we organize at a local artisan.
Civitella del Tronto
What this 16th-century village has in common with the previous two villages we’ve mentioned, is its cliff-top location in the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park. What sets it apart from any other village in Italy is the incredible fortress that surrounds it. In fact, this is the 2nd largest fortress in all of Europe and the largest in Italy! One of the most important historical sites in Abruzzo, exploring this beautiful village in Italy and learning about its great fortress’s impressive history and architecture will not disappoint. One of the most important historical sites in Abruzzo, exploring this beautiful village in Italy and learning about the impressive history and architecture of its great fortress will not disappoint. To immerse yourself in this special part of Abruzzo and learn more about traditions, history, food and culture from the Teramo province, check out our guided day tours in Civitella del Tronto.
In Majella National Park, within Abruzzo’s L’Aquila province (about an hour’s drive south of Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park), you’ll find Pacentro, a gorgeous well-preserved village overlooking the Peligna Valley that dates back to around the 8th century. The beautiful architecture in the village will take you back to medieval times and the impressive Caldora Castle, the tallest structure in town, is a particular highlight. Pacentro is also famous for this Crazy Gipsy Race.
Also located in L’Aquila province, nestled in the Sagittario Valley between the Majella mountains, you’ll find Scanno. This beautiful lakeside village is famous for having been a favorite spot for photographers throughout the 20th century, who have taken advantage of the beauty of Scanno women in their unique traditional dress. Visit Scanno these days, and you may still see some women sporting the traditional black dress with white lace that the town has become famous for.
It’s safe to say, there’s no shortage of beautiful villages in Italy and this short list makes up just a handful of the 23 most beautiful villages located in Abruzzo. We know how important it is to be free while traveling: free to choose where to go, free to cut short, free to spend more time in a place, free to choose. We are proud to be the only local company to offer exclusive custom and limited tours in Abruzzo, focusing on helping small businesses, meeting our family, friends and delighting you as if you were our best friend – for us tourism is not numbers but long lasting memories.