Alternative Italy: 5 off-the-beaten-track destinations to visit in Italy this Summer 2021

If you want to stay clear of tourist traps this summer and avoid the crowds, check out our guide to alternative destinations to visit in Italy.

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Alternative destinations in Italy / Unsplash
27 May 2021, Emma Donaldson

The world is taking cautious steps in a bid to get back to normal after the coronavirus pandemic, and with the arrival of vaccines, travelling will be possible for at least some people this summer 2021. While Italy failed to make it onto the UK’s green travel list, Italy has stated that travellers from the UK are welcome, as well as those from the European Union, the Schengen Area and Israel, if they arrive with a negative test result taken a maximum of 48 hours before travel. In this case, there will be no compulsory quarantine and travellers will be free to enjoy Italy (while obeying the local COVID-19 restrictions).

If you’re in search of a relaxing break this summer, far from crowds and tourist hotspots, then we have the perfect selection of destinations in Italy that are off the beaten track and perfect for social distancing this summer 2021. Check our our guide to alternative Italy and get planning your next trip!

Castelsardo, Sardinia

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The picturesque medieval village of Castelsardo is located in the province of Sassari, Sardinia and is right in the middle of the Gulf of Asinara. This historic town is best known for its ancient castle which is beautifully perched on a scenic rocky promontory overlooking the sea, but this not all that Castelsardo has to offer. There are also a range of beautiful sandy beaches meaning that this charming village really has something for everyone.

Founded by a Genovese family during the 12th century, the village of Castelsardo is one of Italy’s hidden gems which offers an ancient and authentic insight into the medieval side of the island of Sardinia. A highlight of any trip to the area also involves trying out the local gastronomy scene, where you will be blown away by the Sardinian cuisine and the panoramic views that many of the restaurants in the town have. Don’t miss the one of the village’s most traditional dishes featuring lobster, as well as the Castellanese fish soup.

Ischia, Campania

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Located in the Gulf of Naples, Ischia is Capri's sister island, but with a more genuine and authentic feel and without the VIP status. Ischia is known for its thermal baths due to the volcanic nature of the island, the perfect way to relax and unwind far from crowds of tourists this summer 2021. Make sure not to miss the island’s Aragonese castle and take some time to take in the refreshing atmosphere in some of Ischia’s local bars.

However, this is not all that Ischia has to offer, and for a true off-the-beaten-track experience, head to the southern coast of the island where you’re in for a treat with the lazy beaches of Sant’Angelo, as well as nearby forests and vineyards.

Narni, Umbria

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Most tourists who head to the Umbria region of Italy flock to Assisi which is famous for its cathedral dedicated to Saint Francis. However, for an equally authentic Italian experience, we recommend a trip to the village of Narni which is a true hidden treasure in the province of Terni and virtually tourist-free.

Narni is located on a hilltop and is home to stunning views overlooking the Italian countryside, especially beautiful (and romantic) at sunset. Make sure to check out the town’s Civic Museum which is home to stunning Italian works of art, as well as simply just taking the time to wander around the village’s charming streets where you’ll pass the Duomo of San Giovenale, and 2 beautiful palaces, Palazzo dei Priori and Palazzo del Podestà both of which date as far back as the 14th century. And of course, make sure to leave some room for the local food: we recommend the pasta manfrigoli served with pecorino cheese, fava beans and guanciale, a type of Italian cured pork made from the cheeks of a pig.

Syracuse, Sicily

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Syracuse is a historic city on the Italian island of Sicily and is sure to delight you this summer 2021. Founded by the Greeks around 734 B.C., the main attraction of this charming town is the historical city centre of Syracuse with its maze of narrow streets, Greek, Roman, Arabic architecture, Baroque churches, and ancient palazzi. An evening walk through the winding streets is a must, when you’ll be able to enjoy sunset over the Mediterranean and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

The city is also home to an impressive Greek theatre and a Roman arena once used for gladiator fights, while arguably the most visited attraction in Syracuse is an impressive botanic garden which features a range of caves where limestone was once extracted to build the city. If all of this wasn’t enough, make sure to get a real taste of local life by heading to the local gastronomy scene to try out the fresh fish and delicious appetisers.

Matera, Basilicata

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Matera has been referred to as “the most spectacular city in Italy” and it’s easy to see why. This city has transformed itself from a place where poverty and disease were rife, to a unique town with a lot to offer visitors. Located in a remote corner of southern Italy in the small region Basilicata, Matera isn’t the easiest place to get to in Italy and probably for this reason, the town has managed to remain pretty unknown, especially when it comes to foreign tourism.

Matera is all about caves and if you visit this incredible town, you will spend a lot of time in them, from dining, maybe even to sleeping in one! This prehistoric "underground" stone village was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1993 and is a real treat, thanks to its beautiful stone churches, friendly locals and delicious local food, all best discovered by roaming   through the village’s charming streets and courtyards.  

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