Italy is without any doubt a truly amazing destination, that has something to offer to every traveler stepping through its borders.
From stunning architecture and historic landmarks to its beautiful beaches and picturesque countryside, there’s no shortage of incredible locations to explore. But if you’re on the hunt for some out-of-the-ordinary locations to visit, there are certain places that stand out above the rest.
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most unique places to visit in Italy, each with its own special charm and character. So stick around to discover these locations.
01. Venice: The city without roads
Famous all over the world for its picturesque canals, beautiful architecture, and rich culture Venice is hands down one of the most visited destinations in Italy. So while the city is definitely not a hidden gem, it’s still a truly unique location, that I couldn’t leave off this list.
Venice is built on a group of small islands in a lagoon of the Adriatic sea and this gives it a very distinctive character and appearance. Instead of roads, the city makes use of an intricate network of canals for transportation.
The city is also known for its annual Carnival celebration (Carnevale di Venezia), which attracts visitors from around the world, eager to see the elaborate costumes and masks worn by participants.
So while often crowded, Venice is still very much worth a visit during any Italy trip.
02. Trulli of Alberobello
If you are wondering what exactly are the trulli of Alberobello, well the answer is quite simple: they’re houses. But what makes them special is the fact that they are built without the use of any mortar, which is a prehistoric construction technique still in use in the region of Puglia, southern Italy.
Not only that, but the dwellings have a very distinctive conical shape and they’re painted white with grey rooftops, that sometimes have symbols on them.
According to a popular theory, the construction of the trulli didn’t involve mortar because of high taxation on property. As a workaround, the people living in Puglia would build dry stone wall homes in order to be able to dismantle them easily when tax inspectors came into the region.
But no matter the reason behind their construction, the cone-shaped houses are spectacular and will make you feel like you stepped into a fairytale.
For more details about these intriguing homes as well as how to visit them, I recommend you read my post on the best things to do in Alberobello.
03. The Sassi of Matera
A few decades ago Matera was widely viewed as “The shame of Italy”, but things took a turn of 180 degrees when its Sassi (cave dwellings carved into the river canyon) were renovated and the city has simply been reborn from its ashes.
Located in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, Matera has a long and rich history, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Paleolithic.
Today, it is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from around the world who come to see its ancient Sassi and picturesque landscape and experience its unique cultural heritage.
Several movies were also filmed here, including The Passion of the Christ, Wonder Woman, or Bond’s No Time To Die.
TIP: You can base yourself in Bari and take day trips to Alberobello, Matera or Polignano a Mar.
04. The Sinking Castle of Sirmione
The Sinking Castle (actual name: Scaligero Castle) is the most iconic landmark on Lake Garda and one of the best things to do in Sirmione. A rare example of lake fortifications, Scaligero is one of the most well-preserved medieval castles in entire Italy.
You can visit it for 6 euros, allowing you to admire the charming town of Sirmione, its peninsula and lake Garda itself from its towers.
You can also do a boat tour to see it from the water, but honestly having a drone will help you take the most amazing photos of the castle in all its beauty.
Make sure you read my post on how to get to Sirmione before your visit, since from personal experience, things are not that straightforward in the area.
05. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is equally unique as it’s famous around the world. The free-standing bell tower of the Duomo of Santa Maria Assunta and received its nickname because of its unstable foundation, which caused it to lean visibly even before its construction was finished.
The tower suffered several renovation works in an attempt to stop and even reduce its tilt. It can now be visited, though the most popular activity among tourists is to take perspective photos that show them supporting the tower.
TIP: The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the whole cathedral complex are easy to visit as a day trip from Florence if you have extra time in the city.
06. The colorful villages of Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre is a group of five colorful coastal villages located in the Liguria region, along the Italian Riviera.
Named Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare, they attract visitors from all over the world due to their stunning cliffside views of the Mediterranean Sea, charming, narrow streets, and colorful houses.
The villages are connected by hiking trails, which offer stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding hills. The most popular path is the one between Monterosso and Vernazza, but in order to access it, you need to buy the Cinque Terre hiking card.
07. St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world
Technically speaking, St. Peter’s Basilica is located in the Vatican, an independent city-state within Rome, but I think I can get a pass with this one.
Listed as the largest church in the world, the impressive basilica is considered one of the most important and holiest shrines in the Catholic Church and is renowned for its beautiful architecture and artwork.
Built on the site where Saint Peter, one of Jesus’ apostles, was buried, St. Peter’s features a large dome, which is one of the most recognizable features of Rome’s skyline.
The interior is embellished with magnificent works of art, including Michelangelo’s well-known sculpture, the Pieta, and Bernini’s ornate baldachin over the altar.
It is free to enter the basilica, but you’ll need a tichet to climb the dome.
08. The Colosseum – one of the 7 wonders of the modern world
The Colosseum (or the Flavian Amphitheatre) in Rome is the only wonder of the modern world, that’s located in Europe.
It is an elliptical structure built from limestone, lighter bricks, and concrete, which was used for gladiator fights and public spectacles (dramas, exhibitions of exotic animals, executions of prisoners, recreations of battles, etc) in ancient Rome. It could hold more than 50.000 people at its maximum capacity.
But the Colosseum’s bloodshed days are well behind it and nowadays it is one of the most visited landmarks in the world.
09. Pompeii: An ancient city preserved in ash
Pompeii is an ancient Roman city that was frozen in time when the nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted with catastrophic effects in AD 79, covering it in volcanic ash and pumice.
Because of this tragic event, the city was mostly preserved and the modern world got to see a glimpse of how life during the Roman Empire used to look.
The ruins of Pompeii include well-preserved buildings, streets, and public spaces which offer insights into the city’s architecture, art, and culture. Visitors can also see plaster casts of the eruption’s victims, which provide a haunting reminder of the tragedy that struck the city.
10. Cascate del Mulino
Cascate del Mulino is a natural hot spring located in the Tuscan countryside, near the town of Saturnia. Over time, the spring carved a series of natural pools out of the rock around, giving the whole place a very distinctive appearance.
The water comes from a natural source and is rich in minerals (particularly sulfur) and has a constant temperature of around 37°C (98°F), making it an ideal place for relaxation and therapeutic treatments.
Cascate del Mulino is free to visit and anyone can bathe in its warm waters. It belongs to Terme di Saturnia, a region with several hot springs which are believed to have been used since ancient Roman times for their healing properties.
Throughout this blog post, I have highlighted a few of the most unique places in Italy that you can visit.
From the hidden gem of Matera to the picturesque beauty of the five colorful villages of Cinque Terre, each of these places will leave a lasting impression on anyone who decided to visit them.