The Italian Borghi: 8 Places You Should Visit Right Now

06 Mar 2017

We’re here to let you in on a little secret… there are still parts of Italy that are relatively unexplored. In fact, there’s a whole network of borghi — ancient hamlets, villages, and towns that are flung far and wide across the country — to discover.

Each borgo has somewhere unique to stay, from ornate palaces and castles to Roman villas and boutique hotels steeped in history. There are 260 in total, most in places that are a step away from the usual tourist trail. Here are a few of our favourites:

1. Alberobello, Puglia

This UNESCO World Heritage Site (pictured above) is an intriguing sprawl of beehive-shaped houses — most of them are older than St Paul’s Cathedral. Wander around the higgledy-piggledy hobbit-like lanes and stop for a drink in a hidden bar.

2. Navelli, Abruzzo

Perched on a hilltop overlooking a valley, Navelli is gloriously golden thanks to its maze of ancient stone houses. In November, a riot of purple creates a lovely contrast to the pale-gold hues — these are the crocus flowers that locals turn into the saffron for which the region is known.

3. Castelbuono, Sicily


Byzantine Castelbuono lies on the north side of the Madonie Park, at the foot of Mount Pizzo Carbonara (no relation to the pasta dish). Its 14th-century castle is the focal point and should be the first port of call on any tour around the fairytale town.

4. Saturnia, Tuscany

Folklore has it that this town’s thermal springs flow from the exact point where Jupiter's thunderbolt fell in a battle against Saturn. The sulphurous water is a balmy 37.5°C and its healing properties are legendary — even better, a dunk in the pools and waterfall, which overlook the Tuscan countryside, is completely free.

5. Furore, Amalfi Coast

Sandwiched between Amalfi and Positano, Furore is a sprinkling of old fishermen’s houses (the borgo) that cling to the rocky cliff.  Every September, artists from around the world visit the town to paint murals on the buildings, railings, and lamp posts in bright lilacs, pinks, blues, and greens.

6. Monte Isola, Lombardy

Monte Isola

In the middle of Lake Iseo you’ll find Monte Isola, a remote island with a number of tiny hamlets on the water’s edge. Head to the top of the island for stunning views of the lake and mountains, and to see the 13th-century Sanctuary of the Madonna della Ceriola.

7. Montepulciano, Tuscany

This is Tuscany at its best: a verdant hilltown with a beautiful, historic centre and, of course, delicious red wines. Wander among the Gothic and Renaissance architecture, then reward yourself with a generous pour of Montepulciano.

8. Castelmezzano, Dolomites

You need to head to Italy’s deep south to experience the Basilicata region, somewhat overshadowed by its more famous neighbours, Calabria and Puglia. There, you’ll find Castelmezzano, a village that clings to the Dolomite Mountains. It’s breathtaking in winter and equally impressive in summer, when you can zipwire across the valley.

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