Without a doubt the most popular cities in Italy are Rome, Venice and Florence. And their fame is well deserved as they are beautiful cities with fantastic architecture and incredible food.
But there are so many other cities in Italy that Italians love, and are far less crowded. They are also known for their incredible architecture and delicious food yet don’t attract as many international tourists so they are often also less expensive to visit.
For those looking for an authentic peek into Italian life, here are the top 5 most underrated cities in Italy.
Also read: 7 Best Restaurants in Rome
Considered by many Italians to be THE place to eat in Italy, its nickname is actually the Fat One because it is the home to so many delicious foods like tortellini di brodo and of course the iconic mortadella.
Bologna is less than two hours from Rome with a scenic train trip. It is also home to the world’s oldest university and has a thriving student population making it a very affordable city. There are often free events in the squares and plenty of great food options for those on a budget.
If you’re looking to splurge Osteria Francescana, once rated the best restaurant in the world, is only twenty minutes away in the small town of Modena.
Most often known to the English world as Torino, it was once home to the 2006 winter olympics. Unfortunately, few travellers know more about this city in northwestern Italy.
But Turin is a fantastic city for foodies and is actually the home to the world Slow Food annual conference. It’s an hour away from France and has a great food scene influenced by French technique.
Architectural fans will love the Baroque buildings that give Turin the nickname, the Little Paris. Unlike other cities in Italy, the streets are not narrow and difficult to navigate. Instead roads like the Via Roma are grand boulevards like you see in Paris, with plenty of room to wander the local markets and rest for an afternoon drink in a local cafe.
While many travellers get lost in the labyrinth of Venice, few realize that just a short 20-minute ferry ride away is one of the most colourful cities in Italy.
A series of small islands like Venice, Burano is world famous for its lace and almost every shop in Burano sells it.
Burano is a great afternoon spot to wander the streets. Although there are no hotels, it is a bit touristy and yet that doesn’t prevent it from being any less enjoyable. Bring a snack along or stop into a cafe for espresso and one of it’s famous S cookies, which are named so because they are shaped like the letter S. And don’t forget to have a fully charged phone for all the instagrammable homes.
This small medieval city overlooks the famous Tiber river and is at the centre of the Umbria region, which makes it a fantastic base to explore the region, which is well-known for its prosciutto.
Although not as famous as Provence, Todi is also well known for its wine, with many vineyards practicing organic and biodynamic methods. At Roccofiore the entire production is solar powered, with a restaurant on site that provides wine tasting as well as pairings with cured meats from the Cintas pigs they raise on site.
Also located in northeastern Italy, Verona is most well-known as the location for the Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet. Verona is only an hour away from Venice, and really deserves a day of exploration.
In 2000, it was designed a UNESCO World Heritage site for its architecture and this Roman city has an arena that is strikingly similar to the famous Colosseum in Rome. You can also visit Juliet’s home to view the famous balcony.
And don’t forget to try the local specialty, braised horse meat and wash it down with Rossa di Verona, a local beer only found in Verona.
Cover photo credits: BaconisMagic