Top 5 charming Italian towns you should Visit in 2023
Updated: Apr 3
Italy is one of the most beautiful Countries in the worlds and therefore, in the bucket list of most of the people. As everybody knows, Italy is famous for its clear blue sea, colorful houses, wonderful beaches, marvelous alpine mountain range, world class museums, world class architectures and obviously the world class food.
An average tourist visiting Italy prefers to have most famous places in their itinerary like Venice, Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples etc. No doubt these places are wonderful and unique in their own ways and everyone should visit these places at least once in their lifetime. However, if you are an offbeat traveler and want to get glimpse of real Italy particularly about local people, their lifestyle, their food, and their culture, then you should also spare some time to visit smaller towns. They are always less crowded and more prettier than any other famous touristic destinations.
There are plenty of wonderful small towns in Italy that you can consider to visit. However, we have listed our top 5 picks in this article ranked from number 1 to 5. We are confident that it will help you to pick best destinations for your next adventure of travelling to Italy.
Let's dive in.
1. Pienza (Tuscany):
Pienza is small, charming village located on the beautiful hilly landscapes of Tuscany and in the center of UNESCO World Heritage site of Val d’Orcia. Pienza is old village from medieval times, and it still maintains the medieval touch and gives feel of Medieval era. Pienza is famous for its signature and delicious goat cheese (Pecorino di Pienza). This little village is also known as “Ideal town of Renaissance”.
Pienza has so much to offer if you are not in a hurry. The village is photogenic in every corner, it has best surrounding landscapes in the world, it has great food, it has great wine, it gives you the feel of being in another times and also, It is Ideal place to spend some lonely time with yourself or with your loved ones.
Rent a bike or scooter and explore the surrounding landscape of Tuscany during the day, wander in the village and feel the medieval times in the evening, feel the fresh Tuscan air with romantic and delicious dinner in open air restaurant is all Pienza has to offer.
We recommend you visit this place and give it a little time; you will surely get rewarded.
Best time to Visit:
The Summer is the ideal time to visit Pienza. Also, the period during late spring (April and May) and early Autumn (September and October) are our favorite since you can have pleasant weather for biking and to explore the surrounding landscapes of the town. If you prefer exploring the landscapes by Car, then you can prefer visiting Pienza during peak summer months (I.e. June, July and August).
How to reach to Pienza:
The nearest known city from Pienza is Siena. If you are coming by car, then you will reach Pienza from Siena in nearly 1 hours. It is around 55 KM far from Siena. The route from Siena to pienza offers different dramatic landscapes of Tuscany.
Pienza does not have direct train connectivity. The nearest train station from Pienza is Buonconvento. Distance between Pienza and Buonconvento is around 25KM. You can either take bus line 112 or hire a taxi to reach Pienza from Buonconvento.
From Siena, you can take bus 114 from Siena to reach Buonconvento and bus 112 from Buonconvent to Siena.
We recommend using combination of train from Siena to Buonconvento and then bus from Buonconvento to Pienza if you are dependent on public transport.
Portofino is a beautiful and charming coastal village nested in the Ligurian cost of Italy. The colorful village (also a fishing harbor) is blend of Pastel-colored houses, majestic clear blue sea, Italian fine arts, delicious seafood, super yachts and fishing boats. The town is surrounded by clear blue sea and the sloppy mountains of Liguria that offers the best panoramic view of the Ligurian coast and the Portofino town.
This little town also has 16th century castle with the collections of art exhibitions. The famous Piazzeta of Portofino is semi-circular square with the beautiful colorful houses lined around the coast. The san Fruttuoso which is famous for its beautiful abbey, white stone beach and submerged statue of Jesus Christ (also called as Christ of the Abyss) is few minuets boat ride from Portofino.
You can either spend a day or couple of days in this town if you are not in a hurry.
Best Time to Visit:
Summertime from June to August is Ideal to visit Portofino. However, Portofino maintains its charm through out the year. Therefore, you can visit Portofino at any time of the year. The places is usually crowded during the summer months. Therefore, you can also prefer spring or Autumn time to visit Portofino.
How to Reach:
The Portofino is almost one hour drive from Genova by car and 2 hours and 30 mins drive from Milan and Florence each.
The nearest train station from Portofino is Santa Margareta Liguria. There are direct trains runs from Milan and Genova to reach Santa Margareta Liguria . The train journey from Milan takes around 2 hours 30 mins and from Genova it takes around 30 Mins. Portofino is just 5 KM away from Santa Margareta Liguria. Therefore, from Santa Margareta Liguria you can either choose to walk till Portofino through the scenic coastal route or you can choose to take a bus. Bus journey takes around 15 to 20 Mins.
Bellagio is another Italian pearl nestled in the coasts of enchanting Lake Como. Bellagio is a vibrant Italian town surrounded by beautiful lake is also a blend of amazing restaurants, colorful houses, picturesque alleyways and luxurious hotels. Lake Como has several little villages situated around the coast, but the Bellagio is most beautiful in all of them and also offers fantastic views of lakes.
Just wandering around the town will give you feel of Italian way of living. You can choose to soak the sun near the lake or take a romantic walk around the cobbled lanes of the town with your loved ones or visit to the Parco di Villa Serbelloni or experience delicious romantic dinner at the open-air restaurants near the lakes, Bellagio will never disappoint you. If you love photography then Bellagio is no less than a heaven for you since every corner of the town is photogenic.
You can also choose to visit another neighboring towns situated around lake Como. The Varenna is our 2nd favorite village on lake Como which is just few minutes boat ride away from Bellagio.
Best Time to Visit:
Visiting Bellagio is great idea through out the year. However, to get pleasant weather, you may choose to visit from Late spring to early Autumn time (from months May till October).
How to Reach:
The nearest city from Bellagio is Milan. You can reach Bellagio from Milan within one hour and 30 mins by car. The road crosses through the scenic coasts of lake Como which makes the drive more interesting.
Bellagio is not directly connected with trains. However, it is connected by buses and ferry boats. To reach Bellagio by public transport, the best option is to take direct train from Milan to Varenna and take a boat from Varenna to Bellagio. The train journey from Milan to varenna takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes. The boat ride from Varenna to Bellagio takes around 15 Mins.
4. San Gimignano:
San Gimignano is another Italian gem of a Tuscan region situated in between Florence and Sienna. Just like Pienza, san Gimignano is also nestled on the top of Tuscan hills. The town is encircled by the 13th century wall with the blend of medieval houses, central Piazza, medieval towers and its famous wine called Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The little town itself is recognized as UNESCO world heritage site. The town is famous for its unique towers which were built to recognize as symbol of wealth and power. Currently, the town has 14 towers standing still since Medieval times.
San Gimignano will give you a feel of Medieval times. It is surrounded by beautiful Tuscan landscapes and wonderful wine fields. You can spend the day or two in the San Gimignano to experience its rich culture, taste its white wine, explore surrounding wine yards, enjoy delicious food and to experience the feel of another time.
Best Time to Visit:
San Gimignano can also be visited anytime throughout the year. Just to have more day light, the summer period would be ideal time to visit San Gimignano. If you prefer to explore landscapes by bikes, then you may consider visiting during later spring or early autumn period.
How to reach:
San Gimignano can be reached by car either from Florence from the north or Siena from the south. San Gimignano is around 1 hour drive from both Florence and Siena by car. The roads are surrounded by beautiful Tuscan landscapes which offers unforgettable driving experience.
San Gimignano is not directly connected by trains. However, you need to make combinations of trains and bus to reach San Gimignano. The nearest train station from San Gimignano is Poggibonsi which has direct train connections from Siena as well as Florence. The train journey from Florence to Poggibonsi takes around 1 hour and from Siena to Poggibonsi it takes 30 mins. Poggibonsi to San Gimignano is connected by bus (line 130) and journey takes around 30 Mins.
You can also reach san Gimignano by bus either from Florence or from Siena. The bus line 131 runs from Florence to Siena halts at poggibonsi. From poggibonsi you can reach San Gimignano by taking another bus (line 130). The bus journey to Poggiponsi takes around 1 hour both from Siena as well as Florence. The bus journey from Poggibonsi to San Gimignano takes around 30 Mins.
Sirmione is another Italian Pearl located on the edge of the Lake Garda. This little town is most picturesque peninsula of the lake Garda. In fact it is located on the edge of narrow portion of land extended towards the lake which offers mesmerizing views of the lake. The main highlight of the town is Scaligero Castle which is located at the entrance of the town. The castle also hosts different event through out the year including music, poetry, Culture and photography. The top of the castle offers magnificent panorama of Sirmione town and lake Garda.
You can wander in this romantic town to experience charm of its old and picturesque alleyways or enjoy romantic boat tour across the town or take a romantic walk around the lake or just relax, soak the sun and feel the moment. Sirmione is also great location if you want to spend some quality time with you loved ones. Spending couple of days here will make you feel the rich culture of this little heritage.
Best Time to Visit:
Sirmione is also a great idea to visit through out the year. The most preferable time to visit Sirmione is from April till October.
How to reach:
The nearest big cities from Sirmione are Milan and Verona. The drive from Milan to Sirmione takes around 2 hours and 30 min and from Verona it takes around 1 hour.
Sirmione is not directly connected by Trains. However, it is not so far from nearest train stations which is Desenzano del Garda. You can reach Sirmione from Desenzano del garda in just 20 to 30 mins by bus or taxi.
Sirmione is situated in between Milan and Verona. The regional trains run almost every hour from Verona to Milan which halts at Desenzano del garda. Also, almost all the high speed trains halts at Desenzano del garda. The train journey typically takes around 1 hour and 30 mins from Milan and just 30 minutes from Verona.
We hope that this article will help you during your upcoming trip to Italy. If you like this post, then please let us know in the comment section. Also, if you are not confident to plan your trip to Italy or Europe, then please let us know. We will be happy to help you to plan the best Itinerary for your trip.
Also, check out out our other blogs on "Explore Europe in Budget (guide for Bagpackers and budget travellers)", "Europe by Trains (Ultimate Guide for Budget travel)", "Best places to Visit in Europe: Ultimate month wise guide" and "How to find best budget hotel in Europe".