When thinking of Italy vacations, most people head to the popular and well-known cities, like Rome, Florence and Venice, but sometimes it’s good to go off the beaten track and visit the lesser known, but equally fascinating, locations.
Riomaggiore is one such location, located in a small valley in Italy’s Liguria region. When heading north, Riomaggiore is the first village of the fascinating “Cinque Terre” (five lands in English), a group of five villages situated on a rugged section of the coast, forming part of the Italian Riviera.
The Cinque Terre villages and their surroundings are considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is of interest to note that all five of the Cinque Terre villages are interconnected by a walking trail and the coast and mountainside that can be viewed along the way have been declared national parks, offering more fascinating locations for further Italy vacations.
This colorful and historic village (pictured above) dates back to the 8th century, when people, who were formerly residents of the Vara Valley, moved in to find a milder climate to grow their olive trees and grapevines, away from the pirate raids they had experienced back home. The town is now famous for the wine produced in its vineyards.
Lying as it does on the Gulf of Genoa, the town has a shoreline with a small beach and a wharf. In the town many restaurants, shops and bars can be found. When exploring the town, some good and comfortable walking shoes are necessary as the streets and stairways are pretty steep as can be seen from the video below.
Another great suggestion for Italy vacations, right off the beaten track, is located on the island of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea and just off the “boot” on the Italian map.
For those interested in hiking and wide open spaces on Italy vacations, Madonie Regional Natural Park is a worthwhile visit. Located on the island of Sicily, the surrounding Madonie mountain range is part of the Sicilian portion of the Appennines.
Situated in Palermo Province, the area is wonderfully scenic and the mountains have been safeguarded as a natural park since 1989.
Within the park can be seen outcrops of rocks which experts have dated to have been formed over a 200 million year cycle, and they represent all aspects of the local geology, apart from volcanic activity.
While Mount Etna is the highest elevation in Sicily, the highest peak in the Madonie natural park comes an easy second as Pizzo Carbonara is 1,979 meters in height, followed by Pizzo Antenna at 1,977 meters.
Besides being a beautiful nature reserve, there are several small villages and towns dotted throughout, which can trace their origins back to medieval times, offering rustic local bed & breakfast accommodation to visitors who do not wish to camp in the countryside. There are also several ancient castles and churches to be seen throughout the area.
Below is an interesting time lapse video taken in the Madonie Regional Natural Park, quite literally showing the area in both night and day.
For those wishing to experience something a little different on Italy vacations, these two locations, while vastly different from each other, are right off the traditional tourist beaten track and great to visit.
By Anne Sewell