When planning your first trip to Italy, there are a few standout cities that provide a perfect first glimpse at the Italian way of life. But after you've explored Palatine Hill, tossed a coin into the Trevi Fountain, and ridden a gondola down a Venetian canal, don't stop—there's so much more to Italian vacations than the major tourist sites.
If you're looking to venture beyond Rome, Florence, and Venice, consider a road trip. The naturally varied landscape means you can sample Chianti in a Tuscan vineyard one day and savor a locally caught seafood platter with views of the Adriatic Sea the next. Here, we've gone in search of the local hot spots Italian girls visit on vacation. From quaint seaside towns to traditional Tuscan villages, these lesser-known Italian vacations should be next on your list.
You've probably heard of Amalfi, one of the most picturesque coastal towns in Italy, but you might not be familiar with Atrani, its lesser-known neighbor. Venture five minutes east of Amalfi and you'll stumble across this tiny, enchanting village situated at the base of a river valley. Pastel-colored buildings dot the mountainside and seem to glisten next to the lapis lazuli waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The terra-cotta roofs in Florence and pastel-hued buildings in Positano are often considered classically Italian, but the gray limestone dwellings in Alberobello portray a very different side of Italy—one that's typical of southern Puglia. This small UNESCO-protected town belongs on every Italian bucket list. The cone-shaped roofs and whitewashed houses will make you feel like you've stepped into a fantasy land.
Castelluccio is a 13th-century village in Umbria with only 150 inhabitants. Nestled in the Apennine Mountains of central Italy, it's surrounded by breathtaking views that ignite at sunrise and sunset when the sun's warm rays peep over the mountains. In spring, the countryside is blanketed with thousands of bright blooms, which set the usually lush green hills ablaze with color.
Cefalù is the perfect place to stop during your Italian road trip if you and your travel companions have different interests. Located on the coast of northern Sicily, it offers a rare combination of some of the country's best beaches and historic architecture. Spend the day swimming at nearby beaches like Mazzaforno and Settefrati, and then wander the postcard-perfect town and take in historic attractions like Cefalù Cathedral, a 12th-century building with intricate Byzantine mosaics.
Polignano a Mare
Searching for glistening water and whitewashed buildings? Look no further than Polignano a Mare, the so-called "pearl of the Adriatic," a town just 21 miles from Bari in southern Italy. Explore the coastal town's jagged caves by boat, and book a table at Ristorante Grotta Palazzese, a famous grotto restaurant built into the cliffside.
Standing on a cobblestone path in one of the winding alleyways in Matera, you'd be forgiven for thinking you're on the set of Game of Thrones. Once the home of an ancient civilization, Matera is now a top luxury destination in Italy, attracting travelers who are intrigued by its history and enthralled with its curious otherworldly façade. Spend a few days in one of the famed cave hotels, and book a treatment at an underground cistern–turned-spa.
What are your favorite little-known Italian vacations? Share your travel tips with the hashtag #MyDomaineTravels.
This story was originally published on April 11, 2017, and has since been updated.