Six new additions to list of Italy’s most beautiful towns

Posted by Imogen Searra on 10 November 2020

When one thinks of Italy, our mind darts to the terracotta hues of Venice, the unmistakable Colosseum in Rome or the seemingly endless Lake Como.

From there we can discern that Italy has no shortage of history, culture and magnificence. But there is so much more to this country than these incredible scenes.

The Association of Italy’s Most Beautiful Towns or Borghi più belli d’Italia, was created to showcase and conserve the lesser-known treasure troves of Italy.

A small town is considered such if there is a population of no more than 15,000 people. The vetting process, however, is unrelenting.

The association will rigorously check the cultural, historic and artistic heritage and local traditions of an area wanting to be considered on the list. Sustainability and tourist infrastructure are factors that are also considered.

At the end of October 2020, six new towns were added to the list and are situated between southern and central Italy.

1. Tropea: The pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea

‘The Borgo di Tropea overlooks the Costa degli Dei (Coast of the Gods) and is defined as the “Pearl of the Tyrrhenian”. The church of Santa Maria dell’Isola (Sanctuary of Saint Mary), which stands on a cliff emerging from the sea, is the symbol of Tropea, a candidate for the Italian capital of culture 2022. Behind this monument overlooking the long sandy beach and dominating the intertwining of streets and alleys of the historic center, there is the blue immensity of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

‘Thanks to its strategic position, the Borgo has always played an important role, both in Roman times and during the successive dominations of the Saracens first and then the Normans and Aragonese,’ said the association.

Read: New hiking trail in Italy connects two coastlines

2. Monte Sant’Angelo: The city of the two UNESCO sites

‘Located at the highest point of the Gargano, Monte Sant’Angelo is a sort of “naturalistic sanctuary” that enjoys a breathtaking view of the Tavoliere delle Puglie and the Gulf of Manfredonia and is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Lombard traces in the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo, a destination for pilgrimages from all over the world, and the ancient beech woods of the Umbra Forest.

‘In recent years the village has collected awards: In 2014, National Geographic included the Sacred Cave of the Archangel Michael among the 10 most beautiful Sacred Caves in the world; in 2017 Skyscanner included Monte Sant’Angelo among the twenty most beautiful cities in Italy; in 2018 the Michelin green guide assigns the highest recognition to the historic center, the three stars. Last, in October 2020, entry into the Association of “The most beautiful villages in Italy”.’

3. Monteleone d’Orvieto: An island of red bricks in a sea of ​​green

‘Monteleone d’Orvieto is one of the most evocative villages in the “green heart of Italy”. A small corner of paradise surrounded by authentic and wild nature, which was born as a castle of the Municipality of Orvieto to defend the border with the then Castel della Pieve and the Val di Chiana.

‘The viewpoint from Piazza del Torrione is splendid, as is the historic center, with the ancient streets dominated by the characteristic reddish color of the buildings, given by the production of bricks (still one of the main activities of Monteleone). The Church of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is one of the most beautiful buildings of worship in the entire Roman Valdichiana.

‘With a calendar full of events dedicated to traditions – such as the living nativity scene and the many culinary festivals – the Borgo is also one of the liveliest centers in Orvieto.’


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4. Bassano in Teverina

‘The Borgo was born on a tufaceous spur overlooking the Tiber valley. Already inhabited in the Etruscan era, it first became a fiefdom and subsequently a municipality linked directly to the Holy Sea.

‘Very particular is the story of the Clock Tower, one of the architectural beauties to visit in the Borgo, which was built by incorporating the bell tower of the adjacent Church of Santa Maria dei Lumi. The coexistence of the two structures remained hidden for centuries and was only discovered in the seventies, on the occasion of restoration works. Also not to be missed, a visit to the Madonna della Quercia and the Old Fountain.

‘Tourism in the surrounding area offers equally interesting ideas, such as Bomarzo and the famous Parco dei Mostri, the abandoned village of Chia, Vasanello and Soriano nel Cimino, some of the most important destinations in Tuscia and the Viterbo area.’


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5. Casoli: A view between the sea and the mountains on the Aventino valley

‘Overlooking the Aventino river valley, Casoli is a medieval town immersed in the hilly landscapes of Abruzzo, among expanses of vineyards, olive trees and nature reserves.

‘The surrounding naturalistic heritage is extraordinary: the Borgo – an authentic “belvedere” – stands on a hill from which it is possible to enjoy an enviable view that sweeps from the peaks of the Majella to the Trabocchi Coast, while the municipal territory, one of the largest in the province of Chieti, it embraces three Sites of Community Importance such as Lake Serranella and Colline di Guarenna, the Lecceta di Casoli and Bosco di Colle Forest and the Rio Secco stream gorges.

‘Churches and noble palaces populate the historic center in a setting of aristocratic elegance. The symbol of Casoli is the Ducal Castle: a visit to its rooms allows you to retrace the salient moments of the town’s history, from the exploits of the “Majella Brigade” to the testimonies of the “Cenacolo Abruzzese” of D’Annunzio.’

6. Montechiarugolo

‘The Borgo di Montechiarugolo is one of the 5 hamlets within the municipality of the same name, located in Val d’Enza.

‘The small urban commune, which has just 87 inhabitants, develops around the Castle, the main attraction. The sumptuous building is privately owned and has belonged for several generations to the Marchi family, which included the director Antonio Marchi, champion of Italian cinema of the twentieth century and recognised master of Bernardo Bertolucci.

‘Inside you can admire numerous frescoes and valuable pieces of furniture, the result of Pomponio Torelli. In fact, he was responsible for the transformation of the castle into a real court and the creation of an enormous personal library, one of the most renowned and multidisciplinary of the late sixteenth century, with a collection of about a thousand volumes.

‘Mystery and legend – such as that of the Fairy Bema, a kind and beautiful creature – contribute to increasing the charm. It is no coincidence that the castle of Montechiarugolo, from where you can also enjoy a magnificent view of the Reggio Emilia shore, is chosen as a location for weddings, banquets and photo shoots.’

Also read: New bike trail in Italy will encompass Lake Garda

Picture: Instagram

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