Small towns in Italy make it possible to not only have a unique vacation experience, but to sit back and relax. These small towns offer plenty of historic sites to explore, including many that date back to the Roman Empire. The next time you are planning an Italian getaway, consider spending time in one of the country’s top small towns.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Gubbio

Those looking for a small town with lots of character will enjoy their visit to Gubbio. Couples seeking romance will be sure to find it as they walk down the streets of this quaint Italian town. Gubbio dates back before the Roman Empire and offers many historical attractions. Stretching up into the mountain, Gubbio is home to winding medieval streets that are surrounded by centuries-old buildings decorated with dangling flower boxes. Must-see attractions in Gubbio include Eugubine Tables, Teatro Romano, remains of a Roman amphitheater and Sant’Agostino Church.

Gubbio is small enough that visitors should be able to access everything by foot. Those looking for a different means of transportation will have fun taking the two different lifts that take visitors to different spots throughout the city.

For a small town, there are plenty of places to stay, including some historical hotels, bed and breakfasts, vacation rentals and luxury accommodations. Popular places to stay in Gubbio include Relias Castello di Petroia, Park Hotel Ai Cappuccini, Coldimolino Country House, Torre Dei Calzolari Palace and Sporting Hotel. In addition to finding unique accommodations in Gubbio, travelers will find plenty of dining options centrally located in the city. Top places to dine in the area include Locanda del Cantiniere and La Cresceria.

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Lecce

Often called “The Florence of the South,” Lecce is sure to steal your heart from the moment you arrive. This small town’s buildings and monuments are designed out of soft sandstone from southern Italy that date back to the 16th century. Visitors will enjoy exploring the town’s ancient quarter, 12th century square and immerse themselves into the city’s culture. Must-see attractions include the Church of Santa Chiara, Casareccia, Piazza del Duomo, Via Vittorio Emanuele and Castle of Charles V.

Visitors will have access to the rail lines that travel from Lecce along Italy’s east coast. While exploring the city, visitors can access just about everything they want to see and do by foot.

Lecce is home to everything from luxury accommodations to small bed and breakfasts. Popular places to stay in the area include Hotel Capello, Antica Villa La Viola and L’Orangerie d’Epoque. If you will be traveling to Lecce, you have to try some of the restaurants that offer classic Italian cuisine. Popular restaurants in the area include L’Angolino di Via Matteotti, Pizza & Co, La Prelibatezza and Quanto Basta.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Ravenna

Ravenna offers visitors small town charm with lots of history. Travelers will find everything from 4th century churches to Christian and Byzantine mosaics. Visitors will be amazed by the brightly colored mosaics that cover the terracotta bricked churches in the area. Must-see attractions include Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, Battistero Degli Ortodossi, Chapel of Sant’Andrea’s and Dante’s Tomb.

There are frequent trains that depart from the Ravenna area to neighboring towns. Those not wanting to leave Ravenna will find everything is just a short walk away, or they can access the local bus system to get to their destinations. Bike rentals are also available from the train station and can be used to get around. Free locking bike racks are also available throughout the city.

Ravenna is home to a unique variety of accommodations, including hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, apartments and vacation homes. Popular places to stay in Ravenna include Hotel Centrale Byron, Albergo Cappello, Hotel Ravenna, Casa Masoli, Santa Maria Foris and Ostello Dante. Visitors wanting to enjoy local cuisine should take time to dine in some of the area’s restaurants. Popular restaurants in Revenna include Puro & Bio, La Farcita, La Piadina dello Chef and Profumo di Piadina.

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San Gimignano

Those wanting to walk through living history will find that San Gimignano is one of the most preserved medieval hill towns in Italy. This is definitely a timeless small town that is hidden among the breathtaking hills. Only 14 of the towers that were built for the city’s defense against outside forests remain standing. These towers, among other medieval sites, are definitely what give this small town its unique charm. Must-see sites in San Gimignano include the Historic Centre of San Gimignano, San Gimignano Bell Tower, Piazza della Cisterna, Capella Sant’Andrea and Palazzo Pubblico e Torree Grossa.

Popular places to stay in San Gimignano include Hotel Casolare le Terre Rosse, Villa San Paolo, Hotel Sovestro, Relais Santa Chiara Hotel and La Cisterna Hotel. Top restaurants in the area include La Grotta di Fulignano, Gelateria Dondoli, Cum Quibus, Mangius Enogastronomia and Caffe’ Giardino.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Civita Di Bagnoregio

Located atop a cliff, Civiti di Bagnoregio is also called the dying city. This is mostly because the cliff it sits upon is slowly eroding away. The only way to reach this small town is by taking the long bridge by foot or scooter. While there, make sure to stop and see the Renaissance Palace, Maria’s Garden and the Etruscan Caves. These are just a few of the examples of fine architecture you will see once you enter the Romanesque arches into the city.

Once in the small city, visitors will be able to walk to just about anywhere they need to go. Public bus service is also available for those looking to take a break from a long day of touring the city by foot.

Being such a small area, there are not many places to stay at, but those who do stay in Civita di Bagnoregio will be amazed by the culture and traditional appeal this area has. Popular places to stay in the area include Civita Bed and Breakfast, Romantica Pucci, Hotel Divino Amore and Bed and Breakfast del Prato. Those looking for a taste of Italy’s finest cuisine in the area will enjoy menu options at Trattorio Antico Forno, Pina’s Pizzeria and Osteria Boccadoro.

Exploring the small towns in Italy will offer a unique view into the country’s history. Plus, these small towns offer unique restaurants and plenty of opportunity to relax while on vacation.

Heather Landon (Heather Leigh Carroll) is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.