You’ve cruised down Venetian canals, walked through the Colosseum, maybe even sipped Chianti in the Tuscan hills, and now you’re wondering what your next Italian adventure should be. For the Italophile, or even the first-time traveler, Northern Italy is an oft-overlooked destination that packs plenty of surprises. We’ve rounded up a few reasons why you should consider bumping the region to the top of your must-see list.
Explore lovely Lake Orta
Besides the chance to rub shoulders with George Clooney, Lake Orta boasts lots of opportunities for tranquil reprieves along its sleepy, forested shores and in its surrounding medieval villages. Nearby you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sacro Monte—a sacred site dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi—and within the lake itself, you’ll spot tiny San Giulio Island with its massive, 19th-century monastery.
Drink with Dante’s descendants
Tucked within the Valpolicella wine region is another lesser-known treasure—the Serego Alighieri Estate, a winery owned and operated by the direct descendants of poet Dante Alighieri. Classic Italian landscapes paint a beautiful backdrop for sipping the region’s famous vintages—Ripasso, Amarone and Recioto. And the estate produces its own olive oils, so you might even have the opportunity to break bread with the Alighieri family.
See two sides of Bolzano
Ciao or guten tag? It’s hard to know whether to break out the Italian or German in Bolzano (or Bozen), a quaint town set against the Dolomite mountain range. Bolzano became part of Italy just after World War I, so Germanic influences are still tangible here, from the beer halls right down to the schnitzel. After wandering among the piazze (or should we say platzen?), you’ll leave feeling like you’ve visited two countries in the space of one.
View the incredible Dolomites
Imagine towering limestone peaks and twisted rock spires soaring above wide-open green pastures. There you have the Dolomite mountain range, the Italian portion of the Alps and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hikers, walkers and photographers alike will love the area’s winding trails, which range in intensity from scenic alpine strolls to more challenging pursuits.
Cross through Cinque Terre
Translating to “Five Lands” in Italian, Cinque Terre encompasses five very distinct villages, all bound by a relaxed vibe and bright clusters of color-washed homes. The best way to get a feel for each village is by walking the peaceful promenades that connect them. As you go, you’ll absorb local scenery from high and low, traversing cliff-top bridges, terraced vineyards and low-lying valleys teeming with olive groves and lemon orchards.
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