5 Fairy Tale Towns in Italy You’ve Never Heard of—InternationalLiving.com


BALTIMORE/ MAY 14, 2019 (STL.News)

“Italy’s iconic sites are instantly recognizable—like the rolling hills of Tuscany with its golden light; Rome with its imposing, history-soaked Colosseum; the canals of Venice, where striped-shirted gondoliers row from the back of their boats,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor, International Living. “Those are all spots that attract huge numbers of tourists—and with reason.

“But there’s so much more to see and enjoy in Italy—places where you can escape the crowds, but still enjoy a fairy-tale-worthy experience.

“In the region of Puglia, in the south, for instance, you’ll find unusual trulli homes with their curiously conical roofs. In Lazio, close to the center of the country, there’s a town accessible only by footbridge, which all but begs you to stroll along it. We’ve recently compiled a report on our International Living recommendations for five Italian towns you don’t likely know—but should.”
Here’s International Living’s list of 5 Fairy Tale Towns in Italy, worth a visit:


The walled city of Urbino in northern Le Marche has warm amber-hued brick, and when lit by golden sunlight emits a positively ethereal effect. The spire-like towers and castle-like wonder of the Palazzo Ducale with the cathedral’s dignified dome and bell tower rising behind it gives the first impression of a princess’s palace. When frosted in snowfall it’s even more magical. There’s a lot to love about Urbino’s cobbled old town that shows off its world heritage status in stately style. It was the birthplace of Raphael, so there’s plenty of artwork to revel in, too.

San Marino

Not far from Urbino, the dramatic castles of San Marino perch themselves on the aerie pinnacles of sharply sloped Mount Titano, at 2,400 feet above sea level. Considering it is only 18 miles from the Adriatic, that’s quite a drastic incline. That San Marino isn’t actually part of Italy only adds to the allure, as the city-state is the world’s oldest independent republic. Encircled by the regions of Le Marche and Emilia Romagna, the stunning setting amidst ridges and hills is captivating, but the countryside is upstaged by the impossibly-positioned castles—three of them on successive peaks. The republic retains some intriguing pomp and ceremony, like the changing of the guard in front of the Palazzo Pubblico. The easiest way to arrive in San Marino is by cable car, adding to the Quixote charm.

Civita di Bagnoregio

This astonishing town in northern Lazio near the Umbria border has defied the odds and hangs on despite having been dubbed “il paese che muore”—the dying town. Occupying a small tufa mesa amidst ghost-like sculpted canyons, the other-worldly landscape heightens the dramatic island-like effect that resembles a Tolkien setting, especially when mist or clouds roll in. Civita is reached only by way of a long footbridge. Its improbable setting has also led to its equally improbable status as a tourist destination, drawn to the almost-imaginary quality of the place.


Cradled in the clefts amidst the jagged spires of the Dolomiti Lucane in the southern region of Basilicata, the first sight of Castelmezzano makes you blink because it almost seems imaginary. The spectacle of stone and pastel houses amidst the rocks exudes an air of mystery. The town’s builders found an ideal shelter to escape invaders, and Castelmezzano remained in its own world until after WWII. It certainly seems mythical enough, especially at night with suffused light, floodlit peaks and a dazzling display of stars. It’s downright romantic.


The Valle d’Itria zone of Puglia holds an architectural oddity, called trulli. The peculiar rustic whitewashed rural homes are surmounted by conical teepee-like roofs, made from stacked stones without mortar. They’re scattered around the area’s countryside, but the town of Alberobello is the epicenter with more than 1,000 trulli, looking like a city of hobbit homes. The entire town is built of them, resembling a pointy-roofed fantasy-land where you expect elves and gnomes to step off the pages of a children’s book and frolic in the streets.

The report—along with photos—can be found here: 5 Fairy Tale Towns in Italy

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