ITALY, THE HAMLET HEART
Villages are the backbone of the Italian peninsula: an intangible patrimony abundant in history, tradition, culture and beauty
Masterpieces of fascinating and secular beauty, archives of ancient stories, traditions and timeless knowledge, the villages represent the most authentic and significant piece of Italian territorial cloth. Precious gems throughout the peninsula, these micro-paradises of beauty continue to offer daily the most profound and sincere essence of Italian identity and belonging. The Italian villages are a real living heritage, a treasure trove of extraordinary memories of the past that laid the foundations for the future, an invaluable treasure to be preserved and valued both within national borders and abroad, together with all their historical celebrations, folklore, events, and astonishing landscapes. Architecture, gastronomy, culture and nature perfectly coexist in extraordinary equilibrium. Their fragility makes it even more important and essential to defend them. To know them is to love them, in perpetuity.
One is spoiled for choice when seeking an Italian village. Start small, aim high…. a limited yet varied horizon is a nice appetizer to start with. Imagine a sort of first ideal itinerary, starting from the north of the peninsula, beginning with the village of Bard, the smallest municipality in Valle d’aosta, with its 150 inhabitants (give or take a few). First stop, a great example of 19th-century fortress. Today, the Museo delle Alpi (Museum of the Alps) holds numerous exhibitions, shops and a convenient café. Modern panoramic elevators lead to the top and a camera is recommended for breathtaking panoramic shots.
Moving to Piedmont, to Neive, is like opening the pages of a fairytale: rows of stone houses and winding lanes climb up to the Clock Tower. This former Roman settlement, fought over by nearby Alba and Asti in the Middle Ages, is today one of the most beautiful terrains along the region’s wine road. It is the lush and blessed land of the Langhe and here the words “Barbera” and “Moscato” live in the inhabitants DNA and subsequently seep into the heart of those who visit. From Langhe to Lombardia, stop at Tremosine, a village mentioned by the father of Italian, Dante, in his book Inferno: a mythical place in the heart of the Alto Garda
Bresciano Park, 2,000 souls and an enviable view of Lake Garda surrounded by a one-ofa-kind landscape. The western road by car is spectacular, as is a motorcycle ride or Nordic walk. In the province of Udine, Friuli Venezia Giulia, history and legend merge indissolubly in the village of Cividale, a town founded by Julius Caesar. UNESCO has declared part of the town a World Heritage site, while the Ponte del Diavolo (Devil’s Bridge) is one of the most famous and crossed in Italy. According to popular tradition, the locals had to bargain with the devil to build the bridge in such a critical location. The price to pay was the soul of the first passer, so today’s traveler can cross it and sleep easy…the price has been paid. Asolo, in Veneto in the province of Treviso has an ancient history dating back to Paleolithic times and has been embraced by important personalities and artists throughout the centuries. The poet Giosuè Carducci called it “the city of the 100 horizons”, while the Queen of Cyprus moved her court here in the 15th century and the “Divine” Eleonora Duse lived and was buried here. Asolo is a small jewel embedded in a beautiful region that has not only Venice, but many other gems to be proud of. Asolo’s fortress overlooks the Ricco mountain and allows you to see, on the clearest days, even the Venice Lagoon; the panoramic walk continues with a visit to the castle of Queen Cornaro, then do not miss the defensive walls, the Roman aqueduct and finally a snap a photo memory in Piazza Garibaldi. Tourists who decide to take a trip to Italy have a soft spot in their heart for Tuscany. If there is only one choice from the innumerable treasure of the region, Sorano, in the province of Grosseto, is exceptional. Its houses are excavated in the stone, like the southern village of Matera, giving Sorano its nickname, the Tuscan Matera. Overhanging the Lente Valley, rich in history and nature,
A “Borgo” is a fascinating small Italian town, generally fortified and dating back to the period from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It is unique and built around a castle or palace belonging to the noble family that held power at that time and it is often surrounded by walls.
its austere and pendulous appearance are unique. The Orsini Fortress and the Leopoldo Masso are must-sees, but the ancient and evocative Etruscan trails excavated in the rock know as the Vie Cave are not to be forgotten. The words of master poet Dante Alighieri play out in the Marche region, and the beauty of Gradara, dominated by its gracious castle, is where the unfortunate love of Paolo and Francesca was supposedly set in the book Inferno. The fortified village of Gradara, in the province of Pesaro and Urbino, captures the heart with its dreamy atmospheres and its rich and ancient history. From the scenic views of the castle you can enjoy the display of vivid colors brushed across the Marche hills, with the blue of the Adriatic Sea to as a backdrop. This noble and sophisticated village, encircled in the two layers of 14th century walls, offers in all its unexpected treasures of to be enjoyed.
History and legend play out in the town of Pacentro in Abruzzo. It is said that once upon a time, the Trojan hero Pacinus, who left Enea on the banks of the Tiber, came to the foot of Mount Morrone and founded the hamlet. Today, this splendid jewel in the heart of the Abruzzo Mountains, in the province of L’aquila and nestled in the Majella National Park, is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, fascinating visitors with colorful streets, the 16th century church the Chiesa Madre, the historical wheat
In Italy we have around 270 Borghi, from the Dolomites to Sicily, and they are the symbol of the Italian culture with artistic and architectural heritage, tradition and eno-gastronomic treasures
scale known as the Preta Tonna. The unmistakable twin towers of Castello Caldora-cantelmo dominate the horizon and with a pinch of luck music icon Madonna, whose family is originally from the town, may be wandering the alleys of her beloved village. Brushstrokes of history play out in the province of Caserta, every year in August. Harkening back in the Middle Ages, games and mock duels fill the charming alleys of Vairano Patenora. Dominated by its scenic castle, the village seems to be suspended in time. It is said that the famous Teano meeting between the father of Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi and King Vittorio Emanuele
II, took place just outside Vairano, sealing the unification of the country. During the fascist dictatorship, Antonio Gramsci was imprisoned in the town’s Taverna della Catena. Another enchanting and magical village, which seems to slumber beneath the jagged peaks of the Lucane Dolomites, sheltered by the benevolent Mount Impiso, is Pietrapertosa, in the province of Potenza, the highest village in Basilicata. One can get lost in the winding alleys as the rose-colored brushstrokes of the sunset paint the surrounding mountains. Flying 120 kms an hour from the hamlets of Pietrapertosa to Castelmezzano is no fairytale. Adventurers can experience the thrill of the Volo dell’angelo (Angles’ Flight) between the two towns connected by zip lines. Our dream itinerary ends in Castellammare del Golfo, in Sicily. The Arab-norman fort from which the city takes its name directly overlooks the crystalline blue of the Gulf of Trapani. Colors, cuisine, history and culture are cornerstones of the town, while tourists longing for sandy beaches can stretch out with the Inici mountain as a backdrop. It is a village with narrow, winding lanes and surprising churches. This selection of small Italian wonders is just a small note inside a postcard: the story of Italian villages is never-ending, it is a secret whispered every day, offering new perspectives, eye-opening glimpses and fresh, delightful wonders.