Sure, you’ve seen the pictures of Portofino and you’ve heard of Tuscany and Sicily, but there is a lot more to Italy than Rome and Florence.

Italy has 20 distinct regions, each with its own culture, food, traditions and even dialects. You could visit the places everyone goes to, or you can discover one of the lesser known regions and experience all the beauty Italy has to offer without the tourist crowds.

Aosta Valley

This region of Italy is for nature lovers. The smallest region in the country and located far north, you’ll find wide open spaces, snowcapped mountains, and a cuisine influenced by hearty French dishes.

The population in this region is also the smallest in Italy, making it a great place if you’re looking to get some solitude in a small European town.

Marche

If you love shoes this is your region. Fine leather Italian footwear comes from here.

Travel in the region is limited but if you can rent a car, you’ll have beautiful backroads through the countryside all to yourself. If you can’t get your hands on a car, you’ll find that the beaches are gorgeous and devoid of tourist. Score.

Veneto

The most well-known city in this region is Venice. Skip it. You’ll want to see the other amazing sites this region has to offer like the oldest botanical garden still in its original location (LoOrto Botanico di Padova,) the longest staircase in Italy (Calà del Sasso) and a secret tunnel road built during World War I (Strada delle 52 Gallerie.)

Molise

Laid-back and beautiful, Molise boasts a little bit of everything and few crowds. See historically significant sites, lounge on the beach, hike the Appennine mountains, spend the day shopping or sip on local wine. You’ll get to enjoy Italian culture without the big crowds of Rome or Florence.

Basilicata

This region is the most mountainous in Italy, with a dramatic landscape. It is also sparsely populated and well off the beaten path. Explore Matera, a cave-town located on a rocky outcrop on the coast. Make sure to see the ancient cave-complex of living areas called sassi that are carved into the caves and cliff walls of Matera and underneath many of the region’s cathedrals.

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