The world is full of beautiful places that nobody ever talks about and Italy is one of the countries where such hidden gems are plentiful! We’ve been in many places all around the world so far, but Italy keeps surprising every time we return to it.
Rome, Milan, Florence and a few other cities are the most popular travel destinations in Italy, but the country is so much more than that. It has a vibrant intercultural heritage, people of various identities live there today. A rich history spanning over two thousand years and beyond and, of course, a stunning nature both aboveground and underground which is as diverse in the different regions of the country as the people residing there.
We have only written about the German speaking part of Italy before, so it’s high time to tell some more about this amazing country and its hidden curiosities for adventurous tourists to see. 7 wonders of Italy, if you like. Here we go.
RELAIS CASTELLO DI PETROIA
A little more than 20 kilometres to the North-east of the city of Perugia is a wondrous 15th century castle owned and exchanged by many landlords since the middle ages. It was turned into a modern luxurious hotel only recently. Yes. A modern hotel. In a medieval castle. The best part about it is the area it is in. The castle is situated on a tall hill surrounded by green countryside, hills, forests and mountains in the background. A truly breathtaking place to take a rest from all of the remaining world. You will truly feel as if you were in another dimension.
SUNKEN CITY OF BAIA
In the gulf of Naples lies a classical Roman city of Baia that has sunken underwater due to volcanic activity which subsided the coast. What was an ancient equivalent of Las Vegas where powerful Roman figures used to spend their leisure time, today is an underwater archaeological museum. It is full of classical sculptures and ruins of luxurious villas. Tourists can choose among various ways to experience this majestic heritage. The easiest way is to board a glass-bottom boat, while those who want to explore more closely can snorkel or scuba dive and touch the ancient stone with their own hands.
PARCO DEI MOSTRI
The park of monsters of Bomarzo (a town midway between Rome and Perugia) is a rather simple but unique park. It is full of statues, but these statues are not of Gods or classical heroes of Roman culture. Instead, the park is infested with monsters. Like many things in Italy, it is an old site, commissioned in the middle of 16th century to express the grief of war. War elephant, monstrous fish, two giants tearing each other apart and colossal expressions of horror and madness are among the sights you will encounter. If you’re interested in extravagant pieces of art, this is a place to go to. Salvador Dalí, who visited the park himself and loved it very much, would approve.
Merely a few kilometres away from the village of Saturnia are a group of natural geothermal springs that are open for tourists to enjoy. The water there maintains temperature which almost equals that of human body (up to 37 celsius or 100 fahrenheit). The natural outdoor spa is also full of small waterfalls and is surrounded by a relaxing atmosphere. Yet again, this wonder is very old. It has consistently flown for over 3,000 years. And yes, this means that the same place has been used by Roman nobles too. So while you’re having a great time there, you’re also becoming a part of history yourself!
Another jewel in mid-Italy (literally called “Jewel on the hill”) is an ancient town of Civita di Bagnoregio. It was build on a tall plateau by etruscans 2,500 years ago, the indigenous people of Apennine Peninsula who were later assimilated into what became Roman society. The plateau is overlooking Tiber river valley and the town within these walls is admired for its old architecture full of arches and exciting pathways. The town has about 100 inhabitants in the summer and that is the only time when tourists are freely allowed inside. It has hotels, restaurants and anything you might expect from a town. So don’t sleep and visit the jewel before autumn starts!
One of the hills in Artesina, a village of northwestern Italy, is where a giant pink bunny lies for more than 10 years now. And it doesn’t seem to be going anytime soon, because its entrails are gaping from its side. It was finished in 2005 by an art group of four people known as Gelitin from Vienna. 60 metres long and 20 metres high this giant pink bunny by the name of Hase (meaning, simply, “hare”) surpasses many species of dinosaurs in size, but is far from intimidating. Hikers eagerly climb all over its body and sit on its chest. Nobody seems to be disturbed by the giant’s presence, so it will stay there until it naturally dissolves. According to the bunny’s parents from Vienna, that might happen around 2025 – something to keep in mind if you haven’t seen the world’s largest bunny yet.
Consonno is a “city of toys” that was built in 60s, but never entirely finished. It was an idea of one man who bought an entire village in order to turn it to a tourist destination. It might have worked out, because the village was close to Milan, so a decent number of tourists would have been attracted. However, the construction was never ended because the main road towards Consonno was washed away, so people stopped coming. Nowadays the city of toys stands as a failed and abandoned version of Las Vegas, full of graffiti and deteriorating buildings in the style of medieval castles, islamic minarets, various other influences and remainders from the old village before construction started. Discover restaurants, galleries, hotels, ballrooms and other facilities. You won’t find such as these in Milan!
These are just a few gems from the wonderful land of Italy. There are literally dozens and dozens more curious and unknown places, objects and sites to discover and they are no less intriguing than the ones we chose to write about. Should you find yourself in Italy, don’t underestimate smaller cities and remote regions of the country. Who knows what you will find simply by travelling along the road? More random giant bunnies? Underground caves? Ancient foundations of long forgotten towns overgrown with trees and creepers? Everything seems possible in Italy.