The fall season is a perfect time to enjoy the beauty and diversity of Italy, from its stunning landscapes and natural parks, to its charming villages and gastronomic delights. In this article, we will suggest five destinations that are not very well-known among tourists, but that will surprise you with their originality and charm. These destinations are located in different regions of Italy, from north to south, so you can explore the variety and richness of this amazing country.
Parco Sigurtà and Valeggio sul Mincio
Parco Sigurtà is a magnificent botanical garden located in the province of Verona, in the Veneto region. It covers an area of 60 hectares and boasts more than one million flowers and plants of different species. In autumn, the park becomes a spectacle of colors, with the changing hues of the trees, the blooming of the dahlias and the asters, and the reflections of the water features. You can visit the park by walking, cycling, or taking a shuttle or a golf cart. You can also admire the historical monuments and buildings inside the park, such as the 17th-century Villa Sigurtà, the Castelletto, and the Hermitage.
Valeggio sul Mincio is a picturesque village near Parco Sigurtà, on the banks of the Mincio river. It is famous for its medieval castle, its elegant bridge, and its delicious tortellini. The tortellini of Valeggio are a local specialty made with thin pasta dough filled with meat and herbs, and served with butter and sage. They are also known as “love knots” because they are shaped like small rings tied with a knot. According to a legend, they were created by a fairy who fell in love with a mortal and expressed her feelings by making these delicate pasta parcels.
Alba, the capital of white truffle
Alba is a town in the province of Cuneo, in the Piedmont region. It is considered the capital of white truffle, one of the most precious and expensive delicacies in the world.
White truffle is a rare underground mushroom that grows only in certain areas and seasons, and that has a unique aroma and flavor. Alba hosts every year from October to November the International White Truffle Fair, one of the most important events for gastronomy lovers. At the fair, you can buy, sell, and smell white truffles, as well as taste other local products such as wine, cheese, honey, and chocolate. You can also enjoy cooking shows, book presentations, debates, and exhibitions related to truffle culture.
Alba is also a charming historical town with a rich artistic heritage. You can visit its Roman ruins, its Gothic cathedral, its medieval towers, and its elegant palaces. You can also explore its surroundings, where you can find some of the most renowned wine regions in Italy, such as Barolo, Barbaresco, and Asti.
Autumn foliage in the Casentino Forests Park
The Casentino Forests Park is a national park that covers an area of about 36 thousand hectares between Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna. It is one of the largest and oldest forests in Europe, home to many species of animals and plants. In autumn, the park offers one of the most beautiful natural shows in Italy: the foliage. The foliage is the phenomenon of changing colors of the leaves before they fall off. The park’s beech trees turn from green to yellow to red, creating a stunning contrast with the evergreen conifers. The park’s landscape becomes a painting of warm shades that invite you to admire and photograph it.
The park also has many cultural attractions that you can visit during your trip. You can discover its rock churches, carved by Byzantine monks between the 8th and 13th centuries. You can also visit its historical monasteries, such as Camaldoli and La Verna, where St. Francis of Assisi received his stigmata. You can also explore its picturesque villages, such as Poppi, Chiusi della Verna, and Pratovecchio.
The villages of Ciociaria
Ciociaria is an ancient territory in the province of Frosinone, in the Lazio region. Its name derives from “cioce”, which are traditional sandals worn by peasants. Ciociaria is characterized by its rural and authentic atmosphere, its scenic hills and mountains, and its charming villages. These villages are rich in history, culture, and traditions, and offer many attractions for visitors. Here are some of the most beautiful villages of Ciociaria:
- Arpino: the birthplace of Cicero, the famous Roman orator and philosopher. You can visit his statue, his house, and his tomb. You can also admire the impressive Cyclopean walls, dating back to the 6th century BC, and the Industrial Archaeological Museum of Wool Art, which tells the story of the local wool industry.
- Collepardo: a medieval village surrounded by nature. You can visit its churches, its city walls, and its caves , where you can see stalactites and stalagmites. You can also explore its botanical garden , which hosts more than 1200 species of herbs.
- Anagni : the city of popes, where four popes were born and many others resided. You can visit its cathedral, which has a beautiful Romanesque facade and a crypt with frescoes. You can also visit its palace, where Pope Boniface VIII was slapped by a French envoy in 1303, an event known as the “Outrage of Anagni”.
- Isola del Liri: the city of waterfalls, where the Liri river splits into two branches and creates two spectacular waterfalls in the center of the town. You can admire the waterfalls from different viewpoints, such as the bridge , the castle , and the park . You can also visit the Paper Museum , which illustrates the history and techniques of paper making in the area.
- Castro dei Volsci: a hilltop village with a panoramic view over the valley. You can visit its churches , its tower , and its museum of rural civilization , which displays tools and objects related to farming and crafts. You can also taste its typical products, such as cheese, honey, and wine.
Matera, the city of the Sassi
Matera is a city in the Basilicata region, famous for its sassi (stone houses carved out of the caves and cliffs). The sassi are one of the oldest human settlements in Italy, dating back to the Paleolithic period. They have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993, for their cultural and historical value. The sassi are divided into two districts: Sasso Caveoso and Sasso Barisano. They are composed of houses, churches, alleys, stairways, and courtyards that create a unique and fascinating landscape.
Matera is also a city of art and culture, with many attractions to discover. You can visit its rock churches, which have ancient frescoes painted by Byzantine monks. You can also visit its museums, such as the MUSMA (Museum of Contemporary Sculpture), which exhibits works by modern artists inside the caves. You can also visit its monuments, such as the Romanesque cathedral, which overlooks the sassi from the highest point of the city.
Matera is also a city of cinema, as it has been used as a location for many films related to Christianity, such as The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson, The Nativity Story by Catherine Hardwicke, and Ben-Hur by Timur Bekmambetov. Matera’s scenery resembles that of ancient Jerusalem, and offers a realistic and evocative setting for these stories.
Matera is a city that will surprise you with its beauty, history, and culture. It is a place where you can experience the past and the present in harmony, and where you can enjoy a unique and original trip to Italy.