Italy Tours: Exploring Three Lesser-Known Towns

Small Group Italy Tours to Lesser-Known Towns

When signing up for a tour with Meet Piemonte Tour Operator you embark on a journey that embraces the unmissable must-sees of a tour of Italy with lesser-known towns that add so much to the experience.

Italy is renowned for its stunning landscapes and world-famous cities, art, and food. However, there is so much more to discover beyond the usual tourist destinations. 

On our small group Italy tours, rather than rushing from city to city trying to cover the whole length of the peninsula, we focus on one region at a time capturing the unique vibe of a specific area. From the very beginning of one of our tours, guests learn how the stereotyped definitions of “Italian food” or “Italian culture” are just superficial. Every aspect of the Italian lifestyle is strictly influenced by local history and geography. 

From Naro in Sicily, to the coastal charm of Raito, along the Amalfi Coast, join us on a journey to curious spots. All the way up to the town of Neive in Piedmont,  each of these three lesser-known towns has its own story to tell. 

Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, or simply looking for tranquility on our Italy Tours, exploring these three lesser-known towns will captivate your heart and provide a truly authentic Italian experience. 

The Allure of Italy’s Lesser-Known Towns

​Italy is a Country that never fails to enchant visitors with its diverse landscapes ranging from the rocky coastal towns of Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast to the wide sandy beaches of Tuscany and Puglia. From the rolling hills of Piedmont to sun-kissed Sicily’s mainland, and from the Alps to the olive crops of Puglia, there is a lot to cover.

Visitors who limit their trip to Rome, Florence, and Venice won’t get a full understanding of Italy, despite those cities attract millions of tourists each year, with their world-famous museums, and lively neighborhoods.

Italy is a Country that deserves to be seen on multiple trips. By the second tour guests are ready to explore lesser-known towns scattered throughout the Italian countryside that offer a more intimate and authentic experience. 

These hidden gems capture the essence of Italy in a way that larger cities often cannot. The reason is because they are not submerged by the negative impact of mass tourism, unlike other popular cities.

Consequences of over-tourism and benefits of lesser-known Italian towns

The process by which a town or site becomes touristy and considered by public opinion as not to be missed is a complex one. It can be determined by the perception that a destination has abroad, often supported by myths, and fictionalized versions of it shown in movies. Often by the lack of interest of many tourists of going beyond the surface.

What is now clear is that the more a town becomes touristy the more locals tend to leave. The unaffordable cost of living or because carrying on a normal daily routine becomes logistically challenging are the main causes. Let’s think for example about the hardships of living in central Venice or in the expensive city center of Milan.

On the contrary, quiet towns away from the crowds unravel a new appreciation for the local lifestyle. Ultimately, visitors get to experience a place as locals rather than as a tourist. On our Italy Tours, exploring the three lesser-known towns mentioned below, offer more cultural encounters. Whether it is a baker giving samples of breadsticks in front of his workshop or a lady smiling while hanging laundry from her balcony.

Meet Piemonte Tour Operator handpicks those lesser-known towns. Despite not being included in major tourist routes, boast precious works of art, or imposing architecture or are just too beautiful for not deserving a stop.

Naro a less-known town in Sicily
Naro in Sicily

The Lesser-Known Town of Naro, part of Wester Sicily & Taormina Tour

One such town is Naro, located in the heart of Sicily, a few miles from the popular Valley of Temples of Agrigento. Naro is a hidden gem known for its well-preserved Baroque architecture, narrow winding streets, and historic churches. 

Strolling through the town’s picturesque alleys, visitors can admire ornate facades adorned with intricate carvings, decorations that refer to iconography, and the glorious past of local wealthy families. 

Naro is the quintessential Sicilian province town, quiet, almost deserted after lunch when everyone rests waiting for the hottest hours to go by but where one can experience the real soul of the island.

The surroundings of Agrigento on our tour of Western Sicily

While most tours of Sicily rush to Agrigento just for a few hours, to visit the Valley of Temples, Meet Piemonte Tour Operator stays two nights in that area.

Our Western Sicily & Taormina Tour is focused on showing some popular sites but, at the same time, we like to dig into the local culture, and no better way to do that than exploring small villages where ordinary large groups don’t have the time to go.

Mainland Sicily is nothing like the coastal sea towns or the buzzing cities of Palermo and Catania. One could drive for hours through the rocky landscape speckled with olive groves, wheat fields burned by the sun, spotting windmills and hilltop urban settlements holding stories to tell.

The area around Agrigento was affected by heavy emigration toward America between the very end of the 1800s and the first decades of the 1900s. Still today, many young ones seek opportunities in northern Italy or elsewhere in Europe and their hometowns still experience a significant decrease in the population. 

Ornate churches, medieval castles, and small shops are struggling to stay open, while the legacy of the past is preserved within the town walls with masterpieces of art, architecture, and artisanal food purveyors. 

So, going there as visitors is an act of sustaining these communities.

Naro and the Wine Region of Agrigento

Agrigento is the perfect starting point to sample some of the best wines of Sicily by stepping in fortified farmhouses, known as baglio.

The wine producer we welcomes us, together with other farmers and entrepreneurs, brought the rolling hills of Agrigento, Canicattì, and Licata back to their ancient vocation of winemaking. This area proved to be ideal for the cultivation of indigenous grapes such as Inzolia, Cataratto, and Nero d’Avola, as well as international grapes like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and others.

After lunch, we are off to Naro’s main square, Piazza Garibaldi, a lively hub where locals gather, and socialize, enjoying a morning espresso or an evening glass of wine. Naro offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of larger cities, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the authentic charm of rural Sicily.

On our Western Sicily & Taormina Tour, we visit Naro in the afternoon, when locals wake up after the siesta, shops open up and the older generations entertain themselves by playing cards.

Italy tours: Naro in Sicily
Naro in Sicily

Raito, a gem of Naples, Positano & The Amalfi Coast Tour

On the southern tip of the Amalfi Coast lies the coastal town of Raito, a hidden paradise overlooking the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

The ancient settlement was founded by people escaping from the unhealthy swamps on the south of Salerno, as well as the sacking of the Saracens.

In the heart of the Unesco site, this rugged stretch of the Amalfi Coast is particularly green, with steep slopes covered in lush vegetation. 

Generations of farmers shaped the flanks of these mountains with dry walls to gain some extra flat land where to grow their crops. For centuries, living above the sea level was a necessity of defense from the attack of pirates coming by boat. Life and agriculture where focused closer to the meadows of the higher mountains where cheese production was taking place. 

Today, Raito is known for its colorful terraced houses cascading down the hillside, creating a postcard-perfect setting that is sure to capture the hearts of visitors. The town’s winding alleys lead to secluded courtyards and hidden viewpoints, where travelers can relax and soak in the Mediterranean sun. 

Italy Tours: Lesser-Known Wine Production

Raito boasts an interesting wine-making scene, where Aglianico and Piedirosso grapevines are pressed for the production of the DOC appellation “Costa d’Amalfi”.

The vineyards are planted on man-made terraces with shallow and sandy soil, mainly limestone. The richness in minerals as well as the sea breeze and the sun of the coast give to the grapes an extra kick like nowhere else in the Campania region. 

Wine production around Raito was known in ancient times and it was recently brought back to life with the efforts of local entrepreneurs.

Our Naples, Positano & The Amalfi Coast Tour goes to Raito on the way back from a day spent in the area of production of buffalo mozzarella. Raito is also not far from some of the best preserved Greek temples in the world.

Arriving on the terraced vineyard in the late afternoon is a blessing. The views, the breeze, the greenery are just some of the elements that make the stop in Raito one of the highlights of the tour.

Take home some unforgettable moments from our Italy tours: exploring these three lesser-known towns, sipping the full-bodied Aglianico wines paired with delicious homemade food.

Neive in the Langhe Hills
Neive in Piedmont

Italy Tours: Exploring Neive and the Lesser-Known Langhe Hills

Nestled in the heart of Italy’s stunning Piedmont region lies the enchanting village of Neive, a true hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its picturesque streets lined with pastel-colored houses, elegant Baroque palaces built by prominent families of the past, and wine shops, Neive exudes a timeless charm that captivates visitors.

From some of the viewpoints in town, one can admire vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see. Neive stands on the edge between three bordering wine regions. Barbaresco is on the steep hills on west side of Neive, Moscato on the higher slopes extending south. On the east, Neive is facing the valley of Barbera d’Asti on the gentle hills of the Monferrato.

Listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site for the landscape, the Langhe and Monferrato Hills that one can see from Neive seem like a manmade garden. The vines design lines framed by countryside roads and dotted with farmhouses and hilltop villages.

The Langhe Hills are a perfect region to explore by bike, car, or hiking in many less-known towns where over-tourism hasn’t yet affected the lifestyle.

Lesser-Known Towns in Piedmont

Nearby Neive, stands the town of Mango, with its castle and views over the Alta Langa Hills. Going south, the vines leave room for hazelnut crops and a wild landscape as the elevation increases. Strolling around Mango one can find signs mentioning local writer Beppe Fenoglio. He set in this town scenes of his book, describing the Resistance and the final years of WWII.

For art lovers, the main church of the town of Neviglie boasts a painting by local painter Macrino d’Alba, one of the first to bring to this part of Piedmont some Renaissance innovation and a new gentle style never seen before in paintings.

A photo stop is recommended in Coazzolo. One can catch the interesting visual contrast between the rural environment and the bright colors of a countryside small chapel, decorated by British artist David Tremlett. Founded by the Romans under the name of Coatolium, today’s Coazzolo has some of the best views of the Langhe Hills. Its castle probably built around the year one thousand to control the below valley with a stream of water named Tinella.

Local life on our Italy Tours

Walking around Neive on our Lake Como, Piedmont & Portofino Tour, guests get a glimpse of the real local life of the Italian province. From laundry hanging from the balconies to ancient Roman slabs inserted on the walls of medieval towers, and open doors of private gardens, this is a celebration of Italian culture.

Neive is not only a feast for the eyes but also for the taste buds. It is renowned for its exceptional wines and the delectable culinary delights of Piedmont, one of the most refined cuisines of Italy. Enjoy a glass of renowned Barbaresco wine in one of the charming trattorias or indulge in traditional Piedmontese tajarin pasta. Meet local chefs who work with the finest local ingredients.

Escape the crowds and explore Neive, where time seems to stand still, and the tranquil beauty of the Italian countryside envelopes you. Joining our Italy tours and exploring these three lesser-known towns will create memories that will last a lifetime.