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Immerse yourself in the beauty of rolling hills and picturesque villages. Italy is home to some of the most idyllic villages in the world, which also offer a closer look into the country’s rich history. 

Put the authentic experience of visiting the medieval streets of Siena or the characteristic Cinque Terre to the top of your list. Live the true Italian experience. 

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Art & Culture
Gubbio - Piazza Grande

Gubbio

A day in Gubbio, stone town of Umbria Known as the “city of stone”, it stands on the side of Mt. Ingino: Gubbio will immediately win you over with its medieval charm through its labyrinth of alleys and narrow streets. The long history of Gubbio Gubbio's origins are rooted in ancient Umbrian civilisation, as evidenced by the so-called Eugubine Tables written in the Umbrian language and dating back to the third-first century BC. You can admire them in the rooms of the Museo Civico in Palazzo dei Consoli. Gubbio's golden age began around 1000, at the time of the Communes. Under the leadership of Bishop Ubaldo, in 1100, the city won a war against Perugia. In the meantime, arts and crafts spread, including the manufacture of majolica. By the 1300s, the city took on the form it still has today. Some of the most beautiful buildings in Gubbio date back to this period. A walk in the centre Start your tour from the jewel of Gubbio, Piazza Grande or Piazza della Signoria, “hanging” square overlooking the city. On either side are the city's public buildings: Gothic-style Palazzo dei Consoli and Palazzo Pretorio, facing each other. Also in the square, take a look at Palazzo Ranghiasci Brancaleoni. A stone's throw away is the Renaissance-style Ducal Palace. From the gardens of the Ducal Palace, a beautiful view of the city. Look at the tall, narrow door at the side of the large gate: it is the Dead Man's Door. According to legend, the coffins of the dead passed through here. Along the walls, located just above the palace dating back to 1200, there are six gates, some of which are still decorated with paintings and city coats of arms. Among the churches, do not miss the cathedral of Gubbio dedicated to Saints Marian and James. Also worth a visit, the church of St Francis. It is said that Francis was welcomed here after leaving his father's house and all his possessions. Located at the foot of the city, where the market was held in the Middle Ages. Still visible is the long Loggia dei Tiratori built in the 1600s by the guild of weavers. Where their freshly woven woollen cloths were draped. The real wonder of Gubbio, however, is the Fontana dei Matti (Fools) in front of the Bargello Palace. Three laps around the fountain, getting wet in the presence of a resident of Gubbio and the Fool’s title is yours. Where to go nearby Just step outside the mediaeval walls of Gubbio and another world of surprises unfolds: the Roman theatre, the Roman mausoleum nearby, the Abbey of San Secondo, the 17th-century Madonna del Prato richly decorated with stuccoes and the Vittorina church built precisely where, according to legend, St Francis met the wolf. The Bottaccione Gorge The Bottaccione gorges, ideal for a trip, is just outside Gubbio. It is a deep gorge caused by the erosion of the Carmignano stream, but it is also rich in historical evidence. There is an aqueduct that runs along the gorge dating back to the Middle Ages. Also located in the gorge is the Monastery of Sant'Ambrogio, which stands near a prehistoric citadel dating back to the Palaeolithic period. The hermitage dates back to the 1300s and was known for its strict rules and inaccessible location guaranteeing silence and solitude. Don't miss the visit, starting with the underground caves and ending with the frescoes in the church. Atop Mount Igino: the Basilica of St Ubaldo The Basilica of Sant'Ubaldo is located right at the top of the mountain that watches over Gubbio, but don't worry, if you don't feel like hiking, you can reach it with a comfortable cable car and you will have the whole town at your feet. The urn with the body of Saint Ubaldo, patron saint of Gubbio, is kept here. The famous race of the Festa dei Ceri is on 15 May. The church is of medieval origin, but during the 1500s it was enlarged with the addition of the convent and cloister. Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the exterior, enter to admire the richness of the five naves and the frescoes depicting the life of Saint Ubaldo.
Nature

Lake Como

On Lake Como between dreamy villas and villages to discover. The landscape of Lake Como combines mountains, forests, flower-filled parks and clear waters overlooked by dreamy villas and villages to explore. The best way to visit? By boat. A boat taxi system connects all the main resorts on the two branches of the lake. In the centre is Bellagio, the pearl of the Lario, but it isbut one of the jewelson these shores. In Lecco with Alessandro Manzoni You will see the most beautiful panorama here, because Lecco is surrounded by mountains. Don't miss the Basilica di San Nicolò whose 96-metre-high bell tower can be seen from every point in the city and the Torre Viscontea, the only remnant of a vanished castle. In Lecco you’ll find Villa Manzoni, which belonged to the writer's family until 1818 and houses the Museo Manzoniano. And speaking of Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed): from Lucia's house in Lecco, a route starts along Manzoni's places that reaches the castle of the Innominato above Vercurago. The villas of Bellagio Bellagio stands on the central promontory of the lake and has been considered a fascinating place for centuries by visitors from all countries. Here stand some of the most beautiful villas overlooking the water, such as Villa Serbelloni, which dates back to the 16th century and over time has welcomed guests such as Leonardo da Vinci or Queen Victoria. Also worth a visit is the neoclassical Villa Melzi d'Eril, whose park was much loved by the composer Franz Liszt. Varenna Lovers' Promenade In Varenna, you arrive by boat to take the Lovers' Promenade that connects the shore to the village. The centre is a labyrinth of stairs and alleyways offering romantic views of the lake. To visit: Villa Monastero and Vezio Castle, which dominates the village from above and offers an incomparable view. While you are in Varenna, make a trip to Bellano to visit the Orrido, a gorge you can walk through on footbridges suspended between water and rock. In Colico among forts, abbeys and water sports At the foot of Mount Legnone, the highest peak in the Lario region, lies the village of Colico, inhabited since pre-Roman times. Thanks to the gentle wind blowing on this part of the coast, it is the perfect place for water sports on the lake. But don't forget to visit the 17th century Fort of Fuentes built on the hill of Monteggiolo and, not far from the village, the 7th century Abbey of Piona. Here the monks prepare honey and liqueurs. From Menaggio to the Isola Comacina Menaggio's lakeside promenade overlooks a beautiful panorama of the opposite shore. A 20-minute walk from the centre takes you to Villa Mylius Vigoni while an uphill road leads to the fortified castle. Also stop at Villa Carlotta, which preserves and enhances a unique historical, artistic and botanical heritage. On the way down to Isola Comacina, stop at Lenno on the Gulf of Venus to visit Villadel Balbianello built in the 18th century on a promontory that once housed an older Franciscan monastery. The best view of Isola Comacina you will get when walking around Santa Maria Maddalena di Ossuccio: it is the photo spot not to be missed for those who love to shoot. If you are in the area on 24 June, stop until it gets dark for the Lumaghitt, the fireworks on the water for St John's Day. Como, Cernobbio and Laglio One cannot say one has visited Lake Como without a tour of the town that gives it its name. Personalities such as the two Plinii in Roman times and Alessandro Volta, to whom the Volta Temple is dedicated, were born here. Worth visiting: the Duomo, the last Gothic cathedral in Lombardy, the Broletto and the city tower, the Basilica of Sant'Abbondio outside the ancient walls and the Ermo di San Donato founded by the Benedictines in the 15th century. Not to be missed are the Baradello Castle in a panoramic position and Villa Olmo, one of the most beautiful on the lake. Cernobbio is home to other splendid villas: Villa Erba, Villa Bernasconi and Villa Pizzo. But the star of this side of the lake is Villa Oleandra, frequented by Hollywood celebrities since George Clooney bought it in 2002. The village that hosts it, called Laglio, is quite delightful. Many paths lead from here to the Colmegnone mountain. The most beautiful is the one that leads to the Buca dell'Orso Cave, a karstic cavity with an underground lake. Villa Pliniana, a story of love and ghosts Among the villas overlooking Lake Como, this is the one with the most fascinating history. If the walls of Villa Pliniana could talk, they would tell of the forbidden love between the Prince of Belgiojoso and Princess Anne-Marie Berthier, both already married. They escaped and found refuge on this shore where they lived in complete isolation for nine years. It is said that every night the two lovers would dive naked into the lake, wrapped only in a sheet. Those who saw them from the other side were convinced that the villa was inhabited by a ghost.
Art & Culture

Civita di Bagnoregio

Civita di Bagnoregio: the village struggling to live Only a long footbridge connects Civita di Bagnoregio to the rest of the world. On a tuff spur, in the heart of Tuscia, between the Tiber valley and Lake Bolsena, one of the most fascinating villages in Lazio, albeit undermined by the erosion of the fragile tuff rock on which it was built. In the province of Viterbo, from its alleys the eye can reach the spectacular Valley of the Calanques, deep furrows in the ground created over millennia by rainwater erosion. History of the village and its landslides At least 2,500 years of history are stratified in this small village: Civita was founded by the Etruscans in the 5th century BC when the settlement was one with today's Bagnoregio, then called Rota. It then became a Roman colony, in the 6th century a Lombard colony, later, incorporated into a fiefdom, and in 1140, a free commune. In the Renaissance, Civita di Bagnoregio had the upper hand over Rota, experiencing a moment of great development, with the construction of new palaces and the cathedral. From the 15th century to the present, however, the territory of Civita literally thinned out due to no less than 134 landslides documented in manuscripts, chronicles and various other sources. In 1695, an earthquake caused the entire district of Contrada Carcere, the district that connected it to Bagnoregio, to collapse from the cliff. Other major collapses occurred in 1764 and the following centuries. Since 1965, Civita di Bagnoregio has only been accessible via a pedestrian viaduct. About ten people currently live there permanently. The village of Civita The village is entered through the Porta di Santa Maria gate, known as Porta Cava because it was originally a street cut into the tuff. On either side of the arch are two bas-reliefs commemorating a victorious popular uprising in Civita (1457) against Orvieto’s Monaldeschi family who were oppressing them. Worth seeing is the beautiful church of San Donato (formerly the Duomo), rebuilt in the 17th century, with interesting works of art including a 15th-century wooden crucifix. Interesting is the Geological and Landslide Museum, inside the 16th-century Palazzo Alemanni, explaining the difficult evolution of the territory, also to better understand Civita’s future. The museum offers guided tours and excursions. Finally, one of the most venerated places in Bagnoregio is the San Bonaventura Cave, an ancient Etruscan chamber tomb, overlooking the valley, transformed into a chapel in the Middle Ages. According to legend, this is where the miraculous healing of little Giovanni Fidanza took place by St Francis. The Valley of the Gullies Civita di Bagnoregio is surrounded by the fairy-tale landscape of the Valle dei Calanchi, geological formations created by erosion, small valleys of clay soil over which rainwater does not penetrate, but slides, removing the surface layers and preventing the growth of vegetation. The unique landscape of Tuscia's calanchi (gullies) makes it possible to slip into these valleys and observe up close formations that look like castles made of tuff, clay cathedrals with spires and pinnacles. They exist throughout the area known as the “Forre della Teverina” between the municipalities of Bagnoregio, Castiglione in Teverina, Celleno, Civitella d'Agliano, Graffignano and Lubriano. The events of Civita di Bagnoregio The beauty and uniqueness of Civita di Bagnoregio lend themselves well to the organisation of special events. On Good Friday, re-enacting the Passion, the wooden statue of Christ from the church of San Donato is carried in an evocative procession to the cathedral of Bagnoregio. The first of May is traditionally spent walking through the gullies. On the first Sunday in June and again on the second Sunday in September, the Palio della Tonna, a race of four donkeys ridden bareback by jockeys, is held in the church square. The patron saint is celebrated on 15 July. In October, the village smells of roasted chestnuts for the chestnut festival. At Christmas, Civita is lit up with torches in the atmospheric living nativity scene.