5 Ancient Villages to Visit in Italy

 

Welcome to an ancient Italy of times past, an Italy that possessively guards and preserves its legacy, which has proved to be of fundamental value. The Medieval and Renaissance towns, as well as seaside, mountain rural and lakeside towns are the best representation of the richness and diversity of the Belpaese. We present the originality of renown Italian beauty through of five of the 250 borghi (villages) that are part of The Most Beautiful Italian Villages, an official circuit of excellence created in 2001. Let yourself be captivated by the magic you inhale as you walk around the towns’ cobble stone roads and feel the warm welcome of the locals, the flavors of the town’s traditions, the freshness of the local products, and the environmental and architectural variety.

Bovino

Let's start our journey at a small village in the province of Foggia. Bovino is situated on the border between Puglia and Campania. Destroyed and rebuilt several times, the old town is characterized by the harmony of an urban feel with proper preservation of ancient materials, colors and traditional forms of its original heritage. Even today, visitors can admire the streets made out of river stone, stone houses characterized by traditional tiled roofs, brick barrel vaults, palaces with exceptionally beautiful courtyards, and a multitude of stone portals, exactly eight hundred. The mosaics, remains of Roman walls, stairways that decorate the lanes of the village, and finds kept in the municipal museum, constitute the great wealth that the town continues to protect with extreme care. Orecchiette and homemade pasta, cheese, and lamb, are the dishes and local Made in Italy products that you shouldn’t miss out on! (For more info, click here)

Verezzi

One of the most famous Italian singers, Fabrizio De Andrè sings, “Finché u matin crescià da puéilu rechéugge, Frè di ganeuffeni e dè figge, Bacan d'a corda marsa d'aegua e de sä, Che a ne liga e a ne porta 'nte 'na creuza de mä”, a song in Ligurian dialect that reveals the most sincere essence of the Italian Riviera as he speaks about the beauty of the windy cliffside roads, and it is actually here in Liguria where we take you to our next village, Verezzi. This small town perches on the hill of Orera, in the province of Savona, and it presents itself as a harmonious set of four different villages (Poggio, Piazza, Roccaro, Crosa), characterized by pink stone buildings set in a rocky landscape and seaside location, connected to each other by narrow alleys, mule tracks and lanes. The local specialty is snails in Verezzina style (a stew). If you are a fan, don’t miss out on the gastronomic festival dedicated to them, which takes place every year on August 13th and 14th. (For more info, click here)

Anghiari

Anghiari, the beautiful Medieval Tuscan village overlooks the green valley of the Tiber, located in the province of Arezzo, and is part of the Tuscan Valtiberina (upper Tiber Valley). Protected by 13th century walls, it was of great importance during Medieval times because of its strategic position. Breathtaking landscapes, historical artifacts, churches and castles characterize the territory of Anghiari, which combines art, crafts, nature and good food. The churches of Sant’Agostino and Santa Maria delle Grazie are worth a visit, as well as the Praetorian Palace and the Theatre of Ricomposti. The most traditional dish of the town is bringoli al sugo finto, homemade spaghetti made with flour and water, in a tomato sauce that’s cooked for hours with little meat and lots of vegetables. (For more info, click here)

Castel del Monte

The name itself of this small town in the province of L’Aquila in the region of Abruzzo, evokes the idea of a fortified town nestled in the mountains, with the word castel implying castle and del monte meaning of the mountains. Suspended between the peaks of the Gran Sasso and Tirino valley, the village is characterized by steep streets and old doorway frames of old buildings such as the Governor's Palace, Palace Colelli and magnificent churches which the whole region is known for and proud of. Castel del Monte is on the foothill of the mountain and on the edge of the immense spaces of Campo Imperatore, a prairie without borders, 1,600 meters high. The town is so beautiful and authentic that the film The American with George Clooney was filmed here. Typical local food includes homemade pasta (strangolapreti, lagnelle and taccuzzelle), vegetable and legume soup, and simple yet wholesome desserts such as Neule, cicerecchiole and crespeglie. (For more info, click here)

Castiglione di Sicilia

Our short trip around the Belpaese ends in Sicily, in Castiglione, a town that sits on a hill overlooking the south bank of the Alcantara river. It is a typical hilltop town, with houses arranged along a steep slope, the medieval heart of the village is hidden under the occasional blanket snow mixed with volcanic lava river remains, and the bubbling waters of the Alcantara river. The steep streets leading to the Byzantine and Norman fortifications, the walls of the old town which seem as though a veil of volcanic lava dropped down, the San Antonio district and religious buildings are all poignant images of an ancient Sicily. Go to a local restaurant to taste the traditional products of the area: honeycomb maccu, baked macaroni with pork stew and ricotta, and sciauni (a sweet empanada-like dessert). All of them accompanied by a strong, warm, red wine. (For more info, click here)