Northern Italy Off the Beaten Path
Italy. The cafes, the rolling hills, the beaches.....the tourists. Heading to Rome, while magnificent, is like going to Disney World in the middle of the summer......hot, overpriced, and littered with tourists. Our retreats strive to take a more relaxed approach, combining some tourism with little known spots. We're not the only ones who feel there's more beauty away from the masses. If you're spending some time in Northern Italy, some of our favorite guest bloggers have provided some recommendations to enjoy a less touristy way to see Italy.
Lake Garda, Italy
If you want to discover another part of Italy, other than the obvious cities such as Rome, Venice and Milan, let it be Desenzano. When I saw the pictures I just knew I had to see this place. It’s located on the edge of Lake Garda, the largest of the Italian Lakes. Very popular with Italian vacationers, sitting in Northern Italy, halfway between Brescia and Verona and between Venice and Milan. Lake Garda has numerous towns around the lake. We based ourselves in Desenzano, making it easy to visit the other towns around the lake. You will be sure to experience a taste of excellent food, beautiful scenery, terraced cafes, tree-lined promenades and little benches on the edge of the lake to watch the day go by. Pretty little streets with cobblestones and narrow alleyways filled with Italy's most delicious gelato ice cream shops. There is something peaceful about the vast expanse of water in Lake Garda, its smoothness, the stillness, particularly when the sun was sparkling on it or when it was dark and the moon shone on it. You completely surrender yourself to this beauty. It's amazing how the colour of the lake would change with turning of the weather or as we moved around the towns on the lake. For spectacular views of Lake Garda we traveled to Malcesine in the North, we rode the cable car to Monte Baldo, which rise 1600m in just 10 minutes. Suddenly the lake was misty and the boats all looked as small as paper boats, morphing into a painting-like scenery it was hypnotising. You are just drawn into this calming scenery. We hiked in the mountains gazing at the little towns spread across the lake before taking the cable car back to Malcesine central town for more exploring. Malcesine also turns into a sky resort in winter when the mountains are covered in snow. - Bianca from It’s All Bee
Via Ferrata, Italy
One of the most exhilarating experiences and off-the-beaten path is doing a via ferrata in Italy. Via ferrata is similar to rock climbing although you use preexisting steel cables that are drilled into the rock in order to secure yourself to climbing routes that would be impossible to walk due to the steepness of the rock. It was invented in World War I after Italian soldiers needed a way to quickly climb through the Dolomites. You can still climb see some of these old routes close to Bolzano.
You’ll need special equipment, a minimal fear of heights, good weather, and someone knowledgeable to explain proper techniques when climbing to ensure that you’re safe.
The unofficial via ferrata capital of Italy is Arco, close to Lake Garda, where you can easily rent equipment (which can be difficult) and take a weekend trip with an expert to learn the ropes. Once you know the techniques and have your own equipment, you just need a guide, a car, and a sense of adventure as most via ferratas are isolated and without supervision. I was skeptical at first, however via ferratas give you a taste of mountain climbing and a great view. - Karen A from Wander Lusting K
Not totally off the beaten path but not as popular as the other main touristy cities in Italy, Genoa is a little rough on the edges but it really is a gem with stunning architecture, Unesco sites and amazing Italian cuisine with amazing seafood fished directly from the Ligurian coast. Genoa is a stunning city to explore without all the tourist crowds visiting from the rest of the world. If you are looking for a real Italian experience where the shoulders you'll bump into would be Genoan's trying to find the freshest produce from the local farmers market, then consider visiting Genoa and the neighboring villages of Cinque Terre for stunning landscape and incredible panoramas. For more story, images and details about Genoa, please check out my first impression of Genoa here. Noel M . from Travel Photo Discovery
Check out our collaboration post next month to find out more off the beaten path stops in central Italy.....woot woot....you know we love us some Tuscany at Ignite Your Bliss.