Welcome to the Italian countryside! Our travel guide is full of pictures of the prettiest towns and wine regions in the Italian countryside. Plus, affordable countryside stays, and restaurant recommendations.
One of the most amazing things about Italy is how diverse the natural beauty is in such a small country. Consider this. Italy’s total area is 116,350 square miles, smaller than the state of California at 163,696 square miles!
Given its relatively small size, it’s mind-blowing to think Italy has 4,700 miles of coastline. Three magnificent Mountain Ranges, The Italian Alps, The Dolomites, and The Apennines. 1,5000 clear mirror-like lakes. Many of them are world-famous. Lake Como, Maggiore, and Garda, to name a few. Let’s not forget Venice, Florence, and Rome, three of the most beautiful cities in the world.
In between all of Italy’s famous cities, beaches, mountains, and lakes beats the heart of Italy. The Italian countryside. The birthplace of la dolce vita.
We’re Brandy Shearer (Author) & Paolo Ferraris (Photographer), two budget-savvy Italian introverts, artists, and dual citizens living in the Italian Alps. We show you how to avoid crowds and save on travel by exploring Italy in the off-season. From popular destinations to hidden gems, get a taste of la dolce vita in your inbox by subscribing below.
Italian Countryside Guide
Italian Countryside Pictures
These iconic pictures of Italy illustrate why the Italian countryside is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful parts of Italy. From Cypress trees to rolling vineyard-lined hills of Tuscany. These pictures represent the parts of Italy where time slows, and la dolce vita begins. Back to Top.
Italian Countryside Town Map
Our list of the prettiest Italian countryside towns is alphabetical. As my Mom said, she has no favorites!
Why subscribe to ALOR Italy? Two reasons. First, our list of the best countryside towns to visit in Italy will continue to grow. Secondly, we’re working on a list of stunning towns on the Italian coast! Hence we hope you’ll consider subscribing below.
15 Prettiest Italian Countryside Towns
Because we wanted to keep our list of the prettiest towns in the Italian countryside objective, we set the following criteria.
- First, it must be a town or smaller, not a city.
- Secondly, the town must have jaw-dropping Italian countryside views.
- Next, acknowledgment among Italians. Each town is either a UNESCO site, an “I Borghi più belli d’Italia” (one of Italy’s most beautiful villages), or a favorite vacation town among Italians.
- Finally, we have spent time in and love the town. Back to Top.
As locals, we want to connect travelers to a less crowded, less touristy side of Italy. The Italy we love.
Asolo, Veneto (Artistic Charm in the Italian Countryside)
Nicknamed “The City of a Hundred Horizons,” Asolo is a small fortified town known for its spectacular mountain setting in the Veneto region. However, what lands Asolo on our list are the frescos decorated Venetian-style buildings that give it a fairytale atmosphere.
It all started in 1489 after the former Queen of Cypress, Caterina Cornaro, came to Asolo in exile. As a result of her opulent Renaissance court, the former Queen played a hand in establishing Asolo as a town rich in history, art, and culture.
Because it remains relatively undiscovered by tourists, Asolo is a calm refuge of artistic beauty in the Italian countryside.
- For the best views of the Italian countryside, visit the Civic Tower of Asolo.
- For more information about Asolo visit the Official Tourism Board of Asolo, Italy
Assisi, Umbria (Italian Countryside Pilgrimage)
Italians have a deep affinity for patron St. Francis. Consequently, his birthplace Assis, Italy is the most beloved pilgrimage in Italy. Even if you don’t give a fig leaf about St. Francis, Assisi is worth visiting for its elevated views of the graceful Umbrian countryside. To get to the vista points seen in the photos above, follow the trail along the fortress walls of Rocca Maggiore Castle.
What’s more is that Assisi is full of Medieval masterpieces including the Basilica of San Francesco and paintings by Cimabue, Pietro Lorenzetti, Simone Martini, and Giotto. As a result, Assisi earned UNESCO status in 2000.
While over 5.5 million pilgrims, art lovers, and tourists journey to Assisi annually, it remains relatively uncrowded in winter. Hence Assisi earned a place in our hearts and on this list.
Bardonecchia, Piedmont (Italian Alps Countryside Town)
Internationally Bardonecchia, Italy is most famous for being an Olympic Community during the 2006 Winter Games hosting the snowboard competitions and an Olympic village. However locally Bardonecchia is known as a countryside escape from the crowds of Torino.
This small town in the Italian Alps has around 3,000 full-time residents. Yet, during peak ski season Bardonecchia comfortably welcomes nearly 30,000 people eager to hit the slopes.
At the top of the town sits borgo vecchio (the old town) with charming wood and stone homes built in the 1300s. While the main street via Medial offers all the amenities of a larger city including restaurants, bars, boutiques, and gourmet shops. All with the Italian Alps as a backdrop.
Located in Susa Valley (Val di Susa) on the French border, Bardonecchia is an ideal base for exploring numerous surrounding Alpine resorts in both Italy and France.
For the best view of the Italian Alps countryside hike to Grange della Rho (elevation gain. 3,563 ft) or take the easy way up and ride the ski lift to Ristorante Pian Del Sole. Back to Top.
Barolo, Piedmont (Regal Wine Country in Italy)
Barolo is an enchanting town in Italy’s most prominent UNESCO wine region, the Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero, and Monferrato. Nothing feels as regal as spending a day in Barolo sipping Barolo, The King of Wine.
A gastronomic paradise, Barolo is rich in culinary tradition. For instance the lavish refinement of dishes topped with shaved truffles. Likewise, agnolotti del plin and tajarin al ragu are hearty pasta favorites from the region. What makes for the ultimate visit to Barolo? First, start with a wine tasting in one of the many tasting rooms in town. Then, meander cobblestone streets and enjoy Italian countryside views behind the ancient Castle of Barolo. Finally, indulge in a meal with panoramic vineyard views at Locanda in Cannubi our favorite restaurant in Barolo. Be sure to call ahead and make a reservation. Especially during truffle season in the fall.
Most importantly Barolo has all of the visual wine country magic of Chianti without the crowds.
Bosa, Sardinia (Lush & Colorful)
Bosa, Sardinia is most famous for its production of high-quality leather and its colorful houses in the historic district of sa Costa. The homes look like a happy rainbow belt between the Temo River and the Serravalle hills. Bosa is more than just a picturesque village with several popular sights including 12th century Malaspina castle, The Conce Museum, frescoes in the Immacolata Concezione Cathedral, and paintings from 1370 inside the church of Nostra Signora de sos Regnos Altos. For the most breathtaking views of the Italian countryside hike to Malaspina castle.
Plus, Bosa is a 20-minute drive from four beaches. Consequently, it’s one of the few towns on our list with access to the sea and countryside views. Back to Top.
For more information about Bosa visit the Official Tourism Board of Bosa, Sardinia.
Cortona, Tuscany (Hidden Gem)
Get ready to channel your inner Frances Mayes. Cortona is famous outside Italy as the setting in the film Under the Tuscan Sun. Although Cortona was the set of a now-famous movie, it remains relatively uncrowded by tourists. As a result, it is one of the best towns to enjoy a relaxing visit in the Tuscany countryside.
Without a doubt, Cortona is timeless. As a result, the past and present dovetail beautifully here. Hence Michelin-recommended restaurants thrive in a Medieval town perched on a hilltop between Tuscany and Umbria.
For the perfect day, start by exploring Piazza della Repubblica and nearby Piazza Signorelli, both in the historical heart of Cortona. Then, work up an appetite exploring Palazzo Casali, MAEC museum (Cortona’s Museum of the Etruscan Civilization), or the Diocesan Museum of Cortona in Piazza Duomo. Next, indulge in Tuscan cuisine at Osteria del Teatro. Finally, hike up, up, up to the Basilica di Santa Margherita at the top of Cortona. To be sure this neo-gothic, Roman Catholic Basilica with a fourteenth-century soul and nineteenth-century style is a must-see. Finally above all, don’t miss the views from the hill just above the Basilica.
Gangi, Sicily (Darling Sicilian Countryside Town)
Gangi is a small town in Sicily known for its live nativity scene, stunning views of the Italian countryside, and being one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Rich in history and local culture yet undiscovered by tourists the residents of Gangi live a slower lifestyle that, so many seek. At the same time, Gangi has much to offer visitors including Palazzo Sgadari, Santuario Dello Spirito Santo, Chiesa della Madonna della Catena, and at the top of the town a late medieval castle, originally the residence of the Ventimiglia family.
Work by local artists adorns the main streets of Gangi. As a result, visitors walk away feeling vested in the spirit of this beautiful town. For the best views of the Italian countryside find the terrace behind Saint Mary of Jesus Church (pictured above). Back to Top.
Marostica, Veneto (Chess Match With Living Pieces)
Marostica is famous for hosting a live chess match in the town square with living chess pieces! While chess fans might know Marostica, tourists have yet to catch on. As a result, Marostica is one of our favorite day trips to escape the crowds of Venice. Outside of live chess matches, a visit to Marositca is all about relaxing in a beautiful town.
For the perfect visit, start by ambling through crowd-free streets under charming portico-covered sidewalks. Then head to the Baroque-style Church of Madonna del Carmine up a beautiful 17th-century stairway for open views of the town below and old settlement above. Finally, visit the upper part of the walled city to the original settlement. Enter through the Porta Bassano gate and follow the Scaligeri walls to the Church of Carmini. Then take the path of Monte Pausolino to Castello Superior (the Upper Castle) which sits in the middle of a shady olive grove.
Neive, Piedmont (Charming Hidden Wine Country Town)
Surrounded by UNESCO wine country, the hillside town of Neive delivers small-town charm amidst sophisticated refinement of the Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero, and Monferrato.
Want to know what to do in one day in Neive? First, enjoy the countryside and take a Lily Tomlin-style photo on Big Bench Neive #23. Then make your way over to see the Castle of Grinzane Cavour. Later follow the signpost-lined paths through Barbaresco, Moscato, Barbera, and Dolcetto vineyard-lined hills below. Then work up an appetite by exploring the historic town center and tower Torre dell’Orologio. Finally, relax over a bottle of Dante Rivetti Nebbiolo at Osteria l’Aromatario (pictured above).
Orta San Giulio, Piedmont (Cinderella of the Northern Lakes)
While tourists continue to flock to larger more well-known Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, Italians quietly keep Lake Orta and its prettiest town Orta San Giulio their little secret. Because it is considered the most beautiful among the larger northern Italian lakes, Italians nicknamed Lake Orta La Cenerentola (Cinderella).
For the perfect day in San Giulio, start at the waterfront Villa Bossi Public Gardens. Then make your way to see the charming frescos of Palazzo della Comunità in Piazza Motta (pictured above). Next, take a ferry from the docks over to San Giulio island. An ‘island of silence’ Isola di San Giulio is home to a working monastery where visitors are welcome to enjoy a peaceful walk in the middle of the lake. After enjoy a local Cheese and Charcuterie board at Al Boeuch. Finally, make the pilgrimage up the hill to UNESCO World Heritage site Sacro Monte to see the best lake views in all of Italy.
Pienza, Tuscany (Most Romantic Italian Countryside Town)
Considered the capital of Pecorino cheese, Pienza is famous for being one of Tuscany’s most romantic hilltop towns, and because of its Pecorino! Nicknamed “the ideal city” Pienza is above all a Renaissance miracle of near-perfect town-planning earning it UNESCO World Heritage status. Romantics will adore Pienza’s cinematic appeal much as Zeffirelli did when he filmed much of “Romeo and Juliet” here.
Most importantly for Romeo and Juliet, fans check out our 20 Photos of Pienza, Italy post before visiting to be sure to see locations in the film. Finally, for the best views of the Tuscan countryside and Val d’Orcia valley below, walk the outer wall of the historic city. Back to Top.
Pitigliano, Tuscany (Historic Wonder)
A uniquely beautiful town named Pitigliano is carved directly into the rocks on a cliff in Tuscany! Pitigliano is known as “Little Jerusalem” because the Jewish community that fled Rome found refuge and peaceful coexistence among Christians here.
There are three parallel streets that stretch from the main square of Piazza Garibaldi through Pitigliano. As a result, it’s easy to explore without a map or the worry of getting lost. To fully appreciate the town first, wander down any one of the alleys. Next, follow the stairways down to picturesque views of the Italian countryside. Finally, explore the history of Pitigliano in the ghetto and the recently restored synagogue.
The Tuff rocks of Pitigliano have a natural yellow hue. As a result, sunset is magic in Pitigliano. Head to Piazza Garibaldi as the sun starts to go down because above all seeing the Italian countryside framed by Medici Aqueduct at sunset will be a lasting memory.
San Leo, Emilia Romangna, Italy
In the Emilia Romagna region, San Leo is perched on a limestone edge above the countryside. It’s known for its beauty and thus has earned a spot on the Borghi più Belli d’Italia list as well as Orange Flag status.
Scicli, Sicily (Montalbano Fans Favorite Italian Town)
Montalbano fans, this one is for you! Scicli is a small town in Sicily famous for being the set of Inspector Montalbano based on novels by Andrea Camilleri. However, Scicli is really on our list of the prettiest countryside towns in Italy because of its UNESCO inclusion as one of eight Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto in south-eastern Sicily.
As a result of its Baroque architecture, smooth white stone streets, and many churches it doesn’t take much planning to have the perfect day in Scicli. That said, above all don’t miss the views. First, find San Matteo church. Then look for the road behind it that goes up the hill to the Castle Of The Three Cantons (Castello Dei Tre Cantoni). After, sunset head to Prosit Sicilian Bistro for an excellent relaxed meal.
Urbino, Marche, Italy (Renaissance Beauty)
What makes Urbino particularly beautiful has a twist of irony to it. Despite being a small hilltop town, Urbino is known as the “cradle of the Renaissance” alongside Florence. Its Renaissance standing is owed to one man, the Duke of Urbino. The Duke, also known as Federico da Montefeltro, invited many scholars and artists to Urbino.
Unfortunately, after the death of the Duke, Urbino slid into a period of economic and cultural stagnation from the 16th century on. Here in lies the twist. That stagnation meant preservation for Urbino. It stands much the same today as it did over 500 years ago. Thus Urbino earned its place on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998 and in our hearts as one of the prettiest towns in the Italian countryside.
What is the Countryside of Italy Called?
As dreaming of the Italian countryside turns to an online search, you might wonder what the countryside in Italy is called. It’s not that strange of a question because there are many different types of countryside in Italy, and Italians have a name for each.
In Italy, the Italian countryside is called “la campagna.” You’ll hear Italians say “vado in campagna.” Meaning “I’m going to the countryside” when refering to vacations. Meanwhile, the Italian countryside in the mountains is referred to as “la montagna” and the coastal countryside of Italy is referred to as “il mare.”
Of course, when tourist dream of visiting the Italian countryside they are most often imagining wine country. Here’s where things can get a little tricky. Each region has its own name too. Back to Top
Italian Wine Country
Just as there are 20 regions in Italy, there are 20 wine regions in Italy. In other words, there is no part of Italy without beautiful wine countryside views nearby. Believe it or not, there are even vineyards in the Italian Alps like The ‘l Garbin farm in Chiomonte.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for the most beautiful wine regions in the Italian countryside for a vacation here are the three largest and most popular.
First, is Veneto.
Veneto Wine Region
The Veneto wine region is located in northeastern Italy between Lombardy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, and Trentino-Alto Adige.
Veneto is the foremost wine-producing region in Italy accounting for roughly one-quarter of the total production in the country. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful. The rolling hills of the Valpolicella are famous for producing the complex, fruit-forward red wine known as Amarone della Valpolicella. Meanwhile, white wine lovers will want to gravitate toward the UNESCO World Heritage Hogback hills of Valdobbiadene for Soave and Prosecco. Back to Top
The second is Tuscany.
Tuscany Wine Region (the Chianti)
The Tuscany wine region is located in central Italy between Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Marche, Umbria, and Lazio.
Although Tuscany ranks second in wine production in Italy, it’s arguably the most famous wine region in the Italian countryside. The Tuscany wine region is commonly called “the Chianti” because its primary varietal is Sangiovese, the primary grape used to make Chianti.
In fact, there’s little doubt the Chianti is one of the world’s most beloved wine regions thanks to a bucolic countryside patchwork of vineyards, agricultural fields, and Cypress trees. What’s more the surrounding cities of Florence, Siena, and Arezzo are also some of Italy’s most beautiful. Back to Top
The third is our personal favorite, home to the “King of Wines” Piedmont.
Piedmont Wine Region
The Piedmont wine region is located in the northwest corner of Italy and includes areas like Erbaluce di Caluso, Valsusa, and Pinerolese. However, the most beautiful part is a UNESCO World Heritage site of five distinct wine-growing areas with outstanding landscapes collectively known as Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato. This is where the “King of Wines” Barolo is produced making it one of the most important wine regions in Italy. Red wines from the region include Barolo, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbaresco, Moscato d’Asti and more. Arneis is the primary white wine from the region.
While the Piedmont region is known around the world for its wines, in Italy, it’s loved for its beauty. Looking across the Piedmont wine region is to see a kaleidoscope of hillside vineyard panoramas as far as the eye can see. Undoubtedly the charming villages, regal castles, and Romanesque churches that dot the landscape add to the charm of the region. The best part, Piedmont wine country is far less crowded and touristy than Tuscany!
8 Italian Countryside Stays
Our list of affordable Italian countryside stays consists of places we paid to stay. We don’t receive kickbacks for our recommendations or ask for free lodging. In order to be on our list of countryside stays in Italy, the places must exceed our expectations based on the price per night. They must also offer really cool views of the Italian countryside and the warm hospitality Italians are known for.
Each location mentioned below can also be found on our Italian countryside town map above.
Country House Ca’ Brunello in Urbino, Marche, Italy
If you’re looking for an affordable Italian countryside stay near Urbino, we cannot say enough how much we enjoyed our stay at Country House Ca’ Brunello. The country house seen below has panoramic views of the Marche countryside. Plus, a fully equipped kitchen with an adorable SMEG fridge made me feel right at home. Best of all, our host thoughtfully included cookies and fruit for our stay. We found out later when we were invited into the host’s kitchen to chat over coffee that she makes all the sweets herself, and they are excellent.
Agriturismo Lemire, Veneto Countryside
On the Prosecco Superior hills just outside of the town of Conegliano in Veneto is Agriturismo Lemire. The owners are a young couple that treats guests with great care offering a Prosecco toast on arrival and an ample Agriturismo-style breakfast. Families will appreciate the grounds complete with table tennis, playground sets, grills, and walking paths. Couples are equally comfortable taking in sunset views of the Italian countryside. Single rooms start at €50.00 a night. Back to Top
Bricco Torricella, Piedmont Wine Country
Residence Bricco Torricella is in a charming historic 19th-century farmhouse smack in the middle of Langhe vineyards. Not far from Monforte d’Alba, Bricco Torricella has five apartments and a luxury swimming pool with panoramic vineyard views.
The apartments are spacious with well-equipped kitchens. The grounds offer the chance to see where Nebbiolo wine gets its name. Nebbia means fog in Italian which sweeps through the region in late fall, leaving dramatic sunset views of the vineyards below. Rates start at €99 a night. Back to Top
Villa Medicea di Lilliano (Italian Countryside Stay in a Tuscan Villa)
Views of Florence and the surrounding countryside are what bring Hollywood to Italy over and over again. The town of Grassina is home to Villa Medicea di Lilliano, a Tuscan villa with stunning Italian countryside views. Off-season rates in winter make the dream of renting a Tuscany villa a reality. Our four-night stay in January cost €233! Back to Top
La Granda B&B (Countryside Stay in Piedmont)
Located in San Martino Alfieri La Granda agrirelax (“La Granda” B&B) is perfectly positioned between Langhe and Roero. Owners and hosts Nadia and Sandro treat guests like family and provide a lavish breakfast. Nadia by the way is an excellent baker! The property was newly renovated before opening and boasts outstanding Italian wine country views. Rates start at €120 a night. Back to Top
Casa Tina (Wine Country Stay in Diana d’Alba)
Also in the Langhe and Roero area, Casa Tina is another property we love. Located on the top of a hillside in Diano d’Alba each unit has a view of vineyard-lined hills below. This private holiday home is run by Enri and Cathy. Upon seeing us enjoy the sunset views, Enri graciously brought us some local cheese and charcuterie to accompany our wine, ensuring our evening would not soon come to an end. Rates start at €75 a night. Back to Top
B&B Sorahnia Design House (Italian Countryside Stay in Sicily)
Located in the Sicilian countryside just outside Agrigento B&B Sorahnia – Design House is an architectural gem. Sorahnia offers comfortable rooms and balcony views of Agrigento that are rather spectacular. Stefania pampers guests in the morning with a full breakfast of both savory and sweet options. She’s also always happy to speak English with her guests, a perk in Italy. Shortly after our stay friends of ours took us on our recommendation. Equally delighted, they booked an extra night. Our two-night stay in January cost €144. Back to Top
Solo Affitti Brevi (Italian Alps Countryside Stay in Bardonecchia, Piedmont)
It’s true, Bardonecchia, Italy is our hometown. While it might seem biased to include it on a list of the best countryside towns in Italy, one visit will cement Bardonecchia in your heart too, promise. If we’re wrong we owe you fresh, warm krapfen (donuts) with cult-like status from award-winning Pasticceria Ugetti in Bardonecchia!
For stays in the Italian Alps, we book our family in apartments found on Solo Affetti Brevi. My Mother and Sister recently stayed for a week in Appartamento Treize and loved it. Weekly rates vary with the season, but a seven-night stay in October is just over €500.
In summary, while the boot print of Italy is small, the amount of natural beauty it holds is immense. No matter where you are in Italy, you’re at most two hours from a different and equally beautiful experience.
Imagine if you will living in (or visiting) Torino, Italy. Torino is less than an hour and a half from Milan, Le Langhe wine country, and the Italian Alps. Two hours from the coast of Liguria, and Lake Maggiore. Now imagine all the cute countryside towns in between. It’s no wonder Italy is one of the most popular destinations for travelers around the world!
Have a favorite town in Italy not on the list? Let us know in the comments below!
We’re constantly exploring small countryside towns in Italy. As a result, our lists and guides will continue to grow. By subscribing to ALOR Italy, you’ll be able to find vacation inspiration in your inbox.