10 Hidden Gems To Discover In Italy in 2019
19 June 2019 -
In Tripadvisor’s 2019 Travellers’ Choice awards, Italy claimed not one, not two, but three of the 25 Best Destinations in Europe! Plus the country ranked on a global scale with Rome taking third place in the world’s Top 25 Destinations category.
Boasting a long Mediterranean coastline, a fascinating history and culinary delights aplenty, for us, this result is no surprise. But why should you visit Italy this year? We’ve put together a list of hidden gems that you might not have read about in your guidebooks that we’re sure will make your 2019 holiday more memorable!
If the sumptuous-sounding names don't do it, the pictures will...
Todo Modo, Florence
Located just a few hundred metres from the beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, Todo Modo is definitely in the running to be Florence’s best bookshop. Why’s that you ask? Well, this quirky, independent store combines books, food and wine – what more could you ask for?
Stop by to browse their great selection of English and Italian books or even for a quick lunch.
Borgo San Jacopo, Florence
If you’re looking to escape the crowds, then head over to the other side of the Arno River to the cool Oltrarno neighbourhood of Florence. Here, discover a quiet street near Ponte Vecchio called Borgo San Jacopo, where you can admire the beautiful architecture and take in spectacular views over the old bridge and river.
Street Art in Via Toscanella, Florence
Located just a few steps from Piazza de’ Pitti, you’ll find a narrow, hidden street called Via Toscanella where you can admire beautiful murals. Discover the trademark red and white figures by Hopnn Yuri, the Marche-born street artist, who uses the repeated theme of bicycles to encourage cycling around the city.
A great spot to visit if you’d like to admire some creative street art!
Michelangelo’s Secret Carving, Florence
If you look closely at the right wall of the main entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio, you will see a hidden face carved into the stone. While at a quick glance it may be easy to miss, it is, in fact, the work of historic sculptor Michelangelo.
There are many theories about why the artist carved the face of this man – one idea is that Michelangelo created the image on a dare and even etched it in the stone with his back-turned.
Some, however, speculate that the artist was frequently caught in conversation with an infamous bore and one day carved this man’s profile into the wall simply to pass the time. Another theory is that Michelangelo witnessed an execution in the square and the face is that of the man on death row.
Piazza dei Salimbeni, Siena
Piazza dei Salimbeni, located just a short walk from Piazza del Campo, is not only a beautiful square to visit in Siena, but it is also the headquarters of the world’s oldest bank.
Monte dei Paschi di Siena has been operating since 1472 would you believe!
Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio, Rome
With more than 900 churches in Rome, it’s impossible to pick a favourite with each being more impressive than the next. However, we’re highlighting Santo Stefano Rotondo because it’s simply so different from other churches in the city.
Built in the 5th century and famous for its 16th-century graphic frescoes, the church boasts an unusual circular architecture. Located approximately a 10-15 minute walk from the Colosseum, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Borromini’s Perspective, Rome
Borromini’s Perspective can only be described as remarkably unusual! The gallery has been designed to appear as though it carries on far longer than it really does. While it may look around 37 metres in length, it’s actually only eight metres long!
This impressive effect is created by a rising floor, descending ceiling and lateral columns gradually becoming smaller, and the Roman warrior at the end is a mere 60 centimetres high!
The Bocca della Verità, Rome
The Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth in English) is an image of a face, located in the entrance to the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The sculpture’s origin is unknown however some have speculated it was part of an ancient Roman fountain and that the face may represent the God of the River Tiber.
Other stories say that from the Middle Ages onwards, people thought if you told a lie with your hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off! If you’ve seen the iconic film Roman Holiday, Gregory Peck improvised a scene here with Audrey Hepburn, pretending that his hand had indeed been bitten off!
Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice
This is definitely not your conventional bookstore! While water and books may not ordinarily work well together, in this city that often floods Libreria Acqua Alta has developed a quirky solution.
You’ll discover books stacked in gondolas and bathtubs throughout the shop while discarded novels find an alternative purpose as makeshift furniture and staircases.
Scala Contarini del Bovolo, Venice
If you are familiar with Orson Welle’s classic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, then you may know this palazzo as well, as it featured prominently within the work. Tucked away on a quiet street just a short walk from the bustling St. Mark’s Square, the palace boasts an incredible 15th-century external spiral staircase.
It was in fact built as an ornament to cover the rather plain palace behind it but today you can climb the staircase and look out over the beautiful domes, towers and terracotta roofs of this iconic city.
While we don’t need another excuse to head to this beautiful country (gelato alone is more than a good enough reason), we hope that you’re feeling inspired for un buon viaggio (a good trip).
Don't forget you can still £50 per person* off in our Great Summer Getaways campaign for any European tours departing in August and September! Simply use code GSG19 at checkout or call 0333 2314 2010 and quote code to receive your discount. You may be especially interested in our Grand Tour of Italy!
T&Cs apply. Valid on new bookings until 30-June 2019.