#FindYourEscape: Northern Italy wrapped-up in these 10 niche gems

2018-05-07 22:44 - Saara Mowlana
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Visit one of these 10 niche towns in Northern Italy. (Photo: iStock)

If you find yourself traipsing around the pebble clad streets of northern Italy, lost and confused, check out one of these 10 niche spots. They are off the well-beaten track of tourist hot spots. 

If you're tired of the same old suggestions of Milan or Venice or have been there, done that and need a change of pace, be sure to swing by one of these small towns.

From the quaint town of Ferrara to the snow clad haven of Livigno, these small towns are sure to take you on a whirlwind tour of what northern Italy has to offer.

READ: A different way to experience Italy: The Way of St Francis

Ferrara

This little town is nestled in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy and holds the title as the capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It boasts a humble population of around over 133 000 people and holds great links to its more popular sibling cities of Bologna, Venice and Ravenna. 

You can get lost and transported to different time periods and places at one of the many spots to check out around Ferrara. You can even hitch a short day trip to Bologna or enjoy a boat ride on the man-made canal that links the town up with the River Po. 

Ferrara is also home to these iconic sites:

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Colourful umbrellas floating above a street in Ferrara, Italy. (Photo: iStock)

Modena

Modena too is situated in the Emilia-Romagna region and is known for its following characteristic attributes and features: balsamic vinegar, opera heritage and its Ferrari and Lamborghini sports cars

Decorated with charming architecture and a plethora of golden spots to see, which have earned it the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Modena is one small town you won't want to flake out on. 

Places to check out in Modena:

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Aerial view of Modena, Italy. (Photo: iStock)

Aquileia

This haven is located in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region or northern Italy and was originally crafted to be a trading hub for military and other goods. It now houses about 3 000 people and serves as a niche spot for historically-minded enthusiasts. 

What to see:

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Inside the Basilica in Aquileia. (Photo: iStock)

CHECK OUT THIS Quick Guide: The Mamma Mia of your Italy trip planning sorted!

Camogli

Camogli, situated in the north-west Italian region of Liguria, between Genoa and Portofino, is a fisherman's haven rather than a beach-style resort.

While there is not much in the realm of activities to do in Camogli - other than fishing, perhaps - it offers a perfect quiet escape and break space in its scenic atmosphere. It also serves as a potential muse for artists, writers and photographers alike with its storybook town energy and layout.

Find yourself lost in its coastal beauty and pretty architecturally-lined streets when visiting this niche and zen town.

camogli travel northern italy
Camogli, Italy. (Photo: iStock)

Livigno

Situated in the Lombardy region, Livigno is the perfect winter wonderland escape for snow, ski and greycation enthusiasts! Enjoy a wide range of activities in the snow prone region that's set against a backdrop of the breathtaking Swiss Alps mountains. 

Whether you wish to ski, hike, walk, bike, play a round of golf or simply lounge in hot tubs with a steaming cup of hot chocolate - there is something for everyone at this Elsa-worthy destination. 

See their website for the plethora of available activities!

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Alpine Ski Resort and Ski Slopes in Winter, Livigno. (Photo: iStock)

SEE: The long and short of the biggest mistake most travellers make when visiting Italy

Mantova

Also in the Lombardy region, Mantova offers visitors a spot birthed from architectural dreams. It is surrounded on three sides by artificial lakes formed by the water of river Mincio descending from the Lake of Garda: Lago Superiore, di Mezzo and Inferiore.

The fourth lake created in the Middle Ages for the defense of the city, Lake Paiolo, was dried at the end of the 18th century. Mantova also played a part of William Shakespeare's iconic romantic tragedy: Romeo and Juliet.

What's popping over in Mantova:

See more Mantova sites to check out here.

mantova travel northern italy
Mantova Twilight. (Photo: iStock)

Alba

Situated in the Piedmont region, Alba is labelled as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and with its breathtaking scenery it's no wonder why. It is considered the capital of the well-known hilly area of Langhe - Italy's popular wine region.

Alba is famous for its white truffle, peach and wine production and the iconic Ferrero brand - famous for its chocolate and nutella spread - is based there. 

What to see in Alba:

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Vineyards and hills of Langhe region. (Photo: iStock)

ALSO READ: Getting around Italy: Everything you need to know about travelling by train

Castelrotto

This predominantly German-speaking town is also known as Kastelruth and is located in South Tyrol. It delivers insta-ready aesthetics across all four seasons and features a range of activities. 

From vibrant, colourful flowers in the spring to powder-white mountain tops in the winter - Castelrotto is perfect for a healthy dose of mountain air near the Dolomites, and for traditional specialties like creamy, fresh yogurt and apple strudel.

See what you can get up to in Castelrotto here.

castelrotto travel northern italy
Castelrotto, Italy. (Photo: iStock)

Courmayeur

This modern, Alpine city is renowned the world over and is one of the most frequented mountain resorts in Italy. It is set in a big valley, at 1 224 metres above sea level, at the foot of the gigantic massif that is Mount Blanc. Around it sits lush fir and larch trees as well as the mountains and the glaciers that make it unique.

Courmayeur has been dubbed by many as the capital of 'mountaineering and mountain touring' since the 1800's - even if in those days its spa baths were much more important and widely frequented, offering mineral water treatments.

Things to do:

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Ferret Valley that lies on the border between Italy and Switzerland. (Photo: iStock)

ALSO CHECK OUT THESE 8 Worthwhile inclusions for your Southern Italy itinerary

Bassano del Grappa

This medium-sized town - with a population of about just over 40 000 people is located in the Veneto region of northern Italy, in the province of Vicenza (aka Provincia di Vicenza).

The town is best known for its covered bridge over the Brenta, the strong grappa liqueur produced in the area, the military history of Monte Grappa and locally-produced ceramics.

What to see:

See more Bassano del Grappa sites to check out here.

bassano del grappa travel northern italy
The Ponte delgi Alpini in Bassano del Grappa. (Photo: iStock)