13 min read | 10/08/2023
Escaping the crowds in Italy with SPL Villas
Rome's Colosseum, Florence's Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore, the Venetian Canals and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy isn't short on world-famous destinations, which might explain why it's one of the most visited countries in the world. Aside from historical destinations and impressive architecture, Italy also boasts good weather, landscapes just waiting to be explored and food that will stay with you for a lifetime.
The best part about Italy is that you don't need to wade through crowds to experience the best the country has to offer. While there's a time and a place to visit the capital and other bustling cities, if you're looking for an Italian villa holiday off the beaten track, our guide to Italy's hidden gems features everything you need to enjoy a quieter but no less exciting holiday.
On the heel of Italy's boot, Locorotondo is a small town in Puglia that lies in the middle of a stretch of green expanse, known as Valle d'Itria. Surrounded by a landscape decorated with iconic Trulli's and their whitewashed walls and conical roofs, alongside olive groves as far as the eye can see, Locrotondo is a true hidden gem.
It has no grand fountains, Roman amphitheatres or basilicas, but if you're looking for a quiet moment away, this distinct lack of tourist traps is what makes Locorotondo so appealing. Ideal for exploring and enjoying a slower pace, you can wander the small streets, enjoy the warm southern Italian sun and eat as the locals do, heartily.
Perched on a hill, the views from atop Locorotondo offer some of the best chances to witness the Puglian landscape in all its beauty. You can find the best spot by climbing to the top of the town up the small spiralling street that leads to stunning panoramic views. When you're not admiring the scenery, you can try the local white wine. Fresh from the nearby vineyards, the town has a regional reputation for making some of the finest white wine around.
We have villas spread throughout the region, and with most of our Italian villas coming with a private pool, the relaxation doesn't have to end once you leave Locorotondo.
Cala Murtas, Sardinia
Situated off the west coast of Italy, floating above Tunisia, the island of Sardinia is a treasure trove of hidden gems. With Sardinia's reputation for coastal resorts, finding a quiet moment on the sand can be trickier. If you step off the beaten track and explore the expanse of coastline, you can find a remote stretch of beach on Cala Murtas that feels like a paradise away from the crowds.
Stretching out along the coast, Calan Murtas is easy to reach from both the capital and our villas in Torre Delle Stelle; this sandy beach sees the light blue of the sea stretch out till it meets the azure sky on the horizon. While you can enjoy your villa's private pool, nothing quite beats swimming in the calm waters of the Mediterranean.
If you're travelling south through the island from one of our villas, in Baia Sardinia or Porto Cervo, Cala Murtas can be a stop off along the way where you can soak the last of the Sardinian sun before your journey home.
With villas in Modica, it's no secret that we're fans of this mystical town. Situated in a gorge on Sicily's southern edge, this town looks as though it's stepped straight out of the 18th century, and that's because it essentially has. Poorly damaged in an earthquake in 1693, the majority of the town was rebuilt in a distinctive Sicilian Baroque style, creating buildings decorated with lavish designs, dramatic lighting and playful techniques that result in an astounding view no matter where you stand.
While this gem isn't particularly hidden, it's an excellent example of the rich and varied past that continues to attract millions of crowds, only in Modica you won’t find the millions that you might expect to see walking the streets of Venice.
While the buildings themselves may be a feast for the eyes, when you start to feel peckish, it's what happens inside these buildings that will catch your attention. As one of the first European destinations to get their hands on raw cocoa shipped from the Americas, Modica fast became an authority on Sicilian chocolate. Today you can still find their speciality of granulous chocolate mixed and made the same way it's been done for the past 400 years.
When you find the smell of cocoa wafting towards you as you explore the streets of Modica, you'll know you've made the right decision.
Val D'Orcia, Tuscany
As one of Tuscany's six UNESCO sites, this rural stretch in the country's middle is almost as iconic as some inner-city locations. The imagery from this valley of rolling hills and lush green fields has been the subject of everything from renaissance paintings to film sets. Despite being a cultural phenomenon, the make-up of Val D'Orcia is of small towns and villages interspersed with rural farmsteads and olive groves.
Whether you're coming from your holiday villa in Arezzo or Grosseto, you can explore this region for a long time before encountering anywhere resembling a major town. That said, a car is the best way to navigate Val D'Orcia, but you'll want to drive slowly so as not to miss the sights and take it all in.
The food alone is enough of a reason to visit Val D'Orcia. Stopping in villages to enjoy the local delicacies and the traditional recipes that have been exported across the globe, trying them for yourself in Tuscany is a must-do.
As a country that rewards exploration and has something in store around every corner, be sure to make time to wander off the path and make some discoveries of your own! Speak with us today to arrange a holiday that's perfect for you.