5 Off-The-Map Italian Cities Worth Visiting

1. City of Lecce

Lecce is a historic city in southern Italy as well as one of the most important cities in the Apulia region. It is known as “The Florence of the South” or “The Baroque Florence”. Is has antique Messapii origins, represented by important archeological findings which mix with the remains of the Roman era and of the 16th century Italian Baroque buildings giving the city an incredible appearance. The architectural development of the city and especially of the baroque decorative elements on the public buildings during the reign of the Kingdom of Naples during the 16th and the 17th century has given birth to a specific architectural form called the Lecce Baroque.
When visiting Lecce, try to go through the narrow streets of the city center, discover the Roman Amphitheatre, the many churches and cathedrals of the Old city such as the Lecce Duomo, the Church of Santa Croce, the Saint Giovanni Cathedral, the castles of Carl the V, the square of Sant`Oronzo, the Porta Napoli etc.

2. Perugia

The city of Perugia is the capital of the province of Perugia,located about 100 miles north of Roma and about 90 miles south-east of Florence. It is one of the mayor Etruscan cities. The city is home to some of the oldest European universities, such as the 700 years old University of Perugia. It also has a wide offer of cultural activities such as the Eurochocolate festival and the Umbria Jazz festival.
When visiting Perugia see its majestic squares, especially the Piazza IV Novembre (Piazza Grande) on which you can find the Fontana Maggiore, a monumental medieval fountain built in the 13th century, the Palazzo dei Priori (The old Magistrate Palace, nowadays the National Gallery of Umbria) and the Saint Lorenzo Cathedral. Also visit the Temple of Sant`Angelo, an old Templar church and the Walls of Perugia with its numerous ornamented gates who date from both the Etruscan and the Medieval period. You should also visit the numerous churches of the city which are full of renaissance masterpieces. Give a look the National Archeological Museum of Umbria located in the Convent of Saint Domenico. And last but not the least, try the Perugina Baci (The “Kisses), a kind of chocolate filled with hazelnut and wrapped in a love note.

3. City of Urbino

The city of Urbino is located in the Italian region Marche. It is one of the most important centers of the Renaissance culture and architecture in Italy. This picturesque city developed an independent Rennaisance culture and architecture during the 15th and the 16th century which is well preserved and visible. This medieval walled city is worth visiting because of its well preserved medieval alleys, the Palazzo Ducale (The Ducal Palace), the Duomo of Urbino and the Church of Saint Bernard near Urbino. You can even see an ancient Egyptian obelisk brought from the Temple of Isis in one of the many squares of the city. Also, while walking around this beautiful city, remember that one of the greatest Italian Renaissance painters, Raphael was born in this city.

4. Palermo

Palermo is the 3000 years old capital city of the autonomous region of Sicily. Being an ancient city founded by the Persians and called Ziz (Flower) it has a rich history as part of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Arab Emirate of Sicily, The Kingdom of Sicily and eventually The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. It has been capital to the Emirate of Sicily, the Kingdom of Sicily and the Holy Roman Empire. Because of all this, the city has an astonishing variety of architectural and cultural features that make it an unique place.
When in Palermo don`t miss the Palermo Cathedral, The Palace of the Normans and the astonishing Palatine Chapel located inside of it, the Church of Saint John of the Hermit Order, which is a fine example of Arab architectural influence on the Catholic architecture. There are also a big number of churches built in the Normal style, as well as many palaces such as the Chiaramonte Palace and the above mentioned Palace of the Normans. The Teatro Massimo opera house and the Politeama theater are also worth visiting. You can also see the Old walls of Palermo, the Palermo Botanical Gardens and the Capuchin Catacombs.

5. City of Vicenza

Vicenza is a thriving city in the northeastern part of Italy, approximately 120 miles east of Milan and 40 miles west of Venice. It has an ancient city which history dates back to the 3rd century BC. Its main sights include the Palladian Church (Basilica Palladiana) and its Clock Tower (know as Torre Bissara), the Porta Castello Tower and the many other churches located in the city. Of great importance are the Teatro Olimpico, one of only three Renaissance theaters remaining in existence nowadays, as well as the Palladian villas in and around the city, all of which are designed and built by Andrea Palladio, one of the greatest architects worldwide.