3 Of The Best Italian Cities You've Probably Never Heard Of
Start writing a post

3 Of The Best Italian Cities You've Probably Never Heard Of

Skip the crowds and coliseum: The Puglia region is Italy’s hidden gem.

3 Of The Best Italian Cities You've Probably Never Heard Of
Michelangelo Iaia

Rome, Venice, and Florence are world-renowned as epicenters of Mediterranean culture. Home to breathtaking Roman ruins, thought-provoking museums, and culinary masterpieces; however, they are also easily one of the world’s worst-kept secrets. While many only visit these wondrous cities once in their lives, the crowd-weary traveler can explore equally stunning alternatives in the Puglia region during peak tourist seasons.

There are jaw-dropping cities that we will showcase in this article are: Lecce, Florence (without the crowds), Ostuni, ancient architecture with a Mediterranean backdrop, and Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage ruin which holds an indescribable “undiscovered” feel. So, grab your pen, paper, and passport as we explore the most enchanting cities that Puglia has to offer.

1. Lecce

The vibrant city of Lecce often referred to as, “The Florence of the South”, is an oasis of history, architecture, and artistry. The Roman amphitheater is just one of the many archeological attractions that Lecce has to offer. Built in the 2nd century and rediscovered in 1901 by construction workers, the amphitheater has been beautifully renovated into a modern venue, while still maintaining its Romanesque heritage.

While Florence and other northern Renaissance hubs may display the David, Mona Lisa, and Birth of Venus, Lecce displays a more unique form of artistry, paper-mâché. Contrary to the image in your head, these displays are not your mediocre, primary school, wrap-and-glue-newspaper-around-a-balloon paper-mâché. Rather, it is a legitimate art form that has been masterfully practiced in the city of Lecce for centuries. One tour around the Papier-Mâché Museum and you’ll never give your future kid’s project a second glance.

2. Ostuni

A trip to Puglia would be remiss without visiting Ostuni, otherwise known as the “white town”. The coastal village of Ostuni hosts a variety of stunning views, from the seemingly endless olive orchards to the west, the alluring Adriatic Sea to the east, to even a gothic style cathedral perched on Ostuni’s highest point.

Ostuni shares its likeness to popular Hellenic coastal towns such as Santorini due to the dazzling effect of its whitewashed buildings and painted walls. The foundation of the town is built upon and carved into the sea-weathered pink-tinted stone which, paired with the sapphire Adriatic Sea and pale-white buildings, creates a scene you’ll have to see to believe.

3. Matera

Prior to the 1950s, Matera was a poverty-stricken eye-sore for Italy. The city’s inhabitants did not have access to electricity, running water, or sewage and slept in caves that had been occupied since the paleolithic era. Since the 1950s, evacuations, renovations, a UNESCO title, and a Mel Gibson movie have helped to transform Matera into the flourishing city it is today.

Walking down the winding stone staircases from the modern city into the ancient cave-dwellings known as Sassi, you can’t help but feel yourself being transported to another world. The dramatic weaving of grey-stoned buildings, panoramic hills, ominous cliffs, and the St. Pietro Caveoso Church culminate into a jaw-dropping feeling that can only be outwardly communicated as, wow.

To put it plainly, Santa Marias De Idris, Sassi, and the Matera area as a whole is an almost fictitious area that is a bucket-list item for any worldly traveler. Additionally, due to Matera’s remote location in southern Italy, it has managed to remain relatively unknown and still maintains an allure of mystic and discovery; however, Matera was recently named as the European Capital of Culture for 2019, so hurry over before this hidden gem meets the mainstream.

Whether you're a seasoned traveler, a student planning their study abroad trip, or just a fan of traveling, the Puglia region of Italy truly has it all (not to mention a lower cost of living and less crowds). As I excitedly plan for my own semester abroad to Italy, I can't wait to hit these breathtaking Italian gems and hope I've helped you feel the same!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

23 Pandemic-Approved Date Ideas That'll Send Sparks Flying From Six Feet Apart

There's a safe way to date right now and yes, it includes masks.


While some people would rather opt out of dating altogether during the pandemic so they don't have to wear a mask on a first date, others are choosing to listen to both guidelines and their heart in order to find love during the time of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Should you be one of the individuals welcoming romance right now, there are pandemic-approved dates you can go on that still adhere to guidelines (and yes, you'll have to wear a mask).

Keep Reading... Show less

20 Books About Latin And Hispanic Heritage Absolutely Everyone Should Have On Their Bookshelf

Any ally of the community needs to be reading these incredible reads.


I go through phases when it comes to what I like to read. I am typically reading two books at any given time: one serious nonfiction and one escapist fiction novel to have on hand and open up depending on my mood.

What remains consistent, however, amongst most of my fellow bibliophiles is a desire to try new and different authors and genres. I, as an Indian woman, have been partial to reading books written by fellow Indian and Desi writers since I first got a library card.

Keep Reading... Show less

In our patriarchal society, men hide from their feelings, but toxic masculinity is literally killing men. They swallow the pain and move on so that they can look, feel, and act "tough."

But, strength is derived from asking for help and voicing your struggle and, trust me, working on your mental health is one hell of a struggle. The real way to "man up" is to acknowledge the downfalls in unjust societal norms. Mental health problems do not mean that a man is weak, they are neurologically-based disorders that require professional treatment.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked 46 Women What They Thought About The Term 'Plus-Size', And Here's What They Had To Say

It's 2020, where change is inevitable and norms are not only questioned, but challenged.


We live in a world where it's become customary to push boundaries, break rules, and question standards upheld by society. Though try as we might, some of these standards are harder to conquer than others — body image is one of the top contenders.

For years, the body positivity movement has pushed for the acceptance of all marginalized body types not represented or celebrated in the media. Recently, we've gotten better at appreciating and accepting all body types, but one thing that's still lingering is the stigma of body image in the fashion industry — more specifically, the term "plus-size."

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Sorry, But 'I Don’t Care About Politics' Is Not A Valid Excuse For NOT Voting

The younger generation of voters is so crucial to the upcoming election because our vote is going to shape the world that we are about to enter as adults.


When I ask my friends if they are voting this term most of them respond with "no" followed by an explanation of "I don't care enough," "It doesn't affect me," or "I don't keep up with politics," etc. I get it, as a college student I know that there are many other things to be concerned about like school, relationships, work, and friends. I also understand that keeping up with politics can seem like trying to keep up with an over-exaggerated reality show that has way too many seasons. Not to mention most news stations and websites are biased so it's hard to decipher if what you hear is true or fake.

However, despite all of this annoyance, as the next generation of Americans, we have to remember that we owe it to ourselves, our families, and to our futures to care.

Keep Reading... Show less

Taylor Swift Sang 'betty' At The ACMs And It Was The Perfect First Live 'folklore' Performance

I guarantee that Inez is spreading rumors about how fire this performance was.


The Academy of Country Music Awards were last night and the performances were wonderful, but Taylor Swift's live version of "betty" from her newest album "folklore" really took the cake for me.

Keep Reading... Show less
Photo by Anna Hernández-Buces

"Do you have big parties on Cinco de Mayo?"

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

9 Reasons I Unfollowed All The Fitness Influencers On My Instagram Feed

I don't need to feel bad about myself because of who I follow on social media.


Throughout quarantine, something that a lot of us picked up on was working out. With all the free time, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on that "dream bod" you've been wanting for years, or to just feel good about yourself.

A common way to stay motivated and keep yourself on-task is to follow fitness influencers on various platforms. For some people, yes, this can be a healthy and helpful way to keep your drive. In other cases, however, this can do more harm than good.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Ultimate Guide To Being A Latinx And Hispanic Community Ally

Educate and celebrate their culture to lift the community up.


It's well known that the Gen-Z and millennial generations are more passionate about social justice and conscious about their decisions as consumers as any other generation to come before us.

For these generations, making mindful decisions about where we like to allocate our money, who we choose to follow on Instagram, and even the books we like to read are extremely important to us. With the rise of the digital age, we are constantly consuming media and content, and so there's no longer an excuse for being uneducated if we want to be educated on a wide range of cultures.

Keep Reading... Show less

It was a day we all knew would possibly come but hoped it never would. The day the outbreak hit.

I remember, back in March, I was just about to return home from a socially distanced vacation in my Florida home with my mom and grandpa, when my dad called to tell us he was feeling sick. At the time, President Trump hadn't closed the borders, my school was still going back after Easter, and sheer panic hadn't yet flooded our news outlets. We were meant to return home on Saturday, but when the borders closed on Thursday, things got a little more serious.

Keep Reading... Show less

21 Romance Novels You'll Fall In Love With By The Fire

It's time to cozy up and fantasize about our fav fictional love stories.


Recently, I found myself reading a bunch of romance novels and it's truly unleashing the romantic side of me. With fall weather nearing, it's the perfect time to cozy up with a good book and ignite the romantic flame in your hearts with the turn of every page.

Here are 21 romantic books you should read this fall, some I've read (hence the reviews), and some I'm hoping to get my hands on.

Keep Reading... Show less

There is a lot going on in the world right now, much of which is contributing to the mental health crisis we've found ourselves in. While it would be fantastic to snap our fingers and jump out of our rut, that's not exactly how these things work. Thankfully, small, sustainable steps can make a huge difference in your mental wellbeing.

Keep Reading... Show less

These 10 Oversized Graphic Tees Are JUST As Cute As Urban Outfitters — And They're All Under $30

There is never a bad time to get some new oversized graphic tees, especially when they're all under $30.


While we all love Urban Outfitters' graphic tees, it can be hard to justify a $40 T-shirt, so I am always on the hunt to find cheaper alternatives that are just as stylish! Thrifting is always an option for authentic, vintage tees, but we don't always have the time to search through the endless aisles of Goodwill.

Lucky for you, there are still affordable alternatives that don't require quite as much effort.

Keep Reading... Show less

On Monday, "Dancing with the Stars" returned to our televisions with their 29th season. This season featured a lot of different changes including a new host, a new judge as well as a new judging system.

Among these changes, there were also changes to account for the coronavirus pandemic. Some of these changes included practicing socially distancing as well as different filming practices.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments