Grande Canal in Milan, Italy, in the evening

Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations in Italy

Grande Canal in Milan, Italy, in the evening

Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations in Italy

Italy is famous for its beauty, food and history. If you travel there for business, be sure to visit these off-the-beaten-path destinations.

If you’re lucky enough to travel to Italy for business, you may have a chance to explore the artistic and historic treasures found in some of the country’s most famous cities. To get an even better feel for the region, make time for a few day trips to stunning locales just outside the large cities. Add a few of these places to your itinerary when visiting Milan, Florence, Rome, or Naples.

Milan

The fifth largest city in the European Union, Milan is known for fashion, design, football, and opera. It’s also the capital of the Lombardy region of Italy.

If you’re looking for adventure as an avid hiker or biker, take a two-hour drive from Milan to Valle d’Aosta in the Western Alps, where you can enjoy stunning vistas, lakes, and glacially sculpted peaks along the iconic Mont Blanc, Matterhorn, and Gran Paradiso trails. For a genuine off-the-beaten-path experience, join a Sierra Club hiking day trip along the relatively unknown Maritime and Cottian Alps.

Grande Canal in Milan, Italy, in the evening
Source: Adobe Stock

If you want to experience the Alps with a little less exertion, take a short road trip to Bergamo Lombardy, just 26 miles outside Milan. Located at the foot of the Alps, it’s a great place to take a walk while enjoying gelato and beautiful scenery. The storybook walled city has pretty winding streets that are filled with old world Italian architecture.

Love the water? Explore Lake Maggiore, one of “The Italian Lakes” located in Italy’s beautiful Lake District about 1.5 hours from the lakeside town of Stresa and near Milan’s Malpensa airport. Impressive snow-capped mountains surround the lake, and the architecturally stunning town of Stresa offers more beautiful scenery in addition to great shopping. On the lake, take a two-hour cruise to visit the Borromean Islands: Isola dei Pescatori, Isola Bella, and Isola Madre.

If you want to take your sightseeing “abroad,” venture over to Switzerland. It’s just an hour away from Milan.

Florence

The capital of the Tuscany region, Florence is known for its famous former residents, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante, and Galileo. Today, business with designers like Gucci or Ferragamo or icons in the information technology industry may lead to a visit. The city offers many sights, but nearby towns are equally deserving of attention.

The Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore in the skyline of Florence, Italy, with a bright blue sky and green tree leaves in the foreground
Source: Adobe Stock

Take a 90-minute drive south to the medieval town of Perugia, sister city of Seattle, Washington, and capital of Italy’s Umbria region, to see Palazzo dei Priori. Situated among irregularly arranged cobblestone alleys, arched stairways, and piazzas (squares) that ensconce palazzi (mansions), the well-preserved Gothic palace features impressive architecture from the 13th and 14th centuries. It houses the recently renovated and reopened Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, a collection of 3,000 pieces of some of central Italy’s finest art.

Close by is Assisi, a stunning medieval town that is the site of Rocca Maggiore, a 14th century hilltop castle that overlooks Perugia, Assisi, and the surrounding valleys. It’s also the location of the Basilica of St. Francis.

Rome

Italy’s capital is in the Lazio region of the country. The birthplace of Caesar and the Roman Catholic Church, the city is home to numerous multinational corporations and non-government organizations. If you’re traveling to Rome on business, try to put aside some time for unique experiences on the outskirts.

You don’t want to miss Orvieto Underground in Orvieto. About 90 minutes north of Rome, this spot is a subterranean city dug to protect the city from invaders. Once a fully functioning metropolis with 1,200 structures that allowed nobles to escape to the tunnels below their homes, it’s now a place of scholarly study and tourism.

Orvieto is also the site of Duomo of Orvieto. The renowned early 13th-century Gothic cathedral’s facade is divided into four pillars covered with colorful mosaics, stained glass, and sculptures. The interior is as stunning as the exterior, with two chapels with nearly translucent alabaster windows.

Closer to Rome is Frascati, a town dominated by magnificent villas and located about 19 miles outside the city. Visit its vineyard for a 3.5-hour wine tasting tour. It includes a trip to wine cellars filled with aging wines in oak barrels and ends at the famed Principe Pallavicini estate, where you sample three wines served by the estate’s sommelier.

Naples

Whether you’re meeting with executives at Alfa Romeo or teaching at Apple Academy, expect to be awed by the beauty of this ocean side city in the Campania region. Two hours south of Rome, Naples is the third largest city in Italy. For the most unique experiences when visiting, travel to these special places outside the city.

Take a scenic, 90-minute drive south to the charming seaside town of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. The gravity-defying town is built nearly entirely on the Monti Lattari mountainside overlooking the Mediterranean. Its steep narrow streets are lined with shops and cafes.

Colorful houses built into a stunning cliffside on the Amalfi Coast of Italy
Source: Adobe Stock

Torre dello Ziro boasts beautiful beaches and features a watchtower that was used to fend off pirate raids. Take a boat trip to one of the nearby islands, or visit Santa Maria Assunta church to gaze at the dome covered by hundreds of majolica tiles. Get some exercise on the Il Sentiero degli Dei hiking trails, and enjoy views of breathtaking mountain peaks and the sparkling Mediterranean.

If you prefer a less crowded locale or a shorter trip from your hotel, visit the Herculaneum Ruins and the Villa of Oplontis. Located about 15 miles outside the city, the ruins create a well-preserved archaeological site near Pompeii. The nearby Villa of Oplontis, located just outside Pompeii, was once a grand Roman residence.

When business takes you to a country as rich in history and culture as Italy, make sure you take some time to enjoy a few of the lesser known areas. Share photos of your travels with us on Instagram.

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