5 Of The Most Beautiful Villages In Italy

Whichever region of Italy you visit, you’re likely to be close enough to one of the 294 small villages spread up and down “the boot” that have been recognized and certified as some of the most beautiful ones in the country.

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5 Of The Most Beautiful Villages In Italy
Pietrapertosa in Basilicata at night
Pietrapertosa in Basilicata at nightLORENZO PALAZZO

Whichever region of Italy you visit, you’re likely to be close enough to one of the 294 small villages spread up and down “the boot” that have been recognized and certified as some of the most beautiful ones in the country.

Founded in 2002, Association of I Borghi più belli d’Italia (the Association of Most Beautiful Villages in Italy) aims to promote the rich historic, artistic and cultural heritage of these tiny villages, locations that tourists might otherwise easily miss.

The Association of Beautiful Villages in Italy organizes many festivities and events throughout the year
The Association of Beautiful Villages in Italy organizes many festivities and events throughout the yearASSOCIATION OF I BORGHI PIÙ BELLI D’ITALIA

Many of the villages (borghi, in Italian) date back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance but have been so lovingly preserved or restored that they offer travelers a rare blend of authenticity coupled with natural beauty enhanced by the patina of age.

Where to find the most beautiful villages

The Association website breaks down the geographic locations of the villages by regions. So whether you create a travel itinerary that takes you through many of these villages; decide to make one or more a destination on your next stay; or simply take a side trip to one from somewhere else, you won’t be disappointed.

Each of these friendly villages has a unique personality, its own foods and wines, and local traditions. Once you wander through them and feel their ambiance, you’ll see why each of these places is so extraordinary.

A sampler of five beautiful villages

Here is a sampler of five of these beautiful villages:

1) Montefalco

Province: Perugia

Region: Umbria

Population: 5,630 (1,600 in the village)

An alleyway in Montefalco in Umbria
An alleyway in Montefalco in UmbriaJEROME LEVINE

Montefalco is a walled city with five gates that remain remarkably intact. Because of its stately and very scenic position atop a hill, it’s often called the “Balcony of Umbria.” Wander through the stone streets and alleys and visit churches filled with artistic treasures, unique fabric shops or taste a dish made with the local olive oil that recently achieved DOP status.

2) Dozza

Province: Bologna

Region: Emilia Romagna

Population: 6,158 (1,055 in the village)

One of the painted walls of Dozza in Emilia Romagna
One of the painted walls of Dozza in Emilia RomagnaJEROME LEVINE

Dozza is a mecca for lovers of street art. Every two years, the village holds a competition drawing local and international artists who literally “paint the town,” both private residences and public buildings. Every vantage point is worthy of a picture. The Sforza Castle of Dozza, built in 1332, is now a museum (complete with a prison and dungeon below) and is also home to the regional wine cellar for Emilia Romagna, offering more than 800 wines from 200 small, local producers.

3) Locorotondo

Province: Bari

Region: Puglia

Population: 14,040 (850 in the village)

Locorotondo in Puglia
A winding street in Locorotondo in PugliaJEROME LEVINE

You can’t get lost inside the white walls of this picturesque village: Built in 1000AD, its historic center is in the shape of a circle. Locorotondo is a stop on the Puglia wine trail that runs through the Itria Valley and is a delightful place to stay for a night or more. You can experience living among the locals at Sotto Le Cummerse, one of the albergo diffuso (scatter-site hotels) found in this area.

4) Montaione

Province: Florence, Commune in the Metropolitan City of Florence

Region: Tuscany

Population: 3,638 (383 in the village)

Sweeping views from Montaione in Tuscany
Sweeping views from Montaione in Tuscany JEROME LEVINE

Montaione feels remote but is located almost equidistant from Siena, Pisa and Florence. In addition to housing a host of wineries, the area offers wellness options as well as activities for nature lovers including swimming, hiking, cycling, horseback riding, hunting and golfing. Castelfalfi is a restored medieval frazione (small subdivision) within Montaione that offers luxury accommodations and dining with sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.

5) San Leo

Province: Rimini

Region: Emilia Romagna

Population: 2,720 (250 in the village)

San Leo in Emilia Romagna
San Leo in Emilia RomagnaASSOCIATION OF I BORGHI PIU BELLI D’ITALIA

San Leo is located about 85 miles southeast of Bologna, the capital of the Emilia Region. An impressive defensive castle perched on a steep hill, said to have inspired Dante’s Divine Comedy, dominates the town. After touring the castle, which is so high it can get shrouded in clouds, walk around the relatively intact old town to visit the Romanesque-style parish church and cathedral as well as the Medici Palace with its Museum of Sacred Art.

*Visit the Association website to explore the full list of Italy’s most beautiful villages.

La Notte Romantica (Romantic Night)

Cetona in Tuscany
Cetona in TuscanyASSOCIATION I BORGHI PIU BELLI D’ITALIA

If you are in Italy on June 22, the Saturday following the summer solstice, the Association sponsors a national event called the “Romanic Night in the Most Beautiful Villages of Italy.’ On that night, all the villages are illuminated by candlelight and offer events to inspire romance and love through theater, music, dance, film, cuisine and more.

Lovere in Lombardy at night
Lovere in Lombardy at nightTARZIA

Every year, a chef creates a special dessert for the Romantic Night. The recipe is shared with all the villages and prepared across Italy on that night.

This year, chef Donato Episcopo (Follina) created this dessert,

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