lunedì 14 marzo 2011

10 great places to go off the beaten path in Italy

Independent and proud, Italy's 20 regions existed long before a national identity did. As the country nears its 150th anniversary of unification this month, Frances Mayes , best-selling author of Under the Tuscan Sun and the new Every Day in Tuscany, shares with USA TODAY's Monica Hortobagyi  some little-known regional gems.

The final resting place of Giuseppe Garibaldi, the man who led Italy's unification campaign, lies on an island enveloped by turquoise waters, just off the Sardinian coast. Mayes plans to rent a convertible for an upcoming trip. "That whole area is just splendid for exploring," she says.
Tucked away on the northeastern coast, this UNESCO World Heritage Site — once one of the most powerful cities in the Early Roman Empire — stuns the modern traveler with its rich collection of 4th-century mosaics and Roman ruins. "I was surprised that I hadn't heard of it," Mayes says. Drive to nearby Cormòns, nestled among vineyards that produce complex "white wines that are enough to make a convert out of a red-wine drinker," Mayes says.
From humble beginnings as a fishing village, this coastal town now hosts Hollywood A-listers who are drawn to its scenic beauty, romantic allure, fine dining and quality shopping. "You suddenly feel glamorous the minute you step onto that little piazza around the harbor. The sublime thing is having dinner at night with the boats docked," Mayes says. "It just feels like a Mediterranean dream."
An artistic hub in the Renaissance, this UNESCO World Heritage Site earned modern honors as Italy's most livable town in 2005. "You walk down the street there and you feel yourself just kind of straightening up because the architecture is so dignified," Mayes says.
Mayes chose her adopted hometown, not only because of its convenient location for exploring Tuscany, but also for its friendliness. "I think I went to Italy initially for the art, architecture, food and history, but I stayed there because of the people in Cortona," says Mayes. "The piazza is your own living room, if you're a resident."
Ascoli Piceno 
This hilltop town's primary claims to fame are its elegant architecture in travertine marble, and the stuffed and fried olive ascolane. "To have a glass of prosecco and sit on one of the most beautiful piazzas in Italy, eating a bowl of those olives and then going on to dinner — it's really a great evening," Mayes says.
Made famous by a humble man, this "magical place" remains touched by his legacy. "The whole St. Francis mythos around there is pretty powerful and you do feel his presence by going to the churches and seeing frescoes about his life," says Mayes, who savors the way that medieval alleyways allow visitors to connect intimately with the residents. "Just walking through the streets you can smell what they're having for lunch."
The bustling regional capital is off the beaten path for many tourists. "Most people are very afraid of Naples, but it's one of my favorite cities," says Mayes, who delights in street tango dancers, piazza musicians and singing waiters. "You always think that's going to happen in Italy, but there it actually does."
Situated in the heel of Italy's "boot," the "Florence of the South" boasts florid Baroque facades around town. "It's a glory of architecture," Mayes says.
This ancient town, which predates the Greeks' arrival in Sicily, is Mayes' favorite place on the island, not only for its "quaint" charm and "astonishing" church in the historic quarter of Ortigia, but also for its proximity to Catania and hilly surroundings. "The food all over Italy is sublime but it's so flavorful and deep in Sicily," Mayes says.

By Monica Hortobagyi, USA TODAY

2 commenti:

vinc ha detto...

Wonderful places !!!

sergio cusumano ha detto...

Le scelgo tutte.

B. C.