(CNN) — Travelers tend to head to the big name destinations like Venice, Florence, Rome, and even Naples when visiting Italy.
But there are many equally, if not more, beautiful villages in the European country that are largely unknown, even among some Italians.
In fact, Italy is dotted with over 5,000 gorgeous, under-the-radar villages with great food, pristine scenery and few residents.
Here are eight gorgeous Italian villages you’ve likely never heard of before.
Castel di Tora
Lakeside town Castel di Tora is located in the Italian region of Latium.
One of the best kept secrets of Latium, Italy’s central region, Castel di Tora is a great place to head to for a day trip while in Rome. The country road leading to the town cuts through deep woods, so visitors may spot some roaming cows and sheep en route.
The town itself is set on a bushy hilltop overlooking the artificial Lake Turano, built by Italy’s wartime fascist leader Benito Mussolini, where locals can be found lounging on stone benches while topping up their suntans or taking a dip in the sparkling turquoise water.
A metal bridge connects the main road to the old district, which consists of various elegantly restyled stone dwellings with panoramic balconies suspended above the lake.
The town’s tiny piazza is an ideal spot for lunch and/or a quick espresso. Fresh fish is served at the lakeside taverns, which feature open panoramic verandas.
Fishing for two-meter long carp, which must then be released, and going for a refreshing swim or taking a relaxing boat trip along the lake shores, are among the many activities to enjoy here.
It’s a bit of a challenge to reach, and there’s a chance you’ll get lost in country roads or end up at a Buddhist retreat on the way, but this incredibly well-kept medieval village is well worth a visit.
Set deep in Italian region Latium and near the city of Rieti, Frasso Sabino is something of a throwback to simpler times.
Forget bustling bars and restaurants, Sfilata Frasso — Moda e Riciclo, an eco fashion show featuring dresses made from recycled items such as plastic bottles and empty coffee capsules, is probably the only significant event on the town’s social occasion.
The remains of Castello Sforza Cesarini, which dates back to the 11th century, tower over Frasso Sabino.
To get up close to the fortress, visitors must take an uphill walk across the wide stone steps of its open-air defensive walls.
Medieval village Campiglia Marittima is situated close to the beaches of the Etruscan Coast.
Borghi piu belli d’italia
Situated in Tuscany, this hilltop village overlooks the beautiful beaches of the popular Etruscan coast.
Fishermen found refuge here in the past. And today, day trippers head to Campiglia Marittima in search of tranquility, nature — and great wine. On clear days, the views from the community, based around 90 kilometers southwest of Florence, stretch to the Tuscan archipelago and Corsica.
The ruins of walled outlook fortress Rocco overlooks this medieval town, surrounded by greenery, while its ancient district is a maze of narrow cobbled alleys and passageways.
Perched high up on the Alps in the region of Trento, Luserna is an incredibly unique place. The tiny village is home to around 200 villagers who speak an ancient and unusual dialect of Bavarian origin called Cimbro (or Cimbrian,) which was brought over by medieval settlers.
The road and location signs here are displayed in various languages, the locals are very proud of their roots, so you might be left wondering if you’ve wandered into another country while navigating the many forests in the area.
Luserna also has wonderful skiing pistes, and visitors can also enjoy winter activities such as sled dog rides and snowshoe hikes.
The Bear Trail (yes, you might bump into one) holds miles of trekking routes, which lead to a wonderfully scenic spot overlooking snow-capped peaks.
The Italian town of Bobbio features an ancient bridge with an unusual structure.
This village in Emilia Romagna looks like it could be filming location for the TV series “Game of Thrones.”
On entering, visitors are greeted by the imposing sight of Ponte Gobbo, an ancient stone bridge that crosses the chilly Trebbia river to connect Bobbio to the main road.
The irregular structure, also known as “Devil’s Bridge” or “Hunchback Bridge,” measures 280 meters (around 920 feet) and features 11 unequal arcades.
Founded by the Celtics during their invasion of Italy, Bobbio is made up of pretty walkways that lead to a labyrinth of winding alleys lined with aristocratic palazzos.
St. Columbanus, an Irish monk, contributed to Bobbio’s grandeur by establishing monastery Bobbio Abbey, one of the town’s most notable landmarks.
There’s also the Bobbio Cathedral, a quaint cathedral with precious ancient manuscripts, along with other treasures. As for town activities, Bobbio often holds small fairs showcasing delicacies such as snails, grapes and truffles.
Its name might stem from an ancient word that roughly translates to “burial spot” in local dialect, but Petritoli is actually a coveted wedding destination nowadays.
Couples have been flocking to this remote corner of the Italian region of Marche in recent years to exchange vows amidst the pristine pastures and clean air of this small village.
Overlooking green hills dotted with olive groves, vineyards and mulberry trees, Petritoli provides stand out views of the Adriatic coast.
As for local specialties, handmade moccolotti (more commonly known as rigatoni) with a dense meat sauce and pecorino sheep cheese, is among the standouts.
Located near Syracuse, Sicily, Buccheri offers a peaceful respite from the crowds, while still being near to cozy beaches and incredible sights.
The rural village is home to the ruins of a majestic castle, but the most picturesque sites to visit here are arguably the ancient snow caves, or “niviere,” which are natural fridges built to preserve ice and snow, as well as the town’s tiny chapels and dammuso-style cottages.
Back in the Middle Ages, special snow collectors known as “nivaroli” collected ice from the mountains in order to make ice cream and delicious slushies called granita.
While it’s made by much simpler means nowadays, granita is still hugely popular in the village. Other local favorites include pasta dishes with saffron and local truffles.
Picturesque Civita Castellana is based in the Lazio region of central Italy.
Perched on a brownish-red tuff promontory near the Umbrian border, Civita is a place where time stands still.
The town’s long and winding main road leads to the ancient district, overlooking clefts and caves, built by an ancient Italian tribe called Falisci, which are thought to have once been used as bandit lairs.
Its nearby rivers feature porous rock with deep chasms and clefts, where the burial sites of ancient pre-Italic tribes were once located.
The main highlights here include the town’s mosaic-covered duomo, Cathedral of Civita Castellana, as well as its majestic ancient fortress.
There’s also the various artisan ceramic boutiques, as well as the fresh ricotta and premium ham, which visitors can buy directly from farmers.
Correction: A previous version of this story contained a photo incorrectly labeled as Civita Castellana. The image has been replaced with one showing the correct town.
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