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6 Reasons to Skip Rome and Travel Italy Off the Beaten Path Instead

I totally get it. You’ve dreamt of going to Rome for years. You fantasize about standing in the Colosseum, tossing a coin in the Trevi Fountain, and climbing to the top of St. Peter’s. Without a doubt, Rome is one of the most iconic cities in the world!

But what if I told you that down another road, lies a very different but even more meaningful and exciting opportunity..

A trip where you can meet the local baker by chance in a bar and be invited back the next morning to help him prepare the day’s pastries and pizza.

A trip where you can encounter the guy whose great grandfather built that beautiful church that made your jaw drop.

A trip where you just happen upon the most beautiful, real-life secret garden…and the owner catches you peeking and invites you inside to see her own personal museum of Etruscan artifacts before inviting you to stay for dinner.

These too-good-to-be-true movie moments I’m describing are things that have actually happened to me or someone I know, and if you’ll listen, I’ll tell you the secret!

…All you have to do is NOT go to Venice. Do NOT go to Florence. And by all means, do NOT go to Rome!

Are you baffled? Appalled? ..Flabbergasted?! I know, I know.. stay with me here.

While Rome and other tourist destinations are famous for good reason, they’ve also been developed FOR tourists. You can’t expect to find the Italian experience, you can expect the tourist experience.

Small towns off the beaten path in Italy retain their original, authentic character and hold hidden gems that you or your friends have never even heard of.

Sure, seeing the Colosseum is a special moment (shared with thousands of others). But imagine stumbling upon ruins of an abandoned abbey in the forest that you didn’t expect. No other tourists around, just you and the sacred energy of this majestic place as you wander the grounds discovering mysterious symbols, beautiful corners, and a stray cow or two taking a nap.

The challenge is that these hidden gems can be more complicated to get to. Trust me, sometimes it’s a plane + taxi + train + bus + shuttle to get there. But the way I look at it, the further I go off the beaten path in Italy, the more meaningful and memorable the experience is going to be!

If you’re still not convinced that you should ditch Rome and travel off the beaten path on your next trip to Italy, take a look at my top 6 favorite perks of choosing a lesser-known destination over the world-famous:

My Top 6 Reasons to Travel Off the Beaten Path in Italy

1. You’ll experience a deeper sense of adventure.

couple standing in front of a panoramic view of mountains in Abruzzo, Italy

If you go to one of Italy’s famous cities, you already know the sights you’re going to see and the things you’ll do because anyone who’s ever been there has done the exact same thing.

On the other hand, if you travel Italy off the beaten path, the entire trip will be a beautiful process of discovery. You’ll stumble upon things you didn’t expect, taste things you’ve never heard of, and awake each morning with excitement for what new things the day has in store!

2. You’ll have more meaningful exchanges with locals.

a long road in Sicily with sheep in the background and a man with a blue cap talking to a shepherd wearing overalls, a green hat, and using a cane

Even if you’re just stopping by, you’re much more likely to make friends with locals in a quaint village than in a big city. Time moves more slowly, so people are accustomed to stopping for a chat. In my experience, a chat in a big city is just that and nothing more. But a chat in one of Italy’s off the beaten path villages can lead to insider tips on the wineries you can’t miss, intro