Why Travel to Small Villages in Italy?

Savoca, Sicily Photo by Margie Miklas

I discovered the magic of traveling to  small villages in Italy. This off-the-beaten path type of travel allowed me to have a real feel for the people and to experience the local flavor of an area. With no crowds, I was able to see how the people live, listen to the stories they shared, and have incredible photo opportunities.

photo by Margie Miklas

While visiting the small Italian village of Colle d’Anchise, a small town of 900 in the hills of Molise, I felt like I was stepping back in time.

Italy Molise Photo by Margie Miklas

A woman was carrying greens wrapped in a scarf on her head, a man was sweeping his doorstep with a hand­made broom, and a woman was outside cleaning fava beans, freshly picked from her garden.

For me this travel experience had no price tag, as I was able to see first­hand how real people live today in a place without all the modern conveniences.

Italy. Photo by Margie Miklas

In the nearby smaller village of Longano, the people shared stories of their lives, mostly in Italian and sometimes a little English. In fact I was surprised to learn that some of them actually knew any English. They were especially determined to tell me about any relatives in America, or about any of their own travels to other countries.

To outsiders, life may seem harder, despite being simple, yet the people I met seemed happy, and nobody was complaining or acting rude. Within minutes of arriving in the piazza in Longano, I could see that all the local residents who were outside, knew immediately that I was from someplace else.

They were very curious, asking questions about where I was from, and were eager to continue a conversation. I learned a lot from the local people regarding the simplicity of life and its relationship to happiness.

Italy. Photo by Margie Miklas
The value of these interactions was priceless and I wished I could stay longer. The more we talked the more they seemed to want me to stay. One man invited me and my family to return and stay for a month, promising a home­ cooked meal of pigeon.

Visiting a small non­ touristy village guarantees no crowds, the photo opportunities are endless. Around every corner there was another scene more interesting than the last.

Photo by MArgie Miklas

The men sitting on the church steps were pleased when I asked to photograph them. When I asked an older woman for permission to photograph her, she seemed surprised and asked “perche,” why, then smiled and allowed me to capture the magic of the moment.

Photo by Margie Miklas

A visit to a little-known place is full of surprises and never disappointing. The memories of the experiences with the people I met will remain with me for a lifetime.

Photo by Margie Miklas Italy

What are your experiences with visiting small villages in Italy? I’d like to hear your stories so please leave a  comment.

Grazie and Ciao

If you like this post you may be interested to read more about the many small towns and villages I visited during my 3-month solo travel adventure in Italy. Memoirs of a Solo Traveler – My Love Affair with Italy is available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle editions, and also Amazon.UK.

Memoirs of a Solo Traveler - My Love Affair with Italy




36 Responses

  1. Jen Martin

    They’re definitely some of my favorites! You get a true sense of the people and day to say living of the locals.

  2. fkasara

    Thank you for writing about Italian small villages and attractions which are off the beaten path, especially because I was born in one of those small villages 🙂

    I have to say that I do agree on a lot of things that Leslie Salvati wrote in a comment above (the young people escaping, the older generations that are richer than the younger etc.), but at the same time I feel like it only considers the worst aspects. Yes, people in these environments are close minded, but at the same time they are helping and generous; they might be nosy and superstitious, but they’ll never ignore someone who is in need of something. There’s a sense of community you’ll rarely find in big cities. Having said that, yes, I do agree that Italians are suffering and the younger generations have basically no future, but this does not mean everything you see as a tourist is a fraud.

    Congrats on your blog! Ciao,

      • fkasara

        Thank you, I’m glad someone agrees 🙂 I get the point of Leslie, and I’m very often frustrated with Italy myself, but we should consider all the aspects, not only the bad ones.

        • karenincalabria

          Yes, you’re absolutely right. So much is written about Italy, but particularly when writing in English, it is very difficult – there’s a very fine line between saying what you actually see, interpreting, misinterpreting and even offending. Personally, I try to take in the whole experience, the good, and as I often say, the not so good, and clearly we continue to return, so that side of the scale seems to still be winning.

  3. Anne Pflug

    It was great reading your blog, Margie. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit small villages on my own, except for Malta, as I am not as courageous as you in traveling by myself and I do not speak Italian, your advantage! As you can see, I’m slowly dipping my foot in the waters of responding – you’re my first response.
    Thanks so much for your unending patience in helping me with this.

  4. stellalucentellc

    Great post, Marge! Once again, you’ve captured the spirit of Italy in photos and words. I have truly enjoyed your book, “My Love Affair with Siciily.”

  5. apollard

    Hi Lesley, (Margie, I hope you don’t mind my replying on your post), I have been thinking about your comments a lot since I read them. Thankyou for laying out the cold truth. I am not ignorant to everything you mentioned nor are other countries immune to some of the issues you raise. But what you say is very important. May I ask if you blog about some of this and how I can find your site. Brava!

    • margieinitaly

      No I don’t mind at all…and agree with you…I am aware too of the many difficulties in Italy. I too would like to read a blog from the perspective of a local.

  6. margieinitaly

    Thank you Leslie for your perspective as someone who lives in Italy. I appreciate your taking time to read my blog and leave this comment. I do understand that Italy has its problems and certainly is not a utopia. I know that life in Italy is much different for someone who lives there 365 days a year than for a visitor like myself. I have also written about some of the aspects of Italian life that are molto difficile. Please have a look at a post from October, http://margieinitaly.com/2015/10/04/update-on-italian-salaries/.
    I do try though to focus on the positive side of Italy, which sometimes gets obscured for those who live there. Grazie

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Margie. I appreciate your optimism! And let’s hope with time and political change we will see some improvement. I do believe though for a vacation Italy is wonderful. To live , work and enter into the tax system however, is challenging, discouraging and often impossible. I truly feel sorry for the young people here as their future isn’t so rosy.

  7. apollard

    Did you travel more through Molise? I’m very interested to spend some time here having read about the bell foundry, knife forging and bagpipe heritage. It’s a region that is not often in blogs or travel writing…keen to hear more!

  8. Gracefully Global

    Agreed! I was just talking about this with my Italian roommate in Bologna today. I tell him my travel stories and he sometimes doesn’t believe me that I’ve traveled to these small towns. But I always have to beat experience when I go to small, lesser known towns. 🙂

  9. TravelsWithRae

    Loved this post Margie! I can’t wait for the day when one of my trips to Italy takes me to a small village and I get to experience this. I pray I won’t be too timid to interact with people.

  10. Tony

    Great post, thanks for sharing. I couldn’t agree more. I enjoyed hitting the big cities very much, but one of the highlights of my trip was spending three days in an agriturismo near the Tuscany/Umbria border and exploring the towns of Umbria. I am really excited to do more of this on my next trip when the plan is southern Italy and Sicily.

    • margieinitaly

      Tony, than you…your next trip sounds great! Glad you will be exploring southern Italy. I have oved staying in agriturismos as well…

  11. Andrew Petcher

    When I travel to Italy it is to visit the big cities of course but I have taken to staying in nearby towns and villages and travelling in and out by public transport rather than staying there.

      • Andrew Petcher

        The flip side is that you don’t get to enjoy the evening. Last time I visited Venice and stayed outside and I missed the atmosphere of the city once all the day trippers had left.

  12. Made in Rome

    There’s lots of great small villages in Umbria, most in stone walls on 400 foot hills. I lived in one, Todi, for a summer. It is so great when you start to get to know everyone: the grocer, the bartenders, the girl who scoops gelato…. Nothing like life in a small Italian town. Great post!

    • margieinitaly

      Now I am jealous! A whole summer in a small town in Umbria…How wonderful! Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your view

  13. karenincalabria

    Lovely post. You’ve captured the essence of visiting a village in Italy. I’ve felt the same way when traveling to smaller and more remote locations where time seems to pass more slowly and the people are often happy to interact with a foreigner. While the larger towns and cities have greater cultural offerings in terms of museums, shops, etc., the smaller, intimate places give you a feel for the people, and as you say, a time gone by. I found this often to be the case in Calabria where I lived for several years. Even the bigger towns and cities there are more relaxed in comparison to the hustle and bustle you find in the larger, more visited Italian cities.

    • margieinitaly

      How fortunate to have lived in Calabria for several years, Karen.. I am going to check out your blog as I have not spent any time in Calabria. Thank you so much or your comments…I must admit I am particularly fond of the small towns where I can really get a feel for the people and their way of life.

I'm always interested in your thoughts, so please leave a comment.