Here are five Italian destinations worth visiting in summer, that offer an alternative to the typical tourist spots like Rome and Venice.

Bologna, Emilia-Romagna

A foodie’s paradise and home to the world’s oldest university, Bologna is one of Italy’s most underrated cities.

A place especially radiant in summer, it’s the perfect destination to learn about Italian cuisine and its complex rules.

Begin the day with a robust coffee outside one of the cafés set off the city’s main square, Piazza Maggiore.

Work up an appetite with a saunter around Bologna’s stunning historic centre, scouting out a suitable spot for lunch where you can indulge in a glass of wine and the local specialty: tagliatelle al ragù.

If you’d like to explore the city and its culinary delights like a local, you can book in to one of the many food tours on offer.

Lecce, Puglia

Located in the Salento region of Puglia, in the heel of Italy’s boot, Lecce is the perfect place to spend sun-soaked days.

Meander through the narrow streets made of golden sandstone, discover hidden piazzas, enjoy lazy lunches in wine bars and take in the picturesque views of its extravagant baroque structures, such as the Basilica di Santa Croce and Porta Napoli.

Take a stroll through the Villa Comunale di Lecce, the city’s most impressive public garden which is home to an array of plants, fountains and ponds, plus a selection of statues and monuments to various important Italian figures.  

Both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas are within easy access and it’s a great base from which to explore Salento.

San Gimignano, Tuscany

A picturesque walled village situated between Florence and Siena, San Gimignano is famous for its fascinating medieval architecture and its 14 towers that rise above all the other buildings offering an impressive view of the town from the surrounding valley.

Building a tower taller than their neighbours’ became a popular way for prominent families to flaunt their power and wealth. 

There were originally 72 towers in the town!

Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, San Gimignano offers visitors the chance to step back in time while enjoying its local products including saffron and its white wine, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. 

Summer days spent in this relaxing rural setting will be a highlight of your Italian trip.

At night, the empty streets of San Gimignano give you a chance to experience the romantic Tuscan town you’ve been dreaming of.

Taormina, Sicily

The coastal town of Taormina will transport you to a magical world only thought to exist in the movies.

Set against the dramatic backdrop of volcanic Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea, Taormina has long been a tourist destination for the rich and famous.

Admittedly packed with tourists during the warmer months, this town is worth the crowds for its ancient Greek amphitheatre which offers stunning panoramic views.

Wander through the town’s cobbled streets and soak up the atmosphere as you pass buskers and artists on every corner.

Head to Piazza IX Aprile at sunset for an incredible photo opportunity of the coastline below and Mount Etna in the distance.

If you want to escape the crowds, jump across to Isola Bella and explore its exotic flora or soak up the sun on its pebble beach.

Verona, Veneto

Home to Romeo and Juliet, Verona is a bustling city, its heart dominated by a mammoth, remarkably well-preserved 1st-century amphitheatre, the venue for its annual summer opera festival.

Cut through its centre by the river Adige, it’s a romantic city full of winding streets, lively bars, intimate restaurants and bustling piazzas.

Die-hard romantics can visit the house and balcony of Juliet, the house of Romeo, the tomb of Juliet and the Renaissance-era gate through which Romeo left for Mantua.

If you’re staying in the city for more than a day, take a quick drive to Lake Garda, where you’ll find lovely towns and villages dotting the circumference of a truly picturesque natural landscape.