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Beautiful Taormina panoramic view from up (Stairs to Taormina), Sicily, Italy

The top 10 most popular and beautiful small towns in Italy

By LLM Reporters on 10th September 2021

The desire to travel is stronger than ever and fully vaccinated Brits have just received the green light to travel to Italy without quarantine regulations upon arrival. Italy is one of those countries that is on everyone’s bucket list; Rome, Venice, Milan, they’re all places that we’d like to visit at least once in our lives, but Italy is full of charming small towns that are just as beautiful and worth visiting. If you decide to cross Italy off your bucket list, why not add one of these popular travel destinations, among the Italians themselves, into your itinerary? 

Holidu, the search engine for holiday rentals, decided to carry out a study to find out which small towns in Italy that the Italians have searched for most in the last year. Starting from a list of 7,000 Italian towns with less than 20,000 inhabitants, Holidu extracted data on the average number of Google searches in Italian during the past 12 months for these cities with the terms ‘what to see’ and ‘what to do’ in order to determine the final ranking. This list is full of hidden gems: small Italian towns that aren’t well-known travel destinations except by Italians themselves.

These bucket list-worthy towns were found using the Google search volume, and the data highlighted that: 

  • The top three towns are all located in and around the Gulf of Naples. 
  • The south of Italy dominates the list with seven of the top 10 spots.
  • Coastal towns reign supreme: seven out of the 10 towns are located near the coast.

Top 10 most searched for small towns in Italy

1. Sorrento – Campania | 3,280 searches per month

Landscape with Sorrento town, amalfi coast, Italy
Sorrento takes first place in this ranking of most searched for Italian towns of last year, with more than 3,000 searches per month. Image credit: Damiano Baschiera via Unsplash

Sorrento takes first place in this ranking of most searched for Italian towns of last year, with more than 3,000 searches per month. This tiny town overlooking the Gulf of Naples offers its visitors magnificent views of the Mediterranean and the imposing Vesuvius volcano. Thanks to the fertile volcanic land, Sorrento is well known for its fragrant lemons, and the limoncello made from the local harvest. From Sorrento, you can easily explore the nearby Amalfi Coast and its towns, some of which are also in this ranking.

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. Limoncello tasting at a local distillery
  2. Valley of the Mills
  3. Marina Piccola

2. Ischia – Campania | 2,780 searches per month

Ischia
Located on the island of the same name in the picturesque Gulf of Naples and is well-known for the thermal baths and crystal-clear water that surrounds the island

Italians have searched for the terms ‘things to do in Ischia’ and ‘what to see in Ischia’ on average over 2,700 times a month in the last year, but that doesn’t surprise us: the beautiful city of Ischia looks like it belongs in a fairy tale. It is located on the island of the same name in the picturesque Gulf of Naples and is well-known for the thermal baths and crystal-clear water that surrounds the island. In the 50s and 60s, it was the holiday destination for the rich and famous, and it still attracts plenty of domestic tourists nowadays.

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. The iconic castle of Ischia
  2. The Nitrodi spring
  3. Maronti Beach

3. Capri – Campania | 2,780 searches per month

Capri in Campania
Spas, historical and archaeological buildings and secluded coves await you on this gem in the Gulf of Naples. Image credit: Julia Worthington via Unsplash

A must visit is the stunning Capri in Campania, coming in at third place on our bucket list-worthy tiny towns. Capri is probably one of the more well-known towns on this list, thanks to its location on the island with the same name. It’s easy to reach by boat from Naples, which makes it a great day trip during your tour around Italy. Spas, historical and archaeological buildings and secluded coves await you on this gem in the Gulf of Naples. Don’t forget to stop by one of the elegant bars and restaurants with sea views and enjoy the local special: Caprese salad.

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. The Blue Grotto
  2. Villa Jovis
  3. The Piazzetta di Capri

4. Taormina – Sicily | 2,380 searches per month

Taormina Sicily, sunset at the Ruins of the Ancient Greek Theater in Taormina, Sicily Italy
Taormina has been a beloved holiday destination for the rich and famous since the 17th century

Excellent cuisine, breath-taking views and wonderful beaches make up this corner of Sicily. Taormina is a quaint town located on top of a hill overlooking the sea. Taormina has been a beloved holiday destination for the rich and famous since the 17th century. If you decide to add Taormina to your bucket list, you’ll be in great company: famous visitors include actress Greta Garbo, composers Wagner and Brahms, and writers Oscar Wilde and Alexander Dumas. Wander along its medieval streets and discover a historical monument behind every corner.

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. The Greek theatre
  2. Corso Umberto I, Taormina’s main street
  3. Isola Bella

5. Positano – Campania | 2,080 searches per month

Positano
One of the pearls of the Amalfi Coast, Positano is a beloved destination by many Italians. Image credit: Ana Eva via Pexels

One of the pearls of the Amalfi Coast, Positano is a beloved destination by many Italians. With the intense blue of the sea and the colours of the flowers that adorn the winding alleys, this colourful hillside town earns fifth place in the ranking. Positano is well known for its fashion and especially its shoes: visit artisan shoemakers and buy yourself a pair of the iconic Positano sandals as a souvenir. 

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. The Santa Maria Assunta church
  2. Sirenuse, three small islands off the coast
  3. The Sentiero degli Dei walking trail

6. Sirmione – Lombardy | 2,020 searches per month

Sirmione, Italy
The city is located on a tiny peninsula that extends into Lake Garda and has existed since prehistoric times. Image credit: Gianni Crestani via Pixabay

What can you see and do in Sirmione? Italians have googled these questions more than 2,000 times in the past year, earning this town in the north of Italy a well-deserved sixth place in the ranking. This medieval town on the shore of Lake Garda enchants every visitor. The city is located on a tiny peninsula that extends into Lake Garda and has existed since prehistoric times. A visit to Sirmione will feel like you’re travelling through time. 

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. Rocca Scaligera castle
  2. The thermal baths Terme di Sirmione
  3. The Grotte di Catullo archeological site

7. Tropea – Calabria | 1,890 searches per month

Tropea
This town is known for being the centre of the Costa degli Dei (the Coast of the Gods), which runs along the north coast of Italy’s ‘toe’. Image credit: credit Jdexter via Pixabay

A maze of picturesque alleys makes up the historic centre of Tropea, a village in the beautiful Calabria region. This town is known for being the centre of the Costa degli Dei (the Coast of the Gods), which runs along the north coast of Italy’s ‘toe’. The coast of Tropea is certainly fit for the Gods: with white sand and calm waters, the beaches of Tropea are among the best of Italy! The town is said to be founded by the legendary Hercules, and wandering among its streets you’ll be transported to ancient times, surrounded by historical buildings and catching glimpses of the azure sea and sky. 

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. The Sanctuary of Santa Maria dell’Isola
  2. The Zungri Caves
  3. The Grotta del Palombaro

8. San Gimignano – Tuscany | 1,810 searches per month

San Gimignano Cathedral
When visiting, don’t miss the beautiful San Gimignano Cathedral. Image credit: Zotx via Pixabay

Deep in the Tuscan countryside, you can admire one of the most iconic views of the area: the skyline of San Gimignano and its famous towers. Once upon a time, this tiny town had 72 towers, one for every wealthy family that lived in the city, but now only about a dozen of them remain. San Gimignano is a typical Italian town, with winding streets and spectacular architecture, and has been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1990.

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. The Piazza del Duomo
  2. San Gimignano Cathedral
  3. The Piazza della Cisterna

9. Vieste – Apulia | 1,780 searches per month

Vieste
Vieste fascinates its visitors with white houses that almost seem to sparkle against the background of the intense blue of the sea. Image credit: Iessephoto via Pixabay

For the first time this ranking takes us to the east coast of Italy, to Vieste, also called the Pearl of the Gargano. This town takes the ninth position in the ranking, with over 1,700 monthly searches for things to do and see in this destination. Vieste fascinates its visitors with white houses that almost seem to sparkle against the background of the intense blue of the sea. From this town on the Apulian coast, it’s also possible to explore the nearby Tremiti Islands.

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. The Arco di San Felice
  2. Vieste marine caves
  3. The Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta

10. Urbino – Marche | 1,670 searches per month

Urbino in the Marche region
This is the birthplace of the renowned painter and architect Raphael, one of the most well-known artists of the Renaissance. Image credit: valtercirillo via Pixabay

Urbino, a charming town in the hills of the Marche region, completes the top 10 of the most sought-after villages online, with well over 1,600 searches per month. This city was one of the most important centres of the Italian Renaissance: it is the birthplace of the renowned painter and architect Raphael, one of the most well-known artists of the Renaissance. The picturesque town is famed for its art museums and historical city centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.

Top 3 things you can’t miss

  1. The Palazzo Ducale
  2. The Fortezza Albornoz
  3. The Urbino Cathedral