(BPT) - Dreaming of an amazing European vacation? Perhaps a scenic Italian locale featured in TV shows like "White Lotus"? You're not alone. Demand for top Italian destinations is high. With pent-up demand, rising costs and crowded venues, it's not easy to plan visits to hot spots like Amalfi. Fortunately, Italy boasts many less-traveled roads leading to off-the-radar spots well worth exploring.
To help you find the greatest towns you've never heard of, Steve Perillo, president and third-generation owner of America's leading travel company to Italy, Perillo Tours, has you covered.
Here are Perillo's top recommendations for your next Italian itinerary.
Enjoy the Amalfi Coast vibe in Minori
While the town of Amalfi is one of the most famous tourism locations, there's plenty of charm in other towns along the coast that are far less expensive and booked up. For example, while Minori is just a mile from Amalfi, it offers a pretty downtown area, gorgeous scenery and truly delicious pasta. Make sure to visit the Villa Romana e Antiquarium — an archaeological site and museum of an ancient Roman villa, then enjoy a scenic promenade along the harbor.
Relish the relaxed, quiet pace of Praiano
Perched on the rocky cliffs of the Amalfi Coast is the charming fishing village of Praiano. Just 15 minutes from the famous town of Positano, Praiano is the perfect spot for a slower, quieter respite. Praiano boasts a public beach, the Marina di Praia, plus small fashion boutiques for a leisurely day of shopping. Want an adventure? Hop on a ferry for a 25-minute ride to the gorgeous Isle of Capri, or enjoy some windsurfing or kayaking.
Get out your camera for a visit to Ravello
The clifftop town of Ravello is known for some of the best views of the Mediterranean Sea along the Amalfi Coast, plus outstanding hiking. The town was decreed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, with beautiful architecture in buildings like the Villa Cimbrone and the Villa Ruffolo. The long history of the town is fascinating, from its 5th-century founding through becoming a coveted vacation spot for actors and celebrities including Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart and Jacqueline Kennedy.
Discover the Baroque beauty of Lecce
Until recently, Puglia was southern Italy's best-kept-secret destination, but it is becoming increasingly popular. Considered the cultural capital of Puglia, the town of Lecce is best known for its Baroque style buildings, churches, palaces and museums. The striking architecture of Lecce has earned it the nickname "The Florence of the South."
Love pasta? You'll love Alberobello
Also in Puglia, Alberobello is famous for fairy-tale-like 14th-century white-washed conical-roofed houses called "Trulli," which are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bring your appetite, as the town is also renowned for its long tradition of pasta making. The "Quartiere delle Orecchiette" (Orecchiette district) is lined with women seated outside their homes making orecchiette (little ears) and cavatelli (small shells) pasta by hand, a culinary tradition passed down through generations.
If you're set on an Italian getaway, you may be surprised to find popular destinations already fully booked through the summer. The good news? The best way to find hotels at relatively affordable rates is by booking guided tours. Since many tour operators pre-negotiate hotel rates years in advance, tour group pricing has not seen the dramatic price hikes found across other parts of the travel industry — and rooms are already pre-reserved for these groups.
Perillo Tours, the leader in Italian travel for over 75 years, offers nine core Italy itineraries ranging from 14 days exploring Rome, Sorrento, Florence, Venice and Milan, to 9 days in Rome and the Amalfi Coast, providing an ideal balance of sightseeing, free time and activities. A 13-day guided program in Spain, an 11-day Greece itinerary and three Hawaiian itineraries are also available to satisfy your wanderlust.
All 2023 departure dates and pricing are now available for booking at PerilloTours.com. Or for independent travelers wanting to design a customized vacation to meet your individual needs, visit ItalyVacations.com for a helpful planning guide.