When it comes to Italy, most people think about the ancient magnificence of Rome, the uniqueness of Venice, the splendid architecture of Florence and the shining sea of Naples. And while it’s true that these cities are the ones that attract the biggest numbers of tourists, saying that they are the only places worth visiting in the Bel Paese would be incredibly wrong. So wrong, in fact, that the Italian Touring Club wants you to come and visit something a bit different this autumn.
The initiative is called Aggiungi un borgo a tavola (add a seat to the table), which parodies the title of an old and famous Italian musical, and the concept is almost that of an “open house” – more than 100 small and lesser known Italian towns will welcome visitors (especially during weekends) with guided tours, wine and food tastings and hikes designed specifically for this occasion, all until mid-October.
These towns are known as Bandiere Arancioni, “Orange Flags,” a title of tourist and environmental quality assigned by the Italian Touring Club to those places who have less than 15,000 inhabitants and also pass a rigorous series of more than 250 controls. “It is the love these towns have for their territory and for their community that allows them to power through difficulties and obstacles,” it reads on a statement by the Italian Touring Club. There are now around 277 “Orange Flags,” in Italy, and more than 100 of those, from North to South, participate in the initiative, from Varallo in Piedmont to Petralia Sottana in Sicily.
“The goal is promoting a type of tourism that is slow and sustainable,” continues the Italian Touring Club. This year is also a particularly good year to do so since 2018 has been declared the Year of Italian Food by the Italian Ministry of Culture. What better occasion then than this to travel up and down the peninsula and discover what lies beyond the art cities?
If you think you’d like to explore the lesser known parts of Italy, you can check out a list of all towns that participate divided per region here, while here is a list of all the Orange Flags towns in the country.