Musement shares 10 of the most beautiful Italian hilltop towns worth exploring to fully appreciate their charm.
We all wish we could fly, and perhaps this is why we’re so fascinated by places that offer a dizzying view, making us feel just a tad closer to the sky. Here are ten beautiful Italian hilltop towns with charming castles and breathtaking views.
1. Erice, Sicily
This is a magical place, and not just on account of its incredible location—Erice is found on the slopes of Mount Eryx, near Trapani, from whose peak, on a clear day, you can even glimpse the coast of Tunisia. But it’s also surrounded by a legendary aura. In Erice, we find the ancient Venus Castle, dedicated to the cult of the Greek Aphrodite and the Roman Venus Ericina. Legend has it that it was built by Eryx, the son of Aphrodite herself and local king Butas, and that sailors from all over the Mediterranean were becoming one with the Goddess by making love to the young priestesses at the temple.
2. Civita di Bagnoregio, Lazio
“The dying city,”nas it’s called nowadays, is found in a spectacular location, isolated at the top of a hill and connected to the rest of the world by a long pedestrian bridge, which has appeared in many famous movies. Civita di Bagnoregio was founded by the Etruscans 2,500 years ago, but only 15 people live here today.
3. Maratea, Basilicata
Jagged rocks, luxuriant vegetation and a view of the bluest sea you can imagine: these are the features that set Maratea apart, a Lucan village that can make anyone fall in love with its authenticity and beauty (Frank Sinatra and Princess Diana were some of its most famous admirers). In Maratea, you can also find a statue of Christ the Redeemer, no less than 44 churches, and an ancient Greek settlement from which you can enjoy an even more breathtaking view.
4. Ravello, Campania
This is a small town that can be reached by climbing up a very narrow and steep winding road, which starts from Atrani on the coast below. Ravello hosts the annual Ravello Festival, a summer event dedicated to music and culture in which many internationally renowned artists participate. It is famous for its gorgeous old villas: Villa Cimbrone, among others, is a medieval-style estate with beautiful gardens adorned with sculptures and rose arrangements, and a terrace overlooking the sea with incredible views of the Amalfi Coast.
5. Urbino, Marche
A truly picturesque and lively city on a hill. Urbino is a university town, famous for being the birthplace of Raphael and for its School of Journalism. With its domed roofs and walls, it has been awarded the status of World Heritage Site.
6. Brisighella, Emilia Romagna
This village in Emilia Romagna has earned its place on the lists of Italy’s most beautiful villages. The Castello della Rocca Manfrediana, which dates back to the 14th century, looks out over the village and the entire valley from the highest spot and offers truly breathtaking views.
7. Cortona, Tuscany
We’ve already written about this beautiful Tuscan village, but we can’t fail to mention it on this occasion as well. Cortona is located on top of one of the typical Tuscan hills dotting the Val di Chiana, and it’s a place full of good food you have to try and art just waiting to be discovered: every year, the Cortona On The Move and Cortona Mix festivals bring a full range of interesting events to the city. Even more, you can admire the Annunciation of Cortona by Fra Angelico at the Diocesan Museum.
8. Asolo, Veneto
Asolo’s iconic fortress, which has the shape of an irregular polygon when seen from above, is the symbol of the city, and the view to the surrounding forest and the Dolomite mountains is truly spectacular. On every second Sunday of the month, Asolo also hosts a very large and picturesque antique market, and it’s a great starting point to go and explore the region that is the homeland of Prosecco.
9. Ostuni, Puglia
“The White City” is truly a must-see, with its unmistakable houses and shop-lined streets climbing the hillside, offering panoramic vantage points from which you can admire the valley below. The ideal activity is enjoying a drink with a view as you’re relaxing on the ottomans set up along the narrow streets while sampling the local delicacies.
10. Cervo, Liguria
When you admire it from out on the sea, Cervo offers an extraordinary sight: a mosaic of colorful houses located one on top of the other, culminating with the bell tower. With its panoramic views of the sea framed by stone arches and flowers, Cervo is the ideal destination for a romantic weekend.