The most extraordinary tourist destinations in Italy

From Padua to Naples, passing by Milan and Rome

italy-faraglioni

The Faraglioni rocks near the Capri island in the Italian Gulf of Naples – Credits: DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images

Claudia Astarita

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If you are planning to spend your holidays in Italy and you love organising short trips to extraordinary destinations that are usually unknown also to local people, here is a list of must-see hidden corners that you should try to include in your itinerary.

The Garden of Ninfa is certainly one of them. Because of its beauty this tiny garden has been classified by the New York Times as one of the most beautiful and romantic gardens in the world. Built on the ruins of the medieval town of Ninfa in the Pontine Marshes (Latina, Rome), it has been declared a Natural Monument by the Lazio Region.

The Gaiola Underwater Park is another enchanting destination. Gaiola is one of the minor islands of Naples, a short distance from Posillipo. The ruins of seaside villas, nymphaea and fishponds now lie at a depth of just a few metres as a result of the phenomenon of bradyseism. Visitors can explore the park from aboard the glass-bottom boat Aquavision, on snorkelling trails, or by scuba diving.

Not many people are aware that Lombardy is famous for its castles. Impenetrable fortresses, with enchanting lake views, tales of ghosts: here is what you can expect from a tour to the Malpaga Castle in Cavernago (province of Bergamo), the Grumello Castle in Montagna in Valtellina, the Padernello Castle in Rocca San Giacomo, the Vezio Castle in Varenna, and the Castle of Vigevano.

The Botanical Garden in Padua is another destination that is worth visiting. Founded as a medicinal resource by the University of Padua back in 1545, it became the first-ever university botanical garden, and it was added to the Unesco World Heritage List in 1997.

Naples also has many secret areas. Forty meters below the characteristic and lively streets of the Historic Center of Naples, you can find a different world, unexplored, isolated by time, but deeply connected with the world above. It's the heart of Naples and the place from which the city was born.

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