In Italy there are many towns and villages perched on rocky cliffs that offer breathtaking views. These are places rich in history and charm that have transformed a hostile environment into a real force of nature. From Liguria to Sicily the landscapes are quite varied, but they all have one thing in common—a breathtaking view of the ocean or the surrounding plains.
Matera—To start off, Matera, in the region of Basilicata, will be the European capital of culture in 2019. Its famous rocks, included among Unesco’s world heritage sites, represent one of the oldest residential areas in the world– from the houses dug into the rock, every view is an open door into history.
Civita di Bagnoregio, Viterbo—They call it “the dying city” because its stone foundations have eroded over time by the action of two rivers downstream, as well as other atmospheric conditions. It’s a good reason to visit this pearl of Lazio soon to savor the beauty of the stone houses and sunny squares and to admire the view below.
Vitorchiano, Viterbo—Also in Lazio and in the province of Viterbo, Vitorchiano stands on a pinnacle of volcanic rock guarding the valley below. The historic center is of medieval origin. Here you can also visit the Malano Forest and the remains of the city walls and an ancient Etruscan settlement.
Polignano a Mare, Bari—The white houses here, in the Puglia region of Italy, rise up on a spur of rock overlooking the Adriatic Ocean. Here you can capture not only the charm of the town, but also the unique beauty of the beach, washed by the transparent waters of an intense turquoise color.
Pitigliano, Grosseto—In the Tuscan countryside is one of the most beautiful villages of Italy. Also called “little Jerusalem,” Pitigliano is in a panoramic position on a hill overlooking a green valley. The town can be recognized from afar, thanks to the elegant houses that seem to blend with the rock. Here you can also visit Palazzo Orsini, the beautiful cathedral, and the ghetto area where there are plenty of wine cellars dug into the rock that contain the aromatic white wine of Pitigliano.
Massafra, Taranto—In Puglia built among the plains of Murgia, Massafra is enchanting with its white houses and it rich cultural heritage. A stay here allows you to discover the Neolithic settlement in the Madonna della Scala, the beautifully preserved old town with its medieval castle and cathedral. Nearby is the Oasis of Mount St. Elias overlooking the Gulf of Taranto.
Sorano, Grosseto—With houses overhanging a Tuscan valley, Sorano is a town rich in history as evidenced by the Fortezza Orsini and the Masso Leopoldino. Then, walking along the Vie Cave, the tunnels dug by the Etruscans in the middle of the rock, you discover the beautiful surroundings to reach the nearby necropolis of the archeological park.
Ischia, Napoli—As a glamorous and internationally renowned destination, perhaps Ischia is not a novelty. But this marvelous island in the Gulf of Naples is always able to hold some surprises, like the Aragon Castle dating back to 474 B.C., which was founded on the rock of a little island connected to the larger one via a stone bridge of about 200 meters. Try to follow it and eventually take a dip in the sea.
Manarola, Spezia—One of the glories of the Cinque Terre, Unesco world heritage site, is Manarola, a picturesque and colorful village overlooking the sea. Between sea, pleasant climate, good oil and good wine, here you can spend a relaxing weekend or more.
Positano, Salerno—With colorful houses clinging to the rugged coast, Positano is one of the most popular villages on the Amalfi coast. To appreciate the descent to the sea, go down the narrow stairs, lose yourself in the narrow streets and discover the artisan shops that created the famous “Positano fashion.” Then go down to the sea to admire the colorful dome of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta from another perspective. Alternatively, those who prefer “slow travel,” can go near the Paths of the Gods.
Amalfi, Salerno—First an ancient maritime republic, today a tourist destination that the whole world envies, Amalfi, with its houses as an amphiteatre on the cliffs, make immortal the myth of the coast. Days are spent here among art treasures. One is the Duomo with its evocative Cloisters of Paradise, plus a spectacular sea, that should culminate in a lemon gelato.
Calcata, Viterbo—Just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Rome, with a panorama over the Treja Valley, the village of Calcata amazes people with its houses—some from the 13th century—that seem to grow directly out of the dark rock. To really feel the atmosphere, walk through the streets paved since the 18th century and overlooked by many cafes, where you can enjoy the cuisine of Lazio.
Pentedattilo, Reggio Calabria—The name of this village in Calabria comes from the Greek “penta daktylos,” which means “five fingers” because Pentedattilo seems to rise right from the palm of a hand…made of rock. Mount Cavalry is, in fact, the backdrop to this ghost town, abandoned and uninhabited for some time. Today it has been reincarnated: the Penedattilo Film Festival is held here and is considered one of the most impressive of the region
Ragusa Ibla, Ragusa—Ibla is the historical center of Ragusa in Sicily, capable of leaving every visitor speechless who for the first time admires it baroque architecture, perched on a rocky hill. Statues, alleys, monuments and churches: everything here speaks of an ancient civilization.
Castelmezzano, Potenza—Nestled among the jagged peaks of the Dolomites in the Basilicata region, Castelmezzano is breathtaking not only for the beauty of the village. Try flying over the houses set among the rocks and the woods of beech trees.
Tursi, Matera—Basilicata is a region rich in villages to discover. One of these is Tursi, which is set in the badlands of Lucania. See the beautiful district of Rabatana in the historic center built with sandstone. Don’t leave without trying typical “falagoni” filled with potatoes or beets.
Tellaro, Spezia–A small town in the city of Lerici in Liguria, Tellaro is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, perched on a cliff with a view of the Gulf of Spezia. Here one can visit the castle, the port, the Palazzo Doria and attend an underwater Christmas spectacle.
Valsinni, Matera—Nature and history come together to tell of Valsinni, a small village in Basilicata, which stands on the cliffs with beautiful views of the valley inside the National Park of Pollino. The town was the birthplace of the Renaissance poet Isabella Morra. Discover its sad history, visit the literary park, the village, and its famous monuments, such as the feudal castle.
Sant’Agate de’Goti, Benevento—Here is a network of medieval houses that seem to rise directly from the ground. The town stands on a bluff in the middle of two rivers and its origins date back to ancient times. Be captivated by the charm of the Assumption Cathedral, the castle, and the church of St. Francis of Assisi, and finally wait for the sunset.
Vieste, Foggia–On the rocks of the Gargano, with a spectacular view of the Adriatic, rises the town center of Vieste. Here you can find the best of Puglia: the crystal-clear sea, beaches and romantic nooks, and an historical city center of white houses from many different eras.