5 off-the-beaten-track cities to visit in Italy during that TEFL summer
With the legendary sites of the Eternal City of Rome, the totemic art achievements of Florence, the frantic marketplaces of Catania, the canals of Venice and the culinary hotspots of Bologna on the menu, there’s certainly no shortage of cities to visit in Italy while you’re doing that TEFL summer camp. But here are just a few that offer something a little more unique and off-beat…
Bergamo is too often simply written off as just an airport town on the outskirts of Milan. That couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, it’s served by oodles of low-cost airlines, but it’s also an old and heritage-rich place in its own right. The Citta Alta – the historic heart of the city – sits perched high on a mountain that marks the very start of the Italian Alps in Lombardy. Obviously, that means some beautiful views of the snow-topped peaks, while the old town itself is awash with centuries-old cathedrals and the impossibly-wonderful Piazza Vecchia (perfect for glugging a prosecco or a coffee!).
There’s one colossal and audacious UNESCO World Heritage Site that puts the otherwise-unknown city of Caserta on the map: The unfathomably massive Reggia d’Caserta. Raised in the 1700s by the would-be Spanish King Charles II and duke Ferdinand IV of Naples, it’s a lesson in all things Late Baroque. The huge palace seems to go on and on, offering gilded court rooms and elaborate staircases, manicured gardens and countless babbling fountains with grand neoclassical themes. And once you’re done touring that, you can always hop a train to Naples – another bucket-list option of all the cities to visit in Italy, where pizza and palazzos await.
Turin stands out from all the other cities to visit in Italy thanks to its glorious and regal past, for it was here that the Italian monarchs of the Royal House of Savoy made their home in the period leading up to unification. There are some seriously gorgeous relics left over from that golden age, like the sprawling Palazzo Real and the colossal Piazza Vittorio Veneto with its elegant arcades and arched bridges. Turin also boasts some lively nightclubs and beer bars on the boats and boathouses that line the winding River Po, not to mention great access to the hiking trails of the Aosta Valley – a popular place to host TEFL camps during the summer.
The urban piece de resistance in the crown of Apulia (Italy’s southernmost region), little Lecce is a pretty, pugnacious place that packs in oodles of history and heritage. Duck under the carved Porta Napoli and delve into the stone-clad alleys of the Centro Storico (the Lecce old town), where Roman amphitheaters emerge from the piazzas and grandiose Baroque cathedrals shoulder their way above the sidewalks. It’s not all about the past and the architecture here though, because of all the cities to visit in Italy’s south, this one’s famed for its excellent wines and tasty burrata – a soft country cheese.
Compared to much of Tuscany, the walled medieval city of Lucca remains relatively off-the-beaten-track. It sits nestled between the rises of the Apennine Mountains and the cliffs of the Mediterranean Sea, huddled behind a series of long – and walkable – Renaissance fortifications. The center is spiked by a couple of handsome church towers, like the tree-topped Torre Guinigi and the belfry of the beautiful Duomo di San Martino, a lesson in all things Romanesque. Life revolves around the bustling Piazza Napoleone, where cafes and ice-cream sellers lurk in the arcades. Put simply, it’s the perfect place to chill and people watch and enjoy the lackadaisical Tuscan vibes.
Of course, there are plenty more off-the-beaten-track cities in Italy to visit during that summer on the boot. If you’d like to add any to this guide, be sure to stick them in the comments below. Or, if you’re pining to spend some time teaching and tutoring and exploring this wonderful corner of Europe, then be sure to check out all the courses currently on offer from myTEFL.