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MAP: The best Italian villages to visit this year

Here are the remote Italian villages worth seeking out in 2022, according to a list compiled by one of the country's leading tourism associations.

What are the best villages to visit in Italy this year?
What are the best villages to visit in Italy this year? Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

A total of 270 villages across Italy have been recognised as being especially tourist-friendly this year by the Italian Touring Club (Touring Club Italiano), one of the country’s largest non-profit associations dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism throughout the territory.

‘Orange Flag’ status is awarded if a village is judged to have significant historic, cultural and environmental value, as well as for being welcoming to visitors and outsiders, according to the initiative’s website.

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Villages can apply for the status if they are located inland with no coastal stretches; have fewer than 15,000 inhabitants; have a well-preserved historic centre and a strong sense of cultural identity; demonstrate sensitivity to issues of sustainability; have a well-organised tourist reception system; and show an intention to continue to make improvements to the town.

The list is updated annually, and in 2022 three new villages gained orange flag status for the first time: Dozza in Emilia Romagna, Manciano in Tuscany, and Sasso di Castalda in Basilicata.

See below for the map and a list of the Orange Flag villages according to region:

Montepulciano in Tuscany has 'orange flag' status.

Montepulciano in Tuscany has ‘orange flag’ status. Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP.

Abruzzo – 7 villages

Civitella Alfadena, Fara San Martino, Lama dei Peligni, Opi, Palena, Roccascalegna, Scanno.

Basilicata – 6 villages

Aliano, Castelmezzano, Perticara Guard, San Severino Lucano, Sasso di Castalda, Valsinni.

Calabria – 6 villages

Bova, Civita, Gerace, Morano Calabro, Oriolo, Tavern.

Campania – 5 villages

Cerreto Sannita, Letino, Morigerati, Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Zungoli.

READ MORE: Six Italian walking holiday destinations that are perfect for spring

Emilia Romagna – 23 villages

Bagno di Romagna, Bobbio, Brisighella, Busseto, Castell’Arquato, Castelvetro di Modena, Castrocaro Terme and Terra del Sole, Dozza, Fanano, Fiumalbo, Fontanellato, Longiano, Montefiore Conca, Monteleone, Pennabilli, Pieve di Cento, Portico and San Benedetto, Premilcuore, San Leo, Sarsina, Sestola, Verucchio, Vigoleno.

Friuli Venezia Giulia – 7 villages

Andreis, Barcis, Cividale del Friuli, Frisanco, Maniago, San Vito al Tagliamento, Sappada.

Lazio – 20 villages

Arpino, Bassiano, Bolsena, Bomarzo, Calcata, Campodimele, Caprarola, Casperia, Collepardo, Fossanova, Labro, Leonessa, Nemi, San Donato Val di Comino, Sermoneta, Subiaco, Sutri, Trevignano Romano, Tuscania, Vitorchiano.

Liguria – 17 villages

Airole, Apricale, Balducco, Brugnato, Castelnuovo Magra, Castelvecchio di Rocca Barbena, Dolceacqua, Perinaldo, Pigna, Pinion, Santo Stefano d’Aveto, Sassello, Seborga, Toirano, Triora, Vallebona, Varese Ligure.

Lombardy – 16 villages

Almenno San Bartolomeo, Bellano, Bienno, Castellaro Lagusello, Chiavenna, Clusone, Gardone Riviera, Gromo, Menaggio, Pizzighettone, Ponti sul Mincio, Sabbioneta, Sarnico, Solferino, Tignale, Torno.

Marche – 24 villages

Acquaviva Picena, Amandola, Camerino, Cantiano, Cingoli, Corinaldo, Frontino, Genga, Gradara, Mercatello sul Metauro, Mondavio, Montecassiano, Montelupone, Monterubbiano, Offagna, Ostra , Ripatransone, San Ginesio, Sarnano, Serra San Quirico, Staffolo, Urbisaglia, Valfornace, Visso.

Molise – 5 villages

Agnone, Ferrazzano, Frosolone, Roccamandolfi, Scapoli.

READ MORE: These are the 20 prettiest villages across Italy

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination.

San Gimignano has long been an orange flag destination. Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP.

Piedmont – 40 villages 

Agliè, Alagna Valsesia, Arona, Avigliana, Barolo, Bene Vagienna, Bergolo, Candelo, Canelli, Cannero Riviera, Cannobio, Castagnole delle Lanze, Cherasco, Chiusa di Pesio, Cocconato, Entracque, Fenestrelle, Fobello, Gavi, Grinzane Cavour, Guarene, La Morra, Limone Piemonte, Macugnaga, Malesco, Mergozzo, Moncalvo, Monforte d’Alba, Neive, Orta San Giulio, Ozzano Monferrato, Revello, Rosignano Monferrato, Santa Maria Maggiore, Susa, Trisobbio, Usseaux, Usseglio, Varallo, Vogogna.

Puglia – 13 villages

Alberona, Biccari, Bovino, Cisternino, Corigliano d’Otranto, Locorotondo, Oria, Orsara di Puglia, Pietramontecorvino, Rocchetta Sant’Antonio, Sant’Agata di Puglia, Specchia, Troia.

Sardinia – 7 villages

Aggius, Galtellì, Gavoi, Laconi, Oliena, Sardara, Tempio Pausania.

Sicily – 1 village

Petralia Sottana

Tuscany – 40 villages

Abetone Cutigliano, Anghiari, Barberino Tavarnelle, Barga, Casale Marittimo, Casciana Terme Lari, Casale d’Elsa, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, Castiglion Fiorentino, Certaldo, Cetona, Chiusi, Collodi, Fosdinovo, Lucignano, Manciano, Massa Marittima, Montalcino, Montecarlo, Montefollonico, Montepulciano, Monteriggioni, Murlo, Peccioli, Pienza, Pitigliano, Pomarance, Radda in Chianti, Radicofani, San Casciano dei Bagni, San Gimignano, Santa Fiora, Sarteano, Sorano, Suvereto, Trequanda, Vicopisano, Vinci, Volterra. 

Trentino Alto Adige – 8 villages

Ala, Caderzone Terme, Campo Tures/Sand in Taufers, Ledro, Levico Terme, Molveno, Tenno, Vipiteno/Sterzing.

Umbria – 10 villages

Bevagna, Città della Pieve, Montefalco, Montone, Nocera Umbra, Norcia, Panicale, Spello, Trevi, Vallo di Nera.

Val d’Aosta – 3 villages

Etroubles, Gressoney-Saint-Jean, Introd.

Veneto – 12 villages

Arquà Petrarca, Asolo, Borgo Valbelluna, Cison di Valmarino, Follina, Malcesine, Marostica, Montagnana, Portobuffolè, Rocca Pietore, Soave, Valeggio sul Mincio.

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TOURISM

MAP: Which parts of Italy will get the most tourism this summer?

Italy’s tourism sector is on its way to post-pandemic recovery. But how many visitors will the country get this summer - and where are they going? Here’s a look at the data.

MAP: Which parts of Italy will get the most tourism this summer?

The Covid-19 pandemic has literally battered the Italian tourism sector. In 2019, before the virus hit, some 96 million international tourists visited the country and tourism alone accounted for 13 percent of national GDP.

All that, of course, came to an abrupt halt in early 2020, when the country lost a staggering 120.6 billion euros because of travel restrictions and an estimated 337,000 people were put out of work.

Italian tourism recovered slightly in 2021, but visitor numbers were still far below the norm as many international travel requirements remained in place for much of the year. 

So far, 2022 seems to have brought about a much-awaited change in trend, with the end of nearly all Covid-related measures and the return of international visitors putting a smile back on the faces of many business owners and tourism workers. 

“2022 is going to be the year of our resurgence,” Italy’s tourism minister Massimo Garavaglia had told Corriere della Sera in April. The data gathered by market research institute Demoskopika seem to prove him right. 

Over 92 million people – both residents and international arrivals – are expected to travel to an Italian destination over the course of 2022, marking a 43 percent increase on last year.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Italy this summer

Italy, Lake Garda

Lake Garda is one of the most sought-after Italian destinations and is especially popular among international holidaymakers. Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP

Tourism this year is expected to be worth around 26 billion euros in tax contributions to state coffers. If confirmed, this would represent a 11.8 percent rise compared to 2021.

It nearly goes without saying that not all Italian regions will benefit equally, as both local and foreign holidaymakers will be spread unevenly across the stivale.

According to Demoskopika, the five most visited regions by total number of arrivals will be Veneto (15.2 million arrivals), Trentino-Alto Adige (11.3 m), Lombardy (10.1 m), Emilia-Romagna (9.8 m) and Tuscany (9.3 m).

Tourism to these areas alone is expected to generate a total of 16.5 billion euros, equal to around 62 percent of Italy’s prospective tourism revenue. 

Conversely, Umbria, Abruzzo, Calabria, Aosta Valley and Basilicata will be the five least visited regions, attracting just about 6.5 million visitors between them.

But, beyond regional differences, what are the single most sought-after Italian destinations?

Data collected by private research institute Zucchetti show that the three most popular holiday spots across the country are Lake Garda, Emilia-Romagna’s Adriatic Riviera and Puglia’s Salento peninsula.

Veneto’s coastline and Tuscany’s ‘Etruscan Coast’ beaches follow in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Interestingly, Lake Garda is the only top-five tourist destination to register more international bookings than national ones, with foreign visitors (mainly German, Dutch and American) making up about 84 percent of the tourism demand in the area.

Emilia-Romagna’s Riviera and the Salento area are also expected to welcome large numbers of foreign visitors, albeit in far smaller figures compared to Lake Garda (28 and 20 percent of the local demand respectively). 

Aside from seaside and lakeside destinations, major art cities are the next most popular vacation spot among stranieri.

According to Roberta Garibaldi, CEO of ENIT (Italian National Tourist Board), “art cities have suffered a lot over the past couple of years” but the data for the upcoming summer are “promising”.

Venice, Rialto bridge

Venice will be one of the most visited Italian art cities as it is expected to welcome 5.3 million foreign tourists. Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Rome will lead the pack as it is set to receive 5.4 million foreign visitors (mostly from the US, UK and Spain), thus marking a whopping 239-percent increase on last year and contributing to 10.4 percent of Italy’s total international tourism. 

Venice will follow closely with a total of 5.3 million foreign tourists (23 percent of them will travel from Germany). 

READ ALSO: MAP: Which regions of Italy have the most Blue Flag beaches?

Finally, Milan and Florence will sit in third and fourth place respectively, with the former set to welcome 2.8 million foreign nationals and the latter expected to receive 2.6 million.

But, art cities won’t be a hot commodity among foreign tourists alone as 18 percent of Italians are planning to spend the holidays in a città d’arte.

As for other popular holiday spots, Italians’ favourite destination will once again be the beach, with seaside locations expected to welcome 57 percent of local holidaymakers.

Nearly one in four (23 percent) will instead opt for a ‘holiday in nature’, travelling to the mountains, countryside or lakes.

Regardless of the chosen destination, it will be a very ‘patriotic’ summer for many Italians as, of the 30 million residents (equivalent to 51 percent of the national population) who are planning to go on holiday in the coming months, nine in 10 will stay in the country.

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