Italy is a fascinating country, and a fantastic travel destination with an abundance of secret locations to explore.
From the weird to the wonderful, Italy’s most unusual spots are ideal for travellers who want to go beyond the typical tourist excursions and explore the country’s lesser-known and more enchanting side.
Santa Francesca Church, Rome
The Santa Francesca church in Rome is a particularly interesting place to visit in March. On 9th March, the people of Rome take their motor vehicles – cars and mopeds – to be blessed at Santa Francesca.
Locals park their cars as close as they possibly can, hoping that the Patron Saint of Drivers will bring them good fortune on the roads. Expect to see the world’s biggest, and most fascinating, traffic jam.
Stromboli is an active volcano can be seen shooting lava into the sky roughly every half hour. It’s situated off the coast of Italy in the Mediterranean Sea and is accessible by boat trips during the day and night.
However, for a magical experience, it is best to see this volcano after dark, as you get to witness the glowing fire rise from the Earth towards the night sky.
Over the years, Stromboli has become an unusual tourist attraction. In nearby villages, you’ll find all sorts of volcano-related merchandise. This volcano has frequently been erupting for at least 2000 years.
Locals on the volcanic island even rent out rooms to tourists, which makes for a truly unique place to stay in Italy.
A contemporary open-air museum, Arte Sella, is as beautiful as it is unusual. Arte Sella displays works of art created from natural resources including logs, twigs and living plants.
Pieces of art are interwoven with trees, or created entirely with them. There are twisting knotted tree trunks and a Tree Cathedral.
Pentedattilo is a ghost town in Italy that can only be reached via an organised excursion. It is a town set amongst jagged rocks, that was eventually abandoned due to multiple earthquakes. Now, visitors can make their way to Pentedattilo and walk amongst the eerily silent streets.
The people of Pentedattilo held many superstitions, believing that the town was genuinely haunted. The unusual rock formation was thought to be the hand of the devil.
Today, visitors can walk around and even enter some buildings. Be aware that you’ll need to be reasonably fit and healthy to hike into and around Pentedattilo.
In the centre of Lake Resia, there’s a spire sticking out of the water. This church spire is the only visible part of a town called Graun that now lies under the water.
In fact, two towns are submerged in this human-made lake.
Graun and Reschen, both were swamped as part of the local power company’s plans to provide more electricity to the surrounding regions. Before the flooding, residents were moved out of their homes and workplaces. Now, everything lies under the surface of the water.
In winter, the lake freezes and you can even walk out and stand beside the spire for a photograph.
Ritten Earth Pyramids
The red Earth Pyramids in Ritten are a strange and rare sight. These natural rock formations are best visible in the Katzenbach-creek gorge, below Soprabolzano.
The Earth Pyramids are conical pillars formed naturally as a result of clay soil moving in mudslides. Rocky boulders in certain areas sheltered the clay soil below them from the rain. As a result, bits of dirt remained standing under the rocks whilst everything around them eroded.
Today, the boulders atop these pyramids are still their protection. However, once the rocks on the top fall, the clay pillar quickly erodes in rainfall.
Otzi the Iceman in Balzano
Otzi the Iceman can be found in Balzano and is Europe’s most well-preserved human body. Otzi, preserved by glacial ice, is said to be more than 5,300 years old.
He’s become a strange tourist attraction in Italy and is for all to see at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.
The Gardens of Bomarzo
Home to the fascinating ‘Mouth of Hell’ and other uncommon decorations, the Gardens of Bomarzo was commissioned by Prince Vicino (Prince Pier Francesco Orsini) as a way to cope with loss.
The prince had been taken hostage during the war in which many of his friends had died. Then, on returning home, he’d discovered that his wife had passed away.
Prince Vicino commissioned the Park of Monsters, with its fascinating stone statues, to express his inner agony. The ‘Mouth of Hell’, with its screaming open mouth that you can walk right through, is inscribed with the words ‘All Reason Departs’. This Italian Renaissance is now a strange tourist attraction.
In Italy, there are many strange and unusual places to spend your time. As a tourist, look out for these hidden gems that guarantee a fascinating experience and some perfect photo opportunities.
Photos: Unsplash and Pixabay
Italy’s Strangest Locations is a contributed post