Italian history is loved and appreciated the world over. While millions of tourists flocking every year to Italy’s historical hotspots such as Venice and Rome, history enthusiasts in search of a quieter, less conventional historical holiday look beyond the major cities. Lake Garda and the region of Puglia are two destinations rich as any with Roman, Renaissance and modern historical narratives. Both are perfect places for an authentic Italian holiday without the crowds and the tourist trappings.
A place of immense natural beauty and wide historical perspective, Lake Garda is the perfect northern stop-off for tours of Italy. Step into the shoes of literary greats like DH Lawrence and Lord Tennyson and enjoy the history and culture surrounding the lake.
Sirmione has a picturesque centre of cobbled streets and little artisan shops which juts out into the lake. Away from the water you can find abundant olive groves and amongst them the home of Catullus, the famous Roman poet. The site, named Cattulo’s Grotto, houses a museum which contains beautiful Italian frescos. Nearby in Mavino, the 1300-year-old church Chiesa di San Pietro also houses its own frescos and plenty of history.
Malcesine, a small fishing village sitting on the lakes’ edge, is recognisable by its large fortress, Castello Scaligero, perched high on a rock above the water. The castle holds a selection of sketches by Goethe and offers amazing views for those with a head for heights. Among the small houses of the village also lies the Captain’s Palace, the former home of the Captain of Lake Garda until 1854.
Puglia, on the heel of Italy, is remarkably one of the quietest and most untouched areas of the country. Despite its great food and weather, travellers on tours of Italy choose to pass it by on their way south. For real history buffs, however, Puglia has a lot to offer; a stay in one of the region’s sassi or trulli should not be missed.
During the Middle Ages, monks and other hermits lived in cave dwellings throughout region called sassi. These caves are often situated in some of the most stunning ravines and gorges that can be found in southern Italy and are exciting to visit. With some inhabited as late as the 1940s, many have now been turned into hotels and bars for tourists with an eye for the historical to have fun in.
Trulli are limestone huts which litter the southern region’s landscape. Built without cement so that they could easily be taken down to avoid paying taxes to the Kingdom of Naples, the trulli represents the economic struggle of Puglia’s people throughout the centuries. Today, visitors stay in tactfully converted trullis which they use as a base to explore the historical sites nearby. wedding venue lake garda