Conscious of the problems of overtourism, when planning my next trip I often find myself wanting to discover some place I’ve never heard of before. I’m always on the hunt for little hidden gems: I know the world is full of them.
In this page I progressively collect a list of interesting, curious, beautiful places that are worth being visited and that you’ve never heard of. Come here when you need inspiration for your next trip!
Keep updated to know when a new place comes out
This section of the website wants to promote non touristy places that are worth being visited. The counties of Marin and Sonoma, in the San Francisco bay area, definitely fall into this category. In fact the commercialized tourism in this area focuses on the cities of San Francisco and Oakland and the very famous (but not so beautiful, as far as I’ve seen) Napa valley.
Although not as well marketed as Napa, Sonoma valley also gets tourism for the wine production and for canoeing/kayaking on the Russian river. What I would encourage to visit though, is the coast of the Pacific Ocean and the areas along it.
Starting right outside of San Francisco along Marin and Sonoma coasts, the beauty of the cliffs and the beaches is breathtaking: it makes the perfect place where to find a spot to sit in the grass in front of the ocean, rest your mind and reconcile with your soul.
If you’re not afraid to explore the least populated places, you’ll find plenty of trails and hikes to do in the wilderness. Here, focusing on your senses of smell and hearing is highly recommended.
Surprisingly, the further you go from the cities towards the natural beauty of the coast, the less populated the areas are. If you’re someone who tries to stay away from the crowds just like me, avoid the weekends and the hot summer months, where the locals come to the ocean to find relief from the heat, and you’ll be fine.
Eat oysters and fish on the coast, try artisanal cheeses and local produce on the inland. When I was there I’ve had one of the most flavorful beef steaks I’ve ever had. It’s easy to discover why by exploring the farm- and ranchland in these areas: these cows and cattle live happier than most of us humans!
Two of the most interesting realities I’ve found here are the Marin County Agricultural Land Trust and of the Save The Redwoods Leagues. The first one is a wonderful local program of protection of agricultural land from urban development, a commitment that looks very far away into the future of the county. The second one is one of the foundations of the movement to preserve and reconstitute some of the oldest forests in the world, 95% of which got wiped out within little over a century of logging for construction wood.
Unfortunately there’s no way to get around by public transportation in these areas, so you’ll need to have your own vehicle. If you’re an adventure cyclist, you can try exploring by bicycle: the infrastructure is very “car friendly” (a nice way to say that it’s quite bike unfriendly), but I’ve seen many courageous cyclists on the roads, man and women, young and old.
The Alps are an area of exceptional beauty. That’s why certain parts of them have become very touristy in the past decade. If you’d like to experience these mountains Mary Jane style – well far away from crowds of non locals – keep an eye in this section because I’ll list more of the places I’m about to mention today.
This specific area of the Julian Alps takes some of its exceptional beauty from the river Soča (in Slovenian, Isonzo in Italian, Lusinç in Friulan) and its freezing cold, impetuous emerald water. It’s also the reason why you’ll easily find touristic infrastructures here: Bovec is a well known destination of local tourism for rafting, canyoning and other river sports. If you feel a bit or a lot adventurous you can try them out: there’s some offer for any level of experience. https://www.bovec.org/en/
Kobarid (Caporetto in Italian), on the other side, is one of the symbols of the First World War, sadly remembered by us Italians as one of the worst military defeats we’ve ever experienced during the 12th battle of the river Isonzo (Soča). Hundreds of thousands of Italian and Austro-Hungarian soldiers died by the water of this gorgeous river between 1915 and 1917.
If you’re into history visit the Kobariski muzej, a museum that’s also been awarded both by the Slovenian Museum Association and by the European Commission. They offer guided tours and further information about where to visit more historical places in the area. https://www.kobariski-muzej.si/en/
This area offers hikes to do, waterfalls to see, history to learn, refreshment in the river for the hot summer days, great food, welcoming people and fun sport activities. If you visit the website of the Soča Valley you’ll see a most important reminder for humanity: https://www.soca-valley.com/en/
Belluno is a 35.000 inhabitants town that is only a two hours drive away from where I grew up, yet I happened to discover it only very recently and because of the website you’re reading this on. In fact, to build this website, I’ve collaborated remotely with a professional that lives here and that’s how one day I ended up in Belluno.
I wasn’t prepared for what I found: a beautiful jewel of architecture and history at the border of the National Park of the Dolomites, UNESCO world heritage.
Belluno has been founded by the Romans a century b.C. where the torrent Ardo and the river Piave meet. Its strategic position made of it one the protagonists of the two World Wars.
After being invaded by several barbarian populations and being dominated by the Lombards in the Middle Ages, Belluno gave itself to the Republic of Venice in 1404. Venice lost its power at the end of the 18th century, so the city started to be alternatively included into both Austria and France, until in 1866 it finally became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belluno
During the First World War Belluno lost more than 3200 people for hunger and more than 1500 for diseases. In the Second World War the Resistance movement developed on the mountains around the town, whose inhabitants supported and fed. For this reason Belluno has received the Gold Medal of Military Valour by the Republic of Italy.
Thanks to Gimmy, who gave me the chance to visit his town, whose beauty I hope to at least given you an idea with this brief montage. It’s been a wonderful discovery that I wish everyone to be able to experience.