During my tenure as a college student, I watched with envy as many of my former high school classmates engaged in what seems to
have become a college rite of passage - studying abroad in Europe. Of course, I'm totally in favor of visiting new places and learning about new cultures. But there's something to be said about the locations that these former classmates of mine choose to visit: There's no variety.
College students aren't the only people guilty of these. Most Americans will lazily Google "Top Places in Europe 2018." Now there's nothing wrong with going to Paris to see the Tour Eiffel, or Pisa for the Leaning Tower. But Europe is a big continent, completely undiscovered by you! So don't just go to Paris and one other big city and call it good. Get out there a little bit, live outside your Google Search results, and find something that 30 of your Instagram followers haven't already posted about.
Not to mention, exploring off the beaten path could potentially save you hundreds of dollars. And of course, we at Adventure Cascadia are all about saving money. Big cities and hot tourist destinations are expensive. Save yourself the cost and the trouble.
You may be thinking "wow, traveling off the beaten path sounds great, but where do I start?" After just telling you to visit a place that can't readily be found on Google, I think it's only fair we help. May I introduce "The Top 5 Places That You Haven't Seen Yet in Italy"
Le Tre Cime di Lavaredo
This small section of the Southern Limestone Alps offers some of the most mesmerizing landscapes in the world. Don't believe me? Try a Google Image search. The Dolomites are definitely an overlooked destination, and the hike around Tre Cime di Lavaredo remains one of my favorites of all time.
Picture this: You find yourself in Liguria because you just had to go to Cinque Terre. That's great! But you know what would be cooler? Take the train a little ways up to the Port of Genoa and hop on an overnight ferry to Sardinia. The next morning you'll be sitting pretty on a soft, white sand beach overlooking crystal clear water. Often overlooked, Sardinia is easily one of the Mediterranean's best island destinations.
"The Big Rock" is the highest peak of the Apennines Mountain chain, located in the central region of Abruzzo. Abruzzo's claim to fame is that it's about the same size as Los Angeles County, but a full third of its territory is comprised of National Parks. With its gorgeous mountain peaks and lush forests, I like to call it "Little Oregon." Just a quick 80 minute drive from Rome, this hidden gem offers a welcome reprieve from the bustle of Italy's tourist-choked cities.
Prior to spending his final lonely days on the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena, Napoleon Bonaparte was actually exiled to Elba. For whatever reason, he chose to escape (I would never want to leave Elba). This tiny island off the coast of Tuscany is a must-see if you're looking for more Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast-type scenery. Perhaps the best part of Elba is also its greatest challenge - it's difficult to get to. Elba has no direct ferries to mainland Italy, with only one boat to Corsica. But this means few crowds and a more authentic Italian experience.
Just Point Anywhere on a Map
It's pretty difficult to find a place in Italy that you won't enjoy. With the Ancient Romans and the Renaissance, the Mediterranean Coast and the Italian Alps, Italy is truly a marvel. Even in tourist hotspots such as Rome and Florence, getting off the beaten path is easy enough to do. With that in mind, if you pick any decently sized town in Central Italy, chance are it's going to be gorgeous. Some of our best Stories of Freedom here at Adventure Cascadia involve far-flung locations and towns you've surely never heard of before. As John Muir said, "The world's big and I want to have a look around before it gets dark." Go explore. Go adventure!