Often when travellers from around the globe flock to Italy, it is in search of an ‘authentic Italian experience’. They long to see famous sights like the leaning tower of Pisa, historical landmarks such as the Colosseum, or beautiful scenery like the Amalfi Coast. It is no secret that these famous tourist attractions are sights to be seen, but what most tourists don’t know is how to wander from the beaten track where there may be something even more awe inspiring to be discovered.
This past December, I had an unforgettable Christmas discovering a quaint small town in the region of Lazio, Italy. This picturesque town, nestled between towering mountains, is one of the most charming places I have ever been. The town, Soriano nel Cimino, is home to true beauty and shows its colorful history in every minute detail of its fascinating architecture. A breathtaking town but miniature in size; being completely full of locals, there was only the beautiful sound of Italian to be heard for miles. The impossibly narrow cobblestone streets are lined with tiny but perfect shops full of cheese, wine, pasta, produce and more. Not to mention the several locally owned cafes where you could stop in every morning for a strong cappuccino.
My family and I opted to rent a villa for our one-week stay in Soriano and from the moment of arrival we did not regret our decision. Staying in a villa rather than a hotel afforded us the opportunity to get the full experience of being a local in a small Italian town. We enjoyed walking through town each day and being greeted warmly by any local that we passed. There was a true sense of community in a small town like Soriano and even though we were foreigners, we felt instantly welcomed. Our villa in Soriano quickly began to feel like home and we came to look forward to our simple but pleasant daily routine. After a stroll around town in the fresh mountain air, we would spend time going to each of the quaint shops to pick out ingredients for our main meal that day. We bought everything fresh each day and it became somewhat of a family bonding experience to decide what we would eat, buy all of the ingredients in town and then walk back to our villa with our many many grocery bags of food. It was the highlight of the trip to spend hours eating and talking over the traditional Italian meal we had prepared together.
If the story of my Italian Christmas in Soriano can teach readers anything, I hope it is to be more adventurous in your travels; seek new undiscovered places away from the tourist hotspots and you might just fall in love. Take it from someone who has experienced it, some of the most beautiful gems are hidden, just waiting for a willing traveller to come along and discover their true potential.
Photo credit: Victoria Gray