WPC: Top ten roads taken

I love this week’s Photo Challenge theme: The Road Taken. So that it’s not always just her wicked stepsister.

We can moan all we want, imagine what could have happened to the moon and back, and yet there is nothing more useless than wondering about the road not taken. As if we could ever go back and choose the other one.

My favourite roadside attractions in Italy are coming up in a minute, but first a short recap of the last week on my blog. Let’s see what all happened:

Indeed, these three take the crown on account of sheer multitude of views, buildings and artefacts if nothing else.

But that aside, after almost four years of living in southern Tuscany and strolling around, here is my personal top ten of Italian towns. I hope that more than six people see it even though I’m posting on a weekend. 😉

What these towns have in common is that I don’t believe any of them is a household name and could use a shout-out. (Except Lucca. You have probably heard of Lucca. How about Orvieto?)

Each town gets two photos. As I was choosing them, I realised that my preference is for scenes that could be taken out of a fairy-tale or off a postcard. I used to play with grandma’s postcards in a different way on each visit. That’s how far back I can trace the birth of my aesthetics.

The main characteristic of this list is “informed randomness”: out of the almost endless sea of little towns that is Italy, these – and not some others – just happened to cross my path or the road took me there in a bit more premeditated way.

This is the key though: all this means that just around a corner or two there is a multitude of towns just as stunning. And I have a list of them too.

The towns appear in the order in which I discovered them:

  1. Tivoli. It is not far from Rome and it was my first town after Rome to visit. Back then I didn’t take photos of everything yet, so no photos of the town itself. It’s a cacophony. It’s a little secret, and it’s not advertised. Especially noteworthy is Villa d’Este with its 100 fountains on multiple levels. Visit before dusk and stay for the darkness.
  2. Capalbio. This is where I live, well, 10 km closer to the sea by the train station. In the summer it is supposed to be the mecca of the “radical chic”. Hide your wallets and gaze from the wall. Or better yet, visit out of season and admire the doors. Also, it is too steep for a disabled chair.
  3. Porto Ercole. This is where Caravaggio is believed to have died. It is located on the Monte Argentario peninsula, as is its bigger (but slightly less charming) brother Porto Santo Stefano where the ferry for Isola del Giglio calls. I was blissfully unaware of the existence of this entire area, including Orbetello on the lagoon close by, until I landed here. I can tell you were as well.
  4. Talamone is another sea town, the home of a marina and kite surfers, half way between Capalbio and Grosseto, the region’s capital (Grosseto is charming as well but has just escaped this list). The weather is always dramatic here. The remains of the fort on the rock testify of thick history.
  5. Pitigliano always yields the biggest wow effect from first-time visitors. The city built on tuff with the Jewish quarter is often called “Little Jerusalem”. Sometimes it feels that all the roads lead out of it. (Haha.) The featured photo is from here as well.
  6. Sovana is less them 10 km from Pitigliano. It feels like a movie set where a fairy-tale movie has just been filmed. It has the oldest cathedral around here, peculiar walking surface on its one street, and the most flowers by doors and windows ever.
  7. Orvieto is in Umbria, not in Tuscany (which is where all the others are located except for Tivoli which is in Lazio), and I discovered it by pure chance. It has a wicked cathedral, a deep fountain with double helix stairs and an underground system (which I haven’t visited yet). And there is a funicular from the train station to the town on the hill.
  8. Pienza is above the Val d’Orcia valley which is where most of the typical Tuscany cypress hill photos come from. I was there twice and both times there was no light. I’ll keep trying. Since it is the favourite town of my photographer friend Dunja, it was the first on my to-go list before moving here, and she was not wrong.
  9. Lucca is a town that deserves return visits, it’s just a bit far from me, close to Pisa. I was only there once, yet the light was golden. I was floored by its cathedral, the tower with seven oaks growing on top, and the square where Neil Young once played.  Near is the Devil’s Bridge that I wish to photograph one of these days.
  10. Volterra is the last of these towns to be discovered. It held a fair as if it knew we were coming. I love it when you approach a town and know by the sight alone that it will stand out. Come to think of it, the light was golden on this visit too. Maybe this is the true key to this selection. 🙂

Alert! This is NOT a question-at-the-end-of-the-post-to-trick-people-into-commenting. I’d really like to know which your favourite Italian towns or other places to see are. If you tell me yours, maybe one day I’ll share my to-do list too.

Photo: © signature mmm

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: The Road Taken

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35 Comments Add yours

  1. Leya says:

    Gorgeous little towns and sites – I realise how little time I have spent in Italy! It is always on my list…because I have only seen the usual “mustsees”. I do remember Assissi, Perugia and Siena. But, Italy is beautiful everywhere!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so true, Leya. You just need to go and stop anywhere and admire what you see. Thank you! And always welcome!

      Like

  2. Please share your to-do list 🤗 Lovely pics and all new to me, except that I’ve seen at least Lucca on your blog before ☺️ Italy is so cool for having tons of picturesque small towns, really! And if it’s any consolation to you, some weeks are super quiet on my blog for no reason, it’s like everyone went on blog strike at the same time. Who knows why…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, SMSW. Yes, I’ve been posting photos from all these towns all the time, except maybe not from Tivoli. But I know, these towns must seem so similar to everybody who hasn’t travelled around Italy yet. Once you do, you find delight in finding little differences. And yes, blog strike is correct, and sometimes I’m guilty of it too. (I’ve got too many blogs that I follow and find it hard to keep up, all my free time aside.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve traveled around Italy quite a lot, just not to those towns 😊 Because there’s an endless amount of small towns there to see. Lovely Italy! And I know what you mean by having too many blogs to follow, it’s driving me a bit crazy at the moment! 😳

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, yes, endless is right. But please, can you just name a few towns that really stood out of you. Quickly?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I can’t remember most places because I knew many Italians from different places and they drove me around… in this village was the best ice cream, in this one, something else, etc 😊

        From the places I do remember, lets see… I remember Padova was an interesting student town… Bolzano seemed very Austrian… Florence I loved for the art, architecture and nightlife… Verona’s Romeo and Juliet balcony was a disappointment… Milan was boring… Lake Garda was beautiful… Naples could easily be skipped… Rome was ok but not as intriguing as the north… Vatican full of tourists… I went to some beaches near Rome which I can’t remember the name of, not so great alone, in company maybe better… Massa di Carrara not that great… Loved Rimini and Riccione, spent 1-2 months there, they aren’t beautiful but I was 24 and it was party season, white leather sofas on the beach sand, exotic for a Finn, long nights with other foreigners, had a great time but I doubt I would like it now! San Remo was cute… so was Bologna. Many of these places were just day trips though!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thank you so much for this, girl! I can just see you, beach life and cocktails. 😉 The point is that the north I know, I’ve known it all my life, when I was still in Yugoslavia and we smuggled chewing gum after day trips to Trieste or Udine. We did a week skiing each year, in Piancavallo or other places in the Dolomites (or Austria). We were sorry for the flat east coast of Italy – only sandy beaches! Not a single island! I even saw Mantova and San Remo when I travelled to France and wasn’t too impressed with the latter, neither with Monte Carlo (other than the view). But this middle, Etruscan Italy now is totally unknown to me. It’s oozing history. And I haven’t even been south of Roma yet, at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Rural Tuscany is pretty unknown to me, but I’d like to change that! It looks so beautiful

        Liked by 1 person

  3. joey says:

    Well I don’t have one, but some of my people came from the northern area and some from the south, so I suppose if I go to Italy, I’d need to see a bit of both…
    The Mister’s been, but I forget where exactly. He enjoyed it, but he preferred other places.
    Obviously, there’s beauty EVERYWHERE!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s it, isn’t it? The world is beautiful as such. Everywhere you go, there it is. Italy is long though. And yes, you should see both, north and south, because many say it’s different countries.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dom says:

        North and South Italy are really different countries. I am from the North, my husband comes from the South. A great mixture 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, that’s great, Dom. I love mixtures like this. (Obviously!) I bet Italians could make a great film out of your life. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Dom says:

        Oh yesssss!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely photos. Quite picturesque.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jacqueline. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Vanessa says:

    A bookmark-able page, in case I’m ever lucky enough to find myself back in Italy. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are very welcome, Vanessa. 🙂 This was the intention. When I find a post like this, I file away too. One never knows.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh I don’t know what to choose…I want to go to all those places. They looks so peaceful & perfect on your pictures. But I’m not sure they are really … peaceful “wink”;))) ps. when I’m traveling I’m usually prefere to mix “huge busy place/city” with country side “calm & relaxing”..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, RayNot, these places are uncharacteristically calm for Italy. Luckily, I go regularly to Roma where I can “enjoy” non-stop peak traffic, loudness, occasional car burning, robbery or just normal screaming. But since I’m older than you, I can go without all that till the end of my life. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, now I want to Roma….I need some “loudness” Haha I’m living in a very calm quiet place :))

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Dom says:

    I love the way you love and admire my Country. Maybe I should see my fatherland with new eyes… I admit we Italians always complaint to much and do not appreciate all the beauty that surrounds us. BTW great pictures! Did you take them with your smart phone? Ore a professional CAMERA?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dom. 🙂 Outsiders always show new ways of looking at things, that’s why it is healthy to mix. I think Italians are highly spoilt with your beauty. 🙂 (And not just with that.) I don’t take photos with my phone, but my camera is not professional at all, just a point-and-shoot.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. lexklein says:

    Nothing more warming and calming than that Tuscan sun on old stone!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On old stone and old bones. 😀 (Not yet, but getting there…) Thank you, Lex.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You are a lucky lady to be surrounded by such beauty. Every image a stunner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Lisa, I know! Every time there is a minor nuisance and displeasure I tell myself that. And thank you!

      Like

  10. rxfrazier says:

    Nice travelogue! Perhaps one day a visit for me (and maybe a recommendation per your request 🙂 ).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, RX. Of course, always welcome. A recommendation per my request, or a request per my recommendation? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. rxfrazier says:

        Could be both! 😄

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Your photos and comments are lovely, and inspirational as well, as I have been contemplating spending a month in Italy at some point in the next few years. In fact, I already have the money set aside. I just need to figure out the best time to go so that certain family members can join me for at least a part of the adventure and, the more difficult aspect of the planning, exactly where I want to visit… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is great, Brian, the hardest part is behind you then. 🙂 Italy is longer than one might think (but I stem from a very little country, to me it would seem so). On the plus side – it almost doesn’t matter where you go, it’s pretty everywhere. Most of all it’s a joy to discover own favourites because they are different for everybody. I hope mine can help you out a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Beat Company says:

    All right then: La Spezia and Cinque Terre – to name just the top of the list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok, Beat, haven’t been yet. Good to see you around again.

      Like

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