Europe, 22 hidden gems to discover.  Between Lucania, Elba, Ischia and Liguria the four Italians

Close to the Lucanian Dolomites, in the province of Potenza, there is Pietrapertosa, one of the gems of the Basilicata region. Set in the rocks, with the atmosphere of other times, the Saracen castle and the medieval aspect almost intact, it is part of the circuit of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Now this small stone town gets another recognition: it is on the podium (in third place) of the Best Hidden Gems in Europe ranking.

Drawn up by European Best Destination, the Brussels-based organization created to promote culture and tourism in Europe, the list selects the lesser-known destinations of the Old Continent, which are worth discovering this year.

Twenty-two locations have been chosen, in which Batumi, Georgia, a sort of local Las Vegas, located on the shores of the Black Sea, is in first place, even if these days, geopolitically speaking, it does not seem among the most inviting destinations. Torrevieja, in Spain follows: the town has a scenic “Laguna Salada”, the pink lake located in the Lagunas de la Mata y Torrevieja Natural Park, special not only for its unique color, but also for the beneficial properties of the waters.

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And after Pietrapertosa, there is another Italian in fourth position, Rio Marina, on the island of Elba, a famous mining center, with beaches with turquoise waters, surrounded by Mediterranean scrub and a charming village.

The Croatian Veli Losinj is a true paradise, one of the best kept secrets in Europe. Nature and crystal clear waters are the visiting card of this twentieth century seaside village, where you can find entertainment and well-being, as well as scenarios ranging from the sea to the heights of Mount Kalvarija.

Calella de Palafrugell, in Spain, also has a fishing history, which best sums up the allure of sun, sea and relaxation of the Costa Brava, but without the crowds of the more famous centers. The same goes for the French Bauduen. Located an hour and a half from Nice, it is a privileged holiday spot in the heart of nature, perfect for exploring the Gorges du Verdon and the bounty of the region between Provence, the Alps and the French Riviera.

Thun, Switzerland

Thun, Switzerland

Moraira, then, is the prettiest village on the Costa Blanca, Spain, which conquers the eighth position thanks to the beauties it offers, starting from the beaches. No sea, but a beautiful lake, is the trump card of Thun, Switzerland. This gem, from which the body of water it overlooks takes its name, is a typical village in the Canton of Bern, where locals come to spend their weekends and holidays in peace.

With Port Grimaud, “a pinch of Venice on the French Riviera”, as the experts of the European Best Destination write, we reach the tenth position. A completely different scenario in Quedlinburg, Germany, between stone houses and medieval streets, this Unesco heritage village offers a journey back in time, with the ancient castle and the church that houses the tomb of a German king of the 10th century. All around forests as far as the eye can see.

Sainte Marguerite, the largest of the Lerin Islands, conquers the twelfth position, with its serene climate and the air that smells of sea, eucalyptus and pine trees, an ideal place for a holiday in the name of nature. Sant’Angelo in Ischia competes with it. After all, the Green Island is an enchantment and holds many treasures, from spas to hidden bays.

Savona

Savona

Not just the sea though. Returning to Spain, we discover Zahara de la Sierra, in the province of Cadiz, a hidden gem in the arid hills of Andalusia, in which to explore the most particular “Pueblos Blancos”. From there it is worth going to Rhonda, another characteristic village split in two by a deep gorge.

And if in the fifteenth place St Jean Cap Ferrat is named – even if it is not really “secret” as a destination -, in the sixteenth place Hondarribia offers a valid alternative to the more famous Basque destinations, with the same charm. Théoule-sur-mer is also a special place, which takes us back to France. A place to “enjoy the splendid beach, go hiking, taste local products, visit the Pointe de l’Aiguille natural park and the Estérel massif, the island of Sainte Marguerite”.

After the Provençal Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, we find Portugal with the Farol Island, one of the small semi-desert islands of the Ria Formosa Reserve. Unknown to big tourism, among its golden coasts you can find small fishing villages and wild beaches.

After Trogir in Croatia and Sesimbra in Portugal, another Italian closes the ranking: Savona. An unusual destination, less frequented than the unmissable stops that Liguria offers, chosen “for its baroque architecture and for the historic center, a picturesque place to visit, but away from the crowds (and costs) of the most famous villages of the Riviera” .

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