My specific personal points of interest were NOT the widely known tourist attractions in the major Italian cities, like Milan, Turin, Genoa, Florence, Pisa, Bologna and Venice (which I did not visit at all) nor the known northern lakes that I saw already countless times represented on postcards and in tourist brochures, but to discover and visit the rather unknown and fascinating hidden villages of Italy, as the Italians call it: Il fascino dell'Italia nacosta.
I made a unique tour along a large number of BORGHI PIÙ BELLI D'ITALIA ( the most beautiful and precious villages and small cities of Italy ) in north-east, north-west and in mid-Italy.
Villages with this proud and honorable predicate were nominated by a select group of Italian well-known experts in the field of architecture, landscape, environment, cultural heritage, history and arts. National experts who started their unique initiative for an Italian Heritage List in 2001.
The aim of this selection was ( is ) helping to preserve, maintain, revitalise and grant the unique charm and value of these small individual villages, which - being outside the main tourist routes - risk, despite the great value, of being forgotten with consequent degradation, depopulation and abandonment.
Initially the group included a hundred villages, later increased to 211 ( in June 2014 ) nominated with the DISTINCTIVE SIGN I Borghi Più Belli d'Italia being elected as the most beautiful, most unique and charming villages of Italy with their attractive streets and buildings, exceptional squares, museums, churches, their long and impressive history and their photogenic perspectives.
With MY LOYAL, PERFECTLY RUNNING 124 SPIDER ( here in front of the main gate of the FERRARI INDUSTRIAL PREMISES in Maranello ) I drove along THESE FABULOUS HIDDEN ITALIAN GEMS ( and along about one hundred villages more ) OVER VERY NARROW, LONG AND WINDING ROADS with pot holes, over many MILES-LONG BUMPY FARM AND COUNTRY TRACKS just wide enough for one car, over unpaved or badly paved dirt roads, along hundreds of hairpin bends, over the perfect smooth, superbly constructed AUTOSTRADA with hundreds of tunnels, I drove more than 3000 miles (approx. 5000 km) in 21 days, only in Italy.
You are only able to make an intensive tour like I did, if you are willing to have breakfast every morning between 7:30 and 8:00 AM, make your day program at 8:30 and start your car engine at 9:00 AM and go !
Without power brakes and power steering it was tough and hard labor, but more than worthwhile visiting THESE AMAZING HIDDEN ITALIAN TREASURES ( I took pictures of only a limited number of them ). Most of the time I was the one and only visitor in these jewel-villages!