Medieval towns & hilltop villages Travel back in time and enjoy these hidden gems
Away from the bustling beaches of the Mediterranean, you will find a more gentle pace of life in the stunning countryside. Amongst the rolling hills and meadows, you will discover medieval towns and hilltop villages where time has stood stll for centuries. Often perched on top of a hill or on the side of a cliff, the fortified walls were used to protect the town and its people from invading nations. These days, these medieval wonders attract tourists from around the world who come to soak up the atmoshere, impressive historical architecture and experience the local culture.
Gordes is a classic hilltop village in the beautiful countryside of Provence. Built on the foothills of the Monts of Vaucluse, Gordes gives magnificent views of the Luberon and is one of the most well-known hilltop villages in the region. Surrounded by majestic lavender fields, Gordes is not to be missed if you are travelling around the area.
Wandering around the town, you think you are in a maze with its labyrthinth of narrow cobblestone streets called 'calades'. This is what makes the place intriguing, stumbling across artisan shops, cafes and restaurants with alfresco dining whilst you try and find a way out!
Roussillon is a beautiful quintessential hilltop village set between the Luberon hills and the stunning Monts de Vaucluse. It has a reputation as being one of the prettiest villages in France with its ochre pigment coloured villas and narrow winding streets.
One of the main attractions are the old ochre quarries that are set in a landscape that looks like something out of an old Spagetti Western movie. There are numerous walking trails as well that take you through the beautiful countryside passing medieval ruins and enticing vineyards where you can sample the local wines.
Lucca is probably one of the most famous fortified medieval villages in Italy. Located just 20 minutes drive from Pisa at the foot of the Apuan Alps on the Serchio river, this is a town not to be missed off your itineary. Some of the best things to see..
- Piazza dell'Anfiteatro (remains of a Roman ampitheatre)
- Basilica of San Frediano
- Clock Tower and Guinigi Tower
- Hilltop village of Barga in the Apuan Alps
San Gimignano lies within the wine growing region of Chianti southwest of Florence. It is famed for its 13th-century walls and stone tower town houses of which only 14 remain out of the 72 originally built. The town was known as the stopping off point for pilgrims travelling to or from Rome. The old town centers on Piazza della Cisterna, a triangular square lined with medieval houses. If you like stepping back in time, San Gimignano is as intriguing as it gets.
Siena is a medieval town in Tuscany located between Chianti region and Montalcino. It is regarded as a mecca for wine and food connoisseurs but also for the Palio.The Palio horse race was first run in 1664 and features 10 riders dressed in costume who race around the impressive Piazza del Campo. It was featured in the opening scenes of the James Bond film - Quantum of Solace, and is held on 2nd July and 16th August each year. Other things to see and do....
- Siena Duomo
- Climb to the top of Torre del Mangia
- Val D’Orcia just south of Siena
Located between the Luberon hills and the Monts de Vaucluse in Provence and sitting on the banks of the Rhône river, Arles is a hotspot for tourists. The village is steeped in history dating back to the Roman times with its two-tiered Roman amphitheatre and also lays claim for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh.
Attracting tourists from around the world who come to soak up the relaxed atmosphere, sample the local food and wine and simply chill out, Arles is not to be missed if you are visiting Provence.