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Walkable ancient cities


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We love Rome and have been there several times. Looking for recommendations that might be as walkable as Rome along with history around every corner.
We’ve been to Siena, Naples, Florence, montepulciano, Salerno, Sorrento and Amalfi coast. Just looking for somewhere in Italy that will surprise us around every corner this next month (October)


500+ Posts
I haven't been to any of the places you mentioned, so hard for me to compare. But I suppose that the most likeliest candidate for your interests would obviously be Venice. Personally, I enjoyed this city far less than Torino, Genoa or Bologna (too many tourists for us in Venice, and we were there in November!). These last three are really wonderful, although Genoa might not be defined as easily "walkable", depends. All three have many historical sites, and each is surprising and full of character in its own way.
I might add that Torino could also serve as a base for relatively nearby and interesting places (Alba, Asti, Saluzzo), likewise Bologna for Modena and Ferrara.
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100+ Posts
More info could help with advice. How long will you be staying? You said history, does that mean archaeological sites, interesting churches and architecture, art galleries and museums?
For a longer trip Milan springs to mind, apart from the places Joe mentioned. Or any city on the main train line between Brescia and Venice because it's so easy to move along to the next one. Padova for example is good for a day trip to Venice.
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500+ Posts
More info could help with advice. How long will you be staying? You said history, does that mean archaeological sites, interesting churches and architecture, art galleries and museums?
To this I might add the question : how old is "ancient"?

Ian Sutton

1000+ Posts
I wonder whether Bologna might appeal:
- Lots of historic buildings and cultural history, albeit not much in the way of Roman stuff from memory (though IIRC there is however an odd section in a department store where a Roman excavation is on display)
- Very walkable, with little in the way of hills, plus extensive porticoed pavements in case the weather turns foul.
- Only moderate amount of tourism. It remains a functional city
- Decent tourist office in Piazza Maggiore (aka Piazza Nettuno) who can help unearth some specifics
- The food is good!

Also worth a look is Aosta in Valle d'Aosta, with strong Roman roots, and a different (French Savoy) influenced twist on Italy. Getting there would require getting a train from Torino (but perhaps there are Milano connections as well?)

Another thought is Puglia (with a side trip to Matera). This very much would benefit from having a car, but many of the towns make for an interesting stroll around, and there's varied history from the Octagonal castle (Castel del Monte), through Venetian architecture in Trani, traditional stone 'Trulli' houses centred on Alberobello, all the way down to Gothic architecture in Lecce.

As Torino was mentioned, it certainly has lots of history, albeit much more Napoleonic / founding of the Italian nation, than Roman (there's a little, but not much). Quirky highlights might be walking over a bridge Napoleon commissioned, visiting underground (Museo Pietro Micca has you guided along counter-mining tunnels from a French siege, but I think there's also a different underground tour now), historic cafes that may have been the scene of plotting the reunification, scenes from the Italian Job movie, a fake (but reasonably convincing) mockup of a medieval village (Borgo mediavale), fancy buildings around Piazza Castello, hunting estate / country piles outside the city.

Whilst we're in that region, Alba in October is buzzing at weekends (and there's stuff on during the week) for the annual truffle festival. That's grown to become something of a food festival, with a most amazing outdoor market that rivals the indoor one for quality. It's not big, but is very pleasant and historic to stroll around (but gets a bit bustly on the Saturdays when the truffle fair is on). The events are well worth seeking out, from a sarcastic donkey race, mocking Asti's palio, through the medieval market and flag throwing procession, to arts etc.
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