Sure, the rural life isn’t for everyone—and if you’re planning your first trip to Italy, you’ll want to see at least two of the big three, Florence, Rome, and Venice, before you venture out into the wilds. Once you have those under your belt, you might be surprised at the value and the culture of hinterlands like the Lunigiana.
Last night we did an archaeological tour of a famous Romanesque church, had a drink and some snacks in a medieval piazza while listening to a band play. It was a holiday weekend. How much did all this cost?
Ok, here’s the set up. We’re in Pontremoli, a very important market town in the 11th and 12th centuries. We’re sitting in a bar in the Piazza della Republica at around 6:15. We ordered a glass of prosecco, sparkling wine, and a Campari Soda (yes, the glasses were full before I had the idea to take a picture). Food came: torta d’erbe, bits of pizza and focaccia, chips, peanuts—enough for a small meal.
So what do you think the price was? Ready? €4.50 for everything. We gave the waitress a five and left. She came running after us with the change, not expecting a tip at all.
The archaeological tour of the Pieve Sorano was free, the food was free, the drinks were €2 and €2.50 each. You don’t get those kinda prices in Rome. And just in case you think we’re in the middle of a nowhere piazza, here’s what we’re looking at:
This kind of thing happens all over Italy. Try the Le Marche, or the beguiling Abruzzo or even up and coming Puglia. Learn a little Italian, especially the polite words, and have yourself a big, heaping helping of Italian culture by renting a vacation house and hitting the hinterlands some day. You—and your wallet—can thank me later.