Small villages give you a good big picture of the soul of a country. You can appreciate the cobblestoned streets, olive groves, old churches, and the fresh air.
Below we feature some of the most beautiful, small villages you can find when you travel around Europe.
Bolgheri is a small town of 1,000 residents, just 40 miles south of Pisa. A road lined by about 2,500 cypress trees will lead you to the town set around vineyards of the southern portion of Maremma. Make sure you make a stop at the Caffe della Posta and try the redwines of Bolgheri which is said to be competing well with the French Bordeaux.
Check out the Relais Sant ‘Elena where you can have a good night sleep at one of their 15 rooms with canopy beds, relax by the fireplace, and have a blast during a pasta-making crash course.
How about some raviolie with pappa al pomodoro? You can enjoy the best at the Osteria Magona for about $160 for two.
Staufen im Breisgau (Germany)
This small village just near the Black Forest in the southern portion of Germany can be perfect if you are looking for a weekend of excellent wine. From Strasbourg you will pass by hills of vineyards and you will know that you are downtown when you see the statue of Bacchus. Follow the pastel houses and they will lead you to the market place. For sure, you will not miss the crystal clear water flowing through the irrigation ditches.
The Hotel Gastof Kreuz Post offers one of the best value accommodations you can get in this town of about 7,700. Their resto serves excellent duck breast, risotto with blood sausage, and mushroom crepes. Make sure you visit the Alfred Schladerer distillery to get some plum or cherry eau-de-vie.
Lavenham is one of the prettiest towns of England. The town serves home to only 1,700 or so but it boasts of 300 heritage houses with its main street lined with tea houses and ships. You can have the best scones and cream at this rural part of England. Travelers who want to get to Lavenham can take the train from the Liverpool Station in London to get to Stowmarket which is just 14 miles away.
You can get a room for two for just $144 at the Great House Hotel at the center of the town. The Great House Resto can give you a good English pub experience and dinner for just $100. Another great option will be the Buxhall Coach House at $352 for doubles.
Take the train from Edinburgh and it will stop almost under the shadow of a medieval castle after 30 minutes. That is the Victorian train station in Aberdour which is a small town of 1,600 or so. The village is not really car friendly but you will not really have to drive around since they have the best walkways you will see.
It is really a quiet town even though quite a lot make it as their base during the Edinburgh International Festival in August. The tiny working village has only 4 pubs, a general store, and some specialty shops. You can get the best rooms at the Woodside Hotel for about $140 for two persons. Dinner can be great at $48. The bar’s interior is lined with panels from a passenger ship that served during the 19th century. They serve the local Highland beef.
The culinary traditions at this Umbrian citadel are very well alive. There are dogs trained to search for truffles, the Pecorino cheese gets to age for 2 years, and they get their honey from the wildflowers in the vast plains. The star of the show though is the cinghiale. You can smell the scent of it from the delis. Walk by the stores and you will discover how this town perfected the process of curing their meet. During spring, ask for some ciasculli and enjoy it while watching locals celebrating St. Benedict’s feast.
Norcia is just about 70 miles away from Rome. You can rent one of the rooms at the 16th century Palazzo Seneca for around $230. Enjoy dinner of strangozzi pasta with black truffle for $70 at the Il Granaro del Monte. The town celebrates the Black Truffle Festival from February through March and these will be the best time to visit this European village.
The best blackberries you will ever find are along the roads of Roundstone. Even if you do not love black berries you will fall in love with this old fishing village. Ask your guide to take you to Errisbeg Hill to get a view of the Twelve Bens at the Connemara National Park. Most likely it will rain when you visit but do not worry you can always head to the shop of Malachy Kearns where you can get a good bodhran or Irish drums. You can also opt for a round of Guinness or shots of whiskey at the O’Dowds bar.
You need to take a 76 mile drive from Galway if you want to enjoy a slice of life in this town of only 239 residents. You can stay overnight at the Cashel House Hotel just a few miles from Roundstone. You can also try to learn from some good local anglers if you are really into it.
This village was one of the favorite spots of the elites of Marseilles during the 1950’s. From your room at the Auberge, you will have a great view of green dormant volcanoes. You can also take a hike and go to winding streams which are believed to have some healing qualities. A famous English chef who also established business in this small town can teach you how to properly butcher a pig.
An hour and a half of hiking will take you to a smaller village of Dubriat where you will see an old, crumbling castle. You can ask the chefs at auberge to pack a basket of goodies for you.
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