5 Small Villas You Should See in Italy

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Where to go when you have had enough of the crowds and tourists of Italy.

Saturnia

This quiet little village is located almost exactly between Rome and Florence. Just a couple kilometers outside of the village is Cascate del Mulino, an all natural hot spring. Take in the believed healing powers of the spring while surrounded by Tuscan countryside and end the day with a traditional Tuscan meal in Saturnia. This spring is open year round and is free to the public.

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Murano

This forgotten piece of Venice is world famous for its magnificent glass work. It has all the beauty of Venice, but without quite as many tourists. This small island is only accessible by boat. This is easy enough for those already on the main island of Venice. It is a quick trip away on the vaporetto (water bus). And pet lovers… dogs ride free.

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Moneglia

A small sea level village wedged between high mountains. The city is protected from its large bay by a sea wall. There are numerous tunnels throughout the wall for easy access to the beach. The shocking contrast of mountains and beach not only makes the blue sea reflect a forest green, but one can hike in the mountains in the morning and lounge on the beach in the evening. An ideal location for those who wish to disappear for a while along the top of the Italian boot.

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Loreto

A magnificent glowing dome protected by high walls perched atop an olive grove hill. This pilgrimage sight is the believed home of the Virgin Mary. Regardless of your religion preferences, Loreto will entrance you with its beautiful town center, unusual niche of Virgin Mary trinkets, and unique basilica.

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Aosta

This small alpine town has made its mark on the map with its surprisingly large daily market. Nestled in northern Italy, it is located close to the French/Swiss border making it a popular destination for Italy’s neighboring countries. Come here for cheap Italian fashion, Roman ruins, and fresh alpine air.

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Exploring the crags and crannies of Saint-Raphaël

St. Raphaël basilica

Notre Dame de la Victoire Church

Saint-Raphaël is not commonly recognized as ‘French Riviera,’  but it is indeed part of the Côte d’Azur. It is a lovely place for those seeking some room to breathe among the train loads of tourists that seek the summer beaches of France’s Mediterranean coast.

If you arrive in Cannes and discover, like many others, the inflated prices and scam artists that follow densely populated tourist destinations are not for you. St. Raphaël is a 20 minute train ride from Cannes. These train tickets can be purchased with no preset time, so you may leave town on a whim if you wish. Dog tickets are 50% of your ticket price. Train ticket machines have an English option, but those traveling with a pet must purchase their ticket from an actual ticket teller. There are designated English booths for those who don’t have a firm grip on the French language. It is about a 2 minute walk from the Gare de Saint-Raphaël-Valescure train station to the beach.

Along the

Along the Sentier du Littora footpath

Clean public beaches with showers stretch all across the city front . These beaches do not allow dogs, but this rule seems to be disregarded and poorly enforced. St. Raphaël is very well groomed and maintained. Never was there an overflowing trash can, and shady street venders seem to be ran off for the most part.

What makes St. Raphaël special is the Sentier du Littora coastal footpath; a winding trail woven among jagged red coastline rocks. It is connected with homemade bridges and in some places the steps are even cut into stone. This trail can be precarious as times, but the hidden coves and its mysterious (presumably man-made) stone port are well worth the effort. The trail starts at the edge of Port de Plaisance, and it is walled off at Plage de la Péguière although it is said this trail extends for an additional 6 km.

Plage de la Péguière is a sand beach with public showers and a small sandwich shop. It is approximately 5-6 km from the head of the Sentier du Littora trail. It is the perfect place to relax in the sand after exploring the crags and crannies of St. Raphaël’s unique coastal trail.

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Quiet cove along the

Quiet cove along the Sentir du Littora trail

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 For more information on dog travel in France click here