Vast crystalline lakes, undulating, vineyard-covered hills, inspiring historical cities – this is Northern Italy.
At Rossano Ferretti Parma we are advocates of Italian travel, with our founder and global hair Maestro Rossano Ferretti himself being a proud, home-bound explorer. From charming towns to architectural hubs, he’s visited numerous Italian destinations – enough to create this curated list of his favourite, non-touristy, summer places to visit.
Below, you’re invited to explore Northern Italy. Our home and heritage welcome you this summer…
Bergamo is so small that it can be explored by foot, but it has enough side streets and hidden gems to keep you intrigued for days. The town is wrapped in 16th-century Venetian walls and rolling hills, creating a picturesque setting that encourages you to unwind at first glance. Rossano’s favourite thing to do is peruse the streets, admiring terrific landscapes and lovely architectures.
Attractive squares host several notable buildings, including the arcaded Palazzo della Ragione, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore with its lavish interior, and the intricate marble façade of the Cappella Colleoni. Along the narrow alleys, one can find high-end independent boutiques, delis, and centuries-old cafes, trattorias, and wine bars.
This port city shares a border with Slovenia, which means you can expect a more diverse culture that strays only slightly away from authentic Italian tradition. As a summer destination, this almost isolated strip of Italy offers a splendid waterfront lined with portentous neoclassical architecture. Here, life is slow and sweet, and holidaymakers are treated to a marina dotted with white luxury yachts, city lidos, endless sandy beaches, and enchanting vineyards.
If you love your coffee, you’re almost guaranteed to love this location. Here, you’ll find a strong coffee culture with several coffee houses lining the streets and opening up to pavements and walkways. Of course, with coffee, come pastries, with spiralled rum and raisin-filled presnitz being a favourite. In fact, if you want to find out more about Italian coffee culture, you can read The Rossano Ferretti Guide to Italian Coffee.
Treviso is an enchanting town famous for its ethereal canals, and its amalgamation of historic and modern art and culture. Treviso is also a stone’s throw away from Venice, making it the perfect summer escape for those who want to balance a touristy atmosphere with a quieter and more relaxed alternative.
This is where Rossano likes to hire a bicycle to best explore the streets and narrow alleyways, breaking his journey at one of the many historic watering holes. Other things to do include exploring the wine route up to Valdobbiadene, shopping at some of Italy’s most quintessential boutiques, and paying a humbling visit to the Treviso Cathedral.
Torino falls right of the tourist map, making it the ideal summer getaway for those who want to explore Italy in quietude. As one of our best kept secrets, you’ll be met with eclectic architecture set against a majestic, mountainous backdrop. The glittering Po River sets the scene for romantic sundowners, igniting ethereal feelings as the sun’s rays bounce off the water to create a beautiful myriad of colours.
Torino is a place where you can reflect, catch your breath, and simply bask in all of nature’s glory. If you feel like exploring, head to Mole Antonelliana, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, or the Lingotto for art and shopping. Then, indulge in some of Italia’s most divine dishes served and charming restaurants and delis. Torino is one place that has mastered the art of slow, harmonious living.
This fairy-tale destination boasts a moated castle and the Diamanti Palace, which is clad in diamond-shaped marble blocks and a vision worth seeing on its own. But the destination offers more than beautiful architecture and art, it also hosts an annual summer festival appreciated by young and old alike. During June and July, the Ferrara Summer Festival brings local and international artists to the venue, creating a stir of excitement and entertainments that melds the Renaissance setting with modern music.
For those who prefer a quieter summer, stick to bike riding along the castle walls, casual shopping at the traditional boutiques, and fine Italian dining at the many quaint restaurants.
Ravenna is an earthly paradise famous for its exquisite mosaics and scenic coastal areas that are in easy reach. It’s the perfect hub for those who want to head out to explore quieter regions but also want the advantage of a full, Italian cultural and religious experience. Set off the beaten path, you’ll find this destination is quiet even in summertime, allowing you to roam and explore without the hustle and distraction of excited tourists.
Ravenna’s incredible past laces it with intrigue and it is home to many important churches raised during Roman and Ostrogoth reign. Religious buildings for the itinerary include Saint Vitale Basilica, Saint Francis Basilica, and Theodoric’s Tomb. Rossano’s most loved hideouts in Ravenna are the National Museum and Via Cavour, a popular shopping street dotted with interesting trattorias, bars, and coffee shops.
This small yet invigorating destination is regarded as one of the pearls of the Golfo Paradiso, and we have to agree. As beautiful as a jewel, San Fruttuoso boasts one of the most charming coves set between the lush green of the Portofino Regional Natural Park and the blue of the Mediterranean. It’s the perfect summer destination for those who want to bask in the sun and hide from the hustle and bustle of the real world.
According to Rossano, the journey to San Fruttuoso Bay itself is a magical experience. There’s a breathtaking path suspended over the sea, or you can travel by boat to get closer to the turquoise water. More than just a coastal destination, San Fruttuoso also offers delectable seafood dishes, an Abbey worth exploring, and a humbleness that feeds the soul and allows deep moments of reflection.
This coastal village nestles on hills cultivated with lemons, vines, and olives, offering a true Italian Mediterranean atmosphere. It welcomes visitors to its spectacular beaches and reefs and offers a cool sea breeze to cool you down during the invigorating summer months. Plus, you have the option of basking on public or private beaches, depending on how much privacy or entertainment you want.
Beaches aside, this non-touristy destination also boasts hiking trails for the energetic, historical landmarks for those wanting to brush up on Italian knowledge, and then, of course, is the not to be missed Lemon festival that takes place in May at the beginning of the season. During the festival the village is decorated with lovely lemon decorations. The lemons emanate the most delectable citrussy scent that accompanies lemon producers selling home-made products using the fruit. There’s also a weekly farmers market where you can stock up on fresh produce, seafood, and charming hand-made tokens.
You will find the town of Salò perched on the banks of Lake Garda, a splendid lake that features a long promenade dotted with cafes and restaurants where you can pause a while and watch the world go by. The destination also offers a surreal summer atmosphere, a lively bathing resort, and a shopping paradise with narrow alleys and ornamental squares.
Rossano also suggests heading North East along the lake to the Il Vittoriale botanical gardens and Sirmione at the southern end of the lake to see the castle and medieval village. If you ever find yourself at a loss of what else to do here, head to Victory Square. This is the venue where most of the city events are organised and is usually vibrant with entertainment for adults and kids during the busier summer weeks.
To be fair, there are very, very few places in Italy that aren’t worth a second glance. Whether you are travelling between cities or meander into the countryside, there are several charming towns and hamlets to seek refuge in, all surrounded by the lush green scenery and rolling hills this part of the world has to offer.
Remember, if you’re heading this way, pack smartly and add your Rossano Ferretti Parma Build-a-Kit Travel bag to your carry-on luggage. This way, you’ll have your favourite hair products with you while you explore the beautiful home they were born from.