Alternative Italy: 5 new places to discover

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Italy has always been a tourist hot spot. In this five-part extract from Lonely Planet Magazine (Aug 2010), we recommend five alternatives to big-ticket Italy - fabulous Italian places that have been almost flying under the radar. They're well worth exploring, plus you'll dodge the tourist crowds and get another take on delicious Italy.

Part 1: Like Tuscany? Try the Langhe Valley.

Explore the hilltop villages of the Langhe, northern Italy, sample the region's wines, gazing at the undulating hills of vines.

Part 2: Like the Amalfi Coast? Try the Gargano Promontory.

This area is a tumultuous mix: bleached sea cliffs, dense dark-green scrub, wild orchids, pine forests and silver beaches. A protected national park, it's the kind of place where, if you picnic on the clifftops, you're likely to be joined by an inquisitive herd of goats.

Part 3: Like Florence? Try Bologna.

Explore this incredible city that is the colour of autumn leaves: rust, gold and dark apricot. Massimo Medica, director of Bologna's Musei Civici d'Arte Antica, explains, 'The colour of the city is terracotta; the surrounding land is rich in clay, from which the bricks were made.'

Part 4: Like The Dolomites? Try Monti Sibillini.

Split between Umbria and Le Marche, this mountain range mixes mountaintop pastures, weathered crags, royal-blue lakes and sharp ridges.

Part 5: Like Lake Como and Garda? Try the Lazio Lakes.

Few outsiders have heard of the lakes of Lazio, but the region around Rome harbours brimming volcanic craters, great pools of blue.