If you’re looking to relax and unwind in the Italian countryside for these last months of summer and would love to do so at a location that has slow tourism and sustainability in mind, you’ll be happy to know the list of the most ecological towns in the country has just been released.

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The Green Spikes are towns and villages rewarded for the great attention they pay to their territory and environment. Photo by ronnybas/Shutterstock

They are called Spighe Verdi, Green Spikes, and one might say they are the other side of the coin to the Blue Flags, which each year are awarded to the best seaside towns in Italy. Both denominations are awarded by the Danish-based ONG FEE, the Foundation for Environmental Education, and the underlying concept is the same – these are towns and villages that have made sustainable tourism and the promotion of their territory as their main objectives.

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Tuscany is one of the regions with the most Green Spikes villages. Photo by DiegoMariottini/Shutterstock

This year, there are 42 towns and villages that have made the cut, scattered throughout 13 regions from the north to the south of Italy. The regions of Piedmont, Tuscany and Marche each have six, while Campania has five, Puglia and Lazio four, Veneto and Abruzzo three, and Liguria, Umbria, Sicily, Calabria and Trentino each have one. All of them went through a rigid process of selection, which means that they really are the best places to take a countryside vacation in Italy.

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The number of Green Spikes villages is growing more and more each year. Photo by Jonathon Stokes/Lonely Planet

To apply, a town has to show significant attention to the question of sustainability, as well as the push to constantly better their territory and their community. Some other factors taken into consideration by the FEE committee are careful usage of natural resources, care for naturalistic areas, the presence of one or more typical products, and the quality of the tourist offer. It’s a way to highlight the vast agricultural heritage of Italy, its landscapes and traditions, as well as its excellent products – think wine, and cheese, and pasta, and everything delicious that has ever come out of the Bel Paese.

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One of the main objectives of the program is to promote the beauty of the Italian countryside. Photo by Flavio Vallenari/Getty Images

If you’d like to see a complete map of the Green Spikes towns and villages to plan your next holiday in the Italian countryside in time for the autumn and grape harvest season, you can find it at the official website here.

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