TBT – Italy | Vieste, Italy’s Hidden Gem!
Vieste you say? Where is that? I’ve never even heard of it before…
Neither had I.
But you’ll want to hear about it, because the combination of turquoise waters, colorful caves, and homes nestled right into the white cliff face make this small coastal town an absolutely beautiful vacation destination.
If you’ve kept up with my posts from my trip to Italy, you’ll know that we were just leaving family after visiting Fano. My mom wanted some time to lay and relax on a nice sandy beach (the shore in Fano was very rocky) so she found a campground in this small town called Vieste. It’s situated right on the east coast along the Adriatic Sea in the Faggio province. I believe my mom read that the region was part of a national park, so it was very mountainous and had caves to explore. We amicably agreed to go there next, just thinking that it would be nice to have some time on the beach and do some exploring.
The drive started out innocently enough with the sun shining on the Adriatic Sea to our left and bunches of flowers and rosemary lining the highway to our right.
It was smooth sailing until we neared Gargano National Park which is situated pretty close to Vieste was near. The park is very mountainous, so the drive into Vieste now counts as one of the most terrifying drives I have EVER experienced in my entire life.
First off, the roads in Italy are more narrow than in Canada. Also note that we were driving a beast of an RV through these treacherous roads.
To make matters even worse, we were driving up extremely steep mountains, that had little more than a guard rail as a source of protection from falling to the rocky depths below. OH, and did I mention that my father is a crazy driver?! My mom and I had to keep asking him to slow down because we were scared that we would fall off the mountain at every hairpin turn.
At one point, I was literally trying to push my body weight to the side of the vehicle away from the edge of the road. However, during a more straight stretch of climbing the mountain, I courageously looked out over the mountain edge and saw the beautiful waters below, complete with small white washed islands dotting the coast. We were driving up the mountain as the sun was starting to set, so the view from the top, though terrifying, was rather breathtaking.
The next day, we woke up bright and early in order to get in some beach as well as some town time.
The campsites are situated in such an ideal location that it literally took us a few minutes to walk to the beach. I laid in the sun for a while, but I’m a huge cliche, and like long walks on the beach, so that’s what I did.
The beaches in Vieste had the most beautiful crystal clear water, with soft sand running the length of them. The cool shallow waters allowed you to be able to walk out for a good distance before encountering any kind of depth. I chose to walk down the strip of beach and explored the large white cliffs while climbing over large pieces of rock that made up the shore farther down the beach.
By far, the most exciting part of the beach were the small caves that were carved out of the rocky cliffs. I came across a few small ones that I wasn’t really able to go in, but one of them had the most beautifully colored purple and green walls – it was insane that something like this occurred naturally!
As I kept walking down the beach, I found a cave that I was actually able to go into! I was a little apprehensive at first because it was pretty dark, and the water ran all the way to the back of the cave. I wasn’t sure what the sand would be like, or if I would step on something sharp. I ended up going in though, and immediately it was much cooler in the cave and I got a couple neat photos looking out the entrance.
In early afternoon, we decided that we had had enough of the beach, so we went back to the RV to change and head into town to get some lunch and explore a bit.
It was a long, hot walk into the town, so we stopped at a cafe along the street to have some lunch. After we were refreshed and started out walking again, we walked by this amazing turquoise gate that I just absolutely loved. I love that in places like Italy, you can just turn a corner and find this amazing old gate with so much character.
The farther into town that we got, the more I fell in love with it. Everything was just so closely built together, yet it never felt cramped. There were narrow staircases winding through houses, with small restaurant tables right next to a path for people to walk. The houses that were stacked on top of one another looked like what I imagine Greece to be. Everything was white washed and built right atop the cliff with balconies that overlooked the beautiful turquoise sea.
While we were admiring the nooks and cranny’s of the town, we came across a museum dedicated completely to shells – so obviously I was all in. It’s called the Museo Malacologico di Anna Ragno C. S. A. S. and had so many cool shells in it from all over the world. As someone who collects shells and sand from every beach I’ve gone to, this was something that was of great interest to me. It was also a rather small museum, so it wouldn’t take you a long time to look at their entire collection.
After the museum, we found our way into a cute little wine and cheese shop where they were also selling different types of liqueurs. I had never seen most of these flavours before, so when I saw Pistachio, which is a favourite of mine, I had to buy it. By this time, it was nearing the end of the day, so we started making our way back to the campground , making sure to get some gelato along the way 😉
The next day, we packed up pretty early to prepare for our death defying drive down the other side of the mountain, and the drive across the country to Ottavanio to see Mount Vesuvius. Here’s our last parting shot of the town, where I bravely sat in the front seat and tried not to throw up while we took the winding drive down the mountain.
Vieste is one of those beautiful little places that not many people know about, but it really does have a lot to offer! It’s also great because unlike some other more popular destinations, it’s not full of tourists! This made for a much more relaxing experience in the town, and is partially why I loved it so much. Also, DON’T let the drive into our out of town deter you in the slightest! It was definitely well worth it to be able to explore this hidden Italian gem.
Definitely consider penciling Vieste into your next vacation to Italy, you won’t be disappointed!