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Most beautiful villages in Italy

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I Borghi più Belli d'Italia is an association that awards a certificate to the small towns that meet its criteria for being judged among "the most beautiful villages in Italy". People looking for beautiful places to visit off the beaten tourist trail should definitely consult the list.

http://www.borghipiubelliditalia.it/en/

If you click on "Villages" at the top of the page, you'll see a map of Italy, divided into North, Central, and South, with outlines of the regions within each section. Hovering your cursor over any of the regions brings up the name of the region. Clicking on a region brings up a page which shows all the towns in that region. Finally, clicking on a town brings up a description of the town, not always translated well, I'm afraid.

Very few of the well-known tourist meccas are on the list, because this is an association that values above all harmony, livability, and natural beauty in very small towns. The maximum population for the historic center of the town must be no more than 2000 inhabitants. There are some famous towns that might meet the criteria but don't want to bother going through the evaluation process, since they get plenty of publicity through other channels.

All of the towns I know that have the certificate certainly deserve it. They have to apply for admission to the association. A group from the organization visits the town and judges it on many factors, such as livability of the town, pedestrianized centers, the presence of a tourist office and the possibility of guided tours, harmonious architecture, adequate lodgings for tourists, a preponderance of old buildings as opposed to new ones, and the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.Some towns are ruled out altogether for lack of natural beauty and harmonious architecture. Towns that don't make the cut on other grounds are given list of things that need to be improved and another chance to get approved. Once in the club, the towns are revisited periodically to make sure they still merit the certificate.

I was reminded of this association yesterday when I recommended Buonconvento, in Tuscany, to someone looking for a small town in Tuscany. It was reinforced today, when, at a meeting in our town about tourism, someone mentioned that the association was collecting funds for Amatrice, one of its members, which was very badly damaged in one of the recent earthquakes.

On the website, there is an online shop which sells typical products. They seem to deliver to outside Italy, but I don't know if there are exceptions for some products.

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