Italy went from being a tourist hotspot to a no-go zone within the space of weeks at the start of the pandemic. But offbeat spots are helping to rescue some of the country’s depopulated villages.
Some 70 kilometers northwest of Rome, Vitorchiano sits on a reddish hilltop jutting-out of a deep gorge resembling a giant mushroom.
Dating back to Etruscan times, the town is an optical illusion from a distance, as its simple dwellings are carved into the very hill they sit on, making it difficult to see where the rock ends and they begin. Below the rock, lush green undergrowth rises all the way up to the yellow roofs and pointed chimneys.
Vitorchiano’s unique position provides wonderful views, with the town’s narrow cobbled alleys leading to scenic wall openings, thought to have been used as bandit lairs during the Middle Ages.
As for food, the town’s signature dish is a spicy spaghetti made from cavatelli pasta with chili pepper, garlic, tomato sauce and wild fennel.