I know that Europe can be perceived as “very far away” from other continents, so that when you have the opportunity to come in the Old Continent you think that it will take years before you’ll be able to come back again.
And I am also aware that, once you’ve gone through 20 hours flight you don’t want to miss Rome, Paris, London, Berlin and all those cities that you’ll eventually be able to talk about having visited them.
But all non Europeans should also consider that:
- Europe is quite small, and moving from one main city to some other peripheral area is not a big deal
- True European style and pace of life is out of the main capitals,
- There are cities that you’ll remember forever for their welcoming attitude, their beauty and… because their history is crucial in European development and civilization!
So let’s go and list some cities that are not capital or, if they are, they are the main cities of countries not still known enough by non Europeans (and also by European, I have to say!).
This is a must destination for wine lovers! Porto is a very romantic and crepuscular city, where you can enjoy a very mediterranean pace of life!
The name of the whole national (Portugal) comes from this city, that was there before the nation was politically settled. Did you know that?
Nimes + Avignone, France
First of all, allow me su suggest you to visit the whole Provence and Camargue area. The scent of lavender will be a part of you for the rest of your life!
The scent of lavender is my very first memory of Nimes, where I stayed for a while.
This small but amazing city is just a few hours train from Paris; its cozy atmosphere is dressed up with a lot of local events and concerts.
Talking about events, Avignon is the city of the Theatre, hosting every summer a festival much loved by the theatre fans from all over the world.
Avignon is the city where, in the 14th Century, the Pope lived for 70 years because of political struggles in the Rome and Italian territory. You can still see in this enchanting city, the history tracks of that period.
The whole area of Salento is definitely something worth visiting, and I’d say South Italy in general. Salento is very appreciated for its sea and coast, even if the main city, Lecce, is untouched by the sea (actually Lecce is 10 km far from the coast).
If you like art and if you have visited Rome with her puzzling baroque style, Lecce will leave you breathless with her local baroque, called barocco leccese, made with a peculiar smooth yellow stone, making building look like sandy gold.
Belgrade + Novi Sad, Serbia
Differentty than the above listed cities, Belgrade is actually a capital: it’s the capital city of Serbia. But we must admit that unfortunately Serbia is still not one of the most visited countries in Europe, and that’s a shame since all the Balkans area is so important in the whole West modern history.
Today Serbia is a country whose economy is growing but it still preserves strong local aspect, that you can perceive in its music, food and art.
You can also enjoy the amazing Novi Sad, with less evidences of the recent war (Serbia was Bombed in 1999 by the NATO in the Allied Force operation) than Belgrade.
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There’s such a great cultural life in this city (Chopin’s native town) based on concerts, theatre (also open air shows)!
The Old Town (Stare Miasto) has been a UNESCO Heritage since 1980. It is good to know that it was almost completely rebuilt after the German occupation and particularly after the Warsaw Uprising, one of the longest civil resistances in the world, the longest of the Second World War. The poor Polish people awaited the arrival of the Russians that actually abandoned them to devoted to more profitable war fronts. The greatest war strategists in Europe’s history were only a handful of scoundrels. Some civil populations were the only heroes.
You’ll be amazed by the green and waters of Park Łazienki and by the Multimedia Fountains park shows in Summer, the best period to fully enjoy the local culture at its best.
Why should you visit Sofia?
Over than the huge green spaces, over than the great great great wines and lively local life, the main square hosts a synagogue, a mosque, a catholic church and and orthodox church; they are all active and old, and in their beauty and different rites, they make this city one of the loveliest I’ve seen in the last year.
In general, when you plan your trip to Europe, try to get out of the common path! This continent has so much for you to discover!