6 Exquisite Tiny Euro Towns You Didn’t Know Existed
By Robin Jay
The phrase “Less is more” originates in Robert Browning’s 1855 poem The Faultless Painter, about a Spanish artist who felt his complicated compositions were less impressive than a fellow painter’s most simplistic artworks. Nearly a century later, the “less is more” phrase was adopted by modern furniture designer and architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who used it to describe his minimalist design philosophy. And now, in 2017, according to Skift travel trends research “less is more” when it comes to luxury travel – meaning that it’s not the size of the destination that matters most to affluent tourists, but rather the memorable experience.
Following are six tiny towns in Europe that you likely didn’t know were on the map. As you’ll see from the exquisite imagery, the incredible experience that awaits visitors confirms Browning’s theory that less certainly can be more.
Pedestrians in Hallstatt can tour this breathtaking tiny town in under 15 minutes. The quaint Austrian village was first developed in 2,000 BCE when Iron Age Celtics congregated at Salzwelten, the first documented salt mine on Earth. Because salt has historically been a highly sought after and valuable resource, the tiny region has almost always enjoyed a wealthy economy. The United Nations recognizes Hallstatt as a cultural World Heritage site, known for its welcoming small-town appeal, mountain ranges and caverns.
In the 11th century, monks began settling in Meteora, which some believe quite miraculous considering the region’s sandstone peaks make it nearly unreachable. Against incredible odds, the monks built 24 monasteries in the 15th century, and by the 16th century the frescoes created here proved a key development in the post-Byzantine art era.
In the south of Bosnia, Mostar is a tiny city that straddles the Neretva River. The historic medieval arched bridge shown here is known as Stari Most and connects to a narrow staircase that leads to a mosque’s minaret, where visitors can take in stunning panoramic views. The original bridge was a landmark for more than 400 years, until 1993 when it was demolished in the Croat–Bosniak War. The “Old Bridge” was subsequently rebuilt and reopened in 2004.
A small commune tucked in a province in northern Italy, Menaggio rests on the western shore of Lake Como at the intersection of the Senagra River. Romans conquered Menaggio in 196 BC, which resulted in the building of the historic road known as “Via Regina,” a significant commercial and travel passage that first connected the Lombardy plain with the region north of the Alps. Today, the cool summer town boasts fog-hidden craggy mountains and attracts golfers at the Cadenabbia Golf Club.
On the Mediterranean seaside of Costa Del Sol, in the southwest region of Andalusia, Spain, rests the tiny city of Ronda. Dan Brooke from International Opulence recently traveled to the scenic mountain town with his wife, Tatiana. He snapped this spectacular cliff-top photograph of the deep gorge that divides the town and the Puente Nuevo bridge that offers access to either side.
A French word meaning “queen,” Reine is a small fishing village in Norway situated on Moskenesøya Island in the Lofoten archipelago (above the Arctic Circle). It has served as a commercial center since 1743. In the 1970s, Reine became known as the most beautiful village in Norway. An interesting bit of nostalgia about Reine is that Coca-Cola hosted a product launch in the charming town and now adoringly refers to it as “our smallest launch yet.”
Editor’s note: In the upcoming Fall 2017 edition of International Opulence, look for a complete pictorial feature review of the Brooke’s travels to the Mediterranean Coast, which included visits to Marbella, Malaga and Seville in Spain and the British territory of Gibraltar, areas that date back to the occupation of the Moors as you’ll see reflected in the architecture.