The results have been published of the annual election of Italy's 10 “Most Beautiful Borghi (historic villages)”. The Apennine town of Bobbio in Emilia Romagna, with its ancient Abbey of St. Colombanus, founded by the 7th century Irish monk, scooped this year's gold medal.
Second came Venzone in Friuli Venezia Giulia. This town, declared a National Monument in 1965, was tragically destroyed in the Friuli earthquake of 1976. However, thanks to the determination of the local administration, it was totally reconstructed exactly as it was before during the eight years immediately following the catastrophe.
Arquà Petrarca in Veneto, where the poet Petrarch spent the last years of his life was third.
Runners up were: Conca dei Marini (Campania) on the Amalfi Coast, Castiglione di Sicilia on the slopes of Etna, Castelmezzano in the Dolomites of Basilicata, Orta San Giulio on Lake Orta (Piemonte), Tellaro in Liguria and Panicale (Umbria).
The “Borghi Piu Belli d'Italia” organization was founded in 2001 by the Tourism Council of the Association of National Italian Municipalities to unite the collective forces of the numerous artistic and historic small towns with less than 15,000 inhabitants. It now counts 289 members.