The 6 Regions Of Southern Italy
Southern Italy is divided up into 6 regions and is a part of Italy that always seems to be less discovered. That said when you start to look at some of the iconic places and attractions the area has to offer you have to wonder why.
I have always felt that Southern Italy lends itself to a road trip. In fact, all of Italy is a driving dream yet these undiscovered southern Italian towns, old fishing villages and beaches are just waiting to be discovered and explored by car.
There are the stylish towns of Capri and Positano offering the wow factor with their houses perched on the edge of cliffs overlooking the blue seas. Naples gives us mystery, mafia and charm and I have always associated it with football and Maradona. There is the great town of Sorrento perched on the cliffs and feeding down to the coast with its busy marina and charming streets and busy beaches.
These 6 regions of Southern Italy deliver an authentic taste of Italy coupled with that glorious Mediterranean sunshine.
Abruzzo is located in central Italy and is considered the greenest region of Italy. It stretches from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea, on mostly mountainous and wild terrain. The region’s capital is L’Aquila.
L’Aquila is the region’s main art city and therefore has a cosmopolitan feel. However, very sadly the city is now more famous as having been rocked by a massive earthquake in 2009. The grandeur is gone and being rebuilt.
Attractions of the Abruzzo Region
Pescasseroli, Rivisondoli & Roccaraso – popular winter ski resorts.
Gran Sasso, Laga Mountains, and Mount Majella – are popular mountains, peaks and hills rich in history, traditions and art.
Aterno Valley – an area full of ancient villages and pretty scenery.
National Park of Abruzzo, the Park of Gran Sasso and the Laga Mountains – for species such as golden eagle, wolves and the Marsican brown bear.
Basilicata is located between Calabria and Apulia, in the south of Italy and is known for its forests and small charming villages that cover the mountainside. The region’s capital is Potenza.
Potenza is one of the highest regional capitals in Italy and overlooks the Basento valley. With a roman history, the town hosts several historical sites and monuments. Potenza can be explored on foot since most attractions are limited to the centre of the town and with the roads here quite picturesque it makes walking around very enjoyable.
Attractions of the Basilicata Region
Monticchio Lakes – is one of the most spectacular locations in Basilicata.
Lake Grande and Lake Piccolo – are two splendid stretches of water that fill the two craters of the extinct Mount Vulture.
Metaponto and Policoro – coastal resorts offering wide sandy or pebble beaches.
The Gulf of Policastro – an area of coastal villages, small beaches and crystal-clear seas.
Calabria is at the toe of the boot, the extreme south of Italy and separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina. The capital of the region is Catanzaro.
Catanzaro is an old town by a beach and a little fishing port on a rock and split into two parts by the steep Fiumarella valley. These two parts are connected by a huge concrete steel bridge of Viadotto Morandi – one of the tallest one-arch bridges in Europe. There is a pedestrian walkway, the Strada dei Due Mari where you can enjoy fantastic panoramas of the region.
Historical monuments include the Duomo Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta and the Piazza Duomo.
Attractions of the Calabria Region
Reggio Calabria – a coastal city hosting the National Archaeological museum
Cosenza – a town recognised for its spectacular beauty and history.
Crotone – a town popular for its panoramic location and its classic Italian lifestyle
Campania is one of the regions of Southern Italy and stretches along the Tyrrhenian Sea, from the mouth of the Garigliano River to the Gulf of Policastro. It is well known for its beautiful coast, art, history and cuisine. The region’s capital is Naples.
I read an article about Naples and it was described as a tattered beauty… Naples is raw, it has a chequered history and even today it is not perfect but then perhaps that’s why it appeals to some more than any other Italian city. It is that rough diamond and the black sheep of the family.
Naples has its very own character and an old-world charm. Like many Italian cities though it is full of narrow cobbled streets, bars restaurants and galleries. Washing hangs up high down every side street and markets are bustling with shoppers touching feeling, smelling and discussing the fresh local produce.
Neapolitans, despite their dodgy reputation, welcome visitors like guests to their home and with so much to do both in the city and throughout the region of Campania it’s worth a visit!
Sorrento is a small but popular resort perched picturesquely on a plateau above the sea with spectacular views over the Bay of Naples.
It has long been a favourite with British tourists as a gateway to the Amalfi Coast and it also has good train connections for a 30-minute transfer costing 2-3 euros to Pompeii and regular fast ferry connections to Naples and Capri. The Piazza Tasso is a delight and bordered by high-quality hotels, shops and restaurants. As well to the buzzing and historical town there are the beaches, nearby traditional villages and rural walks through lemon and olive groves.
Attractions of the Campania Region
Capri – an island in Italy’s Bay of Naples, known for its rugged landscape, high-class hotels, shopping and its Blue Grotto.
Ischia – A short ferry ride from Naples, this small volcanic island is known for its thermal springs and mud baths.
Positano is one of the most beautiful cliffside villages in Italy. Artists, writers and singers, are all attracted to the white houses and gardens.
Pompeii – the famous city buried by an eruption from nearby Mount Vesuvius in the year 79 AD.
Molise is situated in south-central Italy and is known for its nature, history, art, age-old traditions and good food. The region’s capital is Campobasso.
Campobasso was once famous for making cutlery but over time this has dwindled and replaced with paving tiles and soaps. The city has various historical sites of interest including the Castello Monforte with six towers of the medieval wall remains in the old town, where there are also the Romanesque churches of San Bartolomeo and San Giorgio.
Attractions of the Molise Region
The National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise – nature reserves ideal for walking and wildlife watching.
Campitello Matese and Capracotta – the areas best-loved ski resorts
Puglia, a southern region forming the heel of Italy’s “boot,” is known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and hundreds of kilometres of Mediterranean coastline. The region’s capital is Bari.
Bari is a gorgeous old town with a pretty bustling traditional harbour and some of Italiy’s finest beaches nearby.
The old harbour is where the traditional fishing boats land their catches and sell their seafood straight off their boats. This is traditional Bari life and wonderful to witness. The atmospheric old town is called Bari Vecchio. Sitting on a peninsula overlooking the old harbour, this walled part of the city is full of narrow alleyways, cobbled streets and small piazzas, just begging to be explored.
The beaches in Bari start along the Longomare and keep on going while the harbour front Teatro Margherita, is one of the city’s most loved and iconic buildings and is now home to much of the city’s contemporary art scene.
Attractions of the Puglia Region
Lecce – an art city and Baroque jewel scattered with outstanding masterpieces and landmarks.
Gargano – the “spur of the Italian boot” is home to pristine nature, wonderful beaches, charming villages, and olive and citrus groves.
Alberobello and Itria Valley – set in beautiful countryseide this is the valley quaint villages like Alberobello, Locorotondo and Cisternino.
Ostuni – the “White City” due to its whitewashed houses.
Tremiti Islands – a nature reserve of five islands. This is a diver’s paradise as the only archipelago in the region.
Torre Guaceto Nature Reserve – a natural oasis and protected sea area.
Castel del Monte – a castle built by Emperor Frederick II in the XIII century and the region’s most visited monument.
Castellana Caves – a huge group of underground caves which are considered the most spectacular in Italy
Salento – an area of white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters nicknamed “the Maldives of Italy”.
For further information on taking a trip to any region of Italy or Europe, either contact your local travel agent, a specialist tour operator or the Italian National Tourist Office.
If you are interested in the North Of Italy why not check out my recent Italian Adventure taking in the best cities and lakes between Venice and Bergamo. .