8 Extraordinary Examples of Southern Italy and Its Charm

How do you make the most of a summer holiday in Southern Italy?  The answer is quite simple.  Italy’s Southern regions conceal an endless array of natural and architectural beauty.  So, uncovering a hidden treasure is much easier than you may think.  Just, follow these suggestions and you will be amazed by the impressive gems you dig up along the way.

Southern Italy Termoli, Molise, ItalyFirst, rent a car so that you have the freedom to go where you want when you want.  Avoid leaving yourself at the mercy of public transport schedules and limited routes.  Secondly, plan a loose itinerary with general ideas about the kinds of experiences you would like to have.  Having flexibility in your schedule guides you down a path of surprising adventures.  Finally, Get off the autostrada and embrace getting lost.  So, if you see a hillside village, that looks intriguing, do not hesitate to take a closer look.  Walk around, talk to the people, and try the local food.

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8 Extraordinary Examples of How to Experience Three Awe-Inspiring Months Discovering Eight Stunning Regions in Southern Italy.

Lazio Is So Much More Than Rome.

Southern Italy Gaeta Gaeta and Sperlonga are two seaside villages in the Province of Latina between Rome and Naples.  Now, Gaeta is a fishing and oil port.  Gaeta is currently a NATO naval base and has a long military history dating back to Roman times.  Of course, there is a massive Aragonese-Angevine Castle amongst its exquisite architectural treasures.  Also, Sperlonga’s beaches carry the distinct honor of being recognized as blue-flag.  The historical center sits high above the sea with fantastic views from a maze of picturesque narrow streets.

Campania Is An Archeological Goldmine.

Southern Italy AMCV AmphitheaterCapua is a town along the Appian Way, “Via Appia.”  It was the most famous road in Roman Times, connecting Rome with Southern Italy.  The stretch of the Appian Way that travels through Northern Campania is a treasure chest of artifacts.  Museo Campano, the museum that lives, houses 28 rooms of archeological finds plus a courtyard.  Close by in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, you can freely walk through the remains of the amphitheater.

Abruzzo And Its Natural Wonders.

Southern Italy Pescara HillsThe rolling hills of Pescara, are home to 18 of Southern Italy’s most beautiful towns.  There are endless views of vineyards, and olive groves sprinkled with quaint hillside villages.  So, it is an ideal place to do a little wine tasting and to indulge in prized olive oils.  The historical center of Loreto Aprutino is a perfect example of rural peasant civilization in Abruzzo.  As well as, boasting architectural gems like the Santa Maria in Piano Abbey.

Molise Is Italy’s Newest Region.

Southern Italy Termoli, Molise, ItalyMolise, established in 1963, is the newest region in Italy.  It is also the second smallest.  Termoli is the only seaport and the largest beach resort on its Adriatic coast.  The hidden beauty lies nestled in the mountains and certainly worth a visit.  Surprisingly, there are an impressive amount of castles, churches, and abbeys off the beaten path.  If you are lucky, you might even stumble upon some ancient ruins in your explorations.  Furthermore, many mountain villages are now ghost towns.  Their inhabitants fled many years ago due to either earthquakes or immigration.

What’s Not To Love About Puglia?

Southern Italy Lake VaranoPuglia, the heel of the boot, is most famous for its olive oil production and its earthy Italian cuisine, “cucina povera.”    Then, the architecture stuns and amazes with its unique and majestic styles.  Varying in form, from Baroque in Lecce and Gallipoli to the Trulli of Alberobello and the whitewashed village of Ostuni.  The coastline is the longest on the mainland in Southern Italy.  The Gargano Peninsula in the northern spur of Puglia is a trove of hidden treasures.  Specifically, Varano Lake nestled in the Gargano National Park.  It is a massive salt lake separated from the sea by a long sandbar lined with lofty pine and eucalyptus trees.  During World War I, the lake harbored seaplanes and submarines.  Today, it is a fishing village and resort area.

Basilicata – A Rich History Anchored By Two Seas

Southern Italy Bernalda, Basilicata ItalyBasilicata, steeped in history, boasts one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities.  Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must see with its unique cave churches and dwellings.  Lesser known is the charming town of Bernalda.  Foremost, there are the remains of a 15th-century Aragonese castle.  The castle is just one of many scattered throughout the region.  Surprisingly, Francis Ford Coppola owns Palazzo Margherita in his ancestral village.  Bernalda, the birthplace of his grandfather, is in his DNA.    In 2004, one hundred years after his grandfather Agostino left for America; Coppola converted it into a luxury boutique hotel.  So, you can experience the gardens where Sophia Coppola was married and taking regional cooking classes with their chef.

Calabria The Lesser Traveled Region in Southern Italy

Southern Italy Chiesetta Piedigrotto Pizzo, Calabria ItalyCalabria is the southern most region of the mainland.  Gently, cradled by the crystal clear blue-green waters of the Ionian and Terranean seas with three rugged mountain ranges running the length of the territory.  Thus, a spectacular place where you can go from the beach to the mountains in the same day.  To begin with, Calabria has hundreds of hillside villages dotted with archeological ruins, castles, and great churches.  For example, “Chiesetta di Piedigrotta,” a small cave church in the rocks below the town of Pizzo on the Terranean coast.  The legend is that a violent storm capsized a ship.  Fortunately, the captain and crew made it to shore and took shelter in a cave.  In short, they began to pray and promised if they survived they would build an altar in Madonna’s honor.

Sicily Is An Island Like No Other

Southern Italy Caccamo, Sicily There is nothing better than a weekend getaway to the mesmerizing Island of Sicily.  Of course, it is always easy to stumble upon an amazing architectural or natural find.  A perfect example, Caccamo nestled in the rolling hills between Palermo and Cefalú has spectacular views of the countryside.  The real gem, the Caccamo Castle, is set high upon a cliff overlooking the town.   Overall, it is very well maintained and houses an abundant array of artifacts.  In fact, it is well worth a visit.

Fortunately, I spent the past three months exploring these stunning Southern Italian regions.  It was just enough to inspire me to go back for more.  Stumbling upon unexpected natural, culinary, and architectural gold mines is fuel to plan, loosely, my next off the beaten path adventure.  Twelve other regions are calling my name.  What is your most memorable travel experience in Italy?  Leave a comment below.

Southern Italy Grammarly

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LauraLee

I am a proud third generation Italian American dedicated to promoting the richness of Italian cultural heritage.

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