Southern Italy Vacations - Food, Tours, Hotels, Map of Southern Italy

Southern Italy has so much to offer for vacations. When we traveled through this lovely part of Italy we were amazed at just how many lovely tourist attractions there are, but that many were mostly undiscovered. When people visit Italy, they often just visit the main cities or landmarks and often the rest of Italy gets sadly ignored. 

If you are looking for budget travel within Italy come to the south. Everything is so much cheaper than its northern cousins from the food, to the wine, clothing, even accommodation. And the weather is better too. It certainly doesn't rain half as much as central or northern Italy and the olive oil that is produced here is wonderful.

Did you know that you can go skiing in Southern Italy? Well, you can! Those are just some of the many surprises that this sadly neglected part of Italy by the traveler has to offer.

Regions of Southern Italy

  • Apulia (Puglia)
  • Abruzzo
  • Basilicata
  • Calabria
  • Campania
  • Molise
  • Sicily
  • Sardinia

Apulia (Puglia) has its quaint architecture with the trulli in Alberobello and many traditions and superstitions carried over from times of witchcraft.  It is interesting to see that at Orsara di Puglia, in the Province of Foggia they have been celebrating Halloween for the past 1,000 years. However, their celebration takes place on the evening of the 1st  November instead of 31st October, and is more a dedication to the dead, but does included pumpkins.

Abruzzo has wild and largely uninhabited landscapes, and one of the most stunning mountain ranges is the Gran Sasso. But it is also here that a strange festival takes place called the Procession of the Snakes, where people on the first Thursday in May join a religious procession drapped with snakes follow an effigy of St. Dominic through the streets of Cocullo, which is also drapped in poisonous vipers. 

Basilicata has caves at Matera that had been lived in for 9000 years until the 1950s, although people are now buying these up to live in once more.

Calabria has mountains that dip their toes in the crystal clear waters of the coast. Grapes for wine making have been grown in Calabria since the times of the Greek invasions. 

Campania has some of the best food of Southern Italy and is my pick of which regions to visit if you have just one region in Southern Italy that you have time for. This is home to Naples and the pizza, Pompeii, the beautiful Amalfi Coast, and the best preserved Greek temples outside of Greece at Paestum.

A visit to Pompeii is a must, and while you are in the region look for lemoncello a liqueur made from lemons - it's delicious over ice cream if you get the creamy version, and the buffalo mozzarella which fantastic and pseudo versions you find in supermarkets around the world pale in comparison.

The Amalfi Coast is sublime, that is if you can take your eyes off the road long enough to enjoy the view. The roads are narrow and twisty, large tourist buses swing around tight corners into your path and vespers built for 2 but carrying 3-5 pass you at frightening speeds. The drive is not for the faint-hearted! You have been warned. :)

You can also go skiing in Southern Italy at Laceno - a top destination if you are looking for a cheap family skiing holiday!

Molise is vastly uninhabited by comparison to the rest of the country. However, in Molise you can ski at two of the most important skiing restorts in the south of Italy; Campitello Matese and Capracotta.

Sicily is one of those islands that is steeped in thousands of years of history seen today in the way the people look, the type of dishes they prepare and their architecture.  The Arabs invaded Sicily along with the Moors, and many others before and after that.  Sicily also has a dark side as the Mafia still has roots deeply embedded here, although as a tourist you wouldn't notice, nor would you be affected in any way.

Sardinia has so many beautiful beaches with waters that are crystal clear. However, it isn't just the coast that is worth a visit. Take a trip to the interior and buy some local Pecorino cheese made from those woolly Sardinian sheep that you will see dotting the landscape. If you are really brave try some Casu Marzu! Mmm! Don't you just love those maggots!

Reggio Southern Italy

Southern Italy with Mount Versuvius in the Background

Regional Food of Southern Italy

The food of Southern Italy can certainly be more spicy than food in the north, particularly if you are in Sicily. And if you are in Molise and Abruzzo, although the food is very similar, dishes in Molise have far more herbs than dishes in Abruzzo. characteristic of this area consists of tomatoes, olives, anchovies, capers, garlic, herbs, chillies, seafood and lamb.

We had some amazing meals in the south. Two meals stand out particularly. One was in a restaurant that we had found by chance. It over looked the Bay of Naples with a view similar to the picture above and it was filled with patrons sitting inside cheering on the local football team of an important match. We, on the otherhand, sat outside and enjoyed the view and the best frutti di mare we had ever tasted. With just a hint of chili to lift the dish - it was superb!

The other meal in Southern Italy that was equally memorable was after a day of visiting Pompeii. It was 3 :00 p.m. by the time we had finished looking around this not-to-be-missed heritage site when we realized that it was late and restaurant after restaurant turned us away as they were packing up for the afternoon.

Not giving up, as we also had 3 children in the back seat who were not very quiet in telling us how hungry they were, we finally came to a restaurant that had a lot of cars outside. We went in only to find that we had invaded the tail-end of a wedding celebration. There sat the bride in all her finery, along with her groom and the rest of the party. As we were about to beat a hasty retreat we were stopped by the manager who insisted that we take up a spare table.

After greetings all round from the happy gathering to us, and vice versa, we enjoyed a wonderful meal in such a happy environment that it was contagious. We left feeling very euphoric, although that might have had something to do with several free shots of lemoncello that the manager insisted on giving us!

That was our introduction to lemoncello, and has become a firm favorite, followed by bellini's but then I digress, as that's a drink that comes from the north.

It is fair to say that each region of the area has its own specialities. If you go to Apulia their orecchiette (little ears) pasta is unique. And it is Apulia where you can find some of the best olives in the whole of Italy.

But because many of the regions have a coast line, this part of Italy serves some of the best seafood dishes. Grilled swordfish, sardines, lobster, prawns, squid, tuna, anchovies and mussels all find their way to the tables, as well as good line fish.

Vegetables are plentiful in the south of Italy, but there are a few that occur again and again in meals; tomatoes, zucchinis, eggplants, red peppers, artichokes and garlic.

Everywhere you walk in Southern Italy you will come across yellow globes of fruit weighing down the branches of lemon trees. Lemons are used a lot in food in Southern Italy from the lemoncello drink to cooking lemons, preserving lemons or just having lemons on the side with their fish dishes.

Lemons aren't the only garnish you will come across. Rosemary, sundried tomatoes, capers and oregano are added to dishes to give them that distinct taste and flavor.

Wine of Southern Italy

The Italian wine regions here offer cheap and surprisingly good wine, one of my favourite wines from this area is Montepulciano d' Abruzzo; cheap and very drinkable.

However, it is Marsala from the Port of Marsala in Sicily that it is famous for. This thick, strong wine has been around for nearly 300 years and drunk throughout the Southern parts of Italy. However, it is not just Marsala that is worth drinking in Sicily. There are serveral other Sicilian wine producers of note; Corvo and Regaleali are two others.

As mentioned earlier, Apulia is a wine producing region, producing more wine here than any of its neighbors, and indeed more than any other region in Italy, and has been doing so since the Bronze Age.

The best thing about buying wine in the south is that it is so much cheaper than buying it in the north. 

Travel Italy Grapevine Tip: Buy your wine like a local. Buy a 5 liter glass  or plastic container and head for the local cooperative or cantina where they will dispense the wine for you into your container. So much cheaper than buying by the bottle and some of it is really good stuff!

Weather of Southern Italy

The weather of Southern Italy is mild in winter and balmy in summer.  With fewer rainy days in the south than most other parts of Italy you can bank on the weather being great for most parts of the year except for October through to January when more rain falls than other times of the year.

Weather for Bari, Apulia (Puglia)


Weather for Naples, Campania


Weather for Palermo, Sicily


Weather for Cagliari, Sardinia (Sardegna)


Tours of Southern Italy

We have partnered with Viator to offer you some great tours of Southern Italy.

Tours of Sicily


Tours of the Amalfi Coast


Tours of Sorrento

Tours of Solerno

Map of Southern Italy


View Larger Map


Map of Sardinia


View Larger Map


Map of Sicily


View Larger Map

SEE ALSO:

This page is for Southern Italy travel and for those who want to share their travel experiences in Southern Italy for others to read. We have pages here for accommodation reviews, restaurant reviews, and even a place where you can submit your favourite Italian cooking recipes. So please drop by, tell us about your top travel spots in Southern Italy and come and write your travel review.

Do you have a Special Place in Southern Italy you want to Share?

Do you have a great story about this? Share it!

Name of the Place in Southern Italy

What Other Visitors Have Added about these Places

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Paestum for Greek Temples in Italy  Not rated yet
While staying in Laceno we decided to meander down the coast a little further south to explore Paestum for Greek Temples in Italy.

Few people know ...

Cheap Family Skiing in Southern Italy at Laceno  Not rated yet
Some many years ago we ended up staying at Laceno. It is a small village tucked up high in the mountains not far from Bagnoli Irpino, and Avellino. We ...


***FACEBOOK-LIKE1***
***FACEBOOK-COMMENT***
Travel Italy Grapevine Logo



Go from Southern Italy Travel Reviews back to the Travel Italy Grapevine Home Page






***SOCIALIZEIT***