Friday, July 1, 2022

An Italian Holiday is the DREAM: Your Ultimate Vibe Guide to Italy’s 20 Regions

While most Kiwi travellers are familiar with Tuscany and Sicily, Italy is actually divided into 20 distinctive regions, each with its own capital city, identity, dishes, attractions and hidden treasures. Now there’s also direct flights from Perth to Rome (sure, still not direct but a little easier! and where else sounds better to go that more than two years without travel, here’s a go-to guide to Italy and each region to help identify the destinations to add to your next Italian adventure!

ABRUZZO
Capital: L’Aquila. Local dish: Arrosticini (lamb skewers)

Three reasons to go… 

Stunning greenery and scenery – from Gran Sasso National Park to the Adriatic Coast  
Indulgent lunches in the ‘truffle town’ of Campli  
Stroll the ancient villages of the Aterno Valley  

One reason you may not know…

Wolves, eagles and Marsican brown bears inhabit the national parks. 

BASILICATA
Capital: Potenza. Local dish: Cicorie e fave (chicory with broadbeans)

Three reasons to go…

Sassi di Matera – enchanting ancient cave dwellings in one of the world’s oldest cities
Soak in Latronico’s relaxing thermal springs 
Festa della Bruna in Matera (July) for music, parades and stalls from sunrise to midnight

One reason you may not know…

  • Scenes from the film The Passion of the Christ as well as the latest James Bond film were filmed in Basilicata.  

CALABRIA
Capital: Catanzaro. Local dish: ‘Nduja (local peppery salami) 

Three reasons to go…

Tropea’s white sandy beaches, turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea and vibrant parasols 
Sweet red onions on every menu, hanging in doorways – even in gelato!
Pollino National Park – the country’s largest 

One reason you may not know…

Calabria is old school and cash is king – so come prepared!    

CAMPANIA
Capital: Napoli (Naples). Local dish: Pizza Napoletana, limoncello

Three reasons to go…

Step back in time in Pompeii, a world-famous UNESCO-listed archaeological site 
Stroll the postcard-perfect cliffside towns along the Amalfi Coast 
Experience lively local life in bustling Naples

One reason you may not know…

The island of Procida is Italy’s ‘Capital of Culture’ for 2022. 

EMILIA ROMAGNA
Capital: Bologna. Local dish: Tortellini in brodo

Three reasons to go…

Foodies will love exploring historical Bologna and Parma – the birthplace of Parma ham 
Take a truffle hunting tour, or go cheese tasting at world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano 
Visit the homes of iconic Italian car companies, including Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini

One reason you may not know…

During August seaside Rimini hosts a ‘pink’ festival, La Notte Rosa. 

Bolonga

FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA
Capital: Trieste. Local dish: Polenta, and Prosciutto San Daniele 

Three reasons to go…

Friuli’s alpine foothills are home to some of Italy’s best white wine-producing estates 
Glorious hiking trails through 13 nature reserves
The unspoiled beach resort of Ligniano Sabbiadoro is a hidden gem beloved by locals 

One reason you may not know

Driving a dog sled at Tarvisio’s International Mushing School. 

LAZIO
Capital: Roma (Rome). Local dishPasta carbonara or Cacio e pepe  

Three reasons to go…

Visit Vatican City, the world’s tiniest city – go on Wednesday for a Papal Audience
Explore Rome’s rich history, including the Colosseum, the Forum and the Trevi Fountain
Go beyond Rome to discover ancient history in Ostia Antica or Civita di Bagnoregio

One reason you may not know…

Dive into food history at The National Museum of Pasta.  

LIGURIA
Capital: Genoa. Local dish: Focaccia di Recco, Trofie al pesto or Canestrelli (biscuits) 

Three reasons to go…

Indulge your passion for cycling on scenic Italian Riviera routes – not for beginners! 

Explore the five charming villages which make up the UNESCO-listed Cinque Terre

Access hidden beaches only accessible by boat – and go celebrity yacht-spotting 

One reason you may not know…

Disney film Luca and Foxtel hit Hotel Portofino were set in Cinque Terre.  

Liguria

LOMBARDY
Capital: Milano (Milan). Local dish: Risotto alla Milanese or Cotoletta alla Milanese

Three reasons to go…

Shop the stylish boutiques of Milan and visit the incredible gothic Duomo 
Ski the magnificent mountains of Livigno
Take a boat trip on Lake Como, home to celebrity summer villas and charming villages

One reason you may not know…

The region has almost 500 museums for art and history fans to explore.      

MARCHE
Capital: Ancona. Local dish: Olive Ascolane (meat-filled fried olive)

Three reasons to go…

Roam cobbled streets and visit the impressive castle in medieval Urbino 
Taste wines and olive oils at regional vineyards and groves 
Beautiful swimming beaches and marinas with yachts for hire to explore the coastline 

One reason you may not know…

The finest Italian shoes are crafted here, including Prada and Fabi.     

MOLISE
Capital: Campobasso. Local dish: Caprino di Monfalcone (goat’s cheese) and Cavatelli (pasta) 

Three reasons to go

One of the least discovered regions in Italy…go before everyone else does! 
Slow down and experience local life in the charming coastal town of Termoli
Made for road-tripping with a maze of mountainous roads and storybook village to explore  

One reason you may not know…

Molise hosts quirky festivals including the ‘Ndocciata torchlight parade.   

PIEDMONT
Capital: Torino (Turin). Local dish: Bagna Cauda, or Cotechino e lenticchie (pork & lentils) 

Three reasons to go

Gourmands love Langhe’s vineyards and Alba’s restaurants, providores and truffles
The annual spring ‘Battle of the Oranges’ in Ivrea is a must 
The staggering art collection at Castello di Rivoli – envied by curators nationwide 

One reason you may not know

The home of Vermouth, Turin’s ‘aperitivo’ tradition is still strong. 

PUGLIA
Capital: Bari. Local dishOrecchiette alle cime di rapa, or Stracciatella Pugliese

Three reasons to go…

Endless stunning coastline, captivating towns and stunning beaches – try Trani and Ostuni 
UNESCO World Heritage-listed Alberobello, home of the iconic trulli stone huts
Instagram sensation Polignano al Mare, famed for its rocky promontory 

One reason you may not know…

Scuba divers flock to the shipwreck and caves of the Tremiti Islands. 

Puglia

SARDINIA
Capital: Cagliari. Local dish: Fregola con frutti di mare e zafferano (seafood pasta)

Three reasons to go

Settle in on a sun lounge on some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean 
Soak up the luxe ambience of Costa Smeralda, playground of the rich and famous
Eat your way around the island to enjoy its distinctive, rustic cuisine 

One reason you might not know…

Wild boar and deer inhabit the rugged inland Barbagia Mountains. 

SICILY
Capital: Palermo. Local dish: Cannoli, Cassata or Sfincione (Sicilian pizza)

Three reasons to go…

Take a road trip to historic towns, archaeological sites (Valley of the Temples) and beaches 
Immerse yourself in lively night life and sublime street food in Palermo 
Festivals such as Palermo’s Feast of Santa Rosalia or Agrigento’s Almond Blossom Festival

One reason you might not know

You can enjoy a mud bath at the volcanic island of Pantelleria.  

TRENTINO ALTO ADIGE
Capital: Trento. Local dish: Canederli (bread dumplings), goulash or strudel 

Three reasons to go…

Incredible hiking in summer and outstanding skiing in the winter in the Dolomites
Two of Italy’s most photogenic locations – Lago di Braies and the town of San Candido 
Fairytale Christmas markets in Bolzano, Vipiteno, Trento, Merano, Brunico and Bressanone

One reason you may not know…

This bilingual region is home to 300+ castles and almost 300 lakes. 

TUSCANY
Capital: Firenze (Florence). Local dish: Pappa col pomodoro (bread soup), Ragù Toscano

Three reasons to go…

Rolling hills, vineyards in Chianti, medieval villages – landscapes made for painting 
Florence – home of renaissance art and captivating galleries, including the iconic Uffizi 
Major summer festivals including Siena’s historic Palio horse race and Lucca’s concert series

One reason you may not know…

There is a desert in the heart of Tuscany – the Accona. 

UMBRIA
Capital: Perugia. Local dish: Torta al testo (bread), or Strangozzi alla spoletina

Three reasons to go

Classic countryside scenery – Umbria is ‘the green heart of Italy’
The wildflowers surrounding Castellucio in Spring are world famous 
The pretty towns of Spello, Todi and Gubbio, among the most Instagram-able in Italy 

One reason you may not know

The region is renowned for handcrafted ceramics, and chocolate. 

Umbria

AOSTA VALLEY
Capital: Aosta. Local dish: Fonduta (cheese fondue) or Polenta concia 

Three reasons to go…

Spectacular castles, fortresses and cathedrals from the Neolithic to the Middle Ages
Snow-capped peaks and a skiing playground – Matterhorn, Monte Rosa, Mont Blanc 
Sensational summer hiking in Gran Paradiso National Park 

One reason you may not know…

Aosta Valley is Italy’s smallest region – petite yet picturesque!

VENETO
Capital: Venezia. Local dish: Baccalà alla Vicentina (stockfish), Risi e bisi (rice & peas) 

Three reasons to go…

A bucket-list gondola ride on the canals of Venice 
Take in a summer opera in Verona’s historic outdoor amphitheatre
Marvel at the World-Heritage-listed Palladian Villas, home to wealthy families in the 1500s

One reason you may not know…

The first female gondolier took to the canals in 2009 – after 900 years. 

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