Top Destinations for Your Tours of Southern Italy

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What’s at the bottom of the Italian “boot”? Southern Italy, known as Mezzogiorno to locals, is a beautiful macro-region comprising eight smaller areas: Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia, and Sicily. But which region should you go to during your tour of Southern Italy?

Tours of Southern Italy: The best places to visit during your stay

  • Abruzzo

There is more to Italy than its distinctive leaning towers and majestic cathedrals. For tourists who want to go off the beaten path and discover something new, Abruzzo is a place that won’t disappoint.

Found a little closer to central Italy, just two hours from Rome, Abruzzo is a southern Italian region that was once part of an area known as Abruzzi e Molise. It wasn’t until the 1970s that Abruzzo and Molise separated, making them the newest regions in the country.

What makes Abruzzo so unique is its nature-filled landscape. You won’t run out of gems to discover, from ancient mountains to lush forests and narrow hillside streets. Here, you’ll find Parco Nazionale della Majella, the oldest national park in the country. It is also the largest, featuring over 500 kilometers of exciting hiking trails.

And don’t worry—you can still have a taste of the city while in Abruzzo. L’aquila is the region’s capital city, sitting on a valley and filled with ancient streets and piazzas. The town of Scanno is also a must-visit, popular for its picturesque hillside views.

  • Basilicata

Do you want to experience the beauty of Italy without having to deal with large crowds? Then, Basilicata is the perfect destination for you. A relatively unknown region sitting between Calabria and Puglia, this charming area is home to the finest architectural wonders of rural Italy.

Sightseeing is one of many activities you can enjoy in the Basilicata region. You shouldn’t forget to visit the Troglodyte Dwellings, one of Italy’s prized UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Though shaped like caves, the dwellings were once home to peasants in the Middle Ages. They offer a deeper look into what life might have been like between the 13th and 18th centuries.

Not a big fan of staying underground? You can also take a tour of the Tavole Palatine, a 6th-century temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. There are also tours to Venosa, an enchanting town discovered after the Trojan War.

  • Calabria

Italy has its fair share of beaches for the avid summer traveler, and Calabria is just one of many. But what makes Calabria special is its proximity to the coasts of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas.

One must-visit destination in Calabria is the Jasmine Riviera, sitting in the heart of Southern Italy. The Riviera is named after the delicate jasmine plant, which can be found all over the region.

And for the ultimate summer getaway, you have two options: Ionian beach tours or Tyrrhenian beach tours. Ionian beaches are much more peaceful yet slightly less developed, while the latter beaches are livelier but can get a little crowded, perfect for tourists seeking an exciting adventure.

  • Puglia

If Southern Italy makes up the lower half of the country’s boot, Apulia is what you may know as the heel. It is home to the southern area’s largest city, Bari, which is made up of four urban sections.

On the northern part of Bari, you’ll find a small old town hosting ancient wonders such as the Basilica of Saint Nicholas and the Cathedral of San Sabio. There is also the Hohenstaufen Castle, once a home for royalty but now a lively nightlife district.

To the south, Bari seems more modern, best known for the Murat quarter, a gorgeous area featuring a promenade that overlooks the sea and a shopping district where you can stroll around.

You can also visit the Gargano Coast during your stay in Apulia, a breathtaking promontory that juts out of the Adriatic Sea. It is partially covered by the Foresta Umbra, an ancient forest dotted by towering oak and beech trees.

  • Sardinia Island

Southern Italy isn’t all about the mainland. The macro-region is also composed of several islands, including the lovely island of Sardinia. You can find it in the middle of the Tyrrhenian Sea, making it a wonderful beach destination for the summer.

You shouldn’t miss out on visiting Cagliari, the capital city of Sardinia. There’s much to do during your stay, like shopping in the local market or eating your heart out at luxurious restaurants. And for the adventurers at heart, some popular activities include touring the National Archaeological Museum or cycling and hiking through the island’s mountains.

Plus, swimming isn’t the only thing you can do at the beach. You can enjoy more thrilling activities, such as scuba diving and snorkeling at Cala Mariolu, Spiaggia di Tuerredda, and Oasis di Bidderosa.

And finally, make sure you spend a day at the Grotto di Nettuno, a majestic cave lit by the sun.

  • Sicily

Mouthwatering food and a rich history are two of Italy’s most treasured possessions. You won’t run out of both when you visit Sicily, a southern Italian found in the Mediterranean Sea.

Because of its distinct location, Sicily is a mix of different cultures, with influences brought by ancient Green, German, Arab, Norman, and Roman settlers. You’ll see their effects as soon as you arrive on the island, best represented by old structures such as the Roman Ruins, the Piazza del Duomo, and the Cave Drawings in Levanzo.

Sicilian food is also a must-try, with delectable selections such as the arancini, parmigiani di melanzane, pasta alla norma, and brioche con gelato. Once you’ve had your fill of these tasty treats, you can walk around Segesta or stroll through the Agrigento Valley of Temples to avoid feeling too full.

Have you decided on a region to visit for your tour of Southern Italy? Don’t forget to book a luxury vacation with a certified travel operator to ensure your comfort and safety during your stay! Top tour providers in Italy can help you plan the perfect holiday according to your group size, budget, and preferred destinations!