Southern Italy is a unique portion of the country in terms of landscapes, culture, and of course cuisine. Each city is special in its own way and ravingly beautiful. Southern Italian culture is focused even more so on relaxation, and enjoying life. Here is where you properly use the term living “La Bella Vita,” the beautiful life.
SANT’AGATA DEI GOTI – CAMPANIA
This small town has been given the orange flag award by the Italian Touring Club. It’s a beautiful example of a relaxing spot to kick back for a couple of days. There’s a ridge in the city on a tufa giving access to a panoramic view of the surroundings. The area is also famous for producing food and drink of great quality, which is sold all over the world and throughout Italy. Falanghina, a DOC designated wine, and Annurca, a high quality oil, are just a couple of examples. Many buildings in the city are well worth visiting. The Cathedral of the Assumption, completed in 970 AD, is particularly lovely. The frescos of the Ducal Castle are also magnificent and the castle was built by the Longobards.
MATERA – BASILICATA
In 2019, Matera was named the European Capital of Culture. It is also called the city of stones, due its historical center carved out of rock. This is located next to a massive gorge, cut deep into the rock dividing the territory. The historical area is the most important to visit. It’s called the Sassi, and home to the Sasso Barisano, which is the heart of the old city area. This city is protected by UNESCO and is home to many famous churches, such as San Pietro Barisano. It’s the biggest church made of rock in the city and has been recently restored to its former glory.
ALTAMURA – APULIA
Near the famous area of Bari, Altamura is a great small town to relax in for a couple days. Its main attraction is the historical center but people also the food and the wine. It’s mandatory to taste the main food and wine of the region, such as the focaccia with scaldatecli and tomatoes. Coming off of the historical center are squares with unique one-way windows, characteristic of the city. Altamura also has dinosaur remains dating back to the Cretaceous period and a cathedral built by Frederick the II.
LECCE – APULIA
The city of Lecce is probably the most trendy one on this list. It is home to many clubs, art, and glamorous cultural entertainment events. Food and wine tours, the sandy beaches, and transparent seas make this area an amazing and unforgettable vacation spot. The narrow alleyways and baroque style architecture, in particular the churches, are the charm of the town. The Roman amphitheater, the Basilica of Santa Croce, and the Palazzo del Seggio are special architectural wonders of the city. Finally, Salento, the region in which this city is found, is famous for its wines and its relaxing atmosphere.
PALERMO – SICILY
Italy’s largest island, Sicily, has a fantastic capital, Palermo. Palermo has fascinating Hop-on Hop-off bus tours. The main attractions to see are the Palazzo dei Normanni, the Palazzo Branciforte, and the Byzantine school, known for its lovely frescos. The Ballarò market is a noteworthy feature of the city as well.
Panoramic views of the city are so amazing, you can see it from Monte Pellegrino. Also, if you’re into some oddities during your travels, check out the mummified bodies of the old bourgeoisie of the city in the Capuchins Catacombs. Whatever you do, do not leave Palermo without indulging in the area’s specialties; whether you prefer salty or sweet, there is something for you. Arancine, ricotta covered focaccia, or dishes of sardine decorated pasta, are some salty treats. For dessert, be sure to taste a cannolo cassatelle.
AGRIGENTO – SICILY
In the south of Sicily, the southernmost of the southern towns of this article, lies Agrigento. The history and natural beauty of this city are beyond your imagination. It features large intimidating cliff sides that hang over the sea. Also, visit the coast at night for a starlit sky unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The main attraction is the Valley of the Temples, a massive park that takes up most of the area. This archaeological site features the famous Scala dei Turchi, a must-see at sunset when visiting this city.