Top 5 Southern Italy

While everything south of Rome is generally considered southern Italy, exactly where ‘the south’ starts depends on who you ask.

Matera - Southern Italy (regional guide)

The wife of a Calabrian once told me her husband ‘wasn’t southern’. Well of course not, there’s still all of Sicily further south than Calabria, right? Yet to a Florentine, Rome is in the south, and to a Milanese ‘the south’ may well start at the Lombardy-Emilia border! I love southern Italy for its laid-back hospitality; pasta at almost every meal; wealth of simple vegetable dishes; sun-ripened fruits; generous use of robust olive oil, chilli and garlic; and the way people take time to share the enjoyment of ‘le piccole cose’ (the little things) because, at the end of the day, that’s what makes life worth living.
Here are five of the things I love most about southern Italy.

Hotel Sant Angelo Restaurant Matera - Southern Italy (regional guide)

Stay Hotel Sant’Angelo Basilicata
A night in this cave hotel in the World Heritage-listed city of Matera is a bucket-list experience. It’s in the heart of the historic centre (pictured above), with ancient churches and modern restaurants all carved out of the soft tufa. Ask for a room with a view of the church and enjoy the local fare in the hotel’s cave restaurant, like the bread salad below.

Ristorante da Ciccio - Spaghetti Vongole Amalfi - Southern Italy (regional guide)

Eat Ristorante da Ciccio Campania
Perched on a cliff edge just north of the town of Amalfi, this family-run trattoria sources much of its produce from the family farm in Scala, high above the coast that provides their daily seafood. Spaghetti vongole cooked ‘al cartoccio’ and served tableside is worth it for the theatre alone. And they offer a taxi service to and from local hotels.

Carlo Noro Winery Lazio - Southern Italy (regional guide)

Drink Carlo Noro Winery Lazio
This unique winery about 50km from Rome only just qualifies as southern I guess. Carlo Noro is one of Europe’s leading exponents of biodynamics and his 5-hectare farm south-east of Rome is a hub of natural winemaking, biodynamic farming and training for those who want to know more about organic-dynamic agriculture. His wines are delicious too!

Catania Fish Market Sicily - Southern Italy (regional guide)

Shop Catania Market Sicily
The food market in the old city of Catania at the base of Mt Etna is a huge warren of streets, stalls, carts, smells and noise, more reminiscent of an Arabic souk than any other Italian food market I’ve seen. The fish market is full of weird and wonderful sea creatures and the graphic displays by the offal butchers are not for the feint-hearted or vegetarian.

Pompei Take Away Campania - Southern Italy (regional guide)

History Pompeii Campania
While southern Italy is scattered with ancient ruins, there’s none more impressive than the locked-in-time city of Pompeii south-east of Naples. Engulfed by lava and ash when the top blew off Mount Vesuvius in 79AD, a two-thousand-year-old takeaway shop stands just as it did on that fateful day. A ‘beware of the dog’ mosaic graces the entrance to a villa and the brothel district is better seen than described. Get a guide, it’s worth it.

Cialledda Fredda

What Other Travellers Say

Janet (Tamworth, NSW, Australia)
Janet (Tamworth, NSW, Australia)
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Just back from the most amazing trip to Emilia-Romagna with Roberta. Not only the home of Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano & Balsamic Vinegar, but scenery to die for and more quaint and exciting restaurants and cafés than you ever imagined. And Roberta is just the person to help you discover and enjoy them! Her knowledge of the history of the region and its wonderful cuisine know no bounds and all added to the excitement of the trip. It was faultless - well organized and lots of fun!
Deb (Belconnen, ACT, Australia)
Deb (Belconnen, ACT, Australia)
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Wow, what a tour – I learned so much! Awesome fun traveling through Emilia-Romagna experiencing first hand some of the produce I've worked with over the last couple of years cooking with Roberta's recipe kits – the family are reaping the benefits now. If you're thinking of joining Roberta in future years get ready for an amazing experience.
Mark (Elizabeth Bay, NSW, Australia)
Mark (Elizabeth Bay, NSW, Australia)
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My wife and I recently joined Roberta's Emilia-Romagna tour. We enjoyed all the temptations offered and learned a lot about that part of Italy, especially its food and wine culture. What was most impressive was Roberta's local knowledge of people and places. The planning and effort she put into making the whole experience seem effortless was remarkable.

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