The Mezzogiorno, or “midday” region of Italy refers to the Southern section of this historically and artistically important nation. The area boasts some of the oldest cities in Italy, as well as a number of important sites from what was once part of Ancient Greece. The historical importance of the area draws some tourists, while others flock here for the warm Mediterranean climate and island life. Here is a look at some of the top destinations in Southern Italy.
The attraction of this town is easy to explain. From its position along the rocky Mediterranean coast to its Medieval town to its ritzy harbor, this is one of Southern Italy’s top resort sites. Staying here in the summer requires pre-planning as many places are booked a year or more in advance. It is, however, a very seasonal town, and much of the area closes between October and March. Sunbathing, watersports, and high-end amenities are just part of the reason that this is a perennial favorite for tourists.
Sorrento is the perfect blend of designated resort town and tourist-friendly old Italian city. It is easily reached from Naples via rail, and has both the amenities that tourists find comforting as well as unique and higher-end antiquities for sale in the old town. A ferry leaves from here to the isle of Capri, and it is a great jumping off point for Pompeii. However, Sorrento is also known for excellent gourmet cuisine, stunning cliff dwellings (though no beaches), and stunning views of Mt Vesuvius.
This ancient Greek city was originally called Poseidonia for the god of the sea. The side boasts three well preserved Greek temples. The oldest temple in Paestum is the Temple of Hera, built around 550 BC by Greek colonists. Paestum is often visited as a day trip, as the sites to see are limited. Besides the three ancient Greek temples there is a museum, and some enchanting buffalo farms. However, hotels are good here, and so is the food, so it’s worth an overnight.
This fairytale town is the world’s best example of Trullo architecture. Trulli homes are known for their conical stone roofs that are made without mortar. These dry-stone buildings are made from local limestone; none are older than the 14th century. Though the homes can be found across the Itria Valley in Apulia, Alberobello is the only town truly marked by this type of construction. In addition to Trulli-gazing, visitors here can also stay in trullo homes, drink in trullo bars and shop in trullo shops.
This ancient and stunning town sits among sugar sand beaches and stark cliffs. Once believed to be founded by Hercules, Tropea’s natural beauty still maintains an otherworldly draw for lovers of sand and sun. Not to miss are the town’s two most notable churches- the Santa Maria del’Isola, a medieval church that was built on its own island just off the coast. The second church to see is the local cathedral, with two unexploded bombs from WWII sitting right outside their front door. It was believed to be protected by the local patron saint.