A cool blend of contemporary & retro culture

Forza, Italia! A Guide to 20 Distinct Regions of Italy in celebration of Italian National Day

Palazzo Bonaparte and Santa Maria di Loreto, Rome.

June 2nd is Italian National Day, otherwise known in the mother tongue as Festa della Repubblica. And with the launch of non-stop flights from Perth to Rome, there’s no time like now to introduce you to all the different regions in Italy, each one with its own rich history and cool modern ethos.

While most Aussie travellers are familiar with Rome, Tuscany and Sicily, Italy is actually divided into 20 distinctive regions, each with its own capital city, identity, dishes, attractions and hidden treasures. To celebrate Festa della Repubblica, here’s a go-to guide to each region to inspire you on your next Italian adventure.

 

ABRUZZO

Panoramic view in Barrea, province of L’Aquila in the Abruzzo region of Italy.

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

Beautiful Mountain Village In 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

Morning view of Amalfi cityscape on coast line of mediterranean sea.

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

Aerial cityscape view from the tower on Bologna old town center with Maggiore square in Italy.

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.

 

FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA

Downtown of Trieste with canals and restaurants.

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

View of Colosseum in Rome and morning sun.

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

Cinque Terre, Italy – Scenic view of marina In colorful fishermen village Vernazza, 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.

 

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

View Of Medieval City Of Urbino, 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

landscape with bell tower in Campobasso.

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

Carignano square with Vincenzo Gioberti statue in the old city center of Turin city in Italy.

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

Alberobello, an UNESCO heritage city in Italy, 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.

 

SARDINIA

Cagliari, Sardina cityscape.

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

People on beautiful beach at the bay in Cefalu, 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

Wonderful view of Braies lake with its fantastic colors in the heart of italian dolomites, Europe.

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.

 

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

Grand Canal in Venice at the sunset.

 

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.

 

Qantas now offers direct flights to Italy. For more information, visit www.qantas.com.

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