Italy has 20 regions, each thriving with unique culture and experiences.
The regions break into five macroregions; northwest, north-east, centre, south and islands. Each region is unique, and many of the major cities are tourist hotspots. We’ve created this rundown for you, highlighting some of our favourite regions.
Northwest contains four of Italy’s regions; Aosta Valley, Liguria, Lombardy and Piedmont. Travellers sometimes forget the Northwest, but the mountain ranges here are some of the most beautiful in Italy.
The Aosta Valley is the far-left corner of Italy, bordering France and Switzerland. It is one of just two Italian regions bordering more than one country. Aosta Valley is the perfect destination for avid skiers. Lying within the Western Alps, the region is famous for its jagged peaks and crisp white mountaintops. Stunning medieval castles and fortresses are scattered through the mountainous region.
Due to it’s sharing a border with France, the region uses both Italian and French as official languages. In fact, schools teach in both Italian and French so the whole population is bi-lingual. Though locals speak both languages, Italian is the ‘everyday’ language.
Liguria is a small and narrow region that lines the Ligurian Sea. Cinque Terre is one of the most famous regions here. Here villages are carved into the mountainside, precariously balancing on cliffs looking out over the ocean.
This region is particularly well known for its pesto, made using local oil. Local bakeries stock fresh focaccia each morning, while fishers bring the days catch into local markets. The Liguria preparation of sardines is so unique they have been granted a Protected Designation of Origin status!
The Northeast contains four regions, with Veneto being the most popular to visit. That said, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige are beautiful and lush regions that are certainly worth a visit.
Emilia-Romagna is a quieter region, lacking any major tourist city. However, this quiet makes for an even better experience. The main city here, Bologna, is the undisputed capital of Italy. Many fantastic foods are produced here, including prosciutto Crudo, mortadella, balsamic vinegar and the king of Italian foods, parmesan cheese.
The towns scattered throughout Emilia-Romagna are idyllic escapes from bustling tourist destinations. Head here for a few days of relaxation, great food and stunning Italian countryside. While in Bologna, be sure to visit the two towers Garisenda and Degli Asinelli. They have become symbols of the city, climb the 498 steps in the Asinelli Tower for spectacular views of the city below.
No prizes for guessing what famous city can be found in Veneto! Veneto is a region that encompasses both mountain and sea. The capital, Venice, is famed for its intricate gothic architecture and maze of canals.
Veneto is a popular tourist destination as people flock to see the floating city. When you visit, think about staying just outside of the main city of Venice. It will be a bit quieter and save you a bit of money. Further inland is the city of Verona, famously known as the city Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was set in.
Central Italy is the most populated area of the country. Many major tourist attractions, including Rome, are here. Explore the regions of Lazio, Marche, Tuscany and Umbria for the picture-perfect Italy trip of your dreams.
People are often not familiar with the region of Lazio, which is quite surprising given that it homes Italy’s capital city, Rome. Lazio is found in the middle of the boot and is the second most populous region in the country.
Lazio is a hub of Christian culture and ancient Roman history. Explore the Vatican and Roman Forum to learn about the long and interesting history of this part of the world. If you’re looking to get closer to nature, look outside of the city. There are many volcanic lakes in the area dotted along quaint medieval towns.
A wine in hand one day and a picture of David the next, Tuscany is a truly versatile region. Immediately thought of as Italy’s wine capital, Tuscany has so much more than just delicious wine for you. Escape to the vineyards for winemaking and cooking classes, before delving into some culture the next day.
The fantastic towns of Pisa and Florence also sit in this region. Discover the town that produced some of Italy’s most famous artists and explore the iconic Uffizi Gallery. Or visit Pisa and climb the peculiar leaning tower.
Italy’s South contains the most regions. Abruzzo, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Molise are not as popular as regions with large cities. They are in the countryside and many people live very traditional Italian lifestyles here. The most popular region in the south by far is Campania.
Campania is one of the most popular tourist regions. It is one of the most populous regions and relies on tourism to boost its economy. Here you can find the city of Naples, Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast and the Island of Capri.
Perhaps one of the most famous historical events to have occurred in Italy is the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and subsequent destruction of Pompeii. Found just outside of the region’s capital Naples, you can visit the ruins of Pompeii and learn more about the tragic events that occurred.
If you’re after something a bit less sombre, head out to the Amalfi Coast and Island of Capri. Watch out over vibrant blue waters, sitting on a mountainside balcony sipping locally-made limoncello. Enjoy a day out on the island of Capri exploring the Blue Grotto or gazing at the bold interior of Santo Stefano.
There are two large island regions in Italy, Sicily and Sardinia. The islands are key tourist ports, and each have unique thriving cultures. They are great places to enjoy the warmth of the Mediterranean climate. The islands are relatively easy to get to from the mainland and well worth a visit.
Sicily is the larger of the two islands and is home to Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe.
If you’re a history aficionado a visit to Palermo, Sicily will be a delight. Explore some of the most spectacular churches, theatres and palaces in Italy. You can’t go past the Monreale Cathedral, with its unbelievable golden mosaics. They took over 2200kg of pure gold to make!
Sardinia has an extremely diverse eco-system, so diverse that you might call it a micro-continent!
The island is famous for its emerald waters and white sandy beaches. However, many people forget to take the time to explore the beautiful mountains ruins just a few minutes away. When in Sardinia be sure to remember to explore the less travelled tracks too.
Now you know a bit more about our favourite regions in Italy, it’s time to start booking your tours! We have plenty of tours all over Italy to help you traverse the country end-to-end.
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