ITALY: THE REGIONS


VALLE D' AOSTA - lies in the extreme NW corner of Italy, bordered by the southern slopes of Mont Blanc, The Gran Paradiso and the Mt. Rosa ranges. Its landscape is all mountain peaks, glaciers, hills, mountain streams, pastureland, forests and castles. Remains of the Roman Age can be seen along the road from lvrea to the Piccolo San Bernardo, and in Aosta itself. This is the paradise of winter sportsmen: from Courmayeur and Cervinia you can ski in the summer on the glaciers of Mont Blanc. The Gran Paradiso National Park is a source of great attraction.  Its cuisine includes polenta, carbonade and chamois, served with Gamey and Chambave raisin wines.


PIEDMONT - Mountains and plains, rivers, cities, farming and industry all live together in harmony in this region.  The round hilly area of Monferrato, the rolling terrain of the Langhe, the misty Po river, Lakes Maggiore and Orta. Its mountain resorts along with its wonderful castles, its history, and museums, abbeys and cathedrals, everywhere. But Turin also has its 18th C. architecture, its bronze equestrian statues, its Mole Antonelliana, Egyptian Museum, and Superga.  The bon vivant has game, truffles and fondue, accompanied by Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Gattinara wines. A must is a visit to the Langhe area and you can check the latest news with this link!


LOMBARDY - Outstanding for its monumental romantic waterways, rich art galleries and quality cuisine. Of course there is also heavy industry, and business. The whole region is identified with Milan, the capital, one of the world's leading commercial centers and the home of famed La Scala Opera House. For the tourist there is the countryside, valleys, the Alps, and the "lake district": Como, with Griante and Cadenabbia, Bellagio, Tremezzo, etc.; lseo; the shores of Lake Maggiore with Luino and Laveno; the shores of Garda with Salo, Desenzano, Sirmione and Gardone; the Italian shores of Lake Lugano. The Valtellina and Valcamonica mountain resorts need no introduction: Ponte di Legno, Madesimo, Bormio, and Chiesa Valmalenco, etc. In addition to Milan, Pavia, Brescia, Cremona, Bergamo and Mantua are rich in art treasures. Typical dishes are risotto, ossobuco and zuppa pavese. The "panettone" is the local cake; while wines include Barbagallo, Chiaretto and Tocai del Garda.


TRENTINO ALTO ADIGE -  Here the Dolomites reign supreme, and to many people symbolize winter and summer sports. Excellent roads and hotels and sports facilities make this the most popular region for mountain-lovers.  In Trento, there is the cathedral, and Buon Consiglio Castle. In Bolzano, the Gothic cathedral. In Merano is a famous spa resort. At Bressanone, Gothic art and Baroque merge in harmony.  The summer and winter resorts in Trentino are: Madonna di Campiglio, San Martino di Castrozza, Canazei, Moena, Vigo di Fassa. On Lake Garda, Riva and Torbole. In Alto Adige the best known resorts are Vipiteno, Brunico, Ortisei, Selva Gardena, Carezza, San Candido, and Alpe di Siusi.  Local dishes include Trent-style hare, roast alpine lake fish, and strudel, to be eaten with Merlot, Pinot Bianco, Bianco Val d'Adige or moscato wine.


FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA - Art, landscapes and ancient traditions are the jealously guarded treasures of this region between the Venetian plain, the Alps and the sea. Just think of Udine, Piazza Contarena, with its works by Tiepolo and Giorgione, and the Renaissance splendors grafted onto the Lombard city; Trieste, with the all-pervading presence of Rome in the heart of the city, the Cathedral of St. Giusto, the Romanesque churches and the castles on the coast; and Gorizia, with the Lion of St. Mark on the castle set amid grape-vines and cypresses.  Rome is the true mother of this region. Cividale, Tarvisio, Monfalcone and the two jewels of Grado and Aquileia, the glorious city of ancient Rome, and the See of the patriarchate of Byzantium for 13 centuries still preserve her remains.  Eat their brodetto, luganighe, and San Daniele prosciutto, with a glass of Pinot, Tocai or Riesling.


VENETO - A welcoming land of a great civilization. Veneto means Venice, above all, the most imaginative city in the world with its Lion of Saint Mark, the Doges, Marco Polo, gondolas, cut glass, Grand Canal, Goldoni, 400 bridges and 118 islands. But it also means much more: for example, the 20 km long open-air museum of the Brenta Canal, lined with Palladio's splendid villas, the spa resort of Abano and Montegrotto, and the whole of the magnificent northern Venetian border with the 'queen' of the Dolomites, Cortina, and the Asiago plateau, and the Cadore Valley; the beaches of Caorle and Jesolo; Verona and Padua with the Arena and the Basilica of St. Anthony. Rice and peas, fish, Venetian-style liver, Vicenza-style dried cod can be enjoyed with the Valpolicella, Soave and Bianco di Conegliano wines.


LIGURIA - Imagine an endless balcony with a seaview from the front, and a compact wall of mountains behind. It is the mildest region in northern Italy; its two rivieras have an exceptional climate all year round.  Liguria is the largest producer of flowers although its economic resources come from the sea, and depend on the sea. Genoa, La Spezia, Savona are leading shipyards. Then there is the steel industry at Cornigliano, and the food industry at lmperia. Handicrafts include ivory and filigree work, lace, damasks and velvet. "Pesto" is the Ligurian sauce par excellence. Famous wines from the Cinque Terre need no introduction. 


EMILIA ROMAGNA - The region runs from the Apennines to the Adriatic and nearly every town and village has a medieval cathedral, castle and a couple of towers reaching up to the sky. Cathedrals rich in masterpieces, and castles frescoed by the greatest masters.  The Farnese family in Piacenza and Parma, the Este family in Reggio Emilia, Modena and Ferrara, the Malatesta family in Rimini, the Bentivoglios in Bologna have left behind priceless works of art.  Ravenna, the last capital of the Western Roman Empire, is resplendent in her Byzantine monument, embellished with mosaics.  Bologna has Italy's oldest university, the Basilica of St. Petronio and the famous Asinelli and Garisenda towers. Reggio Emilia, Piacenza, Modena, Ferrara, Parma are rich in art treasures.  For handicrafts, there are the handmade leather goods, furniture, ceramics, alabaster, marble and wrought iron.  The cuisine is famous for its meat dishes, sausages, Comacchio eels, tortellini and lasagna. Wines: Lambrusco, Sangiovese, Albana, Bianco di Scandiano.


TUSCANY - The magical evocative landscape of Tuscany, dotted with flickering vines and the darker green of cypresses embodies the classic Italian ideal and is, for many people the very essence of Italy. Old, isolated towns sometimes just little groups of stone houses, fortified Romanesque churches, Renaissance "castelli" and palaces all confront each other in the splendid isolation of the hilltops. A perfect land, and certainly the most privileged. Every town and city has splendid monuments of art, but Florence stands head and shoulders above all. At its center is Florence; to the West is a chain of cities, Prato, Pistoia, Lucca, Pisa. To the East are the ancient Etruscan cities of Cortona and Arezzo. To the South lies Siena, rich in art works. Tuscany is nearly the quintessence of Renaissance, with Florence its shining capital. These are the great cities of the Italian Renaissance, centers of art, architecture, culture, finance, and banking and yet Tuscany remains essentially rural in character, especially when it comes to gastronomy. Inhabitants display a quiet pride and transformed the produce of the land by them into products of world-class quality. Italy's finest extra-virgin olive oil comes from Tuscany, as well as a wave of wines. The visitor has the whole of Italian art at his fingertips from the 13th to the 16th centuries in Florence, Siena, Pistoia, Lucca and Pisa.  Artists include Cimabue, Giotto, Piero della Francesca, Simone Martini, Leonardo, Michelangelo. Literature boasts Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio. Seaside resorts include Viareggio, Punta Ala, the Argentario with Porto Santo Stefano, the Isle of Elba, the Isle of Giglio, and Giannutri. The most important spas are at Montecatini and Chianciano. The festivals are the Palio in Siena , the Jousting Tournament (Giostra del Saracino) at Arezzo and the Gioco del Ponte in Pisa. For handicrafts: ceramics, wrought iron, leather goods, and raffia work. The typical dishes include the T-bone steak (alla Fiorentina), while Chianti And Brunello da Maontalcino wines are known the world over.


UMBRIA - The gentle green land of the Saints: this is the native country of Saint Francis and Saint Clare (Assisi), Saint Benedict (Norcia), Saint Rita (Cascia), The mystical land that inspired Jacopone da Todi, Perugino, Pinturicchio.  At Perugia see the Palazzo dei Priori, Fontana Maggiore, the University for Foreigners.  In the province, visit Gubbio, Spoleto (famed for the Festival of Two Worlds), Foligno, Todi, Citta di Castello, the Springs of Clitumnus, and the sacred towns of Assisi, Norcia and Cascia.  In Terni province, visit Orvieto, perhaps the most beautiful cathedral of Italy, and the Marmore Falls, Natural mineral waters at Sangemini.  Handicrafts include Deruta pottery and ceramics, embroidery and wrought iron.  In recent years the Jazz Festival in Perugia is among the best known in Europe. The Umbrian school of art occupies a prominent place in the history of Italian art.  Norcia's black truffles and Perugia's confectionery are a delight to the palate, while the classic wine of the region is Orvieto. 


MARCHE - A miracle of harmony, built up slowly across the ages. An unknown region, that may be defined as summing up all the beauties of Italy. Ancona, the capital, is the great Adriatic commercial port, where you can visit the Basilica of St. Ciriaco, Palazzo degii Anziani, and Trajan's Triumphal Arch.  In Pesaro, where Rossini was born, are the Oliveriani Museums, and the Rocca Costanza. Urbino, with the Ducal Palace, the Collegio degii Scolopi, and the University, is Raphael's birthplace.  Ascoli Piceno has Roman and medieval remains. In Macerate there is the ancient university, and the Sferisterio, where the Summer Opera Festival is held.  Other major towns are Fermo, Tolentino, Recanati and Loreto famous for the Shrine of the Holy House.  Typical dishes include fish soup, roast pig (porchetta), tournedos alla Rossini, and Fabriano salami.  Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, and Piceno red, are its best known wines.


ABRUZZO - Harsh mountains and long coastlines offer an ideal holiday for every kind of tourist. There are many resorts which are becoming increasingly popular. Montesilvano, Silvi, Roseto, Pineto, Giulianova, Alba, Tortoreto, Pescara, Francavilla, Ortona, Vasto. The most important towns are L'Aquila with its fountain with 99 spouts, its beautiful churches.  From the Gran Sasso, 2914 metres a.s.l., with Campo Imperatore you can enjoy a unique view. Scanno, with its beautiful costumes, Lake and craft work; Sulmona, the birthplace of Ovid and the leading producer of sugared almonds; Chieti, between the sea and the Majella; Pescasseroli, in the heart of the National Park with so much precious wildlife; Pescara, the most modern town of all, the birthplace of D'Annunzio; Teramo, with its 13th century Cathedral and Roman Theatre. A region rich in folklore, with so many traditions and the remnants of ancient rites. Local dishes include maccheroni alla chitarra, sgrippelle, and lamb, to be eaten with the typical Cerasuolo and Trebbiano wines.


MOLISE - Molise's past history is largely linked to the history of the Samnites. The most popular areas for the visitor are the seaside resorts along the Adriatic, Termoli and Campomarino, and the mountainous zone of Piano Campitello and Capracotta.  The modern town of Campobasso lies in the plain, while the ancient part is up on a hill dominated by Monforte Castle.  The craftsmen of this region all work metal, wood, clay and lace with consummate skill.  The city of lsernia has the 15th c. 6-arched Fontana Fraterna, and an antiquarium museum, with Greek, Samnite and Roman remains on show.  In Termoli, visit the Swabian Castle built in 1247 by Frederick 11, and the 13th century Cathedral.  Typical dishes are maccheroni alla chitarra, polenta and cavatelli, to be eaten with Montepulciano wine.


LAZIO - Lazio is like an oyster shell with a pearl inside. The region contains Rome, but is not identified with the capital from which it often differs considerably for historical and natural reasons.  The capital has remains that bear witness to millennia of history, and yet everywhere in Lazio there is something to recall. Viterbo, Tarquinia, Tuscania and Cerveteri speak of the Etruscan civilization.  And art is everywhere, too: the treasures in Montecassino Abbey, the Villas of Tivoli, and Ostia Antica. But particularly in Rome, universally known for its monuments of every age: from the Roman Forum to its Renaissance and Baroque palaces, is museums and piazzas, its obelisks and fountains.  There is much to see in the environs of the city: the Alban Hills, known as the "Castelli Romani", and the Lakes of Bolsena, Vico, Bracciano and Albano; seaside resorts include Anzio and the Pontine Isles.  Typical dishes include lamb, artichokes and spaghetti alla carbonara. Apart from the famous "Castelli" wines, there is also Montefiascone's Est! Est! Est!


CAMPANIA - Settled by the Greeks, Romans, Normans, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese and the Bourbons - all of whom have left something behind in this region.  In Naples the Royal Palace of Capodimonte and Castel dell'Ovo, at Benevento the Arch of Trajan, at Caserta the 18th century Royal Palace built by Vanvitelli, at Avellino the Shrine of Montevergine and at Salerno the Cathedral.  At Paestum, get a glimpse of Greek civilization; at Herculaneum and Pompeii, come into contact with the Romans. At Capo Palinuro recall the poetry of Homer and Virgil, for this is where Ulysses landed.  Campania is a region for holidaymakers: the Bay of Naples, Ischia, Capri, the Amalfi Coast, with Ravello, Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento, and spa resorts: Ischia, Agnano, Castellammare di Stabia.  Typical dishes include maccheroni, clam and mussel soup, pizza and sfogliatelle pastry.  Wines: Falerno, Epomeo, Gragnano and Lacrima Christi.


BASILICATA - Its archaic face and voice are hidden behind the mountains and under the stones of civilizations long since disappeared.  But if you listen carefully, you will discover the myths and the echoes of her history.  Potenza dominates the Basento Valley. In Potenza is the Museo Provinciale Lucano, with prehistoric ornaments and other archaeological finds from the region. , Matera is hewn out of the rock with its picturesque "sassi" dwellings. In Matera, the Museum contains many prehistoric exhibits unearthed in Southern Italy.  Metaponto is the most interesting archaeological zone of Magna Graecia, Melfi is worth a visit; Miglionico for its Shrine and Castle; Venosa, Horace's birthplace, for its Cathedral.  The cuisine is based on vegetables; the Garagusa sausages are excellent.  Wines include Aglianico, and Moscato del Vulture


PUGLIA - The region overlooks the southernmost part of the Adriatic Sea, with the Gulf of Taranto, the Salentina peninsula and the Ionian Sea.  It flourished under the ancient Greeks, and was dominated by Normans, Swabians and Arabs.  Provincial towns include Barletta, Trani and Alberobello, with its picturesque "Trulli", Brindisi has the Roman column and the Church of S. Maria del Casale, and in the province there is Ostuni, the ruins of Egnazia and Selva di Fasano.  Near Foggia is the Gargano, the Umbra Forest with Mont Sant'Angelo, and the Shrine of S. Michele; then Lucera, and the towns of Siponto, Vieste, and Manfredonia, not forgetting the Tremiti Isles. Lecce, with its Baroque monuments; Otranto, Gallipoli, Marina di Leuca have fine beaches, while Taranto's Museo Nazionale should not be missed.  Typical dishes: "recchietelli", fish soup, and fusilli, to be enjoyed with Aleatico, Moscato di Trani, delle Murge or del Salento wines.


CALABRIA - See the Tyrrhenian with your right eye and the Ionian with your left: a great deal of Greece, a great deal of Rome, a great deal of Byzantium.  Calabria had periods of great splendor as a part of Magna Graecia, as one can see from the ruins of the settlements at Locri, Sibari, Eraclea, Crotone. In Rossano Cathedral is the Codice Purpureo, a 6th century Greek manuscript. Citrus fruit is the region's leading crop, and forms the basis of many industrial enterprises. Sila, with Camigliatello Silano, Villaggio Mancuso and the artificial lakes Arvo, Ampollino and Cecita, has become an important center for holidaymakers.  See the beaches at Locri, Praia a Mare, Paola, Crotone, Briatico, Tropea, Palmi, Bagnara and the Lido of Reggio Calabria. In Reggio itself, the Museo Nazionale contains the famous "Riace Warriors" that have attracted thousands of visitors from all over the world.  Craftwork includes lace, embroidery, damasks, terracotta and wrought iron.  The special dishes are aubergines cooked in thousands of different ways, and "peseta incasata", while the best known wines are Ciro, Greco and Savuto.


SICILIA - The civilization of Magna Graecia can be found everywhere in the island - Agrigento, Gela, Tindari, Erice, Taormina, Syracuse.  Two unique jewels: the Temples of Segesta and Selinunte. Roman remains include the mosaics at Piazza Armerina. The mighty power of the Swabians can be seen in the Castles at Catania, Syracuse and Augusta. Baroque is represented, Modica, at Ragusa and Noto. In Palermo visit the Cathedral, the Palatine Chapel, Monreale Cathedral.  The temperate climate explains why this region has become such a popular area for holidaymakers. The established resorts are Mondello, Cefalu, the Riviera dei Ciclopi, Mazzaro, the Aeolian islands, the Egadi islands, Pantelleria and Ustica.  Spas include Termini Imerese, Sciacca, Acireale. The most famous traditional festival is the Flowering Almond Fair at Agrigento.  Typical dishes: pasta con le sarde, caponata, cuscusu, and swordfish. Confectionery abounds here: candied fruits, marzipan, cassata siciliana. Wines: Marsala, Malvasia di Lipari, and Moscato di Pantelleria. 


SARDEGNA - The miracle of thousands of years and the influence of many civilizations from the bronze age onwards have created the fascination of this island.  It is Italy's second largest island, and has been inhabited since prehistoric times, as one can see from the timeless nuraghi cone-shaped fortifications/dwellings.  In Cagliari, visit the Cathedral, the Church of San Saturnino, the towers of San Pancrazio and Elefante; don't miss Tharros, Oristano and Barumini (nuraghi).  In Nuoro province: Oliena, Dorgali, Serra Orios (nuraghi). At Sassari, visit the Cathedral, and the Ducal Palace. In the province: Porto Torres, Tempio Pausania, Castelsardo, Ozieri.  Handicraft includes wrought gold (filigree), carpets, and decorated leather goods. Traditional festivals: the Sagra di Sant' Efisio, the Festa del Redentore, and the Cavalcata Sarda.  Typical dishes include: "porcheddu" (roast suckling pig), and lobster.  Wines: Vernaccia, Malvasia, Nuragus and Canonau.