The ‘holy trinity’ of Italian tourism are the big three must-sees – Rome, Florence and Venice, all located in Northern Italy. But so many tourists overlook the beauty of Southern Italy. Southern Italy will be cheaper if you’re a budget traveller, but at the same time full of interesting challenges like language barriers (you may encounter people who don’t speak English and those who don’t even speak Italian – but their local dialect!) In our travel guide we’ll focus on getting you further South than Rome with some must-see sights.
Puglia is a less-known region of Italy, making up the heel of Italy’s ‘boot.’ If whitewashed medieval hill towns and gorgeous Mediterranean coastline is your thing then Puglia is a must-see. At the Southern point of Puglia you can even make out a Greek Island across the sea! Local menus are stuffed with specialty dishes such as, Fettucine with Squid, Pasticciotto (a little pastry they make in different flavours, focaccia, and their most famous ‘Orecchiette’ pasta (shaped like small ears) which they serve with broccoli and garlic – an iconic Puglianese dish!
Enter a captivating part of Italy which is actually a large Island, separated from Italy’s mainland. Sicily’s rich and unique culture boasts the arts, music, literature and architecture. The most fascinating site is Mount Etna (the largest active volcano in Europe) which rises over Catania, contrasted with the sparkling waters that surround the Island. Sicily is also home to several important Greek ruins, and you’re more likely to see influences from northern Africa. Enjoy the exotic flavours of Sicilian foods including shellfish and citrus, tuna and swordfish and almonds and ricotta.
If you’re still keen on visiting the North here’s one for you – be sure not to miss Cinque Terre - the gem of the north. Cinque Terre is a region made up of five fishing villages. It’s is a more well-known tourist destination, but you’ll most likely see more vacationing Italians in the summer months rather than foreigners. Immerse yourself in the pastel-coloured sights including the little houses built up on steep coastal cliffs. The villages are steeped in history, dating back to the early medieval period. Enjoy seafood dishes like Lobster Gnocchi, fresh fish, squid ink pasta and mussels.
The currency of Italy is the euro which is broken down into 100 cents. As of 19th January 2017, AU$1 is approximately 67 euro cents and € 1 Euro is AU$1.49.
Here’s a roundup of what you can expect to spend in Italy, with prices in Australian dollars:
|Inexpensive meal for one – $22||Bottle of water – $7.50||Half litre of beer 3.5eur|
|Mid-range restaurant meal for one – $37||Cappuccino – $2.30||Local bus ticket – $2.20|
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Travelling around Italy
If you’re travelling around the Cinque Terre we recommend the Cinque Terre Card which includes shuttle buses, unlimited train travel and use of the trekking trails and Wi-fi. The Card starts at € 16 for one day. Find out more info here.
A ferry can take you from village to village around Cinque Terre and can take you from mainland Italy to Sicily. Alternatively, Catania in Sicily also has an airport, as does Puglia.
If you’re going to be travelling around the South of Italy consider hiring a car – if you’re brave enough to drive on the opposite side of the road! A driving tour can be the best. Roads are well-maintains and weave through a landscape of mountains and valleys, coastlines and historic town