20 Destinations to Add to Your Italy Trip, and What to Eat While You’re There

20 Destinations to Add to Your Italy Trip, and What to Eat While You’re There
CEFALU, SICILY. Image supplied.

In news that has likely had Aussie Europhiles packed and ready to jet out of the country for months now, it was announced in December 2021 that Qantas was introducing direct flights to Rome from Australia. Belissimo, no? The new route is taking flight as of June 22, with three Sydney-Perth-Rome services running each week until October 6. If this news has you keen to plan a sweet little viaggio in Italy, the Italian National Tourist Board has shared a list of destinations worth travelling to.

According to the Italian Tourism Board, spots like Tuscany and Sicily (which, in my totally unbiased opinion, is the best Italian travel spot) get a lot of attention from travellers, but the options are kind of endless. Here’s what you should be adding to your Italian travel itinerary.

20 destinations you should travel to in Italy

Here is a breakdown of 20 different destinations in Italy, the reasons why each spot deserves to be on your travel list and the region’s best-known dish (because what’s an Italian holiday without food?).

All the below is via the Italian National Tourist Board.

Abruzzo

Italy travel
Panoramic view in Barrea, Province of L’Aquila in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Image supplied

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 detail you may not know:

  • Wolves, eagles and Marsican brown bears inhabit the national parks.

Basilicata

Capital: Potenza. Local dish: Cicorie e fave (chicory with broad beans)

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 detail you may not know:

  • Scenes from the latest James Bond film (No Time to Die) were filmed in Basilicata.

Calabria

Italy travel
Morning view of Amalfi cityscape on coast line of mediterranean sea, Italy. Image supplied

Capital: Catanzaro. Local dish: ‘Nduja (local peppery salami)

Three reasons to go:

  • Tropea’s white sandy beaches, the 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 detail you may not know:

  • Calabria is old school and cash is king – so come prepared!

Campania

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 detail you may not know:

  • The island of Procida is Italy’s ‘Capital of Culture’ for 2022.

Emilia Romagna

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 the world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Visit the homes of iconic Italian car companies, including Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini

One detail you may not know:

  • During August, seaside Rimini hosts a ‘pink’ festival, La Notte Rosa.

Friuli Venezia Giulia

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 detail you may not know:

  • Driving a dog sled at Tarvisio’s International Mushing School.

Lazio

Capital: Roma (Rome). Local dish: Pasta 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 detail you may not know:

  • Dive into food history at The National Museum of Pasta.

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 detail 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 detail you may not know:

  • The region has almost 500 museums for art and history fans to explore.

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 detail you may not know:

  • The finest Italian shoes are crafted here, including Prada and Fabi.

Molise

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 a storybook village to explore

One detail you may not know:

  • Molise hosts quirky festivals including the ‘Ndocciata torchlight parade.

Piedmont

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 detail you may not know:

  • The home of Vermouth, Turin’s ‘aperitivo’ tradition is still strong.

Puglia

Italy travel
Alberobello, UNESCO heritage city in Italy, Puglia. Trulli or Trullo houses with conical roofs, traditional Apulian dry stone hut. Image supplied

Capital: Bari. Local dish: Orecchiette 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 detail you may not know:

  • Scuba divers flock to the shipwreck and caves of the Tremiti Islands.

Sardinia

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, the playground of the rich and famous
  • Eat your way around the island to enjoy its distinctive, rustic cuisine

One detail you might not know:

  • Wild boar and deer inhabit the rugged inland Barbagia Mountains.

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 the nightlife and sublime street food in Palermo
  • Festivals such as Palermo’s Feast of Santa Rosalia or Agrigento’s Almond Blossom Festival

One detail you might not know:

  • You can enjoy a mud bath at the volcanic island of Pantelleria.

Trentino Alto Adige

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 detail you may not know:

  • This bilingual region is home to more than 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 Lucca’s concert series

One detail you may not know:

  • There is a desert in the heart of Tuscany – the Accona.

Umbria

20 Destinations to Add to Your Italy Trip, and What to Eat While You’re There
Spectacular colourful traditional Italian medieval alley in the historic centre of Spello. Image supplied.

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, are among the most Instagram-able in Italy

One detail 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 detail you may not know:

  • Aosta Valley is Italy’s smallest region – petite yet picturesque!

Veneto

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 detail you may not know:

  • The first female gondolier took to the canals in 2009 – after 900 years.

There you have it, the alphabet of Italian destinations to travel to on your next trip (or two). If you’re keen to brush up on la lingua before your hop onto that flight, here are some of the best apps for learning new languages.

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