People who travel a lot often say, “each part of Italy is SO different!” And those who don’t travel tend to roll their eyes at the statement. Well, in Southern Italy, it is completely accurate! Such as the “il Mezzogiorno” (Southern) regions of Italy; Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily, Abruzzo, Molise, Puglia, and Sardinia.
From the dialects to the social norms to the fantastic food, southern Italy is indeed very different from the rest of the country. Sure, there’s pasta and pizza…everywhere. But in Sicily, your pasta will likely be served with anchovies and dusted with pistachios. Then there is Naples, where the pizza is hands-down more delicious than the rest of the world.
First-time visitors to Italy enjoy the beauty of traveling to some of the more untouched territories to broaden their horizons with history from the Magna Grecia, the Medieval, and the Baroque. They love to experience first-hand how Italians have lived for thousands of years.
If you’ve never been, using a travel agent like Madrina Club to book your southern Italy vacation package is a great way to get an introduction to the region. After several days on your adventure, you will feel like a local and not want to leave!
The Basics: The Language and Food of Southern Italy
Southern Italy has an amazing way of life that most people in America are not used to. But that is the beauty of the experience! Take Calabria, for example. Calabrians speak in a dialect that can be difficult for even Italian speakers to understand. And if you are strictly an English speaker, don’t expect a lot of people to understand you. Unlike most of the rest of Europe, English here is not very common.
This is your time to shine. Learn a few basic words in Italian, such as good morning (buongiornio), hello (ciao), please (per favore), and thank you (grazie). Italians are a warm and welcoming bunch, and if you make an effort to embrace their language, all the better!
The pasta in Southern Italy is not what most Americans are used to, it is usually very fresh. It takes longer to eat and feels more filling. And it’s not typically drowned in sauce. Whichever scrumptious sauce you choose will be used sparingly to help bring out the flavors and let the ingredients shine.
In that vein, special dietary requirements are doable but may be challenging, depending on your itinerary and the region. Please request this in writing at the time of booking. And the Italians live and die by their afternoon siestas, or “midday sleep.” So much so that many restaurants and shops close around 2 pm and do not open again until at least 5 pm. In fact, many restaurants will not open for dinner until 7 or 8 pm. This is part of the culture that has been around for many generations and is part of the charm of Italy.
Also, as in much of Europe, time is stated a bit differently here. Americans call it “military time.” For example, 1 pm is 13:00. And 7 pm is 19:00. You will see this on things like train station times and other schedules. It is easy to confuse a reservation or find yourself at the right place at the wrong time.
Accommodations and Getting Around
The rating system for hotels (1- to 5-star properties) is a bit different than for America. Depending on the region, local customs, and historical significance of the building, a four-star hotel can (but may not necessarily) offer the same service and amenities as 4-star properties in America. We can guide you on the best accommodation options to suit your needs.
Part of the ever-present allure of southern Italy is the wide array of fortified medieval towns built on the side of mountains and on hilltops. It is a gorgeous fixture of the Italian landscape and offers (literally) breathtaking views for those who love to walk and climb steps. However, this poses significant challenges for differently-abled people who use a wheelchair or otherwise have limited mobility. Madrina Club will be happy to discuss the feasibility of creating a bespoke itinerary for you that takes this into consideration.
Southern Italy is a dream. But it’s often overlooked by many in favor of Rome, Milan, Florence, or Venice. The Southern Italian people here are wonderful, the food is amazing, and the scenery – stunning. We invite you to come and experience it for yourself.