Practical Guide to South Italy, Places to Visit, Practical Answers to FAQ

Usually, when you think of visiting Italy, the first destination that comes to your mind is Rome isn’t ́t it? Then if you have plenty of time, you add other famous cities to your itinerary, such as Florence, Venice, Milan, etc. 

But what if I tell you that there is much more to see in Italy? 

My husband and I moved to live here a couple of months ago. Since almost every weekend we manage to visit a new city, I’ve collected tonnes of photos and practical tips for creating and sharing with you a travel guide about South Italy. So,

What are the Travel Tips about South Italy No One Tells You Before Visiting?

  • Siesta is very serious for Italians: From 13:00-16:00 almost NOBODY works and EVERYTHING is closed almost EVERYWHERE in Italy. Thus, one of the most important travel tips about South Italy is;  try not to leave important things for this period. Also, have your lunch on time since you cannot have dinner before 7.30 pm.
  • If you can, travel here at the beginning of September; it is still very warm and sunny,  not crowded by tourists and the flights are cheaper than in summer.
  • Be ready to gain extra kgs as you WILL eat a lot of dough and gelato. 
  • Do not forget to bring a swimming costume since the beaches in South Italy are amazing; the sand is soft and white, the water is warm and crystal clear.
  • A few people speak English; Learn basic expressions in Italian before coming here. However, even without speaking your language, Southern Italians are generous and friendly people and do their best to help you make sure you feel welcome.
  • Book you train/bus tickets in advance; transportation here is not cheap if you buy it at the last minute. Make sure you buy some days or weeks beforehand. Also, there is a skip-to-line option for almost every museum if you buy the tickets in advance.
  • Prices are different for the coffee if you sit at the bar; if you do not want to be differentiated and pay extra, drink your coffee while standing as Italians do.
  • Tipping is not necessary BUT; you have to pay the charge to sit at the table and your tip is included in the price of the meal you ordered (usually is for the bread on your table.)
  • Get used to paying for public restrooms 1 to 2 Euros
  • The food is not the same and tasty everywhere; do your research ahead of time and visit less touristy restaurants – the ones that usually locals prefer to go to.
  • Forget about hills and bring your walking shoes since the majority of cities are extremely walkable
  • Buying a ticket for the bus/train/metro is not enough; you need to validate it using the little machines at the stations or inside the vehicle to avoid meeting an unhappy inspector and get fined.
  • Italians are loud; when they speak loudly does not mean they are angry
  • Last but not least travel tip about South Italy is; the first Sunday of every month, various museums and archaeological sites offer free entrance.

Anything else you would like to add? I´d love to hear those if you leave in the comments below.

Which Cities to Visit in South Italy

Polignano A Mare | 1 day

Located on a gorge overlooking the Adriatic sea, this is a city where the houses are built on top of high cliffs! What you can find in Polignano A Mare are white-washed houses, a cute historic center with some shops, the statue of Domenico Modugno (the performer of V-O-L-A-R-E ) and a breathtaking view of the sea from every corner of the city. 

Napoli, Pompei, Vesuvio | 4 days

Another place to visit in South Italy is Napoli; a  city super chaotic and noisy, yet picturesque and full of a beautiful mess. With over two thousand years of history, Napoli offers a vast amount of things to experience. This city is famous for being one of the most touristic destinations – Pompei, an active volcano Vesuvius as well as being the birthplace of Margherita pizza. 

Alberobello | 0.5 - 1 day

The first thing that comes to mind while describing Alberobello is the Trulli; 1400 round stone houses spread all over the town. Being declared UNESCO World Heritage Alberobello is one of the most visited towns in South Italy. In this city, you just need to wander the streets as long as possible since there is no other place like this in all over the world.

Grotte di Castellana | 0.5 - 1 dayt Here

Grotte di Castellana is a huge cave full of spiky stalactites and stalagmites as well as ancient canyons and colorful formations. Try to avoid visiting these beautiful sculptures of nature in the summer as it can be too crowded and take a jacket with you since it is much colder inside than outside. Also, it is forbidden to take photos inside only in the first cave. By the way, this place is close to Alberobello and it is possible to visit these two destinations in one day.

Matera | 1 day

The city is known as a “stone city” as well as a maze of slender pedestrian streets and zigzagging staircases. This is a city you should not miss when creating your own list of places to visit in South Italy. Here you just need to get rid of your map and get lost in the city where the view of the horizon is just breathtaking. 

Otranto | 1 day

The next small and vibrant town in South Italy where you can find a cute castle, ports, cobblestoned streets as well as boutique stores, where most items handmade by local artisans. Make sure you do not miss the unique landscape with deep red soil and green lake known as Cava di Bauxite. Also, note that aluminum is obtained from this mineral.

Ostuni | 1 day

Ostuni is a “white small labyrinth” with houses that seem will fall down at any minute. Walking through the old town and admiring the alleyways, as well as enjoying a glass of wine during the sunset are the things that should not be missed in this romantik city.

Lecce | 1 day

Lecce is known for being the “Florence of the South Italy”. Almost all the buildings in the city center have baroque style and are built with golden sandstone. The city center is quite compact making it a nice place for walking and discovering the hidden piazzas, pretty balconies and the monuments coming from ancient times.

Gallipoli | 1 day

The name itself means “beautiful city” (and it is certainly that)  translated from Greek. But what’s the connection to Greece? – You might think… Well, it’s believed, this town has been founded by the Greeks but all signs of their existence were destroyed later by the Romans, and the only building which still exists is the Fontana Greca. Upon arrival, we were immediately attracted by its narrow streets, pretty houses, churches, the castle as well as the surrounding coast of this fishing port.

Sicily | 1 week

When you think about Sicily you most probably imagine it to be a small island where you can face mafia everywhere. Well, at least I was thinking like that. However, after visiting it, I found out that it is quite big and each small town is a must-see destination (unfortunately only visited 4 cities) and that mafia is not obviously on show in Sicily. Check out my other article about Practical Tips and Frequently Asked Questions about Sicily.

Beaches | Torre Dell'orso, Porto Cesareo, Torre Chianca

South Italy some of the first-class sandy beaches in the whole country. Here you just need to relax, eat good food, drink good wine, soak up some sun and just get away from it all. Do not miss the following beaches; Torre Dell’orso, Porto Cesareo, Torre Chianca – my favorite ones!

There is no doubt that any trip to Italy will be an unforgettable experience. While I consider these destinations the be must-visit places, you need to do your independent research and create your independent travel guide for South Italy based on your own interests. 

I’d also love to hear from you if you need any other info related to the destinations I write for your upcoming trip. If you have any, drop me a message to edithyeghiazaryan@gmail.com.

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