If you want to get the most out of your trip to Italy, explore the regions of Italy. Discover their distinct cuisine and attractions, and learn what suits your taste.
When you think about Italy, you probably think of pizza, pasta, and wine, but that’s not all this country has to offer.
The majestic architecture, the narrow streets, the magical shops, and the magnificent castles are places that everyone must visit at least once in their lives.
So are you eager to visit Italy? Do you want to learn about the culture and enjoy the delicious food?
To do that, you should know that this country is divided into 20 administrative regions, each unique in its way. The regions of Italy have different accents, cuisine, flavors, and countless attractions worth visiting.
Thus, to be able to choose the ideal one for you, first, you must learn what each of them offers.
The 20 Regions of Italy
Did you know that five out of the 20 regions of Italy are autonomous regions, meaning they have higher autonomy and defined powers? Those regions are Sicily, Sardinia, Valle d’Aosta, Trentino-South Tyrol, and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. You’d learn more about them and the other 15 below if you did not know.
Abruzzo is located in the central part of Italy on the east coast. If you’re searching for peace, a moment to spend in nature, relax and gather your thoughts, Abruzzo is the region that’ll provide you with all that and more. You have sandy and pebbly beaches on the beautiful Adriatic coastline and endless green landscapes.
This region is the greenest in Italy, abundant with mountains and national parks. So, whether you like spending time on the beach, or walking in the mountains, you can find everything in this region.
Moreover, Abruzzo is divided into four provinces: Chieti, L’Aquila, Pescara, and Teramo, and the capital city is L’Aquila.
The traditional cuisine of Abruzzo is simple but truly delicious. Arrosticini, grilled lamb meat on a stick for easy consumption, is one of the traditional foods of this region.
Nonetheless, you can always go with pasta if you’re not a meat lover. Just don’t be surprised if you notice chili flakes over your pasta. That’s common in this region, as people in Abruzzo love the spicy touch.
Remember, if you ever visit Abruzzo, you must try the local wine, as it’s considered one of the best in Italy. Order the red wine Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, and you won’t be sorry!
What to visit
- Majella National Park
- National Park of Abruzzo
- Castle of Rocca Calascio
- Stiffe Caves
- Medieval Castle of Roccascalegna
- Ponte del Mare
Basilicata, also known as Lucania, is located in southern Italy. Indeed, Basilicata is the perfect place for mountain lovers. There aren’t many tourists here, so if you’re looking for a peaceful place with picturesque views and good food to eat, you’ve just found it.
Half of this region is covered with mountains and small villages that’ll transport you back in time, so visiting Basilicata is one of a kind experience. Also, this is a great place to visit if you like to see how the locals live.
Moreover, this small region consists of only two provinces, Matera and Potenza. The capital city is Potenza, and Matera is considered one of the world’s oldest cities.
Lucanica is a traditional pork sausage with fennel seeds, and it’s included in many typical dishes. You can easily combine it with the famous Matera bread, a delicacy from this region.
When you finish your meal, don’t forget to order the Sanguinaccio Dolce, a dark chocolate cream with raisins and pig’s blood. Yes, it has real pig blood, but you can’t imagine how good it is until you try it.
What to visit
Located in Southern Italy, Calabria is the hidden gem of Italy, as travelers often skip it. That’s because Sicily is next to it, and you know how famous Sicily is.
Nevertheless, if you want to discover an enchanting place with a very small number of tourists, Calabria is the ideal region.
This region offers mountains for hiking and long beaches for relaxing under the sun; thus, it offers something to everyone. For me, the best time to visit is when I can go to the beach.
Calabria is divided into five provinces: Reggio Calabria, Catanzaro, Cosenza, Crotone, and Vibo Valentia, and the capital city is Catanzaro.
The Pitta bread from Calabria is a crunchy, fluffy bread that can be stuffed with many things. Whether it’s filled with meat, tomatoes, or even cheese, there’s no doubt that it’s very delicious.
Another signature dish from this region is the Caciocavallo, which is simply cheese with a spicy taste that goes excellent with wine.
Therefore, take a trip to some of the many wineries in Calabria and relax with good wine, good cheese, and a fantastic view.
What to visit
- Park of Mediterranean Biodiversity
- Sila National Park
- Castello Aragonese
- Rock Settlement and Museum of Rural Life of Zungri
Campania is located in the south of Italy on the west coast and is one of the most famous regions in Italy. The name might sound unfamiliar to you, but Capri, Pompeii, Vesuvius, and Amalfi coast are all incredible places that belong to this region.
Campania is located in the South of Italy, so if you want to enjoy clear skies, sunny days, warm weather, and crystal-clear waters, this region has it all.
Moreover, the region is divided into five provinces: Naples, Salerno, Avellino, Benevento, and Caserta, and the capital city is Naples.
Pizza was invented in Napoli. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try it, and it doesn’t matter from which pizzeria you decide to order. You’ve never tasted pizza like the pizza made in Napoli. So, stop counting calories and enjoy! Campania is also famous for seafood, some of the best seafood dishes in Italy are from Campania. Also, the region has an incredible dessert culture with Baba and Sfogliatelle being the most famous one.
Furthermore, Southern Italy is famous for its refreshing Limoncello, a sweet and popular liquor everyone drinks. In addition, you can easily find Limoncello-to-go.
What to visit
- Castel dell’Ovo
- MUSA – the University Museum of Arts and Sciences
- Naples Underground
- Amalfi Coast
Emilia-Romagna is a region in Northern Italy considered one of the wealthiest. The provinces in this region are medieval, enchanting, and rich in castles, so this region is one of a kind; it’s also our home.
Emiglia-Romagna is also known for the production of sports cars. For example, Maserati, Lamborghini, and Ferrari are just a few of the many produced here. On the Adriatic coast, you’ll find some of the most popular beach resorts in Italy, such as Riccione or Rimini, famous for their great hospitality and wild nightlife.
Furthermore, this region consists of the following provinces: Bologna, Reggio Emilia, Ravenna, Ferrara, Forli, Modena, Piacenza, Parma, and Rimini. The capital city of Emilia-Romagna is Bologna.
Emilia-Romagna is perfect for every gourmet. This region is famous for the Parmigiano cheese and the Homemade tagliatelle; imagine combining these two.
Moreover, it gets even better. Bologna is where delicious bolognese meat sauces are made, so adding that to your fresh pasta will make a spectacular dish. So, if you decide to go to Parma, try the Parma ham on top of a piece of Gnocco Fritto; you’ll love it!
What to visit
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is one of the five autonomous regions, yet tourists often overlook it. It is located on the northeast side of Italy, and it borders Slovenia and Austria.
This region offers idyllic landscapes and excellent ski resorts for winter sports enthusiasts. Also, if you love history, there are plenty of ancient ruins to visit and explore in this Italian region.
Although you might think Venice is a part of this region because of the name, it’s not, so don’t get confused.
This region is divided into four provinces: Trieste, Gorizia, Udine, and Pordenone, and the capital city is Trieste, which offers first-rate coffee and incredible history.
Pork products are very popular in this Italian region, so you’ll find all types of dishes, including pork. Also, don’t forget to order Frico, cooked cheese usually served with potatoes.
Furthermore, the delicious gnocchi made from potato or bread is something everyone must try when visiting this region, especially those filled with plums or cherries. This region offers high-quality white wine, so make sure you try it.
What to visit
- Piazza Unità d’Italia in Trieste
- The walled city of Palmanova
- Miramare Castle near Trieste
- Devil’s Bridge
Lazio is located in central Italy on the west coast of the country. If you’ve ever been to Rome, then you’ve visited the Lazio region of Italy. Highly populated and diverse, there are many exciting things to see in this region.
Castles and medieval cities are some of the most famous sights in this region. The Civita di Bagnoregio is a small village located on a hill. It is known as the dying town because of the erosion and danger of collapsing.
You should cross a bridge to get to this city, but once you’re there, you’ll be amazed by its looks as this is a pretty fairy-tale-looking village.
Moreover, this region consists of the provinces: Latina, Roma, Rieti, Viterbo, and Frosinone, and its capital city is Rome.
Pasta Alla Carbonara originates from Lazio, so you must try the original even though you know what it is and how it tastes.
Cacio e Pepe is another dish that originates from this region and is very simple. It’s just a pasta dish with cheese and pepper, but it tastes incredible when it’s made right.
The Lazio region is also famous for its fresh and fruity white wine Frascati.
What to visit
Liguria is located in northern Italy on the west coast. The western tip of Liguria borders France. Liguria is a beautiful, colorful Italian Riviera that offers gorgeous scenery. Located in north-western Italy, Liguria has a curved shape and offers breathtaking views.
This region consists of four provinces: Genoa, Imperia, Savona, and La Spezia. Genoa is the capital city of this region that will enchant you with its magnificent architecture.
Moreover, the five villages of Cinque Terre will make you think about leaving everything and moving there.
As you already know, basil, cheese, and garlic are just a few ingredients for making Pesto Genovese. Although you’ve probably tried it, you’ve never tried original pesto from Liguria, so put this on your “things I must try” list.
Moreover, don’t miss the opportunity to try the famous focaccia. It’s bread with olive oil, and this region is widely known for it.
What to visit:
Lombardy, or Lombardia in Italian, is located in the central part of northern Italy. Its northern part borders Switzerland. Lombardy is the most populated region of Italy, and it’s also the wealthiest region with an accent on fashion. Lombardy is heaven for those who want to enjoy luxurious things.
This is one of the regions of Italy that mixes the past and the present. That’s why so many tourists are attracted to it. This region has amazing natural landscapes and is especially rich in lakes, including the famous Lake Como. The region also has some of the highest peaks in the Alps with some great sky resorts.
Furthermore, Lombardy is divided into 12 provinces: Milan, Bergamo, Brescia, Lecco, Lodi, Como, Cremona, Mantova, Monza and Brianza, Pavia, Sondrio, and Varese, and the capital city is Milan.
The first thing you must try when you visit Lombardy is Risotto Alla Milanese which is rich in saffron, meat stock, and cheese. This is a creamy deliciousness that you must try.
Another traditional dish from this region is Pizzoccheri, which is pasta with cheese, cabbage, and potato, and it’s simply delicious, which is typical of the Valtellina region in the alps.
What to visit
Marche region is located in the central part of Italy on the east coast. Although the Marche region isn’t widely known and it’s not a tourist spot, it’s pretty worth visiting and spending a few days there. You’ll enjoy the beautiful nature, the majestic coast, and the picturesque villages.
This region has a large port, Ancona, that connects Italy with Croatia, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, and Turkey. This is a unique hidden gem of Italy, where you’ll enjoy tranquility with all of your senses.
Marche consists of provinces Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Macerata, Fermo, and Urbino, and the capital city is Ancona.
Ascolane Olives are olives filled with meat and then fried. They have a specific taste, so you can’t know if you’ll like them without trying them.
Moreover, Pollo in Potacchio is a chicken prepared with tomato, garlic, rosemary, and white wine. No matter how often you’ve eaten chicken, this is a taste you’ve never tried and won’t forget.
What to visit
Molise is located in the southern part of Italy on the east coast. It’s a small, authentic region with small cities, and not so popular among tourists.
Molise will captivate you with its old castles and landscapes. It’s a popular winter destination, so if you’re searching for a charming little place to spend your winter vacation, this is it.
Campitelo Matese is a great ski center; thus, if you love skiing, keep that in mind. This region consists of the provinces Campobasso and Isernia, and the capital city is Campobasso.
Pampanella is a popular street food in Molise. More precisely, this is marinated pork with spices. Be careful because this meat is spicy, but you’ll immensely enjoy it if you love spicy food.
Furthermore, Scarpelle is a sweet pastry that can be simply described as a small donut. Usually covered in sugar, you must get this delicious snack while in Molise.
What to visit
- National Museum of the Paleolithic
- Basilica of Saint Mary of Sorrow ‘Minore’
- Museo Campane Marinelli
- Saepinum Archaeological Area
- Tibetan Bridge Roccamandolfi
Piedmont, or Piemonte in Italian, is a region in northwestern Italy. It borders in the west with France. Surrounded by mountains, this region is ideal for ski, history, and nature lovers.
While you enjoy the peace and quiet, you must treat yourself to Nutella, as Piedmont is where this deliciousness was invented. Also, Turin (Torino in Italian) was the first capital of Italy and the birthplace of the Italian car industry.
This region consists of eight provinces, and those are: Vercelli, Asti, Cuneo, Alessandria, Biella, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Novara, Torino (Turin), and the capital city is Torino.
Truffles and cheese are typical foods for this region, so you’ll encounter many dishes that contain them. For example, Tajarin al Tartufo is pasta rich with truffles and cheese; you can’t find anything like it.
Don’t miss out on trying the famous Bonet, a traditional dessert with almond-flavored biscotti, cocoa powder, and rum. Also, you must try the white Alba truffles and visit the white truffle fair if you can. One of the most famous products of Piedmont is Barolo wine, a rich red wine considered the king of Italian wines.
What to visit
- Palazzina di Caccia di Stupinigi
- Sacra di San Michele
- Sanctuary of Oropa
- Egyptian Museum
- Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile
The heel of Italy is the region called Puglia, an exquisite region with the longest coastline. So, if you love endless walks on sandy beaches, you’ll fall in love with this region.
Alberobello is a small town in Puglia known for the old traditional houses with a distinctive look, white and pointy, called Trulli, which are mandatory to visit.
Also, learning some Italian words would be useful, as most people from this region don’t speak good English. But don’t worry; you can still order your favorite meal.
Furthermore, this region consists of provinces Lecce, Taranto, Bari, Barletta, Foggia, and Brindisi, and the capital city is Bari.
Puglia is rich in different Italian dishes. If you’re planning on visiting this region, the things you must try are Burrata cheese, which is a hard, cow milk cheese, creamy on the inside. It’s hard to describe its flavor, so you must try it.
Also, make sure you order Orecchiette pasta, or in translation, “little ears,” which is pasta symbolic of this region. This is a small round pasta, hence its name, usually served with broccoli rabe.
What to visit
- Grotte di Castellana
- Basilica di Santa Croce
- Direzione regionale Musei
- Gargano National Park
Sardinia is the second biggest island in the Mediterranean and certainly our favorite. It’s a very popular destination in Italy; not only is it filled with tourists, but it’s also filled with Italians in the summer, as they love this island. Rick and I have been spending time on this island since 2004, and for a good reason!
Sardinia has the most breathtaking and alluring beaches in Italy and maybe Europe, so it’s a must-visit region. Clean waters and colorful views are what best describe this island.
Moreover, besides the beaches, this region offers everything you’ll need for an unforgettable vacation, including exciting nightlife, stunning views, coastlines, and fishing towns.
Sardinia has four provinces; Cagliari, Nuoro, Sassari, Oristano, and the capital city is Cagliari.
Sardinian cuisine is rich in seafood, so you’ll find lots of it in every restaurant. Sea urchins are a very popular Sardinian dish, but they’re not for everyone. Give them a try if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something different.
Furthermore, Pane Carasau is a flatbread, usually consumed as a snack, but you can also eat it with your main meal.
What to visit
- Bastion Saint Remy
- Gulf of Orosei
- Duomo di Cagliari (Cattedrale di Santa Maria)
- Grotta Su Marmuri
- Neptune’s Grotto
Everyone has heard of Sicily, its beautiful beaches and great landscapes, and everyone knows how great this region is.
The unique history of this region has resulted in astounding architecture, so you can easily get lost in the impressive Greek and Roman ruins.
Besides that, Sicily offers a lot of other fascinating things to see. For example, you can visit the most active European volcanoes, Mt. Etna and Stromboli. This region consists of provinces Palermo, Ragusa, Trapani, Catania, Agrigento, Enna, Messina, Caltanissetta, and Siracusa, and the capital city is Palermo.
Arancini are rice balls filled with all kinds of stuffing, a popular dish in Sicily. You can find Arancini with chicken liver, mozzarella, peas, or tomato, so you can always eat a different Arancini.
Of course, you can’t leave Italy without eating pasta, and the Sicilian pasta you must try is Pasta Alla Norma. This is a vegetarian pasta made with tomato sauce, aubergines, ricotta, and a touch of basil, making it truly delicious. In sicily don’t forget to taste the most famous dessert ricotta stuffed Cannoli.
What to visit
- Piazza Armerina
- Mount Etna
- Temple of Segesta
- Teatro Antico di Taormina
- Valley of the Temples
- Necropolis of Pantalica
Trentino Alto Adige
Trentino Alto Adige is located in the far north of the country, and it borders Switzerland and Austria. We’ve visited this area several times as it offers excellent conditions for winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, skating, and snowshoeing. This region offers spectacular views, both in winter and summer.
Trentino Alto Adige is different from the others because it’s a bilingual region, where besides Italian, people also speak German, in the Alto Adige (South Tyrol) part of the region.
Also, this region has plenty of castles, so if you love visiting them and discovering new ones, this area is perfect for you. Moreover, this region consists of Trento and Bolzano provinces, and the capital city is Trento.
Dumplings are a big deal in Trentino Alto Adige. Canederli are dumplings made out of bread, but there are various dumplings in this region. Usually, they’re served in soup, and they can be filled with cheese and meat.
Another authentic dish of Trentino Alto Adige is the strudel. Most commonly, the strudel is filled with apples and cinnamon, but it also can be filled with other fruits. Crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside, it’s something you must try.
What to visit
- Buonconsiglio Castle Museum
- Canyon Rio Sass
- Parco Naturale Adamello Brenta
- Museo delle Scienze
- Cime di Lavaredo
Tuscany is located in the central part of Italy, and it is on the west coast. When you hear Tuscany, you probably imagine green landscapes and incredible wine, and you’re not far from the truth. Florence, Firenze in Italian, is perhaps one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
This region is known for its vineyards, so it’s the ideal destination for anyone who loves to go on vineyard tours and wine tasting.
Nevertheless, the beautiful beaches, art, and history this region offers aren’t something you want to miss. Thus, you’ll have many other activities besides wine tasting.
Tuscany consists of ten provinces: Arezzo, Grosseto, Florence, Livorno, Lucca, Pistoia, Pisa, Prato, Massa Carrara, and Siena, and the capital city is Florence.
You mustn’t leave this region without trying Tuscan bruschetta, a bread with garlic and olive oil called Fettunta.
Another simple but finger-licking delicious dish is the tomato soup called Pappa al Pomodoro, which is a starter that you’ll love. The recipe is very simple as this dish is made from tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and garlic.
What to visit
Umbria is considered the heart of Italy because it is located right in the center of the country. If you want to visit Tuscany, but don’t want to deal with the touristy crowds, then Umbria is the ideal region to visit.
This region is the destination to visit when you want to get away from everything and experience “authentic Italy.” It is also one of the most mystical regions being the birthplace of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Umbria is also known as the “green heart of Italy” because this charming region offers maybe the most beautiful scenery in Italy. Moreover, this region consists of the provinces Perugia and Terni, and the capital city is Perugia.
If you go into a restaurant in Umbria, you’ll first notice many truffles dishes on the menu. This region is rich in truffles, so people use them in almost everything.
Furthermore, don’t forget to get Umbrian Extra Virgin olive oil, as it’s one of the best you can find anywhere.
What to visit
- Lake Trasimeno
- Marmore Falls
- Duomo di Orvieto
- Casa del Cioccolato Perugina
- Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi
Aosta Valley is located in the far northwest of Italy, and it borders France and Switzerland. Italy’s smallest region, consisting of only one province, and its capital city is Aosta. The old small villages, the simple way of life, and the greenery will captivate your senses, making you feel reborn.
This region is between mountains and offers breathtaking greenery and picturesque views, it is also a sky paradise with the famous sky resorts of Cervinia, Courmayer and Champoluc. The region has the highest peaks in the alps such as the Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.
The Fontina cheese is the most famous product of Aosta Valley. It’s sweet, creamy, and smooth, made from cow’s milk, and it quickly melts, so you’ll find it an ingredient in many dishes.
Also, fondue and polenta with fontina are spectacular dishes you must try at least once during your stay here.
What to visit
Veneto is located in the northeast part of Italy. Everyone has heard of Veneto, a very famous region of Italy that attracts many tourists because of its capital city, Venice.
Venice is known by many names, “the floating city,” “city of canals,” “city of bridges,” etc. It’s a romantic city, especially the gondola rides, which you must try.
Nonetheless, this city is also a bit spooky, especially at night, due to its old glorious breathtaking buildings and the dark narrow streets and canals, making you feel like you’re in a tale.
Verona is another city in this region that’s frequently visited by tourists, which was made famous in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
The Veneto region is divided into seven provinces: Belluno, Rovigo, Padova, Treviso, Venezia, Vicenza, and Verona, and the capital city is Venice.
As you’ve probably noticed by now, you couldn’t visit Italy without trying any of the wide varieties of wine. Thus, the Veneto region is famous for its finest Prosecco, a refreshing sparkling wine. For red wine lovers, the area near Verona produces the world-famous Amarone wine.
Bigoli in Salsa is a type of thick spaghetti mixed with meat (often donkey or horse meat) that offers a very interesting mix of flavors. The delicious Risi e Bisi is a vegetarian-friendly dish typical of this region. Its main ingredients are rice and peas.
So, there’s something for everyone, and you’ll have plenty of different food choices to experiment with when visiting this region. Of course, don’t forget to treat yourself to a piece of Tiramisu, which originated from Treviso.
What to visit
- Juliet’s House
- Basilica di Santa Maria Della Salute
- Saint Mark’s Basilica
- Verona Arena
- St. Mark’s Square
In the end, it’s easy to conclude that Italy is a country with breathtaking sights, majestic architecture, and amazing food.
The regions of Italy are different, and each has something unique and specific that is worth visiting.
You’ll undoubtedly enjoy every part of this country, and as soon as you leave it, you’ll be planning your return and visit to a different region.