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Italian Regions

Italian Regions

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1. Aosta Valley  (Valle d'Aosta)
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Aosta Valley / Valle d'Aosta / Vallée d'Aoste

Is a mountainous region forming Italy's window on Switzerland and France, located in the north-western corner above Piedmont. The Aosta Valley is the smallest region in Italy and has the lowest population density.

The Aosta Valley is an Alpine valley with its side valleys includes the Italian slopes of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. It is a major centre for winter sports with Courmayeur as the most famous place.

If travelling from France through the Mont Blanc tunnel this region often serves as an introduction to Italy. This can be a little misleading as the region is more linked to France than to Italy, and the dialect spoken here is an ancient French-derived dialect.

Mainroads leading in from France are:
        o  Great St. Bernard Pass
            (or today the Great St. Bernard Pass tunnel).
        o  Little St. Bernard Pass.
        o  Today Aosta is joined to Chamonix in France by
            the Mont Blanc Tunnel, a road tunnel on E25
            running underneath the Alps.

Best time to visit: Winter or summer.

2. Piedmont  (Piemonte)
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Piedmont / Piemonte

Is a region of northwestern Italy. 

In February 2006 Turin hosted the 20 th Olympic Winter Games.

Piedmont is a flourishing agricultural area, producing maize, rice, wheat, and grapes in the lower area. You'll also find major industrial centres here. Most known is Turin with the Fiat car factory and therefore often called the "Detroit of Italy".

Turin is also known from the Sacra Sindone (Holy Shroud), the cloth which many Catholics believe originate from the wrapping of Christ's body when lowered from the cross.

It produces some of the most famous wines of Italy, such as the famousBarolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto and Moscato, as well as lesser known varieties such as Freisa, Grignolino and Brachetto.

Best time to visit Piedmont: All seasons.
(Top 2: Nature experiences during spring.
           Wine harvest during late autumn).

3. Liguria 
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Is a coastal region of north-western Italy, the third smallest of the Italian regions.

The coastal strip forms the Italian Riviera. The western inland part forms the Ligurian Alps, and the Ligurian Apennines on the east

Outside the shores of Liguria is the Ligurian Sea, a part of the Tyrrhenian Sea (which is part of the northern Mediterranean Sea).

The three facinating medieval ports San Remo, Ventimiglia and Portofino are definitively worth a visit. The same goes for the five romantic coastal communities known as Cinque Terre. You can also enjoy the beach resorts: Rapallo and Santa Margherita Ligure that resemble the French Riviera.

Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

4. Lombardy  (Lombardia)
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Lombardy / Lombardia

Is placed between the Alps and the Po river.

One-sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy. The capital is Milan, the largest city in Northern Italy and is by far the e richest region in Italy, with a gross domestic product which staggers 30 percent higher than the rest of Italy.

Many foreign and national companies have their headquarters in Milan.

As some people are of the opinion that Milan is an industrial city with a snobbish contempt for the poorer regions to the south, it's compared to New York by its fans.

Instead of spending all your time in Milan you should consider visiting Bergamo, Brescia, Pavia, Cremona, and Mantua as well. In Lombardy's eastern part you find the gorgeous lakes of Como, Garda, and Maggiore.

Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

5. Trentino-South Tyrol  (Trentino-Alto Adige / Südtirol)
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Trentino-South Tyrol / Trentino-Alto Adige / Südtirol

Consists of two distinct areas, the Italian-speaking Trento and the largely German-speaking South Tyrol.

Formerly known as Venezia Tridentina (between 1919 and 1947).

 It is extremely mountainous, covering a large part of the Dolomites and the southern Alps. Here we find the lowest pass across the Alps, the Brennerpass, is located at the far north of the region on the Austrian border.

An important source of revenue is Tourism and the region is renowned for its winter skiing facilities, especially in the Gröden - Val Gardena area.

Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

6 Friuli-Venezia Giulia   
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Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is comprised of two historical regions:

o  Friuli, which forms 90% of the territory, including the
    city of Udine.
o  Venezia Giulia, including the capital city of Trieste

A natural opening to the sea for many Central European countries, the region is traversed by the major transport routes between the east and west of southern Europe.

The area is strongly influenced from the Roman, Byzantine, and Romanesque-Gothic eras, and many of the public buildings (especially in Trieste) might remind you of Vienna.

Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

7 Veneto   
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Laying between the Adriatic Sea and Alps it is traversed by the rivers of Brenta, Po, Adige, and Piave.

Colourful Venice is the regional capital. Other cities of importance are Padua, Verona, Treviso, Rovigo, Vicenza and Belluno.

Veneto contains very rich historic and cultural treasures. In Venice you find unique buildings and bridges all over the city.
Other architectural masterpieces are a number of Palladio's villas.

Another attraction here is the thermal baths at Abano Terme . Although the most famous, Abano is by no means the only thermal town in the area. It is however one of the prettiest and most tranquil.

One of the oldest universities in Europe are found in Padua where Galileo Galilei once was a professor . This is also one of the leading universities of medical reserach today.

Some great wines from the Veneto region are Valpolicella and Soave.
Asiago, the origin of Asiago cheese is also here.

Rich on culture, artistic treasures, and activities together with its ski resort, Cortina d'Ampezzo, makes this region far more fashionable than Courmayeur in the northwestern corridor.

Nice areas to visit are:

  • Lake Garda

  • Jesolo

  • Cortina d'Ampezzo.

  • Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

    8 Tuscany   (Toscana)       Click here for more Tuscany details
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    Tuscany / Toscana

    Tuscany is by most people regarded as Italy's most beautiful region.

    It gave birth to the Italian Renaissance, and the inventive heritage holds architecture, sculptures and paintings, gathered in several museums, of which the most famous is the Bargello and Uffizi in Florence.

    First populated by the Etruscans an advanced civilisation which implemented agriculture and mining and also managed to develope a transport infrastructure (eighth century BCE).

    Among Tuscany's best wines are Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Muntepulciano and Morellino di Scansano. Main tourist destinations are:

  •  Florence

  •  Siena

  •  Pisa

  •  Lucca

  •  Barga

  •  Maremma

  •  Crete Senesi

  •  Lunigiana

  •  Garfagnana area

  •  The island of Elba
  • .

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

    9 Emilia-Romagna
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    Forms a rough triangle from the Adriatic Sea in the East , on the North by the Po river and on the South by the Appennine.

    Emilia-Romagna is one of the richest regions of Italy, and offers one of the most characteristic cuisine of this country. Together with the food you'll also find great local wines here (even if they are not well known abroad yet).

    Emilia-Romagna also have a healthy industry, especially the food industry, but also well known for it's car factories (e.g. Ferrari, Ducati, Lamborghini), and tourism especially along the Adriatic coastline.

    One 'must see' city is Byzantine Ravenna, still showing off its past glory as the capital of the declining Roman Empire.

    Another nice city is Parma with its city center embraces the Duomo and baptistery together with its National Gallery. This is the home of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and prosciutto.

    Music lovers should visit the hometown of opera star Luciano Pavarotti. Modena, famous for its cuisine, its Este Gallery, and its basilica.

    At the periphery of Emilia-Romagna you find the Adriatic Lido of Rimini with its endless beach and the republic of San Marino.

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

    10 Marche
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    As a tourist destination it is not yet discovered by the "hordes".

    Many visitors who come to Le Marche are looking for a taste of the "real" Italy, unsullied by mass tourism, yet welcoming to foreigners - if that's what you want, you won't be disappointed.

    The inland is dominated by big mountains and the main roads are therefore directing east-vest.

    Recommended tourist destinations are the Conero area with the two small cities of Sirolo and Numana. Also the endless beaches to the south of these cities offer a wide range of activities, excellent food accompanied with local wines.

    Urbino is a jewel of a renaissance city and little has changed from the days when Duke Federico of Montefeltro set up his celebrated court here in the second half of the 15thC.

    The provincial capital of Ascoli Piceno lies at the southern end of Le Marche and is well worth a visit.
    The administrative capital of Le Marche, Ancona, is the main port for the ferries crossing the Adriatic sea to Croatia, Greece and Turkey.

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

    11 Umbria
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    A hilly and mountainous region in the central part of Italy with the Apenninnes at the east.

    Umbria is often called il cuor verde d'Italia (the green heart of Italy), and that is really the impression one gets after a journey through this region.

    Typical tourist spots are Assisi, Perugia, Gubbio, Norcia and Spoleto (site of the world-renowned annual arts festival in July). Orvieto, sited upon a natural mountain fortress, is allways a joy to visit.

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

    12 Latium   (Lazio)
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    Latium / Lazio

    The two central places in this region are definitively the regional capital Rome, and Vatican City, the independent papal state.
    Rome: Most of the civilized world was once ruled from here, going back to 753 B.C. when Romulus and Remus are said to have founded the town. Referred to as caput mundi (capital of the world) for generations.

    Other places worth seeing are Cassino, known by the famous monastery and fierce World War II battle.

    Cerveteri, site of one of the two best preserved Etruscan cemeteries in Italy.

    Nettuno, site of Allied landings in the Second World War and also where the American Cemetery and Memorial is placed.

    Tivoli, site of Hadrian's Villa and the famous fountains

    Best time to visit: All seasons.

    13 Abruzzo
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    Another region still not crowded by tourists, although it offers some of the most spectacular nature of Italy with its mountainous national parks. One third of the region is designated as national parks:

  • Abruzzo National Park
  • National Park of the Gran Sasso
  • National Park of the Maiella
  • Sirente Velino Regional Park
  • Barrea Lake Wetlands

    The protected areas are environmentally important and are home to rare flora and fauna, such as the brown bear, the wolf and the chamois.

    The Apennines runs through this region in which we find the Gran Sasso (2914m) and the Maiella Massif (2795m).  

    This mountaineous area offers numerous possibilities for downhill, cross-country, alpine skiing, and snowboarding. Winter tourism has been a blessing for the many towns that now has transformed the winter and snow to their source of income. The main winter areas are found at: L'Aquila, the Teramo side of Gran Sasso and the Majella.

    At the Adriatic coast long sandy beaches unwinds in the northern part. Many small cities offer nice hotels at considerably lower prices than in the more tourist dense areas. (A good example of this is the old port Porto di San Giorgo).

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.
  • 14 Molise
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    The Molise region is almost entirely constituted by small towns, scattered on the mountainous landscape and is the second smallest of the regions. 

    It is the region of scenic beauty - if this is what you want, Molise is the place to go for vacation.

    For tourists with an interest of archaeology  -  make a visit at the Museo Nazionale della Pentria e Isernia in Isernia. Here you can experience the incredible excavations of a village more than 700,000 years old!

    In Termoli you can live the life of the Adriatic with fresh seafood and sunny beaches.

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

    15 Apulia   (Puglia)
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    Apulia / Puglia

    Known as Italy's heal.

    In the northern part the low and long coastline is disturbed by the mountainous Gargano Peninsula. - Here You can find some very nice places to spend a lazy holiday. You will find Peschici as a perfect place for a life in the sun and to enjoy Frutta di Mare (seafood).

    Former main occupation was farming, but lately the industry has evolved fast. The farms produce grapes, almonds, olives, figs, cereals, tobacco and livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs). The industry produces wine, cement, refined petroleum, chemicals, processed food, plastics and iron and steel.

    The wine has undergone a transformation from quantity to quality. This region togehter with Sicily is now making excellent wines and are steadily growing it's share of the international wine market.

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

    16 Basilicata
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    The region consists of mountainous ground, the highest point of the southern Apennines is Monte Pollino (2233 m). Monte Vulture, in the northwest corner is an extinct volcano (1330 m).

    The mountainous terrain caused difficult communications until modern times, and Basilicata was one of the least developed provinces of Italy. Basilicata is still one of the poorest regions in Italy but they have gotten (and still get) good help from the EU funds during the last years.

    From a tourist's view the Trulli (small buildings made of stone with a cone-shaped cupola) is worth seeing. The scenic landscape also gives pleasant surroundings. In the south you can visit some splendid holiday spots at the Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea.

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

    17 Campania
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    The regional capital is Naples (Napoli).

    Tourist attractions include the Sibyl's cave at Cumae, the Greek temples at Paestum, the Roman ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum, the volcanoes of Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei and Ischia, the Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitana) from Sorrento to Salerno and the island of Capri.

    If you travel by car be aware that the coastal road from Sorrento to Salerno is narrow and winding in a way that you've scarcely experienced before!

    The regions produces white wines of absolutely top quality as well as good read wines.

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.

    18 Calabria
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    Calabria is a mountainous region with sparkling clean seawater, fresh air and several national parks in the mountains.

    You can get impressive service and good hotels at a price far below what you are used to in the mid and northern part.

    Recommended places to see:

  • Gerace (near Locri) has a beautiful medieval city with a Norman     castle and an ancient cathedral.
  • Siderno, on the Ionian Sea coast, has good hotels. 
  • Squillace, a seaside resort and famous archeological site.
  • Stilo, with a Norman castle and a beautiful Byzantine church, the     Cattolica.
  • Tropea, on the Tyrrhenian Sea coast, is a beautiful town, with a     nice seaside

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.
  • 19 Sicily   (Sicilia)
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    Sicily / Sicilia

    Is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

    Near Catania we find the towering, active volcano Etna which is one of the most active on earth. With it's 3,320 m this is Europe's tallest volcano..

    Sicily'smain motorways (autostrade) are found in the northern section of the island. The four of most importance are:

  •   A19 Palermo - Catania

  •   A20 Palermo - Messina

  •   A29 Palermo - Mazara del Vallo

  •   A18 Messina - Catania.

  • Most of the autostrada network is elevated by pillars due to the mountainous terrain.

    In the southern part of the country the roads mostly consists of secondary roads of good standards (superstrada).

    Even if Sicily is the original home of the Mafia or Cosa Nostra, this is no reason to avoid visiting this region. On the contrary Sicily is one of the safest places to travel in Italy.
    The crime rates here are low and pick-pocketing or petty theft are often non existent.

    Beside the regional capital Palermo,  Taormina and Giardini Naxos are the most frequented by tourists.

    Best time to visit: All seasons.

    20 Sardinia   (Sardegna)
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    Sardinia / Sardegna

    Is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

    The island contains numerous extraordinary tourist areas, including the Costa Smeralda and Gennargentu. The island is particularly famous for its beaches, but is also rich in other interesting places, such as some charming sea towns and archeological ruins.

    Trains on Sardinia connect the whole island but are rather slow. Some run on narrow gauge track. Many tourists catch the trenino verde which runs through the wildest parts of the island. It is slow but it allows the traveller to have scenic views impossible to see from the main road. It is highly recommended to make the trip from Macomer to Bosa Marina, where the train winds its way through the typical Sardinian landscape to reach the sea near the coastal town of Bosa situated in the west of the island.

    Curio: Cheese filled with live maggots and their feces is a delicacy in Sardinia. This cheese is called Casu Marzu.

    Best time to visit: Spring, summer and autumn.


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