The fifth-most visited country in the world may be known for its famous cities and landmarks, but is actually comprised of 17 specific regions — each with their own personality, culture, and traditions.

Abruzzo and Molise

Photo by Alessio Moretti.

Located in: Northern/Southern Italy

Notable sights/cities: The Adriatic coastline, Sulmona, L’Aquila, the Apennines, Gran Sasso, Scanno, Cocullo, Pescara, Chieti, Vasto, Saepinum, Ururi

Characterized by: Wild terrain, valleys, abandoned hill towns, vast mountain plains

Fun fact: At least 40 percent of Molise is occupied by mountains.

 

Photo by Peppe Addeo.

Basilicata and Calabria

Located in: Southern Italy

Notable sights/cities: Matera, Melfi, Venosa, Tyrrhenian, Maratea, Metaponto, Scilla, Tropea, Capo Vaticano, Pollino

Characterized by: Medieval architecture, underdeveloped tracts, marinas, ruins, crystal-clear water

Fun fact: Basilicata and Calabria form the instep and toe of Italy’s boot.

 

 

Campania

Located in: Southern Italy

Notable sights/cities: Naples, the Bay of Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Capri, Ischia, Procida, Sorrento, Caserta, Benevento, Salerno, the Amalfi Coast, Positano, Cilento

Characterized by: Roman ruins, volcanoes, peninsulas, Greek temples, coastlines, beaches

Fun fact: Campania is the birthplace of PIZZA!

Emilia-Romagna

Located in: Northern Italy

Notable sights/cities: Via Emilia, Bologna, Modena, Parma, Reggio Emilia, Ravenna, Rimini, the Po Delta, Ferrara, the Apennines, the Grande Escursione Appenninica

Characterized by: Historic architecture, countryside, Renaissance palazzi, medieval streets, seaside nightlife

Fun fact: Emilia-Romagna’s main cities are located along the Via Emilia, a dead-straight road laid down by the Romans in 187 B.C.

Photo by Omar Cordovani.
Photo by Gianluca Fazio.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Located in: Northeast Italy

Notable sights/cities: Trieste, the Triestine Riviera, Gorizia, Carso, Udine, Cividale del Friuli, Natisone River, Aquileia, Grado

Characterized by: Castles, hilltops, memorable views, limestone plateaus, rivieras, Roman ruins

Fun fact: Slavic, Germanic, and Italian populations all call Friuli-Venezia Giulia home and speak a local language called Friulano.

Liguria

Located in: Northwest Italy

Notable sights/cities: Genoa, the Riviera di Ponente, San Remo, Albenga, Finale Ligure, Riviera di Levante, Camogli, Monte di Portofino, the Cinque Terre

Characterized by: Landscape and architecture, vineyards, olive groves, small villages, beaches

Fun fact: Liguria’s Mediterranean coastline is also known as the “Italian Riviera.”

Lombardy and the Lakes

Photo by Sara de Luigi.

Located in: Northern Italy

Notable sights/cities: Milan, Cremona, Mantua, Bergamo, Brescia, Lake Maggiore, Lake Como, Lake Garda

Characterized by: The Italian Lakes, ancient castles, monasteries, alpine valleys, medieval towns

Fun fact: Lombardy was ruled by France and Austria for almost two centuries but takes its name from the Germanic Lombards, whose long-lasting reign began in the 570s.

Le Marche

Located in: Eastern Italy

Notable sights/cities: Ancona, Monti Sibillini, Conero Riviera, Pesaro, Fano, Urbino, Macerata, Ascoli Piceno, Loreto

Characterized by: Hill towns, white-pebble beaches, cliffs, hiking, old-fashioned seaside resorts, fortresses, pilgrimage sites

Fun fact: People from Le Marche are called marchigiani.

Photo by Alessio Moretti.
Photo by Alessio Moretti.

Piemonte and Valle d’Aosta

Located in: Northwest Italy

Notable sights/cities: Turin, Alba and Le Langhe, Asti, Mont Blanc, Valle d’Aosta’s Bassa Vale, Saluzzo, Aosta, Gran Paradiso

Characterized by: Fine wines and food, rice fields, Fiat and Olivetti, the Po River

Fun fact: Piemonte, translated, literally means “at the foot of the mountains,” and this region sits at the foot of The Alps.

Puglia

Located in: Southern Italy

Notable sights/cities: Bari, Lecce, Martina Franca, Castel del Monte, Lucera, Lecce, Bari, Brindisi, Torre Guaceto, Gargano promontory, the Tremiti islands, Salentine peninsula

Characterized by: Sunshine, bungalow villages, Baroque churches, rocky coves, laidback cafés

Fun fact: Puglia forms the heel of Italy’s boot-like shape.

Photo by Oliver Astrologico.
Photo by Oliver Astrologico.

Rome and Lazio

Located in: Central Italy

Notable sights/cities: Lake Bracciano, the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle in Bracciano, the Etruscan necropolis of Banditaccia in Cerveteri, Ostia Lido, Frascati, Tivoli, Rome (city), Vatican City

Characterized by: Historic villages, art, lakes, rivers, vineyards, and the capital city of Italy

Fun Fact: Lazio is the second most populous region in Italy.

Sardinia

Located in: Southern Italy (island)

Notable sights/cities: Cagliari, Olbia, Alghero, Nuoro, Gennargentu

Characterized by: Roman and Carthaginian ruins, Genoan fortresses, Pisan churches, Gothic and Spanish Baroque architecture, clean beaches, jagged coastline

Fun fact: Sardinia is actually closer to the North African coast than the Italian mainland.

Photo by Peppe Cantone.

Sicily

Located in: Southern Italy (island)

Notable sights/cities: Palermo, Cefalù, Aeolian Islands, Messina, Taormina, Catania, Mount Etna, Siracusa, Agrigento, Enna, Piazza Armerina

Characterized by: Spicy food, sandy beaches, volcanoes, limestone, mud baths, ancient relics, temples, theatres

Fun fact: D.H. Lawrence described Sicily as having “a good on-the-brink feeling.”

 

Trentino-Alto Adige

Located in: Northern Italy (bordering Switzerland and Austria)

Notable sights/cities: The Dolomites, Bolzano’s Museion gallery in South Tyrol, Trento, Bolzano, Merano, Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio

Characterized by: Skiing, hiking, alpine ridges, contemporary galleries, museums

Fun fact: Trentino-Alto Adige is made up of two areas. Trentino is the southern part, and is 98 percent Italian-speaking, while Alto Adige is northern part, and is primarily German-speaking.

Tuscany

Located in: Central Italy

Notable sights/cities: Florence, Siena, Palio, Pisa, Lucca, Arezzo, Cortona, San Gimignano, Montepulciano, Pienza, Volterra, Massa Marittima, Pitigliano, Monte Oliveto Maggiore, San Galgano, Bagno Vignoni, Elba

Characterized by: Olive groves, vineyards, hill towns, frescoed churches

Fun fact: Tuscany was the birthplace of the Renaissance (in the 14th century).

Umbria

Located in: Central Italy

Notable sights/cities: Valnerina, Perugia, Assisi, Orvieto, Todi, Gubbio, Spoleto, Valnerina, Piano Grande, Lago Trasimeno

Characterized by: Hilltop villages, vast plains, dense forests, streams, valleys, foraged truffles, wines

Photo by Francesco Cattuto.

Fun fact: Umbria is often called “the green heart of Italy” because it is the only Italian region that doesn’t have a coastline and doesn’t share a border with another country.

Venice and Veneto

Located in: Northeastern Italy

Notable sights/cities: Venice, Belluno, Verona, Padua, Vicenza, Treviso, the Brenta, Vicenza, Cittadella, Asolo, Vittorio Veneto, Castelfranco, Bassano del Grappa

Characterized by: Venetian villas, fruit farms, vineyards, lagoons, commercial centers

Fun fact: Besides Italian, most inhabitants also speak the indigenous Venetian language.

Header image by Stefan Mahlknecht.

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Hailing from the foothills of Northern California, Kacie is a writer and an editor who's worked on everything from quarterly surf magazines to art books, novels, lookbooks, city guides, and shoddily printed zines. She's a bit of a story junkie, but we forgive her for that. To view more of her work, creep her website and Instagram.