Italy’s 20 regions stretch from the Mediterranean to the Alps and all are oh, so different. Last week I wrote about the first 10 in alphabetical order. This week it’s the next 10, from the undiscovered villages of Molise to the tourist flood in Venice.
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Italy has 20 regions. Each one could qualify as its own country. They have their geography, customs, cuisine, history and dialect. I’ve been to 19 of them. If you’re dreaming of an Italian vacation but don’t know where to go, use this as a guide. This is the first 10 regions in alphabetical order. I’ll post the other 10 next week.
Calabria is considered the most backward and least-developed region in Italy. I rented a car and checked it myself and found nothing of the kind. I found beautiful seas, gorgeous national parks, quaint villages and one of the nicest beach towns in Italy.
If you have Italian heritage and would like to move to Italy, you can obtain Italian citizenship. But it’s complicated. It’s difficult. It’s time consuming. It’s confusing. Annamaria Borelli came to Italy from New Jersey and managed to obtain citizenship. This is her story and advice.
Andy Luotto has been a little bit of everything since he left his home in Brooklyn to be with his father in Italy at 14. Actor. Author. Singer. Comedian. Scuba diver. But more than anything he is a chef. He has owned four restaurants and was an executive chef at a five-star restaurant in Venice. He sat down with me for an interview before he did a cooking demonstration at Rome’s Osteria Il Matto.
For Valentine’s Day, I’m taking Marina to a four-star palace in Sutri, a little historic town cut into ravines about an hour north of Rome. It made me think of all the great hotels we’ve stayed at in Italy. We’ve been all over the country and stayed in dozens of hotels, resorts, agriturismos and AirBnBs. These are my five favorite.
If you’ve never heard of Molise, don’t worry. Few have. It’s by far the least-touristed of Italy’s 20 regions, getting only 482,000 visitors in pre-Covid 2018. It’s 55 percent mountains and the rest is mostly rural. It’s not set up for tourists. But for the adventurous — and the hungry — it’s a terrific place to discover another side of Italy. The countryside is beautiful and the food and wine are unique and excellent. It was a great birthday present to myself.
Italy and Valentine’s Day just go together, don’t they? We went to Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast, romantic at any time but double it on Valentine’s Day. We took a room overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, drank Campania wine in lively piazzas and shopped for ceramics in one of the ceramic capitals of Italy. Vietri sul Mare doesn’t get the hype that Positano and Sorrento get but it’s worth a weekend, particularly on Valentine’s Day.
The most important part of visiting Rome isn’t what room you take but what neighborhood you take it in. After living here eight years, I’ve written a Rome neighborhood guide. It’s thumbnail sketches on 10 neighborhoods, from popular Centro Storico and working my way out.
Annamaria Borelli began singing on her family’s porch in New Jersey at age 7. Since then she has trained as an opera singer and landed a role in the famous Italian opera La Boheme, which opens Tuesday at Rome’s Teatro Vittorio.
I attended the World Travel Market, one of the biggest travel fairs in the world, and I saw encouraging signs of countries opening up and restrictions lightening. It still has a long ways to go.
The Black Forest was apparently the inspiration for Grimm’s Fairy Tales although there’s no concrete evidence it’s true. What is true is the aptly named forest is a wonderland of outdoor natural fun from an endless maze of hiking trails to spas throughout the region. We spent four days bouncing from hiking trails to the Jacuzzi to an exquisite dining table.