Southern Italy is jam-packed with hidden gems, delicious pizza and mozzarella di bufala which is specifically produced in the region of Campania. Plus Naples is the birthplace of pizza so you know you’re going to find the best of the best. Rich with culture, language that sounds like a song and picturesque coastlines, southern Italy is like a dream within a dream. While of course you can’t visit southern Italy without seeing the Amalfi Coast, there is so much more to see and experience that you might not find in your research. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back!
Living in Salerno, Italy has allowed for the opportunity to explore the region of Campania during every season and I’ve found those hidden gems you’re looking for your next visit. So let’s dive in.
While I love the Amalfi Coast and love it even more at the start of the season in April and the end of the season in October, you will find a lot fewer tourists on the Cilento Coast. With the same crystal clear water and rocky cliffsides but a far cheaper price point and fewer crowds. For example, we were table to take a private 8 hour boat tour for €200 total versus in Capri where we’d pay €180 for 2 hours. See what I mean?
Small Towns Along the Amalfi Coast
Now I would be remise if I didn’t delve a bit deeper into the Amalfi Coast. It’s famous for a reason, right? So here’s what I’d recommend: If you’re looking for a budget version then visit at the start or the end of the season as mentioned above. You will find the hotel prices will be far easier on your wallet. Now take it a step further and stay in smaller towns like Atrani or Minori. If you find yourself in Minori, then you should definitely pop over to Sal de Riso for a sweet treat that you’ll never forget. You can easily take ferries or in some cases even walk to larger cities like Amalfi or Positano but again, this will help save a a few extra bucks to splurge on more gelato and lemon granita.
Vietri sul Mare
The “first pearl of the Amalfi Coast” is filled with tiny shops brimming with ceramics. So if you’re a ceramic lover like me then this will be your own personal heaven. Perched on a cliffside overlooking the sea, this little town will capture your heart as it’s considered the capital of traditional ceramics.
Fun fact: did you know that there are actually Greek ruins in southern Italy? You can find them at Parco Paestum. I especially love to visit these ruins during the spring and fall when there are fewer crowds and the weather is just perfection. Speaking of ruins, we’ve all heard of Pompeii, but have you heard of Herculaneum? These ruins, while not as large as Pompeii, are better preserved and draw much smaller crowds.
Buffalo Dairy Farm
If you decide to visit Paestum, then just around the corner is a delicious dairy farm called Barlotti. Because the region is known for mozzarella di bufala, this dairy farm specializes in all the different things buffalo milk can make like gelato, ricotta and delicious pastas using the buffalo cheese. We scarfed down our appetizer pretty quickly but I was able to snap a picture of our pasta and of course the buffalos grazing just outside. 100% would recommend!
Christmas Lights in Salerno
Ok so this one isn't really a secret to people from Italy but as a tourist, I wouldn't know about this! If you decide to visit southern Italy around the Christmas season, then you must visit the famous Luci d'Artista Christmas lights in Salerno. People from all over the country come to Salerno during this time to walk through the city and enjoy the lights. They usually turn on mid-November so keep an eye out on their website (November 9th in 2018 and November 15th in 2019 just to give you an idea)! Also, the theme is different every year so it’s always a surprise what they will be.
The Royal Palace of Caserta
For those fans of Star Wars out there, this royal palace is a must-see. the location was actually used in several scenes in Episode 1 and as you walk around, you can picture the scenes unfolding before your eyes. I personally loved it for the gorgeous walk to the gardens and massive water fixtures. While you’re in Caserta, make sure to grab pizza from i Masanielli and let your tastebuds rejoice!
The Best Pizzeria in Naples
Last but certainly not least, the birthplace of pizza, Naples. If you find yourself in this amazing historical city my number one recommendation is to go eat pizza at Sorbillo. The best pizzeria in Naples might be cause for debate, but tourists and locals alike will put their name on the list and wait 30 minutes to an hour for a table here because it’s 100% worth the wait. Once you put your name not the list, walk about 10 steps across the street and grab yourself an Aperol spritz while you wait.
While you’re in Naples, pop on over to the Castel del’Ovo as it’s free so why the heck not and my personal favorite, Palazzo Reale di Napoli, with a breathtaking staircase that will make all your Instagram followers jealous.
So in a nutshell, the region of Campania in southern Italy should definitely top your Italy to-do list. With colorful buildings perched on stunning coastlines and the most delicious food you'll ever have, visiting Italy is a no-brainer, right? Before you go, make sure to review these 10 things you should know before visiting Italy. Happy traveling!