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Southern Italy

Top 8 Most Authentic Experiences in Italy

By Southern Italy

So, you’re dreaming of traveling to Italy. Who isn’t? But you hate the tourist slog. We feel you. Nobody wants a run-of-the-mill experience in 1 of the most incredible places in the world!

If you’re looking for a truly authentic Italian experience, check out our top 8 most down-to-earth experiences in Italy, and start planning your own true-blue adventure in Italy.

Explore Cinque Terre— on foot

Dreaming of the picturesque towns of Cinque Terre? See them in an off-beat way: on foot!

Full of lots of trails, you can escape the throngs of tourists and find your own real Italian experience  in the region while enjoying the incredible nature and views that many of the trails have to offer.

Too tired to walk? Not a problem. You’ll be able to hop on and off the train that connects the gorgeous, perched towns. Do some people-watching, soak up the local language, and enjoy the views.

See something that isn’t Cinque Terre

Looking to beat the crowds without compromising on the beauty? Then set your sights on nearby Portovenere.

Home to a wonderful old castle, charming churches, hillside homes, and packed with cool caves to explore, you’ll be getting all the beauty while doing something much more original.

Check out the terrific Trulli

Heading to the south? If you find yourself in beautiful Bari (located in Puglia), do yourself a favor and visit the incredible trullo houses in Alberobello.

Constructed in a very unique way, these old, stone buildings have been a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1996. Don’t miss out!

Celebrate Carnevale like a Venetian

Grab your masks, it’s Carnevale! If you’ll be in Italy during festive Carnevale season, then there’s no better place to go than where it all started: Venice.

Famous for its incredible Carnevale events and long mask-making history, Venice is truly the place to be during Carnevale. So grab your mask, and join the party!

Get in touch with your inner movie-buff

Speaking of Venice, film aficionados will want to be around for the city’s cool film festival. Considering Italy’s long and important history in cinema, this is as authentic an Italian activity as any!

Longing for Le Langhe

Delicious wine. Rolling hills. Picturesque towns. Dreaming of all that? There’s only 1 place you should go: the Langhe.

Located just a short drive from Turin, this amazing region boasts some of Italy’s finest wines, including the robust Barolo. Paired with gorgeous vistas and historic town centers, the Langhe is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway.

A Piedmontese Palate

If you’re still adventuring through the North, you’re gonna want to stop to eat: Piedmontese cuisine is a treat.

Whether it’s mouth-watering agnolotti, a savory carne cruda, or a decadent taste of 1 of Alba’s famous truffles, Piedmontese cuisine has something for you. If you really want to get authentic, try a local favorite: la bagna cauda.

The Lovely Lakes

Looking for some water-side fun? Italy has you covered. If you’re exploring Venice, Milan, or Verona, be sure to stop and see 1 of Northern Italy’s impressive lakes.

Feel as chic as can be in luxurious Como, 1 of Italy’s most popular lake-side escapes. After that, spend some time over at Lake Maggiore or Lake Garda— both great alternatives to the world-famous Como. Or even better: head out on a truly authentic experience and see them all!

Whether you find yourself in the North or South of Italy, there’s always something off the worn tourist path for you to see. Use our handy guide of authentic things to do in Italy, and start planning your next trip to Italia!

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Why We Love the Amalfi Coast (And So Should You!)

By Southern Italy

Curving roads. The wind in your hair. Sun on your face. Yes, the Amalfi Coast conjures delightful images of la vita bella— and it most certainly is the good life on the Amalfi Coast. From ancient ruins to crystalline shores, there’s something for everyone on the southern Italian coast— what’s waiting for you?

Explore the Petrified City

Ancient streets. Marvellous mosaics. Perfectly preserved homes. A city frozen in time: Pompeii.

The 2000-year-old city will transport you back to Roman times. With Vesuvius in the background, you’ll be able to see what life was like for the average Pompeiian before the volcanic disaster. And, looking upon the stone forms of those left behind, you’ll surely find a connection to the city that transcends curiosity.

Most notable in Pompeii: the well-preserved amphitheater, which, dated to 70AC, is the oldest in the entire world. Wow.

Volcanic Vesuvius

While you’re in Pompeii, be sure to take some time to admire Vesuvius in the background.

Snap some photos. Contemplate the ancient life of Pompeii. And try not to think about any eruptions…

Lovely Limoncello

Like lemons? Amalfi is the spot for you.

And, in a region full of delicious lemons, 1 tipsy treat stands out: limoncello.

If you’re a fan of a lovely liquor after a delicious dinner, limoncello will hit the spot. This sweet, lemony liquor is just the thing you’ll need after a long day exploring picturesque towns and ancient ruins. Salute!

Explore the towns

Pastel buildings on green, sloping hillsides. Sleepy seaside towns tucked away along the coast. Yes, Amalfi is as picturesque as it gets— stop in Positano for some awe-inspiring backdrops. You won’t be sorry.

Crystalline Capri

All aboard. Capri is calling.

A favorite destination for visitors to the Amalfi Coast, Capri is all about the sea.

While it’s not exactly the perfect spot for beachgoers, you can enjoy the crystal clear seaside by taking a luxurious boat tour around the island.

After all, taking a dip in the gorgeous waters from your own super-exclusive boat is much better than hanging around on a beach. Jump in!

Dreaming of your own amazing Amalfi adventure? Check out these authentic, local experiences, and discover the treasures waiting for you in Amalfi.

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5 Things most people don’t know about Sicily

By Southern Italy

Whether it’s unbelievable geography or draw-dropping cultural heritage, there are tons of amazing facts about the island that most visitors don’t know. If you’re planning a trip to Sicily, take a look at these fun facts to see how much you really know about Sicilia.

It’s super big

Sure, Sicily is an island. But it’s seriously big. At 25,832.39 square kilometers, Sicily is by far the biggest island in the Mediterranean. With such a huge size, that makes the island the most extensive region in all of Italy.

And space isn’t all Sicily has— with such an enormous size, it has over 1,600 kilometers of beach to sun yourself on. Whether sandy or craggy, Sicily has tons of beach space to enjoy.

It has tons of stuff to see

When you think of cultural sites in Italy, most people (rightly) think of Rome. But with 26% of Italy’s total cultural sites, Sicily is the place to go if you’re looking for some amazing Italian history. In fact, of Italy’s 53 major UNESCO heritage sites, Sicily has 7— that puts it on par with Egypt and Denmark. Whoa.

But it’s not all history and ruins— there are some pretty incredible nature reserves to check out too. You can climb up to the Park of Etna and see what an active volcano looks like from the top, do some riverside trekking in the lush greenery of the gorgeous Alcantara Park, or head out to the picturesque Aegadian Islands to enjoy the crystal-clear water. Fun.

It’s packed with art and culture

Enjoy a nice puppet show? You’re in the right place. Sicily is famous for it’s traditional pupi, or puppets. In fact, L’Opera dei Pupi (puppet shows) are a common sight across the island. They typically tell the tales of grand medieval heroes who fought for Christianity, and many times recount the tales of Charlemagne’s crusades for Christian Europe.

But Sicily isn’t all playing will marionettes— art is in the island’s blood. Among famous artists who loved Sicily is Pablo Picasso, who reportedly got inspiration for his famous Guernica during his stay in Sicily.

The food is amazing

Yeah, yeah. This is what it’s all about— the food. Did you know that Palermo is the European Street Food Capital? Yup. In fact, Forbes rated Palermo among the top 5 cities in the world for street food.

Looking for something to try? We suggest grabbing a few panelle. Le panelle are one of Palermo’s most traditional, easy-to-prepare, and low-cost street foods. Consisting of deliciously fried chickpeas, panelle are usually eaten in a yummy sesame-seed sandwich with a bit of salt and a splash of fresh Sicilian lemon.

Mhm. We can hear you planning your next trip to Palermo now.

It’ll satisfy your sweet tooth

After all that delicious street food, you’re gonna want some dessert. And you’ll be in luck— Sicily has a wide variety of tasty treats to satisfy your sweet tooth.

You can dig into a creamy cassata—a succulent round sponge cake topped with sweet ricotta cheese (similar to the equally delicious cannoli) and candied fruit, coated on the sides with a sweet layer of green-colored marzipan.

More of a chocolate fan? Head over to Modica, which is famous throughout Italy for its incredible chocolates. The chocolatiers in Modica still follow ancient Aztec recipes that were first imported to the region by Spaniards during Sicily’s Spanish Age. Some fascinating flavors to try include cinnamon, or even hot pepper— spicy!

But, if you’re looking for something to cool off with on a hot Sicilian afternoon, try a gelato— it was a Sicilian chef who, in 1686, first mixed up a batch of what we now know as ice cream.

From food to amazing natural sites, Sicily has it all. Use these fascinating facts to help plan your grand tour of Sicily, and you can be sure you’re getting the most authentic local experience possible.

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The Sassi of Matera – Unforgettable Beauty

By Southern Italy No Comments

A trip to the Sassi in Matera will transport you to a stunning old town perched on a rocky hillside. Seeing Matera with its charming cobbled streets, winding pathways, and vibrant piazzas is every bit as magical as the mythical worlds Narnia or Middle Earth.

The cubist homes here rise up from the hillside, closely packed together and boasting a variety of levels and storeys so intricate it’s often compared to a maze. Walking through the town is full of surprises, with many hidden corners and pathways winding through blocks of age-old architecture that seem to defy the rules of gravity. It is one of the oldest settlements in Italy and its streets tell the stories of generations past through the stacks of stone and mortar.

Life here, the locals will tell you, is good. People have what they need, enjoying the beauty of the countryside, the bounty of the harvest, and great company. The landscape around Matera is arid and dry – one of the dryest in Italy – with few trees and more rock and dirt than vegetation. The locals cultivate olive trees and potted plants or cheerful flowers in window boxes that are hardy enough to withstand the hot, dry climate. Restaurants delight visitors and locals alike with fresh, whole foods harvested from the surrounding areas and incorporated into tantalizing Mediterranean dishes.

In the center of Matera you’ll find the Sassi (the “stones”), spectacular gravity-defying homes that were originally caves that were carved into the stone back in medieval times. There is evidence that people lived here dating back to the Palaeolithic period. In the 1950s many of the homes were declared uninhabitable and the residents were relocated to another part of Matera. The government realized that these unique clusters of cave homes were a treasure of sorts. Restoration efforts were undertaken and with some truly creative craftsmanship, the Sassi were upgraded and converted into inspired living spaces.

The Sassi straddle two worlds, combining elements that stay authentic to their origin as humble cave dwellings yet transform them into hospitable and beautiful shops, restaurants, homes, and other facilities – even a concert hall.

Some of the caves have been cleverly remodelled, combined into larger and incredibly stylish private family residences or chic and trendy boutiques and hotels. Modern inhabitants enjoy the Sassi for their newfound comfort and style, but also for their rich history and beauty.

Not only are they beautiful to explore, their cultural importance was recognized and the Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. Travelers here can delve into history, enjoy breath-taking views, relax and explore the local shops and restaurants, or take in the local arts and music scene. A visit to the Sassi and the Rupestrian Churches is a must for anyone who wants an authentic experience of this region of the Mediterranean. The artwork and architectural embellishments are awe-inspiring.

There’s no better way to experience the incomparable Sassi and Rupestrian Churches of Matera than with our knowledgeable expert local leaders. Our Treasures of The Amalfi Coast and Puglia tour takes you to to see the remnants of the past and the beauty of the present in Matera.

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limoncello is made from delicious Amalfi lemons

Sipping Limoncello on The Amalfi Coast

By Southern Italy No Comments

Nothing is more refreshing after a meal than sipping a deliciously tart Italian Limoncello. Limoncello is a taste of the Amalfi Coast, Italy, where lemon orchards have provided their bounty to generations of Italians — and visitors — for centuries. Trust us, Limoncello tastes best if you’re seated at a charming little restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean landscape. However, it is possible to enjoy this unique taste of Italy anywhere in the world with a little knowledge and preparation.

Lovely Limoncello

Limoncello is an alcoholic liqueur that is native to the Sorrento and Almalfi coastal areas. This bright yellow Italian drink is said to be a digestivo, or digestive aid, of great benefit after you’ve enjoyed a wonderful meal. Authentic Limoncello is made using a special variety of lemon that is grown on the Amalfi Coast. It is called sfusato amalfitano for its uniquely tapered shape and you won’t find lemons like these anywhere else in the world.

If you visit an orchard here along the edge of the Sorrentine Peninsula during the lemon harvest, you’ll notice how huge these sfusato amalfitano lemons are – much larger than typical lemons. Their thick skins are quite sponge-like, protecting the juicy interior of the citrus fruit until it’s time to enjoy their sweetly sour goodness.

Enjoying Limoncello

Most Italians end a hearty meal with a glass of Limoncello, but visitors to Italy also find it’s an excellent way to quench their thirst on a hot day after enjoying the local sights. It’s the perfect beverage for an outdoor patio. You see, Limoncello is not a drink to hurry or rush. Rather, it’s a drink to sip and enjoy slowly so that your tastebuds have time to enjoy the full flavor.

Limoncello is served cold. Some local Italians drink it straight from the freezer. However, those in the know advise against subjecting Limoncello to frozen temperatures. When it gets too cold the flavor is less intense.

The Taste of the Amalfi Coast

You’ll need to come to Italy to taste a truly authentic Limoncello, but with a little patience you can make good Limoncello at home. If you want to try making your own Limoncello at home, we recommend you use organic lemons because you need to use the lemon zest. You don’t want to add chemicals to your drink!

Additionally, Italians make Limoncello with unflavored alcohol that is 95% pure. Some English recipes will call for Vodka, but this isn’t authentically Italian. Look instead for this pure alcohol at your favorite liquor or wine shop; it is often used as a base for making various traditional homemade liqueurs. If you’re looking for a recipe to try we like nonna Maria’s easy Limoncello recipe.

Nonna Maria’s Limoncello Recipe


  • 5 Amalfi lemons (use organic lemons if you can’t Amalfi lemons)
  • 500 ml 95% pure grain alcohol
  • 500 g granulated sugar
  • 750 ml water


  • Peel the lemons. Be careful to take the yellow part only and not the white part. The white part is too bitter and it will ruin your limoncello. Add the peels to a lidded container and pour in the alcohol.
  • Leave the peels to soften and to flavor the alcohol for 20-30 days.
  • When the alcohol is ready, dissolve the 500 g of sugar into 750 ml of water. You can warm up the water to dissolve the sugar more easily just cool it back down to room temperature before you add the alcohol in the next step.
  • Strain the lemony alcohol through a fine sieve and then add it to the room temperature sugar water.

Once you’ve tried Limoncello you’ll want to enjoy your own adventure on the world-renowned Amalfi Coast. Our Treasures of The Amalfi Coast and Puglia tour offers 10 days of beautiful sights and sounds as you travel with a small group of up to 10.  This internationally famous region of Italy boasts beautiful little villages, spectacular views of the ocean, and wonderful winding paths through the mountainside.  Contact our knowledgeable, friendly staff at LocalWonders Travel to book now.

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