Where To Go: Northern or Southern Italy? 

Written by Rem Malloy, since 1995 Rem has been guiding and designing trips to Italy and all of Western Europe and is considered an expert in his field for over 30 years.

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Are you planning to travel to Italy and experience the unique culture, food, history and scenery of this amazing country? When choosing your destination, it’s helpful to know the differences between the Northern and Southern regions. Both offer varied landscapes, climates and cultures, making each unique and charming in its own way.

Northern Italy, with its mountains and abundant greenery, is a stark contrast to Southern Italy’s vast plains, incredible coastline, and lush green forests. The varied landscapes, along with the cities and cultures, reflect these distinctions, making them unique.

Renowned for its fashion, business, and historical monuments, the landscape of Northern Italy includes some of Italy’s most popular lakes, as well as the Italian Alps Moreover, cities like Milan, Venice, and Turin in Northern Italy are cosmopolitan and fast-paced, catering to high-end businesses, designers, and corporate clients.

The Southern region of Italy, however, is an entirely different world. From its delectable cuisine, ancient archaeological ruins, stunning coastline and seaside towns and colorful hilltop villages to picturesque islands, like Capri and Sicily. Naples, located in southern Italy, is famous for its pizza and is a perfect base for exploring the Amalfi coast. You will notice that the culture and the relaxed, carefree lifestyle in Southern Italy is vastly different than in the North.

While there are some shared traditions throughout Italy, the cultural and physical differences between these two regions create a fascinating travel experience that no one should miss. Whether you’re planning to explore Northern Italy’s fascinating culture and the luxury shopping scene or venture to Southern Italy’s mesmerizing countryside, stunning beaches and enchanting islands, you will enjoy and appreciate the distinct characteristics that make each region unique.

When you are planning a trip to Italy, here are some of the cultural and geographic differences to keep in mind:

Food

Food of Italy

Italian cuisine is undeniably memorable, no matter which region you visit. From the rich flavors of the north to the light and fresh ingredients of the south, every region of Italy has something unforgettable to offer. 

The cuisine in the North is heavily influenced by the nearby countries of Switzerland and Austria. You can expect to find dishes like risotto, polenta, and sausages. Cream and cheese-based dishes are more common, and meat is featured more prominently in Northern Italy in dishes such as Florentine Bistecca and Bolognese sauce. The cuisine in the Southern region features a heavy Mediterranean influence, with fresh seafood, pizza, and pasta with lighter tomato-based sauces. Lemon and olive oil are also common in southern Italian dishes. To level the field, however, Italian desserts are equally famous in both regions! 

Wherever you go, try taking a cooking tour or a food tour in Florence or Venice to get a true “taste” of Italian cuisine!

Landscape

Northern Italy

Geographically diverse as it they are beautiful, Northern and Southern Italy also have vastly different landscapes. The northern scenery ranges from the snow-capped peaks of the Italian Alps to the lakes and vineyards in the Tuscan countryside. The South, on the other hand, is home to some of the most beautiful beaches and coastlines in the world.

If you love adventuring and hiking mountainous regions and incredible inland scenery, then Northern Italy is the place for you. But if you prefer soaking up the sun on the coastal beaches, then head South. 

Culture

People watching in Italy

If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, you will enjoy the varied cultural opportunities throughout Italy! From its beautiful scenic regions to its renowned artwork and grand historic landmarks, Italy is bursting with energy, flavor, and life. Don’t miss out on a chance to explore the many facets of this delightful country. 

In the North, people tend to be more reserved and formal. The architecture is more austere and minimalist, with lots of straight lines and simple shapes. In the South, people are generally more relaxed and laid-back. The architecture is more ornate and elaborate, with lots of decorative elements like colorful tiles and mosaics. Overall, though, little compares to the stunning history and culture of Italy. From ancient ruins to the city lights, each region has something remarkable to offer visitors. 

Climate

Climate of Italy

When visiting Italy, plan for a varied climate between regions and depending on the time of year. The North is much colder in the winter, with snowfall in many areas. The summers are still warm but not as hot as in the South. Northern Italy’s climate is varied and often unpredictable, but the one thing that’s universally agreed upon is that it’s beautiful! 

In the South, the winters are mild and the summers are scorching. If you love the heat, then head to the South in the summer months. Bright and sunny days, lush rainforests, and beautiful coastlines. Southern Italy is a magnificent place to explore! Get ready to experience the mild yet diverse climate of Italy’s southern region! With temperatures never dipping too low, it’s the perfect destination for an Italian getaway any time of the year.  

So, when you visit in Italy, explore and soak up the vasty different experiences and authentic charm. Whether you prefer skiing in the mountains, lounging on the beach, or exploring historic cities, there is something for everyone in Italy. Take your time, explore the country, and enjoy all that it has to offer!

Italy4Real would love to help you plan your adventure, no matter which region is on your destination list. Reach out to us and we will design the perfect trip for you, just as we have done for countless others since 1995! Contact us today! 

About the Author

Rem Malloy started Italy4real back in 1995 with his mother, Deborah de Maio.

He specialises in Italian tours as well as customised tours to France, England, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain. He was also featured in the Travel Channel show Mysteries at The Museum in 2016.

Rem has family in Italy and his mothers home town is Cava di Terrani, near the Amalfi Coast. The family has a street named after them in Sorrento, Via Luigi de Maio; a relative who was mayor of Sorrento.

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