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Southern Italy’s Beauty lies in the craggy hills, bleak landscapes, inferno like heat and the layers of stories behind very rubble, stone or boulder you lay your eyes on. The colorful characters you hear about in the news, the heat and the rather scary drop-offs into the beaches could have prevented you from coming to the mysterious southern part of Italy until now. However, the trend now is “don’t miss it before it becomes too touristy”.

Know the history to fill in the gaps: Don’t be just a tourist when you go visiting. Instead, become a researcher. Why not go over to the friendly old folks and talk to them about the history of any of the southern regions you might be in at that point? Be it Calabria, Sardinia or Sicily, there ought to be a story. Alternatively, pick up a good (honestly readable) book like “Stolen Figs”, “Old Calabria” or “Modern Italy” (has been updated in 1996) and get the inside bites on where the Romans, Americans, Spaniards and the Greeks have lounged, the attack stories, and much more.

Dip your toes in waters: If you are headed to Southern Italy, you can’t miss out on the beaches since they happen to be one of the world’s best. The sheer drop-offs and cliffs make for an amazing sight on some of these beaches. When you visit, make sure you add beaches like Tropea, capo Vaticano, Scilla, Modello, Taormina – also called as the pearl or jewel of the Mediterranean, San Vito Lo Capo, and finally the beaches of Ragusa (a total of 7 beaches all with limpid waters).

Italian food and wine: They say that the more you go towards south, in Italy, the better the Gelato (Ice Cream) gets. True Indeed! Apart from that, Southern Italy is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and its specialties are spicy food: a variety of meat like fish, pork and lamb with breads and pasta. Want Macaroni? Head over to Campania – their meals are unforgettable. Try the Pancotto in Calabria, Lagane and Ragu. Some of the best known wines in Italy are Valpolicella, Soave, Barolo and Barberesco, of course.

Given enough information, your visit to Southern Italy can never be forgotten. If you wanted to experience the real Italy, South should do you justice. Come from North to South and you have seen it all.

crazy caprese salad ---of course with evoo & bv

SS. Maria del Isola

Italian Cured Meats 'n Cheeses

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Abruzzo is a place of spectacular natural scenery, medieval castles and villages and old Roman ruins. It is a place of rich historic sites, whose villages were abandoned, making it a thinly populated area that supports tourism to its best. It is said that there are as many castles in Abruzzo as there are sheep. One third of Abruzzo has been designated as a national park.

Picturesque Abruzzo can be divided into two major parts. The eastern region where you find rolling hills sloping all the way down to long stretches of sandy coastlines. It is here that the three main rivers of Abruzzo, flow down from the mountains, carving gorges deep and wide into the mountains, all the way down to the Adriatic Sea. Abruzzo’s main rivers are the Aterno-Pescara, the Sangro and the Vomano rivers. The mountains in this region have heavy rain and snowfall all through the year, making it an excellent place to for skiing. The western part is mountainous.

Here are a few must-see places in Abruzzo:

The Corno Grande: Abbruzo boasts of the tallest mountain in the Apennine range. The Crono Grande is the highest mountain in the Gran Sasso massif. It is indeed the highest mountain in Italy. When you stand atop the Corno Grande, you can see right across the width of Italy, from the Adriatic Sea to the Tyrrhenian sea.

Atri: This beautiful hilltop town is full of museums, frescos and imposing cathedrals. The hills are covered with olive trees. It seems almost like the hills are rolling masses of green, as you would expect to see only in a movie.

The Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo: One third of Abruzzo has been declared a National Park. This extensive National Park in Abruzzo was founded in 1922. The park is home to wild animals such as wolves, brown bears and wild cats. It also has great beech, birch and oak trees, apart from flowering plants and trees of varied colors and forms. This park offers sites for camping.

While in Abruzzo, don’t miss the local restaurants that serve a variety of mollusks and fresh fish tha is absolutely delightful. Pack your bags and plan so you can spend plenty of time walking, wandering, exploring and don’t forget to end the evening with some good wine and exotic sea food.

Southern Italy:Touring Puglia

Many tourists travel to Northern Italy than Southern Italy as Southern Italy is historically lagged in terms of economic advancement, tourism. Traveling to Southern Italy is a bit more challenging than traveling to Northern Italy . However, people who wish to witness the real beauty of Southern Italy should visit Puglia —  also known as Apulia.If you wish to travel to a place equally fascinating and charming as in Northern Italy, then Puglia is the first on the list.

Puglia has an uniqueness in itself. You will be mesmerized by the turqoise seas, beaches, olive groves,vineyards,white hill top towns and lots of sunshine and did you know that Puglia produces 70% of Italy`s olive oil.So do pick a few bottles of cerignola olive oil when you visit Puglia, produced from a large green olive typical of the type of olive found in Puglia.

If you are passionate of local wine, then Puglia is the right place where you can experience the taste and at the same time get the chance to buy wine at discounted prices.

Sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, balsamic onions, melanzane and zucchini are characteristic of Puglia in addition to a wide variety of nuts including almonds, pistachio and hazelnuts and pulses including ceci, fave, cannelini and borlotti beans.

The other popular items found in Puglia are liqueurs and grappa. Liqueurs are usually made from fruit including melon, fig and bilberries or nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts.

Puglia is also known for various events celebrated throughout the year. Plan your travel to Puglia during these months to witness these fascinating festivals.To name a few, we have the following events on the list.

1.Carnevale Putignano Carnival celebrated during the first weekend in February

2 St. Nicolas Bari Festival held on  June 7/8/9

3 Monopoli Festivals ring celebrated during the months of July – Sept

4.Alberobello Folk Festival hosted during the first weekend in August

5.Locorotondo Street Festival celebrated on August 16

6.Ostuni Festival and Procession hosted on August 26 August

7.Alberobello Festival celebrated on September 27/28

Do y0u have any experiences that you’d like to share with us about Puglia? Do feel free to comment here. We’d love to hear from you.

The next time you visit Southern Italy,don`t forget to purchase some extra-virgin oil as this is the land of extra-virgin oil. Olive Oil Tours in Lecce Puglia Southern Italy are memorable experiences as you get an opportunity to taste the finest extra-virgin olive oil here. Olive oil is obtained from the olive (Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin.

Did you know that olive oil is nick named as “Liquid Gold”? Yes this is true because of its amazing medicinal and cosmetic properties. The olive tree is known for its abundance, glory and peace. Approximately thirty varieties of olive trees are grown in Southern Italy and each tree specializes in producing a particular oil with unique features.The Italian folk tradition believes than ideal habitat for an olive tree is a combination of 5 essential components : Sun, Stone , Silence, Solitude and Drought.

The taste of the olive oil depends on 2 key factors :

  1. The soil on which the olive tree grows
  2. The moment when the olives have been harvested and ground.

In ancient times, people believed that olive oil bestowed strength and youth. The extra-virgin oil found in Southern Italy is a no less than a treasure because of its nutritional and valuable virtues.The extra-virgin olive oil is the most digestible of all edible fats.It is also popular for its culinary virtues and is an essential ingredient in most of the salads that we relish.It is also used with foods to be eaten cold. The extra-virgin oil can be made from blends of different varieties of olives or can be made from a single variety.

A few recommendations for blending olive oil with food and cooking:

  • Always use quality olive oil
  • Extra virgin or the cold pressed olive oil is the highest quality olive oil available and is popularly used in restaurants.   This variety is used as a dressing for salads.
  • Virgin olive oil contains less flavor and aroma than the extra virgin oil and is used for frying, grilling and roasting.

Olive oil also works as a natural and safe lubricant.So the next time you encounter any problem with your cookware or grinder, use olive oil. Athletes in ancient Greece rubbed olive oil all over their body because of its miraculous healing properties.Women all over the world love olive oil as it has amazing properties to slow down the aging process and give a youthful look. In addition to its amazing moisturizing effects, olive oil can also be used as an effective shaving oil to shave facial and other body hair.In Calabria, the women regularly use olive oil to take care of their hair and hands.

As a side note, to find the best and finest olive oil in Italy,go to Calabria.

Are you thinking of an exciting holiday spot this February? Then, Southern Italy should definitely appear on your must-see list. This spot is apt for people who are passionate about natural beauty. Filled with historical and archaeological sites, Southern Italy is characterized with a craggy kind of beauty. What can be more exciting than witnessing the numerous events that are celebrated every February in Southern Italy? February is the month of festivals and carnivals and remember these events aren`t available in summer. Here are some Interesting and events worth witnessing in Southern Italy:

Saint Agatha`s Feast day: The celebration commences on February 4 in Catania — Sicily`s second largest city — when it honours its patron saint, Saint Agatha. This event is hosted in the city of Catania in Sicily. Saint Agatha has been the patron saint of this city.

This prestigious event is remarkably the world`s second largest religious pageant. The event commences with placing the statue of Saint Agatha on a silver carriage which is pulled up Monte Sangiuliano by an incredible 5,000 men. This festival is spread through 2 days, and concludes with a monster fireworks display.

Almond Blossom Fair: Yet another event worth watching is the Almond Blossom Fair celebrated in the town of Agrigento situated on the western coast. This fair is held on the first two Sundays in February. Music, singing, puppet shows and open air performances make this fair a splendid event. Food lovers will relish the traditional Sicilian delicacies based on almonds and other goodies.

Commemoration of the Challenge of Barletta: It’s often termed as the most happening event in the coastal city of Barletta, Apulia. On February 13, Apulia hosts the Commemoration of the Challenge of Barletta. This is a traditional ceremony commemorating the historic challenge between 13 Italian horsemen and 13 French horsemen on February 13, 1503.

Feast of Saint Valentine: Vico del Gargano —  popularly known as the “The Village of Love“– celebrates this spectacular feast by decorating its main church and statue of Saint Valentine with bay leaves and thousands of oranges as this area is popular for oranges.

Patron Saint Biagio: This event is celebrated in Mugnano di Napoli and you can witness a real blast during this event. A perfect holiday spot in Southern Italy is Calabria which is the toe of the Italian boot. It is a fabulous tourist spot attracting a number of visitors every year. Don`t forget to taste the Calabrian wine and of course, the red onion ice-cream and the local spicy salami.

Get rolling as February is not very far. This is the best month for holidaying especially for budget travelers as the airfare and hotel rates are lower than the high season offers.

Think of Italy and your taste buds crave for the yummy pizza and luscious pasta — especially when the pizza is served hot from the oven and is topped with a variety of vegetables, seafood, meat and cheese.Pizza is,as most of us know, the speciality of Southern Italy.If you are planning to host an Italian dinner party this week, then you need to know about the Southern Italian menu so that you can throw the most splendid party right at your home.

When you see spicy red pepper, fresh fruits and vegetables with a combination of meat and fish, then it’s definitely the Southern Italian food. All the essential ingredients of Italian food like olive oil,wines and cheese are in abundance in Southern Italy.The Southern Italy cuisine is known for its strong flavors. Here are at least  five delicious and sumptuous dishes of Southern Italy that stimulate your taste buds:

Limoncello and Delizie al Limone of Campania: Campania is known for one of the finest and refined cuisines.The pizza and limoncello of Campania are so appealing to the people all over the world. The limoncello is a lemon infused digestive liquor which can also be used in cooking.And when you want to relax what could be better than a glass full of well chilled limoncello. Delizie al Limone is another great recipe of Southern Italy.People who are fond of sea food would love octopus prepared in a variety of ways and this is also a Campanian speciality.You will also relish the spaghetti with a tomato-based fish sauce and specialities prepared using the buffalo milk mozzarella.

Rosticceria, fried appetizers and arancini of Sicily:Arancini is a popular food in Sicily .These are rice balls filled with ground beef, tomato sauce and a few green peas. They are deep-fried and serve as an excellent appetizer to pizza.

Nduja spreadable sausage of Calabria: This is made of meat and is available in various flavours like nduja-filled arancini, ‘nduja bruschetta or even pasta or gnocchi in a ‘nduja sauceou. And believe me once you taste it, you will get hooked to it.You will be obsessed to have more.

The Pane di Matera of Basilicata: This is a bread made of durum wheat and is a characteristic food of Matera. It has a thick crust but is very soft within. And of course the spicy red pepper with a combination of vegetables found in Basilicata is worth mentioning.

Brodetto and cured meatsof Abruzzo and Molise: Abruzzo and Molise are famous for their cured spicy meats, lamb, mutton, and pasta. “Brodetto” is the principal dish of Abruzzo. And what more , the fiery Peperoncino is used to flavour these dishes. Food festivals are a unique sight at Abruzzo.Their non-stop eating and drinking event is called La Panarda. Believe it or not, it serves people 30-50 courses of food and can last for a day or even longer!

Eating the Italian way is alluring because though their cuisine is simple, yet it is rich with a variety of flavours.






 
Talk exotic and southern Italy comes up to my mind as easily as the thought of a burger leads to McDonalds. Every square Inch of Southern Italy has a tinge of history, deep-rooted culture and unending string of stories untold. As such, your visit to southern Italy is truly incomplete if you don’t allow yourself the luxury of not seeing certain sights that are in store for you.  Here are at least five things to see in Southern Italy that you must feast your eyes on:

Piazza Del Plebiscito:

If you get to Naples, you will end up seeing the Piazza Del Plebiscito which happens to be the largest square in Naples built and dedicated to the glorious unification of Italy in 1870. If you have been to Rome, you will notice that the Piazza Del Plebiscito is much reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome complete with a rounded facade and the characteristic dome. It is now a popular place for tourists and locals alike to take a stroll.

Santa Chiara:

What do you think about war? I am sure you don’t like it. However, if you would like to witness the remains of a war-time memorial, you should take a look at the Santa Chiara which is a large gothic style church which was ravaged in war due to bomb attacks in 1943. It houses the grave of Robert of Anjou — the largest tomb in the middle ages along with plenty of kings and aristocrats who also lie buried therein.

Castel dellÓvo ( Borgo Marinari):

Do you like history? How would like to see the oldest castle in Napoli? The Castel dellÓvo was built by the Greeks in the 14th century. As if to make it a point to prove that it is indeed ancient, the access can only made through a small causeway while the castle itself remains almost hidden from view. Borgo Marinai –a posh stretch with pubs, sailing clubs, etc – is nestled right at the foot of the castle. You might appreciate know that Borgo Marinari was once a small fishing village.

Castel Sant Élmo:

If you have been craving to look some of the truly amazing sights still available in the Southern part of Italy, you can’t miss the Castel Sant Élmo stone fortification dating back to the days of Anjou. The fortification is actually located on the eastern edge skirting the Vomero Plateau. As if for a treat, you have the Certosa di San Martino – a certosan monastery.

Cholesterol happens to be a simple condition– an all too common one — to occur to many people in the world; yet, its ramifications on the general population are devastating. Moderate amount of cholesterol is necessary for the body to function normally; however, too much of it — the yellow, mucky substance — that forms in your blood arteries successfully and progressively closes the gap between you and heart disease.

Americanheart.org reports that there are an estimated 102 million adults in the U.S alone who have total blood cholesterol in excess of 200 mg/dL and higher. At least 36 million American adults have cholesterol levels of 240 and above – which is said to be “risky” and skirting the danger zone. (Data courtesy: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2003–06, National Centre for Health Statistics and the NHLBI)

Cutting off supply of blood to your heart through your blood arteries is not what you want, do you?

Although there are other kinds of diet you could take to go on an all-out “anti-cholesterol diet”, I just can’t stop raving about the therapeutic benefits of Olive oil; no matter how much I do it, I still find it deserves more praise. According to a study done by Dr. Daniel Stienberg, and some other researchers in Israel, Olive oil thwarts toxic oxidation of LDL cholesterol (Low-density lipoprotein) which is believed to cause clogging or arteries.

Apparently, the more HDL (High-density Lipoprotein) and less LDL you have in your blood, the safer your arteries are. Also, Dr. Steinberg and others believe that LDL as such might not be as dangerous as the “toxic form of LDL” which occurs when LDL is oxidized in your body. The safest bet then is to decrease the intake of the “bad” LDL, increase the intake of the good HDL and also to keep whatever LDL that somehow enters your body far from oxidation (which ultimately clogs your arteries).

Olive oil is the best bet for preventing such a thing from happening. Dr. Ancel Keys, a renowned epidemiologist, is believed to have said

From many surveys on the island of Crete, I have the impression that centenarians are common among farmers, whose breakfast is often a wineglass of olive oil”.

The media is awash with new studies pointing to the benefits of Olive Oil (you now know why I get so excited, don’t you?). Further, most of the fashionably health conscious recipes have Olive oil as a principal ingredient for the obvious good reasons.

Do you have cholesterol free diet?

image credit: britannica.com

The essence of travel isn’t captured if all you did was to visit only those places everyone else visits. There is really no charm in treading the same path trampled by thousands before you. There are still some places left in the world that are worth visiting and if you are wondering  “where else?”, the answer is right here, under your nose.

If you are like most travelers your travel itinerary to Italy wouldn’t go further than Rome while most of your time in Northern Italy. However, Jessica on Italylogue puts it well by saying that “Northern Italy is a great sampler plate, but southern Italy is Italy on steroids”.

Rick Steve’s, famous for his travels through Europe and Rick Steve’s: Europe Through The Backdoor, has this to say about Southern Italy:

“If you like Italy as far south as Rome, go further south. It gets better. If Italy is getting on your nerves by the time you get to Rome, think twice about going further. Italy intensifies as you plunge deeper.”

If you want to  see the real Italy, you head south. Get away from those tourists and you will be delighted to see how easy it is to immerse yourself in the real Italian way of life. The reason why you don’t hear much about Southern Italy is because this region is a little lagging behind in terms of literacy, economy and foreign investment.

Tuscany and Umbria are now famous for agriturismo. If that is not your cup of tea, you could consider moving onto the more popular, still ‘touristy ’ spots in Southern Italy such as resorts, beaches and islands.

Consider Abruzzo, Calabria, Basilicata, Campania, Sardinia, Puglia, Molise and finally Sicily. If you are looking for agricultural tourism, consider Tuscany, Umbria and Molise. Howevver, if you are looking for some fantastic beach vacatione experience, you are looking at places like Sardinia which boasts of miles and miles of most exotic beaches in theworld; puglia with it’s pristine and unspoint beach waters and also Sicily for some truly breath-taking beaches you could dip your toes in. Maybe you could visit Sicily not only for the beaches but also for its vast Greek and Roman ruins. Live in the historic past while sauntering through its streets.

We have covered some of the exotic places in Southern Italy briefly in previous posts. You could check out 3 Places you must Visit in Basilicata or perhaps you might want to witness the 3 Timeless Wonders of Campania. Would you like to know about 4 Facts You Should Know About Calabria ?

Next time you visit Europe, make sure you hit the pedal and head towards Southern Italy, you won’t regret it.

Your thoughts?

It could take a life-time to figure out a beautiful place that you could call your own and plant your flags. However, we don’t have a life-time to spend on this activity. Life ought to be more about living than trying to find a place to live. If you ask me, I would shamelessly rave about the beauty, tranquil, culture and the exotic feel of Southern Italy without batting an eye-lid. If you are like and are wondering where exactly you must be headed to deploy your tent up and start living away, here are a few places I could suggest:

 

Positano: If there could be one place I could bet on for myself (and hence for you!), it would be Positano — charmingly addictive, sinfully beautiful and truly exotic. You could choose to do nothing, gape at the views, relax, pick up your partner for a romantic rendezvous, access the town of Amalfi by bus ( if you need to).

Positano Img Credits: tripadvisor.com

 

Ravello: If you are the kinds who could just throw your chin down and keep looking agape at some of the most gorgeous views in this part of the world, you should be heading towards Ravello. Although it’s slightly to difficult to ask for easy beaches to laze on or even access to the town of Amalfi, Ravello is worth a consideration.

 

Ischia: A wonderful island, remote and exotic. I couldn’t think of anything else but to camp there. While easy to acces from Sorrento or Naples, Ischia boasts of some of the best beaches and is well-known for thermal bathing. The best part is that there aren’t too many tourists this side of the country and you have a range of hotels to choose from along with excellent bus services.

 

The world is full of beautiful places and the more I look at Southern Italy and these little towns  dotted all over it, the more I am a believer.