Monday, May 19, 2014

Regions of Southern Italy

Blending sheer spectacle with a plethora of architectural remains, the south of Italy presents much to enchant today's visitor. See the breathtaking Roman ruins preserved at Pompeii, the Greek influence and magnificent beaches of Sicily and the mystifying ancient structures in Sardina called nuraghi. Admire the Romanesque and Baroque stylings from Puglia to Campania. Bliss out on the Amalfi Coast or lose yourself in the forested landscape of Abruzzo and Molise, the rugged countryside and bustling fishing ports of Basilicata and Calabria.


This region is renowned for having one of Italy's most beautiful coastlines, backed by irregular massifs punctuated by valleys and plains. Among Campania's riches are the isles of Capri, Ischia and Procida in the Gulfs of Naples (the regional capital) and Salerno, as well as examples of classic antiquity, such as those in Herculaneum, Pompeii, Parstum and Cuma, where amphitheaters, triumphal arches, villas, bridges and tombs are plentiful. Baroque design is strikingly expressed in The Royal Palace of Caserta, and even Paleolithic Art is represented in Naples and Nocera, while relics of the Longobard Age can be found in Capua and Benevento.


Molise is a hilly continuation of Abruzzo's landscape, crossed by many rivers that flow into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The region's place in the history of Italian art is secured by the cycle of ninth-century frescoes in the crypt of San Lorenzo in San Vincenzo al Volturno. Elsewhere there are plenty of examples of Romanesque, medieval and Baroque-style architecture - of which Roman - and Neapolitan influenced design can be seen in the civic palaces.


An arid, rocky region of two coastlines, one in the center of the Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea, and a tiny one on the Tyrrhenian Sea, with the famous resort of Maratea. Potenza is the capital of this archaeologically blessed area. Relics of the Greek era can be found in Metaponto (the Palatine Tables), while ruins of the Roman Age can be seen in Venosa. Medieval art is featured in Venosa and Cerenza (Romanesque style), with Arab-Byzantine and French-influenced architecture in Melfi and Lagopesole and Matera - where visitors can also see the "Sassi," typical houses and churches literally dug into the "tufa" crag.


Occupying the easternmost part of the peninsula with a long coastline on the Ionian and the Adriatic Seas, Apulia is essentially flat and dry, with occasionally plunging cliffs. Of great cultural interest are the megalithic monuments at Dolmens and Menhirs, as well as the great archeological complexes at Canne della Battaglia and Ignazia. Roman remains are especially noteworthy throughout the region, and there are superb Romanesque cathedrals at Trani, Barletta, Molfetta, Bitonto and Ruvo di Puglia and Bari - where majestic castles of thirteenth-century Byzantine-Arab style can also be found. Also unmissable is Alberobello with its typical "trulli" houses.


The extreme south-western region of Italy, washed by the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas, dominated by a high central Apennine ridge, overgrown with thick woods, and wild coastal landscapes. Catanzaro is the capital of this region, which yields abundant evidence of previous artistic civilizations and ancient colonies in Sibari, Crotone, Catanzaro, Locri, Vibo Valentia. In Cosenza and Reggio Calabria are baths, theaters and bridges of the Roman Age, while the religious buildings show Byzantine influence, reflecting the region's time under the Empire of Byzantium. Gothic, Renaissance and baroque influences and styles are also well represented in art, design and monuments.


Less than two miles from the Italian mainland, Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and the southernmost region of Italy. Famous for its blue skies and mild winter climate Sicily is  also home to Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano. This fertile paradise was settled by Siculi, Phonecians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Spaniards and Bourbons amond others, and the remnants of these astounding cultures cover the entire island; from the temples of Agrigento to the priceless mosaics of Piazza Armerina and the ancient capital of Siracusa. Smaller islands, such as the Aeolian, Aegadean and Pelagian chains as well as Pantelleria, just 90 miles off of the African coast, are also part of Sicily, offering superb beaches and local lore.


The second largest island in the Mediterranean, formed by a series of mountainous massifs, hills and narrow highlands, has jagged, rocky coasts concealing marvelous beaches and countless picturesque inlets and islets. Cagliari is the capital, ruled by a special statute. Pre- and - post historic eras are expressed by the megalithic "Tombs of the Giants"; the "domus dejanas" (houses of the witches), tombs dub into the rock; and the mysterious "nuraghi," around 7,000 truncated cone towers found all over the island. Phoenician and Roman remains have come to light at Tharros and Nora; there are Roman relics at Porto Torres and Cagliari and the Gothic-Catalonian style survives from the rule of the Spanish House of Aragon.

Travel to Italy with Celtic Tours World Vacations

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