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The Mezzogiorno: Southern Italy

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Fly into: Rome Fly out of: Rome
Total Duration: 10 days

"Mezzogiorno" means "midday"; it's the informal name given to southern Italy, a region where a blazing sun heats up villages (sometimes making it imperative to remain indoors during peak summer hours) and casts a commanding glow. This is a magical land whose "Renaissance" happened in the 13th century during the reign of Frederick II. A car is usually the best way to get around, as train service can be slow and erratic. A quick overnight in Rome kicks off this road trip. You then go south to the beautiful Amalfi Coast, after which you'll head to Puglia, known for its mysterious trulli and its phenomenal food. From Puglia, you'll turn back north to bustling Naples, and wrap things up with another day in Rome.

    This Trip's Top Experiences:

  • Architecture
  • Food and Wine
  • Beaches
  • Museums
  • Great Drive
Day 1
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1 Rome

Emperors, Popes and Warriors

  • Start at the Capitoline Hill, look out upon the Forum, then tour the Colosseum, visit the Temple of the Vestals in the Forum, and then ascend the Palatine Hill
  • Stroll through Old Rome. Go to the Pantheon, meander along the neighborhood's tiny streets, and end up at the splendid Piazza Navona
  • Architecture
  • Art and Culture
  • Archaeology
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Days 2-3
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2 The Amalfi Coast

Stairs and Scenic Drives

  • Take the gorgeous, not-for-the-faint-of-heart Amalfi Drive along the coast—or take the bus and leave the driving to the pros
  • Walk up and down the vertical town of Positano, then have a swim in the crystal clear waters
  • In Ravello, visit Villa Cimbrone for one of Italy's most spectacular views
  • Natural Beauty
  • Archaeology
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Day 4
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3 The Trulli District, Puglia

Totally Trulli

  • Drive along via Alberobello-Martina Franca and admire the hauntingly beautiful trulli, ancient, beehive-shaped dwellings
  • Eat! Many Italians consider rustic food of Puglia the best the south has to offer
  • Visit Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and avoid the cheap souvenir stands
  • Food and Wine
  • History
  • Architecture
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Days 5-7
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4 Lecce and the Heel

Culture and Beaches

  • Visit Lecce, known as the Florence of the South.
  • Drive the coast road to Otranto, Italy's easternmost point, and tour its grand 16th-century castle
  • Oft-conquered Gallipoli is now a charming fishing village with its massive Castello Aragonese (a military fortification)
  • Art and Culture
  • Natural Beauty
  • History
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Days 8-9
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5 Naples

Pizza and Ancient Grandeur

  • Experience the grandeur that is Piazza del Plebiscito, designed by Murat
  • Visit the Museo Archeological Nazionale, with its unparalleled collection of ancient Roman art
  • Sample Italy's best pizza, and check out the vibrant street food scene
  • Food and Wine
  • Museums
  • Archaeology
  • Architecture
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Day 10
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6 Rome Again

  • Check out Michelangelo's near-perfect fresco cycle in the Sistine Chapel, and then trip over to St. Peter's Basilica and look at his moving Pietà
  • Say your farewell to Italy at Piazza di Spagna, admiring the Spanish Steps
  • Museums
  • History
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