In celebration of our 2023 Campus of the Year, we will be regularly sharing stories, recipes and recommendations about Italy! From its history and culture to a few of our favorite learning adventures, follow along to learn more about this fascinating country all year long!
A fantastic way to experience Southern Italy is in the winter, when the temperatures are mild and many of the crowds have gone home. You can wander through open cobblestone streets and get up-close to landmarks and monuments, while also enjoying local experiences at an unhurried pace.
Here are just a few things you should know about this time of year in Southern Italy:
What You Can Expect to See
Southern Italy is an area rich in history, culture and beauty — from idyllic Sicily to coastal Puglia, your explorations will certainly include picturesque Mediterranean views. During the winter, you’ll have the chance to fully immerse yourself in Italian culture through experiences like:
- Learning all about ricotta cheese production during an exploration of a local family-run caseificio and enjoing a full Sicilian lunch.
- Discovering the Baroque beauty of Lecce — the “Florence of the South” — on an expert-led walking exploration of the Old City.
What You Should Eat
There’s no shortage of delicious foods to try while you’re in Southern Italy! Local olive oil, pasta and cheese are tasty staples, along with fresh seafood straight from the Mediterranean. For a sweet treat in Sicily, try a cannoli filled with creamy ricotta.
If you’d like to try your hand at making tradition Italian cuisine, take a cooking class during your adventure!
What to Expect About Getting Around
No matter which part of Italy you explore, walking will be an integral part of your experience. Bring along comfortable, sturdy shoes to navigate the many cobblestones and rail-less stairways you may encounter. While your bus will bring you as close as possible to the landmarks you have dreamed of exploring, many of these locations prohibit vehicles from getting too close and you will need to walk the remainder of the way.
Pro tip: if you have mobility issues, bring along a mobile cane chair to help you navigate uneven pathways and offer you a place to sit and rest when needed.
What to Bring
Fashion in Italy is important but it is also important to dress smart. Religious sites have staff enforcing dress codes requiring covered knees and shoulders. It is also wise to purchase a body wallet to prevent your passport, money and other valuables from being stolen by professional pickpockets. Carrying a small crossbody bag, worn to your front, zipped shut and held with one hand, can prevent theft.
Sardinia, Sicily and southern Italy are the warmest and driest parts of the country. Sardinia experiences a mild winter compared to the rest of the region and minimal rainfall year-round. Although Mount Etna receives snow each winter, Sicily has comfortable winters with temperatures rarely falling below 45°F at night. No matter when you visit, having water on hand is a good idea. Rather than having to purchase plastic bottled water, bring your own reusable water bottle to retrieve fresh potable water from one of the many water fountains. Clean drinking water from the local mountains is readily available across most regions in Italy.
Pro tip: Prepare for your learning adventure with a book from our Italy booklist!
Have Free Time? Check Out These Things:
- The Trulli of Alberobello
These limestone dwellings are located in southern Puglia and serve as examples of corbelled dry-stone construction. This method of construction dates back to prehistoric times, and these structures specifically date back as far as the mid-14th century. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they are fascinating examples of architecture and history.
- Su Nuraxi di Barumini
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient complex dates back thousands of years to the Bronze Age. An impressive example of prehistoric architecture, this complex served as a defensive site made up of towers, and is now an archeological site.
- Mount Etna
Dominating the Sicilian horizon, Mount Etna, the tallest volcano in Europe, is a stunning sight to behold. Surrounding the mountain is Etna National Park, which provides opportunities for outdoor activities on the hiking trails that crisscross the park.