Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast are the Italy of your wildest dreams; a rich, intense, hypnotic ragù of Arabesque street life, decadent palaces, pastel-hued villages and aria-inspiring vistas.
Passionate, effusive and often generous to a fault, Campanians have a way of making other Italians seem just a little uptight. Despite the demands of modern life, there is always time for an impromptu espresso at the local bar or a bite of juicy gossip on a sun-bleached piazza. One minute you're choosing produce at a street market, the next you're in the middle of a feverish discussion of the weather, the in-laws or Napoli's on-field performance. No one is a stranger for long, and a casual chiacchiera (chat) could easily land you at the bountiful table of your new best friend.
Campania is the country's culinary show-off, home to Italy's top pizza, pasta, mozzarella, tomatoes, citrus and seafood. It's like a never-ending feast; bubbling, wood-fired pizza in Naples, long lunches at Cilento agriturismi (farm stays), and lavish pastries at celebrity-status Amalfi Coast pasticcerie (pastry shops). Should you tuck into coniglio all'Ischitana (Ischian-style rabbit) at a rustic island trattoria? Pick up some famous colatura di alici (anchovy essence) in Cetara? Or just kick back with a crisp Falanghina and debate who has the creamiest buffalo mozzarella – Caserta or Paestum?
Few parts of Europe can match Campania's cultural conundrums. Should you spend the morning waltzing through chandeliered Bourbon bedrooms or the frescoed villa of a Roman emperor's wife? And which of Caravaggio's canvases shouldn't you miss: the multi-scene masterpiece inside Naples' Pio Monte della Misericordia or the artist's brooding swan song inside the city's belle époque Palazzo Zevallos? Campania's blockbuster heritage will set your imagination alight with its chariot grooves and temples, bombastic frescoes and heart-stirring sculptures.
Mother Nature went into overdrive in Italy's south, creating a thrilling playground of rugged mountains, steaming fumaroles, and ethereal coastal grottoes. Crank up the pulse rate exploring bat-filled grottoes at the Grotte di Castelcivita, cave diving off the Capri coast, or feeling the earth's subterranean wrath at the Solfatara Crater. Need to bring it down a notch? Horse ride the slopes of Mt Vesuvius, sail the Amalfi Coast or simply soak at a thermal beach on Ischia. The options may be many, but there's one constant: a landscape that is beautiful, diverse and just a little magic.