265,710 people visited Basilicata, Puglia and Calabria
The southernmost regions of Italy -- Basilicata, Puglia and Calabria -- have been at the literal (and figurative) bottom of the boot of Italy for generations. But the mezzogiorno is about so much more than just the ferry terminals of Bari and Brindisi. While the scenery is in contrast to the rolling hills of Tuscany or the alpine lakes of the north, there are countless highlights in this more rugged Italy. When Mel Gibson was scouting the planet for the most ancient-looking city in which to film The Passion of the Christ, he settled upon Puglia's Matera. Families lived inside sassi (rock-hewn caves) with their farm animals and no running water until the 1970's. The baroque university town of Lecce and the unique trulli (white limestone houses topped with conical roofs) of Alberobello make for a fascinating trip. On the way you’ll notice the general remoteness of the region, where forests fill deep mountain valleys and hills stretch out farther than the eye can see. Although the poverty of the region has lessened significantly over the generations, the slower pace of life and the gregarious hospitality has not, and visitors who make it this far south are often heartily welcomed.