AAA Guide to Exploring Southern Italy

Southern Italy sits at the top of so many travelers’ bucket lists. They want to see the ruins in Rome, ride the gondolas in Venice and take a selfie with the Leaning Tower of Piza. But where do you begin? From our experience, Naples is the prime location to base your Southern Italy journey.


Ruins of Pompeii
Ruins of Pompeii.

A hidden gem of Southern Italy, Naples offers so many dining and historical experiences. Chow down on their world-famous pizza, sip wine at breathtaking vineyards and visit the ancient city of Pompeii. Discover the lost tunnels of Naples and tour the city’s vast collection of castles, museums and churches. It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for reason.

Naples is also a central point to several top destination spots, making it a great home base for amazing day trips to Rome, Capri and more. The city is also close to many seaside villages, such as Positano, Sorrento and the Amalfi coast. If you’re looking for a place to drop your bags while you explore Southern Italy, Naples is the perfect spot!


Roman Forum in Rome, Italy.
Roman Forum in Rome, Italy.

As Italy’s capital and the epicenter of Roman architecture and history, Rome is a must-visit destination for any traveler. Visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum to relive Roman gladiators’ triumphs. Tour the iconic Pantheon, one of the few ancient Rome buildings still intact, and witness the artistic grandeur of churches designed by the great masters: Bernini, Raphael, Caravaggio and Michelangelo. We recommend spending a few days in Rome to see and experience the city’s most iconic sites before you return to Naples.

Island of Capri

Island of Capri

Filled with gorgeous natural features and a dramatic coastline, the Island of Capri offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Rather than sand, their beaches are made of smooth rocks, helping the water to stay crystal clear. Take a few hours and visit the famous Blue Grotto, a sea cave in the middle of the ocean. Tourists swim inside and are immediately captivated by the blue light reflected on the cave walls. Finally, Capri is known as the original isle of lemons, so don’t forget to try limoncello before you leave—it’s absolutely exquisite.

Cinque Terre

If you fell in love with the ambiance portrayed in the Disney Pixar film, Luca, then why not visit its Southern Italy inspiration? Cinque Terre is made up of five centuries-old seaside towns along the Italian Riviera coastline. Home to colorful houses and harbors full of fishing boats, you’ll be welcomed by a fun, relaxing atmosphere that doesn’t pressure you to go sightseeing.

Hiking enthusiasts may enjoy hiking the famous “Blue Path Trail” that connects all five villages. We also highly recommend sampling their seafood specialties and region-famous pesto sauce.


Tuscany embodies our romantic image of village Italy, with its scenic landscapes dotted with picturesque, little towns, farmhouses and golden vineyards.

Its capital, Florence, is also home to some of the world’s most famous Renaissance art and agriculture: Michelangelo’s “David” statue, the Uffizi Gallery and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, just to name a few. Here, you’ll also find the famous Leaning Tower of Piza—don’t forget to snap a selfie!


Venice, Italy gondolas.

Venice is famous for being composed of several maze-like islands, canals and bridges, making it one of the world’s most uniquely designed cities. Cruise the Grand Canal by gondola and explore the city’s rich historical and architectural heritage: St. Mark’s Basilica, Piazzo San Marco, Doge’s Palace and the Rialto Bridge. Venice is ideal for travelers searching for Italy’s famed romanticism and charm. And take pleasure in getting lost – it’s a tourist rite of passage in “The City of Bridges and Canals.”

Ready to Visit Southern Italy?

Start planning your Southern Italy vacation by speaking with a AAA travel agent today. Also, check out our AAA TourBook® Guides and AAA Travel Guides for more itinerary inspiration.

Updated 4/6/2022.