Northern Italy vs Southern Italy

Northern Italy vs Southern Italy: Which is Better for Travel?

Italy is a magnificent gem of Europe that many people want to visit. Namely, it is one of the countries many travellers put on their bucket lists. However, the decision to visit Italy comes with so many other decisions as well, one of which is which region you will explore. The country offers plenty of options for every taste, and opting for one is often tricky. This is when a Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy comparison will come in handy!

In the guide, I will share a list of things you should know about both regions. It will help you make a well-informed decision about your travels and be certain about your choices. Hopefully, after you go through the comparison, you will know exactly what part of Italy will meet all your travelling requirements.

Northern Italy vs Southern Italy: Which is Better for Travel?

Venice | Northern Italy vs Southern Italy | Gondola
Naples | Ovo Castle | Northern Italy vs Southern Italy

Italy’s stunning geographical diversity offers a tale of two regions: the northern allure of Venice’s serene canals contrasts sharply with the exuberant pulse of Naples in the south. Each city embodies a distinct slice of Italy’s rich tapestry, inviting travelers to discover the multifaceted nature of this beloved country.

Defining The Northern and Southern Parts of Italy 


Before beginning the Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy comparison, it is essential to determine how the country is divided. That is, we should look into the cities that belong to the south and the cities that belong to the north. 

Northern Italy encompasses Liguria, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Piedmont, Aosta, Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli Venezia-Giulia. On the other hand, Southern Italy includes Campania, Molise, Basilicata, Puglia, Calabria, and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily.

However, this is an approximate definition of the regions. Depending on the perspective, some of the regions can sometimes be part of North Italy and other times of South Italy. The definitions change in relation to what and how you look at the country. For instance, many tourists ask, “Is Rome in Northern or Southern Italy?” The answer is that Rome is considered to be part of Northern Italy, but its southern part belongs to Southern Italy. 

It may sound confusing, but hey, it is Italy. Nothing about this country is regular or ordinary. That is why it is so unique and a real treasure of Europe.

Milan Cathedral | Milan | Italy

The Milan Cathedral, known as the Duomo di Milano, and the Palermo Cathedral, or Cattedrale di Palermo, are both iconic testaments to Italy’s rich architectural heritage but present distinct differences reflective of their regional histories and cultural influences.

Northern vs. Southern Italy: What Are The Differences? 

When you decide to visit Italy, choosing between the northern and southern regions is the biggest difficulty in the planning process. The truth is, whatever you choose, you will not be disappointed. Both regions come with glorious features, but you may want something more specific out of your Italian adventure. So, learning about the difference between Northern and Southern Italy will be helpful! 

First, it is important to learn how Italians view these regions and what they think of each when it comes to their travels. For instance, people in Northern Italy admire the beauty of the Southern Italian parts and often choose them as their summer destination. On the other hand, locals from Southern Italy have moved to the north throughout history for better work prospects. Generally, the northern region is more expensive, so people use the opportunities for better salaries and work conditions.

So, if you look into the financial status of Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy, you will see that the north is quite wealthier than the south. It is an area where central industry takes place, so it is not surprising that southerners have decided to move north for job opportunities. Still, this doesn’t mean the South lacks wealth. On the contrary, some of the most luxurious Italian travel destinations are located here, such as the Amalfi Coast and Capri, to name a few. With that in mind, while the North is arguably more expensive, you can have a luxury vacation in the South.

Despite all these differences and similarities, your choices and desires will lead you to have the Italian journey of your dreams. After you familiarise yourself with the key characteristics of both the Southern and Northern regions of the country, the decision for where to vacation will come in an instant. And if you are still on the mend between the two, go for the foolproof option – going on a round trip to Italy!

When discussing the division of Italy into north and south, a useful guideline is to use Rome as the dividing line: anything above Rome is considered the north, and anything below is regarded as the south.

Why Visit Northern Italy? 

The sole purpose of this Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy comparison is to help you choose where you should plan your trip. Looking closely at the features that the regions offer will give you an idea of the journey you want to have. 

The northern part of the country has an abundance of traits you may want to see. It is a hub for art and culture, and travellers interested in those things will have a real blast. I have listed some of the key characteristics of this region so you can see for yourself whether this is an area you should be exploring.

Iconic Cities

Northern Italy boasts some of the country’s most fabulous cities. Metropolises like Venice and Milan lure visitors year after year, as their artful charm is simply irresistible. Due to their popularity, these cities are flooded with tourists throughout the whole year. That said, if you’re looking for something more laid-back, look into the cities that get half the recognition yet are equally as impressive.

For one, you can check out Bologna. Also known as “La Rossa” because of its terracotta roofs, this quaint city is enriched with an excellent dining scene. Its architecture is another fantastic feature, especially the porticoes. These served as tunnels for students to get around in the past, but they can still be marvelled at to this day.

Speaking of underrated gems, I must give an honourable mention to Genoa in Liguria. Once you arrive in the city and see the architecture in person, be sure to close your mouth because it will definitely be left wide open! Additionally, everyone knows that both Northern Italy and Southern Italy offer exceptional dining experiences. But Genoa is known to have some of the best street food! Finally, visit as many museums as possible. Since they’re not overcrowded, you’ll enjoy them in peace.

Of course, in the dispute of Northern Italy vs Southern Italy, the former has a big advantage – Florence. As the birthplace of the Renaissance, you can imagine all the possibilities here. From one-of-a-kind landmarks to romantic bridges designed for romantic souls, Florence will make your journey truly unforgettable.

Manarola | CInque Terre | Italy Travel
Bologna | Northern Italy vs Southern Italy

In the north of Italy, you can find old cities like Bologna and Beach towns like Cinque Terre

Natural Wonders

Another reason why travellers prefer Northern Italy over the South is due to the abundance of natural treasures. Here, you’ll find the Italian Alps, also known as the Dolomites. Once covered in snow, Piedmont is the place to enjoy skiing. Alternatively, this region also has countless luxurious resorts where you can take in nature and experience rejuvenation like never before.

Moreover, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Garda are wonders that need no introduction. Como is known as the hotspot for the rich and famous as it’s adorned with luxurious villas overlooking the crystal lake waters. Still, that doesn’t mean you can visit these places if you’re on a tight budget. Italians want everyone to experience these fabulous locations at least once, meaning you can find plenty of affordable accommodations in the area. If you decide to come here, try perfecting your photography skills beforehand. With so many beautiful backdrops, every photo you take is bound to be magazine-worthy!

Lake Como | Italy Travel

Lake Como –  A 40 min train ride from Milan

Picturesque Villages

If you want to explore Italy’s beauty truly, you should peek at the country’s colourful villages. The north is full of them, and each is unique in its own way. Although many people believe that the southern coastal region of Italy is home to these villages, the opposite is true. 

The area of Linguria has an abundance of vibrant villages worth exploring. Some of the most famous are found in the region of Cinque Terre, the most spectacular spot in the country. To experience colours and fascinating surroundings, you should plan your trip here. And prepare to be amazed!

Manarola | Cinque Terre

Manarola – A town in Cinque Terre

Why Visit Southern Italy?

Now that you have seen the treasures of the northern region, it is time to explore the other part of this Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy comparison. Although the south is more agrarian, it offers fascinating spots and landscapes you will fall in love with. There is something for every taste!

For more specific features, I have created the list below so you will easily plan your Italian adventure and differentiate between North Italy and South Italy.

Spectacular Islands

If you’re planning a summer vacation in Italy, the southern regions, especially the islands, are your best bet. Like most places in this magnificent country, they’re too crowded during the summer – for all the right reasons!

Capri is undoubtedly Italy’s most luxurious island. In addition to having an abundance of opulent villas and 5-star hotels, the island’s nature is unlike anywhere else in the world. The turquoise waters are a delight to swim in, and you can also do many watersport activities, such as diving and paddleboarding. Also, be sure to check out the Blue Grotto – a cave with the most spectacular illumination you’ve ever seen.

Alternatively, you can visit Sicily for a more budget-friendly approach. The largest Island in the mediterranean, is located on the tip of the boot, the island’s atmosphere is truly majestic. Lush greenery and endless expanses of azure will follow you everywhere you go, providing quite a thrill for the senses. Furthermore, you have cities like Palermo that dazzle with their urban charm. While on the topic, visit the Norman Palace and Palatine Chapel to feel Sicily’s essence. And if you’re looking for a quick bite, stop by at the Ballaro farmers market!

Northern Italy vs Southern Italy | Capri
Northern Italy vs Southern Italy | Palermo | Old Building

Capri (left) Palermo (right) both places worth visiting in Southern Italy

Mount Etna

Everyone has a different definition of the perfect summer holiday. While some relax on the beach and do not have a care in the world, others tend to be more adventurous. If you are in the latter group, look for guided tours of Mount Etna right now!

Where do I even begin describing this place? As one of the largest active volcanoes in the world, Etna boasts the most otherworldly scenery in the world. It even snagged a UNESCO World Heritage Site title!

Naturally, there are many hikes here suitable for all levels. Nonetheless, you can expect nothing but majestic landscapes. If you’re feeling able enough, try to reach the top at night—the view of the stars is simply fantastic! Alternatively, Etna is a great spot for skiing during the winter.

After a whole day of trekking, stop by a winery along the wine. The volcanic ash has contributed to spectacular-tasting wines that can’t be found anywhere else. You’ll surely love their flavour, so remember to pick up a bottle as a souvenir.

Northern Italy vs Southern Italy | Catania | Mt Etna

A view of Mt Etna from Catania – Sicily’s second-largest city.

The Best Pizza In The World

When deciding whether to visit North Italy or South Italy, think of the food. Yes, great food is served anywhere in the country, but one place takes the crown – Naples.

Known as the birthplace of pizza we all know and love, Naples has become the top city for foodies. Before you go, be ready to forget about every pizza you’ve ever had before. As soon as you taste the original Napoli pizza, your entire palate will be changed forever!

Pizza | what to eat in italy | Italy Travel

Home To The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most glamorous places in Italy. It is known for beautiful towns, amazing shops, and vibrant nightlife. There are great beaches, restaurants, and clubs. However, there are also spots characterised by tranquillity and peacefulness. 

The narrow streets and the appealing coffee shops will make your stay unforgettable. Depending on what you look for in a vacation, you will be able to decide between Northern Italy vs Southern Italy!

Positano on the Amalfi Cost

Positano – Amalfi Coast

What About Rome? 

When I did this Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy comparison, I mentioned that the division of North Italy and South Italy can be distinct depending on how you look at the country. For instance, Rome is found in the central area, and half of the city is known to belong to the southern Italian region. 

If you decide to visit the Italian capital, you will experience both sides of Italy at once. People know the northern part of Rome for its northern influences, while the south has its southern features. Nonetheless, you will certainly enjoy visiting the Pantheon, the Colosseum, and of course, the Trevi Fountain. Moreover, you will get the chance to try the famous Italian gelato – a real treat for people with a sweet tooth.  

Northern Italy vs Southern Italy | Roman. Forum | Rome
Northern Italy vs Southern Italy | Pantheon | Rome

You can find both the Pantheon and the Roman Forum in the Italian Capital, and they are only a 20-minute walk apart!

Final Thoughts

When you are not sure which region to visit in Italy, you need to examine the areas and their features closely. Hopefully, my comparison of Northern Italy vs. Southern Italy will help you find the best places for your Italian adventure. I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed, whatever you choose. The country is the gem of Europe and a real treat for adventurous travellers! 

For more tips on travelling, check out my other blogs.


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