Here’s what I want to know:

How can one of the most unbelievably gorgeous parts of Italy also be one of the most underrated?

Sicily is a holiday destination that picky Italians and European travelers choose time and again. But it’s a region that is so often overlooked by the rest of the world.

And that’s a crime.

Because while you’re waiting in line for three hours to climb the Duomo in Florence, you could be in an equally stunning Sicilian city, and have the place almost entirely to yourself!

Also, almost everything is cheaper in Sicily — especially meals. The food is outstanding, but you’ll often pay much less for a five-course meal at a top restaurant there than you would on the mainland.

As you can tell, I adore Sicily.

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amalfli coast italian fix

There’s a reason Italy is ranked in the top five most visited countries on the planet.

People are in love with the very idea of this country, the romance it holds, the art, the culture, the history, the sheer natural beauty.

Ok, that’s more than one reason.

But you get the idea. And hey, if you’ve found your way to our site, you know what I’m talking about. Italy has captured your imagination too, and you’re hungry for more.

The downside of course to everyone loving on Italy is that the hottest destinations there — namely Florence, Venice and Rome — can get pretty swamped with people.

These are all must-see cities, of course, and we love them as much as the next gal. But there is an Italy that gets a lot less traffic.

Southern Italy.

A lot of people call everything south of Rome “the real Italy.”

It’s where you go when you’ve already hit up all of the usual suspects. Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan — you’ve been there done that.

Or it’s your first time in Italy, but you’ve always preferred roads less traveled.

Everything feels warmer in Southern Italy, slower, more ethereal. The tomatoes are juicier, and the vibe is earthy, exuberant, luscious.

Sounds pretty awesome, right? So why doesn’t everyone go?

Well, one reason is that it’s waaaay more complicated to plan a trip in the south.

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I felt so scared and alone.

Before I went to Italy for the very first time, I cried for a week.

It wasn’t because I was going on a trip. It was because I was going ALONE.

Dread. Panic. Uncertainty. That was me.

At that point, I had never been that far from home, all on my own. I was in my mid-20s and I just couldn’t get all the nasty things that could happen to me off my mind.

It’s not like it was my first time away from the nest.

Previously, while stretching out my college years, I really only had one mission — to save my money for traveling. Student loans and odd jobs floated me through school.

I hitchhiked around Mexico (hope my mom isn’t reading this), worked in Ireland for a summer, spent a year sleeping in the crappiest hostels in South East Asia and Australia, and right out of high school, drove my mom’s 1979 VW van down to California (we broke down and drove that puppy back to Vancouver in second gear, with no reverse!).

We had to grab a Jiffy Marker and write “PLEASE PASS!” in caps on a piece of cardboard we taped to the back windshield, because “pedal to the medal” meant 30MPH. You can imagine that scene.

But I always did that stuff with a friend. Or many friends. (Four people really can sleep in a VW bus for a month pretty comfy.) On all my past trips, I was never alone.

On THIS first trip to Italy, I was totally alone.

Of course, that feeling was magnified because my boyfriend and I had just split.

He dumped me and I was a mess. My best friend said it was the nicest thing he had ever done for me, and OMG she was right. But I was suuuper bummed out.

Wait, bummed out wasn’t the word.


I thought I would never love again. Ahh, the twenties! So full of intense relationships that screw you up for years. So don’t miss that BS. (I do miss being able to wear these really weird-looking army-green wool clogs with miniskirts, old t-shirts and unbrushed hair, and somehow really pull that look off. Very Kate Moss circa 1995.)

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