Southern Italy

Southern Italy is the home of over 20 million people. It is generally believed that there is a big economical gap between Northern and Central Italy on one hand and Southern Italy on the other hand (the south is considered poor). The largest cities of southern Italy are Naples in Campania with one million inhabitants (3,2 million in the metropolitan city) and Palermo in Sicily with 670.000 inhabitants. Smaller cities are Bari in Puglia (325.000 inhabitants) and Catania in Sicily (315.000 inhabitants).
Geographically, Abruzzo, and also Molise, are located in Central Italy, but these regions are considered, also by the Italian administration, to be part of Southern Italy, for cultural and historical reasons: from 1816 to 1861, when Italy was unified, Molise and Abruzzo belonged to the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Abruzzo is stretching from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea. The capital city of Abruzzo is L’Aquila. The region is well known for its landscapes and natural environment, parks and nature reserves and its beaches. You can go skiing, cycling, sunbathing and hiking. The administrative centre of Abruzzo is L'Aquila, a city which is situated in a basin on a height of 720m, between the central and eastern ridge of the Apennines.
The regional cuisine is characterized by strong flavors such as dried red peppers. A typical dish is Arrosticini, small skewers of sheep meat.  Saffron from L'Aquila and spaghetti alla chitarra are other local specialties. The wine from this area is very popular because of its quality and its favourable price. 
About 82% of the municipalities of this region are at risk for strong and medium strong earthquakes (zone 1 and 2). The areas which are not at risk, mostly in the province of Chieti, are very popular with foreign second home owners and prices for homes are relatively low there. 
Airport: Pescara

Molise is one of the smallest regions and Italy’s youngest region. The hilly Molise produces mainly wine, olive oil, dairy products, vegetables, fruit and grain. However, it is best known for its pasta production. There is not really a typical Molise cuisine as until 1963 Molise and Abruzzo were just one region. 
Molise is the second smallest (4.438 km²) and second least populated (320.000 inhabitants) region of Italy. 
The area is not very touristic and most of Molise is at risk for earthquakes.
Airport(s): none. The nearest airport is in Pescara.

Campania is a beautiful region with Naples as its capital city. The region boasts the beautiful islands of Capri and Ischia, the world famous ruins of Pompeii and the wonderful Amalfi coast, which stretches from Sorrento to Salerno. The metropolitan city of Naples has three million inhabitants. Campania is the most densely populated (426 inh./km²) and the second most populated (5,8 million inhabitants) region of Italy.
Here you can taste the real mozzarella di bufala and delicious Neapolitan pizza. Regional white wines such as Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino are highly appreciated. And as you all know, no meal is complete without the delicious liqueur of Sorrento, Limoncello
Real estate prices in tourist hotspots such as the Amalfi Coast are very high. 
Airports: Naples and Salerno

Apulia, the region in the heel of boot-shaped Italy, is a very beautiful region and is still largely untouched by tourists. The administrative center is in Bari, a city with a population of 320.000. In Apulia you find the typical Trulli, beautiful sandy beaches, lots of olive groves and wheat fields. Apulia is the largest producer of olive oil in all of Italy, with an average production of over 200 tonnes a year. Pasta manufacturers throughout Italy buy lots of their wheat in this region. 
The Pugliesi are very fond of their orecchiette, a type of fresh pasta which can be served with different kinds of sauce. Apulia is the third producer of wine and has some lovely wines as Primitivo di Manduria and Salice Salentino.  
Apulia is a region with little or no seismic hazard, except for the northern province of Foggia. Valle d'Itria, an area between Bari and Brindisi, which is famous for its trulli, is very popular with foreign second home owners.
Airports: Bari, Brindisi and Taranto

Basilicata is a sparsely populated region with forests, small villages and mountains (Apennines). The capital city of Basilicata is Potenza and has only 66.000 inhabitants. The most famous city is definitely Matera with its characteristic historical centre and stone houses, called Sassi. Matera was the European Capital of Culture in 2019. The region produces wheat, corn, olives, grapes and citrus fruits. 
Typical of Basilicata are the tasteful elongated peppers of 10 cm in bunches, which are hung to dry in the sun. The most famous wine is the local Aglianico del Vulture. Amaro Lucano is a bitter-sweet herbal liqueur from Basilicata, which is served as a digestive after a meal. 
Basilicata is Italy’s second sparsely populated region (59 inh./km²). The entire region is at risk for earthquakes.
Airport(s): none. The nearest airports are in Bari and Brindisi.

Calabria is a southern region in the toe of the boot of Italy, in front of the island of Sicily. You can sunbathe on the many beautiful, white, sandy beaches or go hiking in the mountains. Calabria is a quiet, beautiful, not so touristic area. The Calabrian cuisine has Greek, Spanish and French influences. The region’s favourite vegetables are eggplant and red Tropea onions. 
Calabria holds a risk for heavy earthquakes.
Airport: Lamezia Terme

The Islands
Sicily and Sardinia are also considered part of southern Italy, but they are often treated separately. They both have a special statute, and they are islands, so they are quite different from the mainland of South Italy. Here you can read more about the Islands Sicily and Sardinia.

More numbers about Southern Italy (provinces, population, surface, population density)


South-Italy (data: 01/01/2019; source: Istat)

Read more about the other parts of Italy: Northern Italy, Central Italy, the Islands.