The Italian boot’s heel (Puglia), instep (Basilicata) and toe (Calabria) are where the 'Mezzogiorno' (southern Italy) shows all its throbbing intensity. Long stereotyped as the poorer, more passionate cousins of Italy's sophisticated northerners, these regions are finally being appreciated for their true richness. You will see washing on weather-worn balconies, scooters speeding down medieval alleys and ancient towns crumbling under Mediterranean suns. But look past the pasta-advert stereotypes and you'll find things altogether more complex and wonderful; gritty, unsentimental cities with pedigrees stretching back thousands of years; dramatically broken coastlines that have harboured fisherfolk and pirates for millennia; and above all, proud and generous people, eager to share these delights with you.
Puglia is defined by its coast, the longest in Italy; little Basilicata touches two seas, but is known for forests and mountains; while Calabria, last stop before Sicily, is a hodge-podge of Greek, Latin, African and Norman influences.