People have this idea of Southern Italy in their head, a mixture of pizza, sunshine, mafia, crime, grime and chaos. The people are friendly but the drivers are crazy.
The reality of Southern Italy is a little different to the stereotypes.
For a start Southern Italy is one of the safest destinations on earth. Contrary to popular perception, mostly created by the media, it has one of the lowest levels of violent crime on earth. The main risk is pickpockets in the big cities of the south but not much elsewhere.
There also is far less grime than you'd think. The only place in the south that I have ever found to live up to the grimy stereotype is Naples.
Some of the stereotypes are true though!
The pizza is the best, the people are super friendly, the summer sunshine is endless and... the driving... well it is CRAZY!!
I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful the south is. You really need to live it for yourself, begin your journey on https://www.italymammamia.com/southern-italian-destinations.html
The one thing I love most about the south of Italy are moments when something enchanting happens to you in the most beautiful setting you've ever seen. It is almost as if you are in a movie, experiencing some poignant moment that will stay with you forever. Here is an example...
One sweltering summer's day I was huffing and puffing my way up the 2000 steps from Minori to Ravello, when a wizened gentleman of around 90 came sailing by, also on his way up the stairs.
I gasped "how do you do it?" Loaded down with bags, he just smiled and offered me a a bottle of water and a packet of crackers from his bag.
Then he said, "I used to run up these stairs at your age. I live down below and worked as a builder in Ravello. Up in the morning, down for lunch, up again after and then down home."
With a wave he went on his way. I sat down to sip on the water and recover my energy.
No wonder they live so long along the Amalfi & Cilento coasts - all that walking, all that up and down. Yet, they've always time to stop and have a chat, to help out a stranger and to make you feel like you belong. Maybe that kindness and caring is another reason they live so long?