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Famous Capri has hosted everyone from the ancient world’s cultural elite to Hollywood superstars. While I didn’t stay in a classical Greek villa, I did get to experience a touch of film star luxury in the superb Hotel Capri Palace where five star terraced rooms look out over the island’s azure waters. And, its setting in hilltop Anacapri is equally charming. A 20 minutes’ taxi ride from central Capri Town, it’s an authentic village home to an abundance of restaurants and intimate bars.

It was also an excellent springboard for exploring the island. A particular favourite was the Gardens of Augustus, an early 20th century collection of botanical gardens on the island’s central south coast. Designed to showcase the island’s flora – think pretty geraniums and delicate dahlias – they look out over Capri in its entirety. From its hilltop perch you can enjoy views of Mt. Solaro and round over to the Bay of Marina Piccola and the faraglioni, Capri’s famous rock formations that puncture its coastal waters in standalone jags. I also visited the Certosa di San Giacomo Monastery. Founded in 1363, its grand Renaissance design manifests itself in Roman marble columns and richly detailed cloisters.

The southern region of Campania has a lot to recommend; from Naples to the spectacular islands of Capri and Ischia, to the world-renowned ruins of Pompeii, to the famed Amalfi coast. But Campania, Italy’s second most populous region and one that has, like much of Italy’s south, struggled with poverty in the past, has lots of off-the-beaten-path destinations, too. The best ancient Greek runs on Italy’s mainland can be found in Paestum. And Salerno, a bustling, un-touristy town on the Amalfi coast is a great stop.

Visit Campania if: you’re looking for a taste of Italy’s sun-soaked south, but don’t have time for more than a day or weekend trip from Rome or Florence; you want to visit Naples; you want to visit Italy’s most famous coastline; you won’t necessarily have your own car (you can get around the most popular parts of Campania easily by public transport); you want to taste real mozzarella di bufala and proper pizza napolitana.

Major cities of Campania: Afragola, Acerra, Avellino, Aversa, Battipaglia, Benevento, Casoria, Caserta, Catellammare di Stabia, Cava de’Tirreni, Ercolano, Giugliano in Campania, Marano di Napoli, Portici, Pozzuoli, Salerno, Torre del Greco, Scafati

What to eat: pizza, meatballs, mozzarella, drink coffee!!, Risotto all Pescatora, Spaghetti con Vongole, Parmigiana Melanzane, Caprese Salad, Totani e Patate, Polpette, Pesce all’Acqua Pazza, Fritto Misto di Mare, Broccoli and Salsiccia