Travel for creative inspiration

After undergrad, I took the quintessential post-collegiate European trip. I spent two weeks in Italy and fell in love with the country. The food, the history, the art, the landscapes... I vowed to return as soon as possible. 12 years later, I am finally returning for a 10 day vacation with my husband this fall. We're flying into and out of Rome, but still have to decide where we are going, and how long we'll stay in each place.
image source
I know we want to see the Cinque Terre hill towns dotting the cliff sides. But the Amalfi coast is pretty spectacular, too.
image source
Back when we were living in Baltimore, one of my husband's colleagues, originally from Italy himself, mentioned that there was a place in Italy where the pasta was so good, it could make you weep. My mission? To hunt down this place and test his theory. We might, in fact, have to eat our way through Italy. But I'm up for the challenge, as long as there is plenty of gelato for desserts. Okay, who am I kidding- I can eat gelato as a meal!

So, where should we go? What should we do? I'd love to avoid the more touristy things, as we've both experienced them before. But something off the beaten path, that only a local would know about. That's the experience I'm looking for. Lodging ideas also appreciated!