Italy is considered as one of the most iconic travel destinations in the world. Located in Southern Europe on the Italian Peninsula, Italy is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. Italy is a country full of beauty, culture, art, food, cityscapes and fashion. All these are mixed to give tourists from around the world a magical atmosphere. Discovering Italy can be a pleasant and unforgettable experience. Each corner of this beautiful country will take you back in time to ancient times. Italy offers unbeatable touristic destinations. Florence has its artistic productions and fashion. The capital city of Rome is known as the eternal city. Venice is the romantic city built on water. Verona is an imposing city setting of the drama “Romeo and Juliet”. Last but not least Milan, the most fashionable city in Italy. Knowing what to expect when going to a foreign country is beneficial. Here is a travel guide to Italy that will help you immerse yourself in the best parts of Italy on your holiday.
Italy Travel Guide
Getting To Italy
The national airline to Italy is Alitalia. But other airlines also offers flights to Italy. Flying time from London to Rome is 2 hours and 50 minutes. From the USA, it is about 10 hours.
Trenitalia runs regular daily services called auto al seguito – trains carrying cars, especially during the summer holiday season. These services operate from special railway stations and are generally bookable at the departure station. Owners must travel on the same train their car is in. For more information on routes, contact the Italian State Tourist Board.
Trenitalia runs regular services covering national and international rail routes. The Trenitalia service is the fastest railway link between France and Italy. It is easy to book online and check routes through Ferrovie Dello Stato. Or you can phone and book your tickets by calling 892021 when you are in Italy.
There are many boat operators available to take you to Italy. These could be either boats or ferries if you live in Europe. A few are listed below:
Visiting Italy is trouble free. However, you should be aware of the global risk of international terrorist attacks. So make sure you check the local news and get the information you require before your travels. Italy is also an earthquake zone with non violent volcanic activity on the island of Stromboli. Visitors to ski resorts should take advice on weather and avalanche conditions before traveling. You should also make yourself aware of the local skiing laws and regulations.
Italy Visa & Passport Requirements
To enter Italy, a valid passport for at least three months beyond the length of stay is required. This applies to all nationals except for EU nationals holding a valid national ID card.
Visas To Italy
Visas are not required by the nationals from USA, Canada, UK and Australia. Nationals from these countries will given 90 days visa on arrival. Other nationals are advised to contact the local embassy or counsalate office to check visa requirements for Italy.
Currency & Money
1 Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Currency notes are in denominations of €500, €200, €100, €50, €20, €10 and €5. Coins are in denominations of €2, €1, 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents, 5 cents, 2 cents and 1 cent.
Diners Club, MasterCard, American Express and Visa are widely accepted in Italy. You may also be interested in checking out the best credit cards for travelers.
Traveler’s cheques are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, it’s advised to take traveler’s cheques in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars when you go to Italy.
These vary from city to city but in general banks are open as follows.
Monday to Friday: 8:30am to 1:30pm
Monday to Friday: 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Traveler’s cheques, cheques and foreign money can be exchanged at local banks, railway stations, airports and very often at major hotels.
Useful Words In Italy
Italian is the official language of Italy. Dialects of Italian are spoken in different regions of Italy. French is spoken in all border areas from the Riviera to the area north of Milan (border with France and Switzerland). German is spoken in the South Tyrol region (bordering Austria). French and German are also spoken in the biggest cities and in tourism and business circles. Learning to speak a foreign language is always beneficial for traveling.
Here are some useful Italian words that would come in handy while you are in Italy:
- Where is ? = Dov’è ?
- Wine = Vino
- Yes = Si
- Today = Oggi
- Toilets = Bagno / Servizio
- Thank you = Grazie
- Open = Aperto
- Please = Per favore
- Restaurant = Ristorante
- My name is = Mi chiamo
- Hotel = Albergo
- How are you? = Come sta?
- How much does it cost? = Quanto costa?
- I’m very well = Sto molto bene
- I don’t understand = Non capisco
- I feel ill = Non mi sento bene
- Menu = Menù
- Goodbye = Arrivederla (formal) / Arrivederci (informal)
- Hello = Buon giorno / Buona sera (after 1500)
- Beer = Birra
- Closed = Chiuso
- Danger = Pericolo
- Do you speak English? = Parla inglese?
- Doctor = Medico
Food & Drinks In Italy
Italy is known for pastas and pizzas with the best Italian recipes. The national cuisine has established its reputation all over the world. So if you are in Italy, you need to try the authentic pizzas, gelatos, bean dishes, risottos and cheese like gorgonzola and pecorino. They say the best Italian dishes are the most simplest you will find.
Food specialties that you must try while in Italy:
- Gnocchi Alla Romana (Semolina Dumplings)
- Bagna Caoda (An anchovy dip served with vegetables)
- Panettone (Christmas cake with sultanas and candied fruit)
- Pesto (Sauce of basil, pine nuts and pecorino cheese)
- Parmigiano (Parmesan cheese)
Wines are named after grape varieties and the area of origin or village it comes from. Here are some wines from different regions of Italy:
- Chianti, Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello from Tuscany
- Cabernet and Pinot Nero from Venezia
- Barolo from Valle d’Aosta
- Valpolicella from VenetoVermouths (aromatic liquor made from wine) are popular in Piemonte
- Aperitifs (alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite) such as Campari and Punt e Mes are excellent appetizers
- Italian liqueurs include Amaretto, Limoncello, Grappa and Strega
There is no legal drinking age as such but purchasing alcohol is restricted to those aged 16 and over.
Italy is a great destination to visit year round. For the warmest and most reliable weather, visit Italy from April to June. It is the prime tourist season. Most Italians take their holiday in July and August. If you’re keen to avoid the main rush of peak season but still get mild weather, late September to October is a good choice. The summer temperatures in the south of Italy are far hotter than in north Italy, especially in the mountain regions that has heavy winter snowfalls.
Things To Do In Italy
Italy has countless places to visit and enjoy. You can choose from museums, churches, piazzas, rivers and much more. Here are some of my favorite places to visit in Italy that I can remember from my Italy tour.
Bologna is a lively city with medieval town-scape with Renaissance castles. The city centers around twin piazzas – Maggiore and Nettuno. The best time to visit Bologna is spring and autumn when the climate is mild. July and August are very hot in Bologna.
Bologna, Italy Attractions
- Basilica di San Petronio (Basilica of St Petronius):
Named after the city’s patron saint, the Basilica of St. Petronius is Bologna’s largest and greatest church. It is also the fifth-largest basilica in the world.
- Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune):
This 16th century fountain is the work of Flemish sculptor Jean Boulogne de Douai. At the bottom of the fountain, you can see four angels representing the four winds by playfully blowing the water through their pipes.
- Le Due Torri (The Two Towers):
The Two Towers are among the city’s most recognizable landmarks. The taller of the two towers is 320 feet and can be climbed. It will offer spectacular views of the city.
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Venice is one of the must see destinations in Italy. Venice consists of 116 islands and endless waterways. It attracts tourists from all corners of the world to view its beautiful architecture, linked bridges and the gondolas sailing on mystical canals.
Venice, Italy Attractions
- Campanile di San Marco (Bell Tower):
The bell tower, which is located to one side of St. Mark’s Square is the tallest structure in Venice. It offers unique views of this fabulous city. At 318 feet (97 meters) high, visitors making the lengthy climb can look over the rooftops of the city.
- Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs):
The Bridge of Sighs is an architectural masterpiece that linked the Doge’s Palace to the prison cells on the opposite side of the small canal. It is thought to be a romantic notion that lovers would find eternal happiness by kissing under the bridge at sunset.
- Ponte di Rialto (Rialto Bridge):
Venice is located on Rialto Island, the name of which is derived from the Latin term rivus altus. That means high bank. This wooden bridge collapsed in 1444 from the weight of crowds watching a wedding procession. It was replaced in 1588 by Antonio da Ponte’s design for the current single-stone arched bridge we see today. It is lined with tiny shops most of which are tourist related.
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Milan is Italy’s most cosmopolitan city. Located in the flat plains of Po valley. Milan is known for football and businesses. However, what makes Milan the most popular is the Italian fashion and interior design. International fashionistas, designers, supermodels and paparazzi descend upon the city twice a year for its spring and autumn fairs. Milan is a great place to shop or window shop!
Milan, Italy Attractions
- Duomo (Milan Cathedral):
Dumo is the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. It has taken over 500 years to complete. The best time to visit Milan Cathedral is in bright sunshine, when the windows create color through the interior. It also hold Milan’s most important relic – a nail from the cross of Christ. It has been displaying over the high altar since 1461.
Plastic is one of the most popular nightclubs in Milan. It plays Italian house and techno music. Free admission on Sunday nights.
- Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Verdi:
Another illustrious venue for classical concerts in Milan is the Conservatorio di Musica Giuseppe Verdi. This is where the Cantelli Orchestra is performed.
- Quadrilatero d’Oro (Golden Quad):
If names like Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Prada, Valentino and Versace are on your shopping list, the Golden Quad is the place to do all your shopping.
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There is no doubt that you will be overwhelmed by the artistic influence of Florence. Florence is incredibly beautiful. Clusterss to tanned roofs are everywhere and beautiful basilicas stuffed with fine art. Not only for its beauty is Florence popular. Florence is famous for its history.
Florence, Italy Attractions
- The Uffizi Museum:
This is one of the main attractions in Florence. The Uffizi palace was designed and begun in 1560 by the architect Giorgio Vasari. The Uffizi Gallery museum is among the most visited in Italy with over 1.5 million visitors each year. So, long lines are inevitable.
- The Piazza Della Singnoria:
The Piazza della Signoria has been the center of political life in Florence since the 14th century. It was the scene of great triumphs, such as the return of the Medici in 1530 and the Bonfire of the Vanities instigated by Savonarola.
- The Duomo Cathedral:
Florence’s Duomo Cathedral stands tall over the city with its magnificent Renaissance dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The exterior is covered in a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble. The interior, by contrast, is pretty stark and plain but quite enjoyable on warm summer days since the temperature inside tends to be cooler.
- Piazzale Michelangelo:
The Piazzale Michelangelo is dedicated to the city’s most famous Renaissance artist Michelangelo Buonarroti. At the center of the square stands a replica of his most famous statue, the David. Tourists dropped of by buses snap photos of the panoramas from the balcony overlooking the city.
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There you have it, your mini city guide to the most enchanting and artistic place on earth – Italy. If you ask why your next holiday destination should be Italy, it is because Italy is filled with museums, restaurants, monuments, churches and works of art that will leave you yearning for more. Take a moment to experience Italy and all that brings to you. Buon Viaggio!
Nice post! I visited Italy this November (2013) for two weeks and traveled through a few of the places that you mentioned. I loved Venice especially.
It’s a lovely place indeed. Can’t wait to get back there again.
What a great and comprehensive guide for Italy. I love visiting Italy and I definitely love to food :-) I wish I read this article before I went cause your list with useful Italian words would definitely have been helpful.
Freya recently posted..Colosseum Underground and Ancient Rome Tour
There’s always a next time when it comes to Italy ;)
Thanks for posting!!! specially about cities and places ;)
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Hope you find it useful.
Very nice and really very useful post shared here. This article will make Italy travel very easy and perfect one as all the details are available. Thank you very much for providing such a helpful Italy guide for us.
Glad you found it useful :)