Traveling in Italy
Few countries in the world have been as widely heralded as il bel paese (the beautiful country), Italy. For some, it is the allure of la dolce vita, while others feast their eyes on historical monuments and yet others still go for the culinary delights. Whatever your fancy, one thing is sure, traveling in Italy is sure to provide the answer.
Italy is located in the heart of the Mediterranean in the very south of Europe. Thanks to a variety in climate and terrain, Italy is a yearlong destination.
Winters are for skiing in the Dolomites and summers are for lounging around one of the pristine beaches in Sicily. Spring and Autumn are best spent wine tasting in Umbria or perhaps a visit to the eternal city, Rome.
The country is made up of a patchwork of 20 different regions. The regions of Italy are in fact so distinct they could almost be individual countries. The common thread weaving them together is a strong love for their country and the unwavering belief that Italian cuisine is the best.
Planning a trip to Italy might seem overwhelming. My number on tip is to take your time, there is little point in visiting Italy while rushing through a set bucket list.
The beauty of the country lies not in ticking off monuments but the moments in between; a morning coffee while listening in on the town gossip, stumbling upon a Caravaggio fresco in an obscure church in Rome or an unforgettable midnight spleen sandwich in Palermo.
Must see places in Italy
The short answer is, everywhere. It is a herculean task to craft a list of places to see, as each region has something to offer.
Transportation in Italy
Fly around Italy: There are nine International Airports in Italy, most of which are located in the North of the country.
Take the train: If you are looking to stick to the main cities (Rome, Florence, Venice, Naples,..) you can easily take a local train. They are fast, cheap, and will save you from the heart attack that is Italian driving. There are two main train companies Trenitalia (government-owned) and Italo (privately owned). Check out train schedules and fares on Omio.
Drive around Italy: A road trip in Italy is absolutely fantastic, it will allow you to visit more off-the-beaten-path locations.
There are a few things to know when driving in Italy: Toll roads apply (payment in cash or credit card), historic city centers limit the traffic through the ZTL system, and roads in villages and historic centers are small try and rent a small size car.
Travel tips for Italy
There are a couple of things to know before traveling to Italy:
- Typical Italian Breakfast: Italian cuisine is known for many things, but not breakfast. A small cornetto (pastry) or biscotti (dry biscuit) with coffee is a standard breakfast.
- Coffee in Italy: The standard coffee in Italy is an espresso. If you want a different type of coffee be sure to clarify when ordering.
- Tipping in Italy: Not customary
- Driving tips for Italy: Driving is rather hectic and increasingly so the more South you venture. Be assertive and always double-check for motorini (scooters).
- Do they speak English in Italy: In big cities yes, outside of tourist hotspots no.
- Credit Cards: Although a widely accepted form of payment you will often encounter the phrase “the machine is broken today” as payment in cash is preferred (often for tax reasons).
Practical information for visiting Italy
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly: Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino (FCO) or one of the other 8 international airports.
Find a list of comfortable accomodations ranging from local guesthouses to luxury hotels.
Average Daily Budget: $85
Meals $30 a person; hotel accomodations $65- $130; activities (museums) $20
Note: Northern Italy is more expensive
vs. Southern Italy
WHEN TO GO
Italy is a year round destination with a moderately Mediterranean climate (hot summers, cool winters).
Aim for shoulder season (April to May; September to November)
Depending on the country of origin visitors can stay for up to 90 days; costs depending on the country of origin
TOURS & ACTIVITIES
Skip the line for the Colosseum and Vatican, wine tasting in Tuscany, guided tour around Pompeii and so much more
Blogposts on Italy
A detailed guide of where to stay in Sicily written by a local. Contains an overview of 18 areas to choose from, which hotels are worth looking into and a map to help you navigate Sicily.
Explore the very best of Northern Italy with this detailed one to two week Northern Italy itinerary. What to see and eat, places to sleep and a detailed map.
Visiting Umbria is a delight for all the senses. The capital of truffles and good Italian wine. Towns in Umbria are medieval, quaint and just waiting to be explored
With hundreds of beautiful lakes in the Dolomites, it can be a bit overwhelming to choose where to go. Run through the prettiest lakes, what to do and how to get there.
Hilltop villages with hidden castles, sleepy fisherman villages and rugged mountains come and discover the diversity of Sicilian villages on the island.