Ultimate Italy Travel Guide

The terracotta rooftops of Florence and the famous Duomo cover of Italy Travel Guide
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This Italy travel guide will cover all the essentials that you need for planning a holiday in Italy, along with additional in-depth Italy itineraries!

Full of history, delectable food and wine, stunning museums and fabulous fashion, Italy should definitely be high on your travel bucket list. It’s one of my favourite countries in the world for good reason, and I’ve visited dozens of times, so I’m definitely qualified to provide you with a great guide to visiting Italy!

Italy is located in Southern Europe, extending into the Mediterranean Sea, and includes the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Italy borders France to the west, Switzerland and Austria to the north, and Slovenia to the east. Italy also contains the two independent nations of San Marino and Vatican City!

In the north are the stunning Italian Alps, where you’ll find one of my favourite regions, the Dolomites. Northern Italy is also home to the Italian Lakes, famous for their stunning natural beauty and upscale resorts; you probably know Lake Como, with its dramatic scenery and grand villas, and Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake, famous for its clear waters and quaint surrounding towns.

Italy has over 7,600 kilometres of coastline, with an inviting mix of pristine sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, hidden coves, and charming fishing villages. From the idyllic azure waters of Puglia and picturesque cliffside villages of the Amalfi Coast to the sun-soaked beaches of Sardinia and scenic hikes of the Cinque Terre, Italy’s coastlines are world-class.

Italy’s location in the heart of Europe means that it’s also a great jumping-off point for other European countries like Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Croatia, making it a great stop on a longer European trip!

two small mountain huts with the peaks of the sassolungo massif in the background visited on a Dolomites itinerary
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Alpe di Siusi in the Italian Dolomites

The features in this post were hand-selected by a picky diva (that’s me) and some of them are affiliate links. If you buy via these, I may earn a commission on some of these awesome recommendations at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your wonderful support – Cat.

Italy Travel Guide Tips

Find the best deals for your flights to Italy with Skyscanner here.
Plan your trips within Italy by bus or train with Omio here.
Find the best deals for your accommodation with Booking.com in Italy.
Book the best tours with GetYourGuide or Viator in Italy.
Venturing out of Italy on a dreamy road trip? Rent your car here!
Travel without worries. Click here to buy your travel insurance.
Make your transactions in foreign currency simple with a multi-currency card. Order your Wise Card here!

Before diving into this Italy travel guide, here’s the quick version if you’re short on time, with useful information and travel tips to know when travelling in Italy. This includes popular cities, favourite eats, safety, and more for visiting Italy!

Italy Language

The official language in Italy is Italian. English is widely spoken in larger cities that see a lot of tourists but head off the beaten track, and you may find Google Translate is more of a necessity! In the Dolomites, for example, locals will often speak Italian and German fluently, but English is less predictable.

Italy Currency

As part of the European Union, the currency used in Italy is the Euro (€).

Money in Italy

Credit cards are widely accepted in Italy – especially in major cities. Cash is also often used for smaller purchases or in places like the mountains where the internet signal can be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to have some Euros available.

I always travel with my Wise multi-currency card which I adore. I can convert money on the go, pay in the local currency and withdraw money fee-free at ATMs.

Visas for Italy

If you are a national of the European Union, you do not need a visa to enter Italy unless your stay is over 90 days, when you’ll need to register for residency in the local Italian municipality.

If you are not an EU national, you may need to acquire a short-stay Schengen visa. This visa will allow you to stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period.

Starting in 2024, most visitors, including UK and US Citizens, will need to apply for ETIAS when visiting 30 different European Countries. Learn more about the application at ETIAS. This must be done before your trip and costs €7.

Cell Service in Italy

Cell phone service is very good in Italy, especially around the major cities and tourist attractions. You can buy a local sim card on arrival or get yourself an eSIM if you have an unlocked smartphone. 

I used to buy cards when I arrived at the airport, but I found that it was always unpredictable as to what was available and what it would cost. Now, I always buy an eSIM through Airalo before I travel. I did this before I went to Italy and it worked really well. Check out Airolo eSIM cards for Italy here.

Early morning light on the Cadini di Misurina in the Italian Dolomites
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The Cadini di Misurina in the Italian Dolomites

When To Visit Italy

High Season (June-August)

  • Attractions and lodgings are all open – particularly important in seasonal beach and mountain towns that close in shoulder and low season.
  • The weather is typically warm and sunny, perfect for beach days, sightseeing, and outdoor activities.
  • Numerous festivals, concerts, and cultural events during the high season add to the travel experience – the Umbria Jazz Festival and Lucca Summer Festival in July, the Verona Opera Festival that runs from June to September and the Palio di Siena in July and August.
  • In summer, the Vatican Museums in Rome often have late Friday openings until 11 pm, offering a unique experience for visitors.

INSIDER KNOWLEDGE | In cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice, high season can extend from April to October due to their cultural offerings and mild weather. In contrast, beach and island destinations like the Amalfi Coast, Sardinia, and Sicily, have a high season that aligns with the warmer months, peaking in July and August.

Shoulder Season (April-May and September-October)

  • Mild weather, fewer crowds and better prices are the perks of travelling during the shoulder seasons in Italy.
  • With fewer tourists, you get a better sense of the local rhythm of life, and opportunities to interact with locals can be more authentic.
  • In spring, Italy’s gardens and countryside burst into bloom. Events like the Infiorata festivals, where streets are decorated with flower petal artwork, are a unique feature of this time.
  • Autumn shoulder season coincides with harvest time in Italy’s wine regions, such as Tuscany, Piedmont, and Veneto. Numerous festivals celebrate the grape harvest, and it’s a great time to enjoy wine tastings and tours.
  • Some tourist sites may have shorter opening hours than in the high season, and some restaurants or shops may close or have limited hours in very touristy areas.

Low Season (November to March)

  • The low season is the least crowded time of the year, which means you’ll have more space to enjoy even the most famous sights. Think Michaelangelo’s David or the Trevi Fountain to yourself!
  • Airfare and accommodation prices are generally at their lowest, which can make your trip more budget-friendly.
  • With fewer tourists, you can get a more authentic sense of Italian life, and have more meaningful interactions with locals.
  • If you’re a fan of winter sports, the Italian Alps and Dolomites offer world-class skiing.
  • Visit Bolzano, Trento, and Merano for some of the best Christmas markets in Italy. Winter is also Opera season and you can catch performances in renowned venues such as La Scala in Milan or Teatro dell’Opera di Roma.
  • In late February or early March, towns across Italy celebrate Carnival. The Venice Carnival is particularly famous, but you’ll also find fun events in many other cities.

INSIDER TIP | Low season excludes Christmas, New Year and Easter, which all see surges in visitor numbers throughout Italy

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Italy Travel Guide Budget Tips

In general, there are a few things that you can do to make savings up front that mean you can splurge once you get to Italy!

Plan and Book in Advance

Often, the earlier you book, the better deals you can get on flights, accommodation, and attractions. Buying skip-the-line tickets will also save you time, which I find is a major saving when it comes to actually enjoying your holiday!

I also think that planning your itinerary in advance helps avoid last-minute costs. Definitaly keep some spontaneity and wiggle-room, but don’t be the person who ends up sleeping in an armchair in a hotel lobby because you forgot to budget for accommodation (I’m much better at this whole travel thing these days I swear!).

Travel in the Off-Peak Season

Traveling during the shoulder or low season can save a lot on accommodation and flight costs. Plus, attractions are less crowded.

Travel Insurance

Don’t underestimate the importance of travel insurance. It may seem like an extra cost, but it can save you a lot if unexpected incidents occur. I use and recommend World Nomads.

Cutting Down on Costs in Italy

Here are some quick ways to make savings when you’re travelling in Italy:

  1. City Passes: Many cities offer tourist passes (like the Roma Pass, Firenze Card, or Milan Pass), which give you free entry or discounts to major attractions and public transportation.
  2. Overnight Trains/Ferries: Consider taking overnight trains or ferries between cities or regions. It saves a night’s accommodation and daytime travel time.
  3. Public Transportation: Italy has an extensive public transportation network. Buses and trains are often cheaper than taxis or car rentals. In cities, consider walking or renting a bike to get around.
  4. Group Tours: Group tours can often be more economical than private ones. Alternatively, free walking tours (with a voluntary tip) are available in many cities.

Free Things to Do in Italy

  1. Churches and Cathedrals: Many of Italy’s beautiful churches and cathedrals are free to enter, including the stunning Duomo in Milan.
  2. Parks and Piazzas: Enjoy the many public parks and piazzas. They are great for people-watching, picnics, or simply taking a break.
  3. Window Shopping: Window shopping in areas like Via Condotti in Rome or Via della Spiga in Milan is a popular pastime.
  4. Free Museum Days: Many museums offer free entry on certain days or hours.

Eat Like A Queen on a Budget:

  1. Eat Like a Local: Follow the locals to find affordable, authentic food. Try a “trattoria” or “osteria” instead of high-end restaurants.
  2. Aperitivo: Many bars in Italy offer aperitivo – you buy a drink in the early evening, and it comes with access to a buffet of snacks.
  3. Markets and Picnics: Visit local markets for fresh produce, cheeses, and meats. You can create your own picnic to enjoy in one of the city’s parks.
  4. Pizza al taglio: Pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) is a cheap and popular option for a quick meal.

Daily Costs for Italy

Budget: Less than €100 

  • Dorm bed: €25 to €50 per night
  • Bike hire: €10-20 per day
  • Lunch menù del giorno: €15 to €20
  • Urban bus or tram ride: €1.50

Midrange: €100-€250

  • Standard hotel room: from €120 per night
  • Two-course meal with wine: from €50 per person
  • Car hire: from €50 per day
  • Museum entry: €10 to €20

Top end: More than €250

  • Room in boutique hotel: from €180 per night
  • Upmarket degustation menu with wine: from €75 per person
  • Taxi across town: from €50
  • Private Boat Trip on the Amalfi Coast: from €1,100
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Italy Opening Hours

Most attractions in Italy are open from 9 am to 5 pm, but some of the more famous spots may have longer hours. Many museums and sights are closed on a Monday, so be sure to take that into account when visiting!

Another thing to be aware of, especially if you’re getting off the beaten path into less touristy areas, is that many places in Italy have a lunchtime and early afternoon riposo. Shops and businesses will close for the hottest hours of the day and then reopen in the afternoon for evening hours!

TIP | Much of Italy shuts down in August when the locals take their holidays, so expect tourist sights to be extra busy and avoid visiting then if you can.

In general, if there’s anything or anywhere you’ve got your heart set on visiting, it’s wise to check the opening hours before your trip.

Alcohol Store/Bottle Shop: until 10 pm

Banks: 8:30 am to 1 pm then 2 pm to 3:30 pm.

Businesses & Shops: 10 am to 1 pm then 4 pm to 7 pm. Grocery stores often close on Wednesday afternoons.

Museums: usually closed on Mondays.

Bars: these are usually a coffee bar where alcohol is served later in the day, so expect to go to the bar for your morning espresso! Usually 6 am to 10:30 pm

Restaurants: Often close from 3 pm to 6:30 pm and either Sunday or Monday

Arriving in Italy

The largest airports for international travel into Italy are in Rome, Venice, Milan, Bologna and Naples. European travellers have a much larger choice when it comes to choosing a port of entry, and once you’re in Italy there are domestic flights and an excellent public transport network to get you anywhere you need to go.

Most airports will have some form of train or shuttle bus to get you to the city centre, but I find that a private transfer or taxi is usually easiest if you’re carrying a lot of luggage.

The most popular airline in Italy is actually Ryanair, followed closely by easyJet. Find the best flight prices using Skyscanner.

Where to Stay When Visiting Italy

This is a common question when trying to decide where to stay in Italy. The country is so big and beautiful that trying to fit it all in on one trip can be tempting. Take it from me, my top Italy travel tip is to slow down and enjoy la dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) rather than rush around exhausting yourself!

The most popular cities to visit in Italy are Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence, so don’t expect to get any of them to yourself unless you wake up incredibly early and visit in the depths of winter! 

Most locals will steer you towards regions like Puglia, Calabria and Marche to escape the summer crowds and holiday like the Italians do.

I recommend heading to the Dolomites and Tuscany as options outside the cities that will give you a glimpse of very different sides of Italy. In the Dolomites, it’s all hiking and outdoorsy with stunning mountains and little huts that will spoil you for all other hiking ever. In Tuscany, it’s rolling fields and wonderful wines. Perfection.

A church in the Dolomites backlit by the sunset with autumn trees in the foreground. Best things to do in the Dolomites.
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Getting Around Italy

Italy by Public Transportation

The most popular form of transport in Italy is the train. There’s an extensive network, with high-speed lines connecting major cities like Rome, Florence, Milan and Bologna. If you want to cover a lot of ground in a single trip, then taking the train in Italy is fabulous.

Find all the timetables and book your train ticket here.

For local transportation, buses are often used. The metro is also popular and convenient, especially in big cities like Rome, Milan and Naples. Obviously, there are also more unique places, like Venice, where water taxis, gondolas and vaporetti (small passenger ferries) get you from A to B.

In general, taking the train is cheap and easy in Italy compared to taking the bus or a coach. The rail network covers virtually the whole of Italy. I always recommend booking in advance for the best rates and reserving a seat.

Italy by Car

If you’re planning to go to the Dolomites, Tuscany or anywhere outside of the major cities, I recommend renting a car. Unless you’re going to the Amalfi Coast, in which case a car is a nightmare! I always use Discover Cars for this, and you can check current prices for Italy here

Week or weekend deals booked in advance are much better value than (often sky-high) daily rates. Automatic transmission is less common than manual, so book well in advance if that’s an issue for you. I also strongly recommend getting the smallest car you think you can get away with!

Like the rest of mainland Europe and the US, they drive on the right in Italy.

INSIDER KNOWLEDGE | Uber doesn’t really exist in Italy (although you can use the app in Milan and Rome) and you’re much better off getting a regular taxi through your hotel.

Italy by Ferry

While it may not be the first thing that springs to mind, the ferry is actually a great resource in Italy. Whether you’re going to Venice, Positano, Sicily or even other countries like Croatia, a ferry can be a great option.

Overnight ferry journies can save you a night in a hotel while also getting you to your destination with ease, especially when combined with trains. Check current prices and ferry options for Italy here.

Italy by Plane

Domestic flights in Italy aren’t usually the best way to get around unless you want to get from one end of the country to the other in a hurry. Tickets are generally more expensive than trains on similar routes.

You can usually get good deals on ITA Airways, Ryanair and easyJet for flights to Sicily and Sardinia, which tend to be more popular. Buying in advance is almost always cheaper than last minute.

Health & Safety in Italy

Italy is definitely considered a fairly safe country to visit. Crime levels are usually low, and I’ve never felt unsafe there as a solo female traveller. However, you should be cautious of petty crimes such as pickpocketing, especially in bigger cities like Milan, Rome and Naples.

Italy also provides emergency medical treatment to all EU citizens with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). However, non-EU travellers should ensure they have comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies when visiting Italy.

Accommodation in Italy

When travelling in Italy, you’ll find tons of hotels and B&Bs. My favourite way to book hotels is on Booking.com, and I love VRBO for holiday rentals. I think these are the best options for flexible cancellations and competitive rates.

Two of the best types of accommodation in Italy are the rifugi (mountain huts) in the Dolomites and Alps and the agriturismi which can be found throughout rural areas.

Power Outlets in Italy

The primary plug types in Italy are types C, F, and L. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins, plug type F is the plug which has two round pins with two earth clips on the side, and plug type L is the plug type which has three round pins.

Plug types C and F are commonly used throughout the rest of Europe. Italy operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. This is the travel adapter I use that works across the Globe and has fast charge USB-C built in.

Where to Go in Italy If You Like:

History and ancient architecture

Rome, in Lazio, is the ideal destination. Home to iconic sites like the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Pantheon, Rome offers a deep dive into the rich history of the Roman Empire.

Drinking local wines and marvelling at works of art

Tuscany is a great option. Visit the vineyards of Chianti and Montepulciano before making your way to Florence to immerse yourself in the fabulous Renaissance art scene.

Exploring the outdoors and dramatic mountain landscapes

The Dolomites in the region of Trentino-South Tyrol will take your breath away. With excellent hiking, biking, and skiing opportunities, the Dolomites are a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. When it’s time to rest, charming mountain huts offer hearty regional cuisine and warm hospitality.

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Fashion and design

Milan in Lombardy is the place to be. Renowned as one of the world’s fashion and design capitals, Milan offers high-end shopping, stunning architecture, and an immersive cultural experience.

Unique cityscapes

Venice in the Veneto region is perfect for you! Known for its picturesque canals, gondolas, and stunning architecture, Venice offers an experience like no other.

Coastal beauty and island living

Head to Sardinia and Sicily. With crystal clear waters, stunning beaches, and fascinating archaeological sites, these islands are a paradise for nature and history enthusiasts alike.

Culinary adventures

Emilia-Romagna is a must-visit. Known as the ‘food basket’ of Italy, this region is the birthplace of delicacies like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Prosciutto di Parma, and traditional Balsamic Vinegar.

Wildlife and natural beauty

Visit the Abruzzo National Park in the heart of the Apennine mountains. Home to diverse wildlife like the Marsican brown bear, Apennine wolves, and golden eagles, this park offers a unique blend of stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity. It’s an ideal place for those who seek tranquillity and want to connect with nature in one of Italy’s wildest and most beautiful regions

Baroque architecture, pristine beaches, and unique accommodations

Puglia, the ‘heel of Italy’s boot,’ is the destination for you. Explore the historic city of Lecce, often called the ‘Florence of the South’ for its exquisite baroque architecture, and unwind on the beautiful beaches of the Salento Peninsula. For a truly unique stay, book a night in a traditional trullo, a whitewashed stone hut with a conical roof, in the town of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Popular Places in Italy

There are so many great places to visit in Italy that it can all get a bit overwhelming. Apart from the places I’ve suggested above, you might want to consider these:

  1. Naples (Napoli): The birthplace of pizza, Naples is known for its vibrant street life, historic sites like the Royal Palace and Castel Nuovo, and close proximity to the ancient ruins of Pompeii and the stunning Amalfi Coast.
  2. Cinque Terre: This is a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. The towns are known for their colourful houses and vineyards clinging to steep terraces.
  3. Bologna: Known for its beautiful porticos, rich history, and food culture (especially pasta dishes like tortellini and tagliatelle al ragù).
  4. Turin (Torino): Home to the iconic Shroud of Turin, it’s also known for its sophisticated architecture, beautiful squares, historic cafes, and the world-class Egyptian Museum.
  5. Verona: Known for being the setting of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, it’s a beautiful city with a well-preserved ancient Roman amphitheatre.
  6. Palermo: The capital of Sicily, Palermo is rich in history, culture, art, and gastronomy, known for its Norman buildings and vibrant markets.
  7. Assisi: Known for its stunning medieval structures, especially the Basilica of St. Francis, which is a pilgrimage site.
  8. Capri: An island in Italy’s Bay of Naples, Capri is famed for its rugged landscape, upscale beach resorts, designer boutiques, and the Blue Grotto, a dark cavern where the sea glows electric blue.
  9. Positano: A cliffside village on southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast known for its picturesque setting, narrow streets lined with boutiques and cafes, and the majestic Church of Santa Maria Assunta.
  10. Matera: Known for the Sassi di Matera, a series of cave dwellings dating back to the Paleolithic era, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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Famous Foods in Italy

When visiting Italy, make sure to try some of the most famous foods from the country. These include:

Pizza: The icon. Pizza actually varies greatly across Italy. In Naples, Pizza Napoletana is king, with its thin, soft, and chewy crust and simple toppings like San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella. Meanwhile, in Rome, you can enjoy a crisper, thinner variety, often served al taglio (by the slice).

Pasta: Each region boasts its own pasta specialities. In Rome, don’t miss the creamy Carbonara or the simple yet flavorful Cacio e Pepe, made with pecorino cheese and black pepper. In Emilia-Romagna, you’ll find delicious Tagliatelle al Ragù (Bolognese) and stuffed pasta like Tortellini.

Risotto: This creamy rice dish is most associated with northern Italy, specifically Lombardy. Risotto alla Milanese is my favourite, with its rich saffron-infused flavour and creamy texture.

Gelato: Italy’s version of ice cream is a must-try, with its dense, rich texture and intense flavours. Stracciatella, pistachio, and hazelnut are among the many divine flavours you’ll find that aren’t common elsewhere.

Cheeses: Italy produces an array of delectable cheeses. Buffalo mozzarella from Campania is incredibly fresh and creamy. Pecorino, a family of hard cheeses made from sheep’s milk, varies in flavour based on ageing – my favourite is the Pecorino Toscano from Pienza in Tuscany! Parmigiano Reggiano, from Emilia-Romagna, is nutty, tangy and divine.

Desserts: If you don’t fancy gelato, Italy offers a range of desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth. My all-time favourites are Tiramisu, a coffee-flavoured creamy treat, and Cannoli, a crispy Sicilian speciality with a sweet ricotta filling.

Wines: Italy’s wine regions produce some of the world’s finest wines. Sample a bold Barolo in Piedmont, a refined Chianti in Tuscany, or a refreshing Prosecco in Veneto. Each region has its unique varietals and styles and I’m on a mission to try them all!

Spirits: Italy is known for its spirits, too. Limoncello, a sweet lemon liqueur from southern Italy, is traditionally served chilled after dinner. Grappa, a potent spirit made from grape pomace, is a staple in northern Italy. Campari and Aperol, used in popular aperitifs like the Negroni and Aperol Spritz, are a favourite way to greet the evening in squares across the country.

cocktails on the deck at Geisler Alm
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Weather in Italy

The weather in Italy is typically Mediterranean, characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Hopefully, horrendous wildfires aren’t going to become a regular occurrence. Prepare for the weather with light clothing and a hat for the summer and layers, including a warm coat and umbrella for the winter.

Spring in Italy is beautiful and temperate, and you can expect to see flowers blooming all across the country. The temperature usually remains around 15-20°C (59-68°F). Towards May through June, the temperature does rise, reaching up to 25°C (77°F) in some parts.

Summer can actually be quite hot, especially in the southern regions. The temperatures can range from 25°C (77°F) to around 35°C (95°F) in the hottest parts of the country.

Autumn in Italy is a mix of sunny and wet days. The temperatures cool down from the summer heat, averaging around 15-20°C (59-68°F). This is when you’re most likely to need your umbrella!

The Winter season in Italy varies greatly depending on where you are. In the south, it’s generally mild with a bit of rain. In the north, especially in the Alps and the Dolomites, you can expect snow. The temperature ranges from 0°C (32°F) in the northern regions to around 13°C (55°F) in the south. However, temperatures can get a lot lower in the mountainous areas.

the peak of beco de mezodi reflected in lago di federa with orange larches all around
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A Brief History of Italy

Get ready for the wild ride that is Italy’s past! This country’s history has more drama than the series finale of Succession. From powerful Roman emperors throwing epic toga parties to Renaissance bigwigs like Da Vinci and Michelangelo redefining ‘cool’, Italy’s been a global trendsetter since day one.

Before the Romans rocked up, the Etruscans ruled the roost, making waves in what’s now central Italy. Then Rome strutted onto the scene, going from zero to hero in record time until the whole Italian boot was doing the Roman Rumba by the 2nd century BC. And they didn’t stop there; they went full world tour, conquering everything from Britain to Egypt!

When the Roman Empire took a nosedive in 476 AD, Italy had a bit of a midlife crisis. We’re talking invasions, feuds, and some serious Papal power moves. But just like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the Renaissance was born amidst the chaos, kickstarting a cultural revolution in the 14th Century that put Italy back on the map.

Fast forward to the 19th century, when Italy experienced the Risorgimento, a nationalist movement that unified the fragmented Italian states into a single nation in 1861.

Present-day Italy is a smorgasbord of cultural heritage, mouth-watering eats, and drop-dead gorgeous cities. Stroll through Rome’s ruins, get lost in Florence’s artsy alleyways, sail down Venice’s canals, or do a spot of window shopping in Milan. Italy stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of la dolce vita – the sweet life.

Popular Things to Do in Italy

Given that it’s not actually a huge country, Italy is absolutely packed with things to do. Here are some of the most popular things to do in Italy:

  • Visit the Colosseum: Time travel back to ancient Rome and imagine the gladiator battles that took place in this colossal amphitheatre.
  • Take a Gondola ride in Venice: Glide through the city’s intricate network of canals and under centuries-old bridges. It’s like a movie scene come to life.
  • Marvel at the Sistine Chapel: Gaze up at Michelangelo’s mind-blowing ceiling masterpiece in the Vatican.
  • Hike the Cinque Terre: Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails linking the five colourful cliff-side towns along the Ligurian coast.
  • Wine tasting in Tuscany: Visit the world-famous vineyards of Chianti and Brunello. Swirl, sniff, sip, and repeat!
  • Take a pasta-making class in Bologna: Master the art of making authentic Italian pasta in the foodie capital of Italy.
  • Cruise the Amalfi Coast on a yacht: Swap the car for a yacht and soak up the spectacular coastal views from the turquoise waters.
  • Catch an opera in Verona: Experience the magic of Italian opera in the ancient Roman amphitheatre, the Arena di Verona.
  • Explore Pompeii: Walk through the eerily preserved ruins of this ancient Roman city, frozen in time by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
  • Attend the Palio di Siena: Get caught up in the electric atmosphere of this historic horse race in Siena’s Piazza del Campo.

Italy Travel Guides and Itineraries

The Best Time to Visit Italy 

The shoulder seasons, from April to June and September to October, are beautiful and my personal favourite time to visit Italy.

Spring sees Italy bloom with colourful flowers, and the weather is generally mild. In the autumn, the country showcases a palette of stunning autumn colours, and vineyards are ready for harvest. During these periods, prices are lower, and tourist hotspots are less crowded. However, the weather can sometimes be unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to pack for all possibilities.

A popular time to visit Italy is from June to August.

The weather is at its warmest, and the days are long, offering plenty of time to explore. This period also coincides with numerous festivals and events, such as the Festa della Repubblica and Palio di Siena, offering a vibrant glimpse into Italian culture.

However, this period is also peak tourist season, meaning popular sites can be crowded, and the heat in some regions can get quite intense. Also, prices for accommodations and flights tend to be at their highest.

An alternative popular time is from December to February, particularly for those of us who love our winter sports! The Italian Alps and the Dolomites offer top-notch skiing and snowboarding facilities. Be prepared for chilly weather, especially in the northern parts of the country, and ensure to pack warm clothing!

Italian Words to Help You Get Around Italy

You may be able to find English-speaking people in Italy, especially in the big cities, but I think it’s always a good idea to learn some Italian words before your visit. Locals always appreciate it when you give their language a go, even if you’re not very good at it! 

Make sure you also download Google Translate Italian for offline use too. It’s always helpful if you do run into trouble with language barriers.

Common Italian Phrases:

  • Ciao (chow) – Hello / Goodbye. Used informally.
  • Buongiorno (bwohn-jor-no) – Good morning / Good day. A more formal greeting.
  • Buonasera (bwohna-seh-ra) – Good evening. Used in the afternoon and evening.
  • Grazie (graht-zee-eh) – Thank you.
  • Per favore (pehr fa-voh-reh) – Please.
  • Prego (preh-go) – You’re welcome. Can also be used to say “please” in the sense of “go ahead” or “after you”.
  • Mi scusi (mee skoosi) – Excuse me. This can be used to get someone’s attention or to apologize.
  • Si (see) / No (no) – Yes / No.
  • Quanto costa? (kwan-toh cos-tah) – How much does it cost?
  • Non parlo italiano. Parli inglese? (non par-lo ita-liano. par-li in-gle-se) – I don’t speak Italian. Do you speak English?

Suggested Italy Itineraries – How Many Days to Spend in Italy

You may be wondering how many days you should spend in Italy. This does, of course, depend on your budget and how many holiday days you can take. However, at least 3 days or a weekend in Italy is necessary to explore just one city.

Usually, spending 3-4 days in Rome will allow you to both explore the city and also take a day trip somewhere nearby. If you want to see a lot of the country, spending at least 10 days in Italy is definitely your best option.

Basing yourself in Florence for a few days can also be helpful for day trips to other cities. You can easily take the train to nearby cities, including Pisa, Lucca, Siena and Bologna. It’s actually only a little over 2 hours on the train to Venice from Florence!

Alternatively, base yourself in Positano for a couple of nights to explore the Amalfi Coast, Capri and even Pompeii.

For places like the Dolomites, Puglia, Liguria and Sicily, I’d recommend at least week to really be able to explore.

Using the fantastic train network makes it a breeze to get between cities, and renting a car also makes it really easy to get around Italy to explore all the hidden gems that locals love.

Italy Travel Guide Books

Although I usually use blogs and Instagram to research my travels, there’s nothing quite like having a proper book in your hands. Here are the Italy travel guides I’ve used:

Italy Travel Guide Wrap-up

So there you have it – all the info you should need for planning your holiday in Italy! Make sure you check out my Italy Travel Guide suggestions that were above. These guides go deeper into Italy planning, Italy travel tips, what to wear in Italy, and suggested itineraries.

If you have any questions about my Italy Travel Guide or feel I missed something, feel free to reach out via email or social media! Have an amazing time in Italy!


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