Italy, a country home to some of the world’s best food, wine, and art. Add in gorgeous coastlines, beautiful beaches, world-class fashion, phenomenal hiking trails, villas in Tuscany, and gelato, and you have the ingredients for an epic vacation. Italy is a favorite destination for many travelers for a very good reason. Come live “la dolce vita,” the sweet life.
Things To Know
The official language is Italian but many people speak and understand English.
220V 50Hz. Plugs C and F.
The Euro (€). As of June 2016, 1 € is approximately $1.10 USD.
Citizens of the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan can enter Italy for up to 90 days without a Visa.
Expect large crowds of tourists in the summer
The summer months, Easter, and Christmas are the busiest times to travel to Italy. During the month of August, Italians go on their own vacations, leaving shops and restaurants closed for the month. For a better experience, travel during the quieter months of May, September, and October, when weather conditions can still be very pleasant.
Don’t try to see everything on your first visit and try not to be in a rush. Italians are very laid back and things move slower here. Wander the streets, drink the wine, enjoy where you are, and don’t try to rush the experience. Your visit to Italy will be much more enjoyable if you slow things down a little.
This is the charge, per person, to sit at a table in a restaurant. This is not always advertised and can be a big surprise when you go to pay your bill. Ask your waiter or check the menu if you want to know the charge. Not all restaurants charge a coperto and we saw this the most in Venice.
Rent a car in Tuscany
We read that the hill towns of Tuscany are easily accessible by bus…assuming the buses show up. We were left stranded on more than one occasion, standing on the roadside for hours, waiting for the bus to arrive. Yes, renting a car in Italy is expensive, but having your own transportation is worth the cost. Trust us on this one!
Eat lots of gelato!
The more walking you do and the more towers you climb, the more gelato you get to eat. Delizioso!
Renaissance Art. See the works of Leonardo DaVinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. With world-class art museums such as the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Borghese Museum in Rome, getting at least a peak at some of these masterpieces is not to be missed. A word of advice: during the high season, book your tickets in advance.
Cruise the Canals of Venice. Whether by gondola or vaporetto, drifting through the canals of Venice is an iconic Italian experience.
Hike the Cinque Terre. Spend one day hiking through the five towns of the Cinque Terre. It is a fabulous hike and what’s better than refueling at each town with fresh fruit, gelato, pasta, and wine?
Visit the Blue Grotto in Capri. We weren’t sure if this one was worth it, but once we did it, we loved it, especially Tyler and Kara.
Visit the Vatican. The Vatican Museum is another “must-see” when visiting Italy. Definitely book your tickets in advance (this can literally save waiting in line for hours) and expect HUGE crowds during the summer months.
Climb the towers in Florence. The Duomo is the most popular tower to climb in Florence, but the Campanile was our favorite. Florence is a gorgeous city and the towers give some of the best vantage points.
Lake Como. Located in northern Italy, come here for alpine vistas and to visit the villas on the water. Lake Como is virtually deserted during the winter months, so plan to visit between March and October.
Pompeii. This ancient city was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Pompeii is one of Italy’s most visited sights. The ash that covered the city preserved the streets, buildings, and even the bodies of those people unable to flee the eruption. Walking through Pompeii is like walking through history.
Pizza in Naples. Naples, the birthplace of pizza. Yes, it is worth coming to Naples just for the pizza. It is that good!
Go to an Italian soccer game. Call it soccer, call it football, or call it calcio, as they do in Italy, this sport is almost a religion for Italians. Attending a game can be a cultural experience, not to mention a lot of fun!
The Dolomites. The Dolomites were our favorite part of Italy. The hiking was epic, the scenery was stunning, and we loved the Austria meets Italy vibe.
Tour the Hill Towns of Tuscany. Tuscany is packed with quaint, hillside towns. Walk the cobblestoned lanes, dine on delicious Italian food, go on wine tastings, and go shopping. You could spend a week in Tuscany, visiting a new town every day.
See DaVinci’s “Last Supper” in Milan. Tickets for a 15 minute viewing sell out weeks in advance, so this is an activity that needs to be planned ahead of time, but it’s worth it. Visiting Milan can be done as a day trip and seeing the “Last Supper” can easily fit into your itinerary.
Visit the Greek Ruins in Sicily. Some of the best Greek temples in the world, even better than those found in Greece, can be found in Sicily. Some of these ruins date back to the 5th century B.C.!
The Amalfi Coast. The Amalfi Coast is labeled as one of the most scenic drives in the world. It’s beautiful, it’s filled with hair pin turns, and some people call it a “white-knuckle” ride. Come see for yourself.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Do you think going to the Leaning Tower of Pisa is too touristy or too cheesy? Maybe. But it’s a quick visit and can easily be seen as a day trip from Florence or on your way to the Cinque Terre.