Italy Travel – Information, Tips & Advice

Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)
Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)

You don't want to ruin your Italian vacation by packing wrong. Check out my Vacation Packing List book and learn how to pack for any trip.

 

Italy's Tourist Tradition

Italy is a long timefavorite of tourists, 2000 years ago during the Roman Empire there were plenty of tourists, and the Pope in Rome ensured a steady stream of pilgrims for the last 1000 years..It was however the advent of the Grand Tour in the 1660's which seriously put tourism on the map in what would become Italy. Today's travelers still flock to the same sights which were highlights of the Grand Tour: Florence, Venice, Pisa and Bologna for Renaissance Art, Rome for the classical ruins and as far south as Naples to visit the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The Grand Tourists were rich nobility and to this day Italy is still not a budget destination, it doesn't have to be with the incessant flow of tourists! However with a bit of forethought you can still plan independent travel which is cost effective.

In addition to the classic tradition of Renaissance art and architecture and Roman antiquities Italy offers fantastic opportunities for those interested in food, wine, music (opera anyone), or walking trails in the hills of Tuscany or Umbria. Anyone who is interested in style and design doesn't have to be told that Milan is a world-class centre of both. Remember when you visit the Vatican in Rome - you are actually visiting another country, the Vatican is an independent state, The Holy See with the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) the head of state. Its OK though you won't see any border formalities.

Gondolas, Grand Canal, Venice, Italy
Gondolas, Grand Canal, Venice, Italy
A lot of tourists visit in the summer months!
A lot of tourists visit in the summer months!
St Pauls, Rome
St Pauls, Rome

Pre-departure Travel Tips for Italy

  • Italy is very busy during the peak tourist season of June to September; plan to go either Spring April-May or Fall (Autumn) September- November, you'll find prices lower, queues shorter and the weather still reasonable.
  • As for any overseas travel have a medical/dental/optical check-up to avoid nasty surprises on the road. Take out travel insurance for the trip.
  • Check that your passport is valid for at least the length of your trip abroad. Citizens of most western countries including: USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand will be given a permission t o stay 3 months on arrival, assuming they are visiting as tourists and not studying or traveling for business purposes.
  • Pack light - ideally a carry on bag should be sufficient. If you can't carry your own bags on and off trains and up and down stairs (not all hotels have elevators), you will have problems as porters are not common particularly on trains. Anyway you will need some space for the shopping won't you?
  • Learn about the history and culture of Europe before you go. Rick Steves puts out a wonderful book called Europe101 "Written for smart people who slept through their history and art history classes" very readable and very useful. Of course not all of European culture is in Italy but an awful lot of the art and sculpture of such people as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli. The Romans left ruins littered all over the place too! A bit of background information will help prevent museum overload, and the "oh god another splendid example of renaissance ecclesiastical architecture" when confronted with the 5th gorgeous church of the day!

Italy Travel: Florence, Lucca,, Pisa, Siena, Tuscany

Best deals on Flights to Italy

  • Most flights arrive in Rome or Milan and therefore these are the most heavily discounted routes by the airlines Flying outside the main holiday times should mean that you can get a budget long-haul flight. Consider to flying long-haul into London, England or Paris, France, which are often cheaper than an Italian destination, and then using a local European budget airline such as such as Ryan Air or easyJet However be aware that if you do this and then your first flight is delayed you will have to buy another ticket on the budget carrier. Also double check which airports are you departing/arriving from - large European cities may have many airports and the cheaper carriers tend to use the more remote airports. Its quite easy to spend more on the airport transfer from town than the flight itself! So be realistic and consider if the total cost will be cheaper overall.
  • Italy's currency is the Euro which is also the legal tender for the 13 countries in the Eurozone so if your trip includes for example France or Germany you don't have to worry about using up all your currency before departing Italy. The notable countries outside the zone are Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Venice Carnival - Carnevale Venezia

On Arrival in Italy Tips

  • Italy's time zone is GMT/UTC +1.0, +2.0 from late March to late October. so flying from almost anywhere in the world you will probably be jet lagged. Try to get onto Italy's time zone as soon as you leave home, try to eat and sleep on Italian time. Its easier if your flight arrives late in the day as you will probably want to sleep anyway. If you arrive early in the day try to stay awake and get out in the daylight - it helps the body's internal clock to reset. Have a short nap if you must but try to stay awake until about 8pm before crashing.
  • Make sure that you have the equivalent of $200 in Euros before leaving the airport. Taxis don't take US$! You can either purchase Euros at home or on arrival at any major airport or train station.
  • If arriving at Rome's Fiumcino airport you can take the Leonardo Express train to Rome's Termini Station , every ½ hour from 6am - 11pm for €11
  • Book a hotel for the first night. Use an international consolidator such as Hotel Club who offer good deals. Or even consider a luxury hotel in Venice - city of lovers. Even on a low budget give yourself a nice hotel for the first night, 2 nights if arriving late, it allows you to ease into Europe.. Chill out - don't try to sight see and shop on your first day - relax wander around - try to get your head around Italy. The sights and smells and sounds of a new country can be overwhelming as well as amazing so give yourself some time and space.

Lunch in Italy is always appealing
Lunch in Italy is always appealing

When in Italy Travel Advice

  • Don't get hung up on not speaking Italian - after all you do - check out this menu board: how much do you already understand? Pointing, acting, making a fool of yourself - it all helps with your communication skills. Remember if you walk into a hotel, the clerk will probably be expecting you to ask for a room so a little sign language and getting the price written down shouldn't be hard. Spanish speakers will be surprised at how close the languages are and will have few problems.
  • While we are on the subject of menus check out the "menu of the day", a set menu, usually at lunch, usually a very good fixed price deal of soup, main and desert, featuring local specialities and a good price. If you can adapt consider making lunch your main meal of the day - it will always save you money. BTW set menus often include in the price a drink: wine, water or coke... it would be unusual in Italy to have a meal without a glass of wine.
  • The popularity of certain museums and art galleries has led to the introduction of booking systems. in most cases you can book online or by phone (be prepared for it to be difficult to get through) or through your hotel. Check here for details on museum bookings
  • Florence: Academia (Michelangelo's David) and the Uffizi Gallery (Renaissance paintings)
  • Milan: Michelangelo's Last Supper
  • If you are not familiar with the metric system of weights and measures then it may be worthwhile getting a feeling for how far 100 meters, 500 meters and 1 kilometer are and what 250g of chocolate or a liter of wine looks like. If you intend to drive be familiar with the speed limits in kilometers - your hire car will show kilometers on the speedometer.
  • Italians, like many Europeans use a comma where English speakers use a point in prices and numbers and vice versa. One thousand is written as 1.000, one half as 0,5. The beautiful Venetian mask below has a price tag of €37

Venetian Mask, used during Carnavle
Venetian Mask, used during Carnavle

Travel within Italy Tips

  • Train travel. If you decided to buy a Eurail pass, you must purchase it prior to arrival in Europe. However do your figures carefully, the Eurail pass available to those over 25 years (under 25's can buy the cheaper rail passes for 2nd class travel), is a first class pass only, unless you are covering a great deal of Europe in a short time you may well be better off buying point-to-point tickets as you go. Check the More Information box for links to sites with detailed train information.
  • Ferries connect Italy with France, Slovenia, Croatia Greece, Turkey, Tunisia and Malta. Within Italy ferries run to the islands of Sicily and and Sardinia.
  • Buses are often cheaper than the train and do go places where the train doesn't, but for the visitor with imperfect Italian, the trains are easier and more convenient.
  • Italy is a pretty safe country, the worst you may encounter is petty theft and pickpocketing. That said losing your cards and passport can ruin a holiday so do not carry valuables in a bag casually slung over one-shoulder, the favored target of thieves using motorbikes to grab the bag. You particularly vulnerable in large train stations, tourist sites, particularly in Rome and Naples. Keep valuables secured in your hotel or under your cloths. Carry bags and cameras across your body, small backpacks on your front not your back, as you will see the locals doing.

Summary

Italy has an overwhelming amount to offer the tourist. Booking a tour will mean all the planning and decision making will be done for you. However if you want to strike out independently then a few hours spent researching Italy and the great sights it has to offer will be paid back over and over with a much more rewarding independent trip. Buon viaggio!

About the Author

Thanks for reading - this is Lis from Lis's Travel Tips an eBook series that I decided to write after being less than impressed by travel tips available in "real" published books.

I have travel writing all over the web - but I decided to start publishing some of it in a different format - hence my new eBook available at Amazon (see below) and elsewhere. Check out my Vacation Packing Tips website

Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)
Vacation Packing Guide For Worldwide Travel (Non-Boring Travel Guides)

Traveling to Italy you need to travel light and smart - this book will show you how

 

Comments 46 comments

Sybille Yates profile image

Sybille Yates 9 years ago

Thumbs up for you! Very well written, SY


Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks for the comment and the thumb! The thing that amazes me is the quality of photos and videos you can find available for use on the internet. It makes it a lot easier to put together a hub!


retireyoung profile image

retireyoung 9 years ago from Bali

Great article and advice. My, you have been busy!


Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks retireyoung! I am strarting to get into the swing of writing again!


caspar profile image

caspar 9 years ago from UK

Excellent information Lissie.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 9 years ago from New Zealand Author

Thanks Caspar


Woody Marx profile image

Woody Marx 8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Wonderful info!

Reminds me of my time in Italy and visting the wonderful city of Florence that surely is a glimpse of Heaven on Earth for us all.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand Author

Its potentially expensive writing this type of hub - I start wanting to return to some of these


happyexplorer profile image

happyexplorer 8 years ago from Mostly USA, sometimes elsewhere

Hi Lissie -

I'm brand new at this, and see your hub as an example of what an excellent hub looks like! You've got it all -- lots of good info, photos, videos, useful links, and a pleasing layout. Great job, and I hope I can do as well some day!


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand Author

Glad you liked it happyexplorer!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi Lissie, I think I'm caught with the travel bug. So far, I've visited Funride's Portugal hub, adventure's Hawaii trip and now, I find myself intrigue by your description of Italy and the pictures are really breathtaking. Thanks! I will definitely put Italy on my list of places to go to someday. I would like to experience the Gondola. :-) As for you traveling to over 55 countries already...wow!


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand Author

Did you catch up with my India Travel hub- in the link above the comments box? Sorry couldn't resist!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

LOL I will visit that hub Lissie. :-)


LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California

Great Hub Lissie. I look forward to reading others.

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

Although I only got to tour a small portion of Italy, it was one of my favorite spots in Europe. The food is amazing and the people are friendly. Great HUB, wonderful information for the traveler to use. Thank you.


John and Judy 8 years ago

Great stuff, Lissie, we just returned from italy and actually went with a vacation package/escorted tour group sort of deal. First time for me, it was actually pretty decent though. If anyone's looking for something like that I'd reccommend www.centralholidays.com. They did a good job. Actually though, we're going to be vacationing to Perth soon. I was wondering if you have written a page with tips on your neck of the woods (we're from the states)? Anyway, good advice on Italy. Thanks, keep up the good work! :- )


solarshingles profile image

solarshingles 8 years ago from london

A wonderful hub! I simply love Venice! I almost don't sleep, when I am there over the weekend. But, I am avoiding the most crowded months


pjdscott profile image

pjdscott 8 years ago from Durham, UK

Bravissima! What a super hub - full of useful tips and straightforward information. I agree that the major cities are not cheap - perhaps Bologna is the exception since it dos not charge the earth to stay there.

Your advice for long haul passengers was spot-on! A well-deserved thumbs up.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand Author

Grazi PJDScott! Glad you found it. SS -Venice is one of my favourite cities - so quiet - no traffic noise! John & Judy I must get around to writing something about Perth - its hard to get around to doing the local stuff! Thanks for visiting everyone.


MyGenie profile image

MyGenie 8 years ago

Very good advice, I traveled to Rome Italy last year and than had a private tour guide drive us in his Mercedes van (tip: way to expensive, travel by train)he found us a private Tuscany Villa and we had wine and bread for lunch made right there in this Villa, plus the best tasting olive oil ever. The scenery was worth the price alone, Tuscany is beautiful! Florence was interesting especially the Italian gold market. Had to walk a LOT!! Very crowded in Rome, and the size of hotel rooms there shocked me literally! My clothes closet at home was larger than my hotel room and sleeping was like sleeping on a cot. It was interesting seeing the characters on the soaps I watch speak in Italian. All in all a trip of a lifetime so much to see so much to do!!


Karen Ellis profile image

Karen Ellis 8 years ago from Central Oregon

Hi Lissie,

Very nice. I'm checking out your Flagship hubs. A lightbulb just went on - sometimes a bit slow. All of our hubs should be modeled after the Flagship formula. Thanks for your help.


einron 8 years ago

I feel nostagic again after reading about London and now I find the second article on travelling to Italy. I did a grand tour of Italy visiting 10 cities when I was living in London - Rome, Venice, Pisa, Florence, Naples,Turin, Milan, Sorrento, Pompei and ?. I forget one city where Gracie Fields lived. It's high up and I think we went by coach. That a place called Blue Grotto, which is a underground cave and you have to lie flat on the boat when you enter the grotto. Venice is so beautiful by night and Florence has her bridge with the most beautiful jewellry shops on both sides! The bridge of Florence escaped bombing during the Second World War because of her famous history.

The second time I visited ItaIy was through the Mediterranean Cruise visiting Italy again. This time I visited Rome, Pisa, Florence, Nice and Monarco.

Your hub is great!

It is through travelling to many countries that one can learn to appreciate the culture and the people. I marvel that the Italians are mostly people of short stature and yet they produce such beautiful objects of art.

Thanks for the hub. Will be your fan and will get back to your hubs.


Italy Travel Guy 8 years ago

Ha, this is what I was looking for as far as italy tours go. Ignore my other post, Thanks! Great info on travel to Itlay!


Rookie Expert profile image

Rookie Expert 8 years ago from US

I've always wanted to go to Italy. Maybe i should email this hub to my husband, so that he'll be motivated to book us a holiday there. Lovely hub.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Good Hub, thanks. A tip for anyone travelling to Venice: make sure that you can easily carry your luggage (unless you are very rich and can afford to pay porters). You will almost certainly have to travel by boat at some point, and there are steps and stairs everywhere! It all adds to the unique feel of the place, but you'll enjoy it more if you're not lugging a heavy bag.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand Author

Very good point 2pats - Venice is built for wakling - but not for lugging large bags! For more vacation packing tips check out http://vacationpackingtips.info


cheap travel 8 years ago

Wow fantastic Hub , Italy is one of those places that I have alway's wanted to go to. Thanks for the hub.


morgan 7 years ago

I just adore Italy, food , wine and sightseeing


Tony 7 years ago

Very helpful hub. I'm planning a trip to Italy next year and I'll definitely come back here for info.


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California

These are great tips! I would guess you have some experience around this :) I've been considering going to Rome... It's my No. 1 European destination, and I've never been out of the country before


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California

These are great tips! I would guess you have some experience around this :) I've been considering going to Rome... It's my No. 1 European destination, and I've never been out of the country before


Lissie profile image

Lissie 7 years ago from New Zealand Author

To be honest its been a while but I think you'll have a great in Italy!


madeira 7 years ago

i love italian food so i owe it to myself to visit one day


homeexchange 7 years ago

Italy is one of the best place for travel.


lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 6 years ago from Virginia

I was only about seven when I spent two weeks in Italy but I will never forget it. Nice hub.


Italy car hire 6 years ago

Wow fantastic Hub , Italy is one of those places that I have alway's wanted to go to. Thanks for the hub.


GmaGoldie profile image

GmaGoldie 6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

Love your philosphy traveling is too great to live just to the young. I would love to mandate it for the young - life changing experience. Itay is on my radar. Wonderful Hub.


Andrea 6 years ago

Nice article, interesting generic tips but I disagree with the summary. Italy is this and much more. I'm Italian (from Florence) and I work for Select Italy Travel, a web based full-service travel agent, and we offer to our clients tailor made vacation packages and tours that allow them to be independent and free to enjoy the best that Italy has to offer without the hassles of planning a trip overseas.

For the rest good basic tips that anyone should know when it comes to start planning to vist Italy.

I would avoid buses that often as slightly cheaper than trains. With trains you save more time for sightseeing, relax and enjoy the italian culture.

Anyway


Italy car hire 6 years ago

Wow fantastic Hub , Italy is one of those places that I have alway's wanted to go to. Thanks for the hub.


Atlanta hotel 6 years ago

I haven't visited Italy yet but I would surely visit it one day.I am really looking forward for the renaissance art and culture.


Rented Car in Italy 6 years ago

Think twice about renting a car in Italy. I have rented cars in Italy and France six or seven times and toured a lot of back roads happily....until my trip in May 2010! Apparently, the Police in all the secondary towns now have cameras that are on the lookout for rental car numbers on license plates. I am a very law-abiding driver; I have gotten a total of three moving violations in over 40 years of driving in the US (and several other countries). Yet, I have received notice from Avis that I got two citations from the towns of Arezzo and Perugia during the week I drove around Umbria bafck in the Spring. Nobody stopped me in either town. Instead, supposedly, my violations (explained in Italian only) supposedly are captured on film and I will be receiving fines totalling 200 Euros from the two towns. This is like something from Kafka. What is really going on? Apparently, the politicians in Italy need more revenue and who better to get it from than from non-citizens who have already traveled to Italy and maybe were never going to come back anyway. Think twice about planning a "carefree driving trip around Italy." I shall not be going back again. And I used to love Italy!


Lissie profile image

Lissie 6 years ago from New Zealand Author

Sounds like Italy has speed cameras - are these not usual in the US? Its really easy to speed if you are not familiar with the local speed zones - guess you will be more careful next time!


byotravelagent profile image

byotravelagent 6 years ago

Thanks for the great collection to Italy travel advice. I have visited Rome, Venice and Verona. I really look forward to visiting the Amalfi Coast and take my time in Tuscany.

Cheers.


Our Italian Holidays 6 years ago

Thank you for all this great info. My sister & I are returning to Italy next Spring. We are hoping to spend at least 2 months there and you have some very useful and informative information here. Thank You for this.

Caroline


ghost tours savannah 6 years ago

Thanks for the information. I have really wanted to go to Italy and check out a lot of the older castles and places that are still around. See what kind of paranormal experiences I might have. I just haven't saved up enough yet. I really need to. It's been something that I've wanted to do for a long time.


offerte super lastminute 5 years ago

Hi Lissie, you are very good at giving these advices. I live in Tuscany and would like to add one: If you should visit big touristic cities when find a hotel or bb try to look for it out of the same city! Even close! This is a suggestion to avoid the chaos that now grips all the touristic city.

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