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This Italy Travel Guide aims to provide you with simple and stress-free travel planning information and inspiration for planning a trip to Italy.
On this regularly updated page you will find links to useful posts on The Trusted Traveller, budget information, details on types of accommodation available, information on getting around the country and more useful links to resources around the web.
Currency: € Euro which is made up of 100 cents. Coins come in 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2 denominations and notes in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500 denominations.
Electricity: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two round pins are standard. Outlets for 110 volts for small appliances can be found in most hotels.
Shaped like a boot, Italy is located in the south of Europe along the Mediterranean Coast sharing a boarder with France to the east, Switzerland and Austria to the north and Slovenia to the west.
Italy’s landscape is incredibly diverse. In the north you will find some of Europe’s highest alpine mountain peaks. The area around Tuscany is fertile rolling hills and lush valleys, contrasting to the Umbrian countryside of broad fertile plains. Further south around the capital Rome, the landscape turns rocky with mountain ranges and volcanic outcrops. And then once you get down into the country’s ‘boot’ the landscape once again turns to fertile plains.
Just like it’s landscape, Italy has a diverse climate to match. Being on the Mediterranean, summers are general hot and dry all over the country with some days reaching over 40ºc. Summer in the mountainous north is fresh and comfortable.
In winter the northern alpine region can get very cold with temperatures below freezing and heavy snow falls common. The middle of the country will be cooler over winter with the area receiving the most rainfall of the country. And further south, winters are milder, similar to that of the northern African countries just across the Mediterranean.
Best Time to Visit
Italy is a year round destination. For the warmest and most reliable weather April to June is the ost popular time to visit. Italians like to take their holiday in July and August so prices, and crowds, can skyrocket during this time. July and August also bring the hottest of temperatures so beach lovers will want to head to the country’s Mediterranean coast.
September to October is a good choice for less crowds and mild temps. Winter sport fanatics will want to head to the northern alpine region from December to March for plenty of fresh powder and to enjoy the apres-ski lifestyle.
It is always recommend to have a mixture of cash and bank/credit card with you when you travel anywhere in the world and this is no exception in Italy.
In Italy ATM’s are called Bancomats and are found in all major towns and cities across the country. As well, credit cards are widely accepted, although some establishments such as small hotels and shops may only accept cash.
|Dorm bed in a hostel - €25||Simple fast food or takeaway meal - €10||Single bus/train/tram ticket - €3|
|Double room in a budget motel - €70||Cafe/pub style meal with one drink - €25||Short taxi ride - €20|
|Double room in a 4 or 5 star hotel - €180 +||Three courses in top class restaurant - €80+||Domestic 2nd class train fare - €50+|
To work out these costs in your own currency, I recommend XE.com.
Getting to Italy from surrounding European countries is simple, quick and cheap by bus or train. You can find out more about rail travel in Europe, including purchasing tickets, on the Rail Europe website; and about bus travel on the Eurolines website.
Italy is also well-connected by air with flights arriving in Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and Naples from all across Europe and the UK and parts of the US, Middle East and Asia. A flight from London will take just under three hours and a flight from New York about ten hours.
It is also possible to arrive by ferry from neighbouring countries such as Greece and Croatia. From Greece to Italy there are seven different ferry operators that run a variety of 20 different routes. And from Croatia to Italy there are six ferry operators and 20 routes to choose from. Check out DirectFerries for more detailed route information.
I use and recommend Expedia for researching and booking flights and car hire all around the world.
Getting around Italy will see you using a variety of transport from train and bus to ferry and vaperetto. It can be a little more complicated than some other Western and Central European countries but it is still relatively simple to work our compared to most places around the world.
Europe’s excellent network of trains means that getting around Italy and in fact to/from other European countries, is the most prompt and cost-effective way to travel. All the major cities are connected to one another and you will find that most regional areas are well-connected to at least one or two of those major cities.
There are two classes on the trains, 1st and 2nd class, with the only real difference being slightly more leg space and room to move about in 1st class.
Most trains you can just show up at the train station and buy your ticket on the day, while a few (mostly high-speed intercity trains) may require a seat reservation to be made in advance. This can be done either at any train station in the country or online through a ticketing agent in your home country. Here are a few that I recommend depending on where you are from:
- Rail Europe for residents in USA, Canada & Mexico.
- Rail Europe for residents in Australia, New Zealand, UK, Europe and other select parts of the world.
Eurolines run bus services around the country and they are a cheaper alternative to train travel but will take longer to get from a to b.
Italy has an excellent highway system that will make it easy for those that choose to drive around the country. Traffic problems may cause you a bit of stress around major cities and along the coast during summer.
With a green card you can bring your own vehicle from a neighbouring EU country and an international drivers permit is not necessary but recommended if you will be in the country for a while.
You’ll be able to collect a hire car from all major airports and cities with most allowing you to pick up in one location and drop off in another, which makes sense if you’re road tripping around the country.
The roads in Italy are well maintained and easy to navigate because they are well signposted. During the winter months remember that weather conditions can change rapidly, especially in the north of the country. Be sure to obey all signs and drive with care in slippery conditions.
Where to Stay
Italy caters for everyone when it comes to accommodation. Here is a list of the types of accommodation you’ll find:
- Camping – All the main cities have campsites on the outskirts of town, with good transport links into the centre. The Ardennes and the coast are particularly popular with campers and booking ahead is advised.
- Hostels – You’ll find hostels in abundance in the Italy’s bigger cities and one or two in most other regional areas as well. The level of cleanliness in Italy and similar parts of Europe is well above average so you will likely find your room and shared bathroom to be super clean.
- B&B’s/Pensions – Small family run style accommodation like B&B’s or pensions can be found all over the country in big cities, small towns and popular rural locations. Accommodation is simple yet comfortable and the experience usually comes with friendly hosts and a home cooked breakfast each morning.
Get up to $35.00 AUD credit when you join Airbnb using this link.
- Hotels/Apartments – You will find both chain hotel/apartment brands and independent hotel/apartments to be in abundance in cities across the country. The good thing about this type of accommodation is in most cases you know what you are going to get, a clean, comfortable and modern room with a decent array of facilities in the room and on the property. Apartments are great for longer stays as they allow you a bit more space and the option to self cater.
- Luxury Hotels & Resorts – Italy has its fair share of 5 star properties for those who like a bit of luxury. These will offer you brilliant service and a top location, sometimes with incredible views of the surrounding area.
I use and recommend Booking.com for researching and booking hostel, motel, hotel, apartment and resort accommodation around the world.
Italy is a food lovers paradise. People travel all over the world just to eat in this country and a lot also come to learn how to do it themselves at home. Each region, town and village claims to have it’s own specialty and you’ll find it hard not to want to try it all as you travel around.
But it isn’t all about Italian food as the country has a variety of eating options that will suit all budgets and tastes.
- Supermarkets/Markets – Save money and shop in supermarkets and local markets for snacks, picnic lunches and even ingredients to make a whole meal in your self catering accommodation. If you only market shop in one country of the world, Italy is the place to do it!
- Fast Food / Take-away – Chain fast food stores are in all major centres of the country and along highways as well. If you’re looking for a cheap and tasty fast food meal, look to where the locals are, usually getting snacks and light meals from food trucks and stands on the side of the street. A popular street food snack is a gelato and you’ll find stands selling these summertime treats everywhere.
- Cafes – For coffee, delicious sweets and tasty sandwiches, you’ll find cafes everywhere and you can choose to sit down or takeaway.
- Restaurants – Italy is abundant in local resources so you can expect the food you get served in restaurants to be super fresh. Regional specialties include Neapolitan pizza in Naples, Milanese risotto in Milan, sardines in Sicily, Parma ham in Parma and Bolognese pasta in Bologna.
- Fine Dining – Italy has it’s fair share of the worlds best restaurants so if it is fine dining experiences you are after then you won’t be disappointed.
Useful Italy Posts
Other Italy Travel Planning Resources
Here is a constantly growing collection of resources from around the web to help you plan you dream trip to Italy.
- Continue your planning on the official Italy Tourism website.
- My go-to for all things Italy is The Crowded Planet. Margherita and Nick spend part of the year (when not travelling) in Italy so they really know their stuff when it comes to this European country.
- Erika has backpacked her way through Italy (among other places) and writes about her experiences on her blog Erika’s Travels. She’s written a bunch of great posts about taking day trips, hiking and really getting under the skin of the country to find the “real Italy”.
- Lonely Planet is always a great place to start when planning a trip to just about every country in the world, and Italy is no exception. Or why not buy the Italy Lonely Planet Guidebook in hard copy or as an eBook.
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