Italy's has a long history and rich begining from the ancient times, Italy has been influencing the cultural and social development of the Mediterranean Region. Especially the history of the Roman Empire, which ruled the Mediterranean region for centuries since ancient Greece, and has also had a profound impact on world history. Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and many other famous artists and philosophers were based in Italy. The smallest country in the world, the Vatican, is located in Rome which has significant importance in religion.
Tourists visit Italy not only for the culture, art, history, religion but also for the gastronomy. Pizza, pasta, as well as a variety of appetizers and desserts add excitement to travel. You can enjoy classic coffee, espresso, and gelato at a cheap price.
LANGUAGE : Italian
AREA : 3,013 million 4,000㏊
RELIGION : Over 85% Catholic
CURRENCY : Euros
VOLTAGE : 220V
Italy has such diverse attractiveness throughout the country, even their small towns are loved by tourists. If you want to profoundly discover the country by visiting Rome, Florence, Venice, and small towns, plan a longer journey and take your time.
Below is a list of all the top attractions to see all around Italy:
1) Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Piazza Venezia, Campidoglio, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Castel Sant'Angelo, The Mouth of Truth, Spanish Square, Popolo square, Condotti shopping street, Corso street, and the Vatican.
1-2) Near Rome: Orvieto, Civita, Tivoli - Villa d'Este, Siena, and Assisi.
2) Florence: Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, Accademia Museum (David Statue), Vecchio Bridge, Repubblica Square, Florence Leather Market, Central Market of Florence, Santa Maria Novella Church, Michelangelo Square, and Cathedral of San Lorenzo.
3) Venice : Grand Canal, San Mark's Square, San Mark's Basilica, Rialto Bridge, Rialto Fish Market, Doge's Palace, Bridge of Sighs, Santa Maria della Salute Cathedral, Accademia Museum, San Giorgio Magazzore Church, Murano, and Burano.
4) Milano: Milan Duomo Cathedral, La Scala Opera House, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Monte Napoleone Street, Brera Gallery, Sforza Castle, The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, The Naviglio Grande Canal, Arch of Peace, and Lake Como.
5) Verona: Arena, Bra Square, Juliet's House, Erbe Square, Signoria Square, Santa Anastasia's Cathedral, Stone Bridge, Castel San Pietro, and Castel Vecchio Bridge.
6) Southern Italy: Naples, Sorrento, Capri, Anacapri, Pompeii, and Amalfi.
7) Cinque Terre : A group of five villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso) where you can enjoy a fantastic view from the hills of the town.
Chilly Weather, December - March
The average minimum temperature is 4℃ and the average maximum temperature is 13℃. It is a bit chilly, but it is relatively mild if you go towards the Southern regions. However, as the daily temperature difference is large, we recommend that you bring a light coat for the morning and the evening. Also, the average number of rainy days is 8 to 9, so always keep a small umbrella in your bag.
Warm weather to enjoy a walking tour, April - May
The daily temperature difference is still large, but the average minimum temperature is around 9-11℃ and the average maximum temperature is 20℃. Best to always have a light cardigan or scarf handy. The average number of rainy days is 7 in April and 4-5 in May.
Hot and romantic summer, June - September
Typical summer weather but there is still a possibility to enjoy the wind in the shade. The average minimum temperature is 16-18℃ and the average maximum temperature is 26-29℃. The daily temperature difference is still big, but it doesn't rain much and it is relatively hot so be sure to hydrate yourself when traveling.
Cool weather after extremely hot summer, October - November
This is when the heat is gone and the days are getting cooler. Because of the big difference in daily temperature, we recommend that you take a light coat and a small umbrella in case of unexpected rain.
Generally, the price in Italy is cheaper than in other European countries. There are many restaurants where you can enjoy various foods such as pizza and pasta at a low price. You can have a good coffee and a gelato almost anywhere and anytime at an affordable price. If you are planning to visit many museums or historical sites, you have take the entrance fee into consideration. You can expect to spend around 80 euros per day per person, not including the accommodation.
Italian food is famous all around the world. The sauce and seasonings that are used in their dishes vary, so you can choose depending on your preference. From appetizers to desserts, Italian gastronomy is worth to try. We will list some of the most famous dishes you must try.
1) CARBONARA : One type of cream spaghetti which is based on egg yolks and is topped with cheese. It has a sticky taste.
2) AMATRICIANA : One of the most famous tomato sauce pastas of Italy with bacon and garlic. They use long and thick spaghetti noodles that originate from a region called Amatriche.
3) PIZZA : When you visit Italy, the country of pizza, you cannot leave without trying a pizza at least once because it is cooked better in their wood fire oven. You can easily find them in restaurants or even as street food. The thin and chewy dough is the typical feature of Italian pizza. The price of one pizza starts at 3 euros.
4) LASAGNA : A type of pasta which originated from the northern part of Italy. It is basically flavored with ragu sauce and it is put together with cheese. Although it is one kind of pasta, it is a completely different flavor from any other type of pasta. It is a delicious soft and cheesy taste that can't be missed.
5) PROSCIUTTO & MELON : Prosciutto is an Italian ham and Italians often eat it with melon. Although it doesn't seem like a good combination, the prosciutto's salty taste and melon's sweetness combines for a delicious and surprising appetizer. You can easily find them at restaurants or you can purchase them from a supermarket and eat them back in your room.
6) RISOTTO : If you get tired of flour-based food, ordering risotto could be a nice change. It is cooked with rice as the main ingredient and they add flavors with various ingredients such as tomato sauce and truffle.
7) GNOCCHI : Mixed dough made of flour and potatoes, which can be combined with a variety of sauces such as cheese and tomatoe. It feels like a soft rice cake with a sweet flavor and sticky texture.
8) ARANCINI : Highly recommendable choice for breakfast or a snack. You can easily find arancini when you enter a small restaurant that sells slices of pizza. The most basic one is the fried dish with mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and rice. Besides tomato sauce base, there are various differnet depending on where you are visiting.
9) T-BONE STEAK : If you are traveling in Florence, you should definitely try a T-bone steak. It is usually cooked 1kg units and can be easily shared between two people. The steak is flavored which is different from a typical European steak dish. The price differs from 40 euros to 70 euros, depending on the restaurant.
10) GELATO : Don't forget the pleasure of dessert during your trip in Italy. Gelato is best enjoyed on a sunny day to help you cool down. There are many gelato shops in the streets with a large variety of falvors. We recommend that you try these three most famous gelato shops in Rome: Passeig, Giolitti and Old Bridge.
11) CANNOLI : Typical Italian dessert in Sicily. After frying the bread with a hole in the middle, the middle part is filled with cream, ricotta cheese, and fruit. There is a variety of sizes and tastes; all of which are delicious.
12) TOMATO CAPRESE : It is an appetizer loved by many people because its recipe is really simple. It is a Caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella chese, olive oil, balsamic sauce, and basil.
Italy is very well connected within the intercities by train and any visits to small towns are easily done by train. However, frequently the trains are delayed in Italy, so you will need to check the schedule again upon arrivail at the station to see if your train is delayed. If you are planning to ride the train frequently, you can buy a Eurail Italy Pass. You will need to check its efficiency because you have to make a reservation for a high-speed train and the cost of a seat reservation is 10 euros.
1) TRANSPORTATION IN ITLAY BETWEEN CITIES
TRAIN : There are the train companies TRENITALIA and ITALO at your disposal. It is better to check both train companies with your departure time because the price is slightly different on each website.
BUS : You could also use the bus company EUROLINE. If the train ticket is very expensive or there are no avaiable seats, check out this bus company.
2) TRANSPORTATION IN ROME
There are buses, trams, and subways in Rome. Unfortunately the buses operate irregularly and it's hard to expect their interval. If your plan is scheduled quite tightly, we recommend that you use the tram or the subway in order to avoid any delays. In Rome, most of the tourist spots are located closely, and you can use unlimited public transport for 100 minutes when upon purchasing a single ticket. You can purchase a single ticket at TABACCHI, stores, street kiosks, and subway stations. And don't forget to punch the ticket by the machine to validate it when you board a bus or a tram. Even if you have a ticket but it is not validated, it will be considered as an illegal, free ride.
Single Ticket : It costs 1.5 euros and you can have unlimited rides on the bus, tram, and subway for 100 minutes from your first use of the ticket.
Pass for 1 day/2days/7days : Each of them costs 7 euros, 12.5 euros, and 24 euros. You can also enjoy unlimited public transportation for 24 hours, 48 hours and 168 hours.
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTER FROM ROME AIRPORT
AIRPORT BUS (Fiumicino Airport) : It runs every 30 minutes going between the airport and Termini station. There are several airport bus companies but they generally cost 6 euros and their journey takes about 70 minutes. If you are heading to the airport from Termini Station, you can purchase a ticket in advance but it is not needed. Sometimes during the high season, it is difficult to get on the bus due to the high demand, so we recommend that you arrive at the station in advance of the scheduled bus arrival time. If there aren't any available seats on the bus, try going by train.
TRAIN (Fiumicino Airport) : By using LEONARDO EXPRESS, you can reach the city center in 30 minutes. The one-way ride costs 14 euros. If you are not in a rush, you can use the non-express train which takes 1 hour and costs 8 euros.
AIRPORT BUS (Ciampino Airport) : You can take this bus from the airport and Termini station and it takes about 40 minutes and costs 4 euros.
3) TRANSPORTATION IN FLORENCE
Public transportation in Florence consists of buses and trams with great routes. You can buy the ticket from TABACCHI or any small shops. Don't forget to validate the ticket when you board a bus or tram.
SINGLE TICKET : With a single ticket you can use any mode of transportation as much as you like for 90 minutes. It costs 1.5 euros at a kiosk or shop, but if you buy a ticket on the bus or tram, the price goes up to 2.5 euros.
10 TICKETS : You can buy a packet of 10 single tickets for 14 euro which is cheaper than buying 10 individual tickets.
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTER FROM FLORENCE AIRPORT
AIRPORT BUS : It runs every 30 minutes and it costs 6 euros for a 20 minute one-way ride. You can find the bus stop by heading right from the airport exit.
TAXI : If you arrive late at night, you can safely use a taxi. The taxi fare is fixed at 22 euros. For the holidays it is 24 euros and after 10 pm it is 25.30 euros. You can load maximum of 7 pieces of luggage and for each of them, the cost is 1 euro.
4) TRANSPORTATION IN VENICE
In Venice, the city of water, there is no regular public transportation but instead, you will find water buses and water taxis called VAPORETTO. You can buy the ticket from the office which is located in front of Santa Lucia Central Station, VAPORETTO dock, or other docks. You can even buy it in TABACCHI. Regardless of what type of card that you have, you must tap the card upon entering the bus or taxi to validate your ride. If you don't have any proof that you validated your ride, the ministry considers it as an illegal free ride despite having the appropriate card. If you have Rolling Venice Card, you can purchase VAPORETTO tickets at a discounted price.
SINGLE TICKET : It is available for 72 minutes and it costs 7.5 euros. You can't use this ticket for any transfers, so if you are planning to visit Murano or Burano, it is better to buy a 24 hour ticket.
24/48/72 HOURS PASS : These respectively cost 20 euros, 30 euros, and 40 euros. You can use unlimited transportation when you have any of these passes.
WAY TO MURANO : Take the number 3 from Ferrovia just in front of Santa Lucia Station and the journey takes about 20 minutes.
WAY TO BURANO : From Santa Lucia Ferrovia D stop, take number 3 to Murano. From Murano, transfer to number 12 to Burano. If you don't want to transfer, you can walk from Santa Lucia station to Fondamente Nove A stop and from there take number 12 which takes you directly to Burano in 50 minutes.
If you are a student, prepare your international student ID card prior to your arrival to Italy. Italy has relatively few student discounts compared to other European countries, but if you are planning to travel to other European countries, it is a good idea to have an international student card. When buying any tickets, always ask if there is a student discount. As Italy is a famous tourist country, you may often encounter long waiting line to enter popular locations. You can book your entry ticket in advance to skip a long line, but there is usually an extra reservation fee. If you are planning to travel during the low season, you can save money by purchasing your ticket onsite. If you have a very busy day, it is most convenient to buy all your tickets in advance so as not to waste any time waiting in long lines.
ROME PASS : The Rome pass is recommended if you are planning to visit many historical sites of Rome such as Colosseum, museums and art galleries. Please note that you can't use it for the Vatican Museum. With the pass, you can enter the sites without additional charges or with a reduced price and you can use public transportation without any limitation during a certain period. There are two types; 48 hours pass and 72 hours pass. If you buy the 48 hours pass at 28 euros, you can enter one site without any charge nor any waiting line (Colosseum, Foro Romano. Palatino are considerd as one site), use unlimited public transportation for free for 48 hours, and get 50% off of entrance tickets to other tourist sites. Besides, with the 72 hours pass (38.5 euros), you will have a free ticket to enter two touristic sites without waiting in line, 72 hours free and unlimited transportation and 50% discount of other entry tickets. The Rome Pass starts counting from the moment you use it at either your first site, public transport, museum, or historical site. You can purchase it at the tourist information center or TABACCHI. You can buy it in advance online and receive it at the tourist information center.
ROLLING VENICE CARD : With a Rolling Venice card, you can purchase tickets to Venice's tourist attractions at a discounted rate. It is available for visitors younger than 29 years old and it costs 6 euros. Even if you are not planning to visit many places, it is worth to consider buying because the range of the discounts is wide.
The currency in Itlay is euro, thus, if you are traveling in Europe, you most likely do not have to exchange the money twice. It is recommended to exchange money before the trip because it could be troublesome to find a currency exchange counter in the local area and sometimes there could be high commission fees.
1) BIALETTI MOKA POT: It is an espresso extraction device shaped as mini-kettle which is used in most Italian homes. Bialetti moka pot is famous for the adorable designs and you are able to buy it at a lower price in Italy than in your country.
2) ITALY WINE : Italy is also famous for its wine production. It is one of the largest wine producing countries in the world, with more than 2,200 varieties of wine grapes produced in Italy.
3) LIMONCELLO : You should drink this at least once when you visit southern Italy. It is a type of liqueur flavored with lemon. It is traditional to make it with Sorrento lemon. Its potency is so strong that Italians usually drink a small amount of it. You can find them in various bottles, shaped as an Italian peninsular, lemon, etc. Its yellow color and Italian representative shape make it a great souvenir.
4) ILLY & LAVAZZA COFFEE : Italy is famous for coffee. Illy and Lavazza are the top brands for Italian coffee beans. You can buy coffee beans, coffee machines, coffee cups, etc in any store. Usually, the price of their products in store is cheaper than in other countries.
5) BALSAMIC VINEGAR : In Italy, when they eat bread as an appetizer, or when they cook, they use a lot of balsamic vinegar. Therefore, there are many kinds of balsamic vinegar and the prices are cheap.
6) TRUFFLE OIL & SALT : Italian Piemonte truffle is considered the highest quality. In Italy, it is easy to find a wide variety of truffle oil and salt at an affordable price.
7) POCKET COFFEE CHOCOLATE : Inside the chocolate, there is a thick espresso creamy filling. It would be a pleasant souvenir and gift to remember your journey.
8) MARVIS TOOTHPASTE : It is called the Chanel of toothpaste products. It is luxurious starting from the package, finishing with the taste, of which there are many to choose from. It is a natural toothpaste that does not contain any coloring matter. With its mint flavor, it gives a very clean feeling after brushing.
9) SANTA MARIA NOVELLA : Santa Maria Novella is the brand of cosmetics with more than 400 years of history. The store is located beside the Santa Maria Novella Cathedral. In the past, the monks from the cathedral used herbs and flowers to make medicines and cosmetics. Since then, the products have been sold and loved worldwide. The moisturizer and the regeneration cream are the some of the most popular items that you should buy.
10) MARTET COSMETICS : There are cosmetics that can be purchased at a low price of 5 euros in the markets. Among them are Roberts rose water, Roberts rose cream and Cera di Cupra cream all of which are known for their moisturizing function and amazing price.
11) KIKO COSMETICS : Kiko, as Italian representative roadshop brand, which is most famous for its color cosmetics and is known for its vivid colors with a wide variety of choices. You can buy colorful lipsticks and eye shadow at a low price. It is also a good item for a gift.
12) LEATHER GOODS : The Italian leather industry is very famous. From the Florence leather market to the leather shops all over Rome, each shop sells good quality leather products at very reasonable prices.
To get a tax refund in Italy, you are not to be a resident of the EU, and be out of Italy within 3 months. The minimum price spent should be over 154.95 euros.
When you get the tax refund form from stores, try to fill out the form with your information including email address, postal code, and phone number so that you can save time at the airport.
If Italy is the final destination of your trip before going back to your country, you can get a tax refund at the airport in Italy. If you are continuing your travels after Italy, you can get a tax refund at the last EU country that you visit. If you have an airplane layover in another EU country, you can still get a tax refund in Italy.
In the airport, you should proceed with the tax refund procedure prior to checking in your baggage in case the customs officer wants to see all of your items. And if all the items for a tax refund are in your hand luggage, you can use the office after passing the security check. There are some airports where the tax refund counters are divided by agencies. Make sure to check the company and its corresponding line to wait in. If you have documents for several agencies, it would be better for you to arrive at the airport 3-4 hours before departure time. If you received a tax refund from other EU countries, you can get a customs stamp at the customs counter and put it in the mailbox. If you only received a receipt, ask if you should put it in the mailbox or not.
You can get a refund by cash or card. When the counter is open, you can get a refund by cash, but when you arrive at the airport at late night or early morning, you can get a refund only by card as there is no one to assist you. In this case, you have to write the name on the document which is the same as the cardholder. If you get a refund by cash, there is a certain fee with the exchange rate, but the difference between a cash and card refund is not big.
There isn't a special tipping culture in Italy. Instead, the service fee is already included in the final price and sometimes they separately charge CORTADO which is for the table. Sometimes locals leave some small change when they feel like they had a great dining experience. You can ask for the bill at the table to make a payment at restaurants, like in many other European countries.
Italy is one of the countries that has a lot of pickpocketers. It is best to carry your bag in front of you to keep it safe. If you have a backpack, make sure to keep an eye on it to make sure it's closed, and when on the metro, take it off and hold onto it. Unfortunatley, there are occasions when valuables are often lost at hotels, so it is recommended to carry your valuables with you during your trip. If you want to leave your valuables in your room, you should hang the hotel room sign on your door that you don't need cleaning services. In Florence, one of the tourist scams is that a person will draw on the street near the Duomo Cathedral where tourists usually look at the cathedral rather than where they are walking. When distracted, some tourists walk on the artwork, and the scammers insist that they pay them because you ruined their drawing. It is a tourist scam, so becareful. Also, when you use public transportation, you have to pay attention when strangers try to talk to you or block your way. While you are in confusion and not very aware, they have the opportunity to grab your bags, cameras, smartphones, etc. Scam artists especially target tourists with large suitcases.
In Italy, they use 220V but the plug is smaller than any other outlets so it's recommended to take a multi-adapter.
You may easily find public drinking taps in Italy to refill your water bottle. If you can't find a supermarket nearby on a hot summer, you can drink tap water.
Italy doesn't want to change the antique aspect of the city so the roads are still made of small stones. If you walk around wearing sandals or thin shoes, you will get tired very easily and your feet will be in a lot of pain. Therefore, it is recommended to wear shoes with a thick sole. The sunlight in Italy is very strong so be sure not to forget your sunglasses!
It is hard to find a toilet in Italy. Some small cafes don't have a toilet so make sure to use a toilet every possible chance you have. There are public toilets in the train stations which you can use for 1 euro.