Narrow winding alleyways, rolling green hills with olive groves, vineyards, ancient ruins and cultural masterpieces with the sparkling water of the sun-kissed Mediterranean. Italy boasts a unique historical heritage, with art and architecture spanning from ancient Egypt to contemporary times. It has the most diverse and tasty food, changing wildly from north to south.
People traveling to Italy for the first time usually focus on Rome, Florence and Venice. It’s not difficult to see why - these stunning destinations are filled with historical landmarks, authentic restaurants, and old-world hotels. Highlights of Northern Italy include exploring the lakeside towns of Lombardy, hiking the hillside-hugging villages of Cinque Terre and downhill skiing in the Italian Alps.
Central Italy is known for the rolling vineyards of Tuscany and Umbria, as well as Pisa’s iconic leaning tower. Travel further south to find Naples, known for its pizza; the rugged Amalfi Coast, where picturesque towns hang precariously over cliffs; and Pompeii's 2,000-year-old remains. If you want to get off the beaten track, Southern Italy is it. Boasting stunning views, impressive cathedrals, and jawdropping settings, these Italian towns are sure to awe you. Visit Alberobello in Puglia and stay in a trullo, explore Matera,Basilicata's jewel, a town built on carved caves or relax on one of the beautiful white-sandy beaches.
Don’t forget the gorgeous islands of Italy! There are more than 80 picturesque islands within Italy’s borders to explore and enjoy. From the beautiful unspoilt coastline of Sardinia to Sicily, the island in the sun, home to heavenly beaches, majestic mountains and Europe’s greatest natural wonder, Mount Etna.
There’s a myriad of other charming places worth to discover. And hopefully, after your first trip, you will fall in love with Italy. Then, you might come back and decide to visit beautiful towns like Ravenna, Brindisi, Orta San Giulio, Brisighella or discover the breathtaking Dolomites. Whether in search of Italy’s rich past or on the hunt for a beach with powder-soft sand and clear water, Italy has something special to offer every visitor looking for a taste of la dolce vita.
When to visit
Italy is an attractive destination year-round destination and recommended times to visit will vary on interests, budget, and weather preferences. The climate varies considerably from the north to the south of Italy. In the north of the country the climate is harsh, with very cold winters and very hot, particularly humid summers. In central Italy the climate is milder, with a smaller difference in temperature between summer and winter and a shorter and less intense cold season than in the north. In southern Italy and the islands winters are never particularly harsh, and spring and autumn temperatures are similar to those reached in the summer in other areas of Italy.
- High Season (Jul–Aug): Summer season is considered the peak season with very high temperatures throughout Italy. During this season, the Italian coast, with its countless gulfs, coves and inlets, touristic ports and long, sandy beaches, is truly adapted to the water lover’s every demand.
- Shoulder (Apr–Jun & Sep–Oct): Spring and Autumn seasons are generally the best time to visit Italy, when there is nice weather, moderate temperatures, and fewer tourists.
- Low Season (Nov–Mar): Winter season is your time to go to Italy if you want to enjoy the beautiful Dolomites' Ski Slopes or to discover the most renowned Italian cities of Art.
The mains International Airports in Italy are
Rome: Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) Airport Trains take 30 minutes and run from 6.08am to 11.23pm. Buses take an hour and operate between 6.05am and 12.40am. Transfers take 45 to 60 minutes.
Milan: Malpensa Airport Trains take 50 minutes and run every half hour from 5.37am to 12.20am. Buses run half-hourly between 3.45am and 12.15am. Transfers take 50 minutes.
Venice: Marco Polo Airport Water shuttles take 45 to 90 minutes from the airport ferry dock. Buses to Piazzale Roma take 25 minutes and run between 5.20am and 12.50am.
Naples International (Capodichino) Airport Shuttle buses take 15 to 35 minutes and run between 6am and 11.20pm. Transfers take 20 to 35 minutes.
Self drive holidays give you the freedom to explore your own way in your own time. No early starts, no crowds or being herded around. And many roads to discover off the beaten tourist track with only you in charge of your dream Italian travel experience. A car in Italy really becomes useful if you want to get away from the main cities and take to the countryside.
With 17,000 kilometres of rail and thousands of trains running daily, travelling by rail is one of the easiest, fastest and most cost effective ways to travel around Italy. Discover Italy’s incredible diversity and consider one of our suggested rail packages, or if you prefer, we can tailor a rail itinerary especially for you.
Travelling by rail is one of the fastest and most cost effective ways to travel around Italy. Relax along the
Frecciarossa and Frecciargento, the famed Trenitalia highspeed trains are a great way to travel across the country from major art cities to the romantic countryside.
Major cities all have good transport systems, including bus, tram and metro networks. In Venice, the main public transport option are the vaporetti (small passenger ferries) which ply the city's waterways.
Extensive metropolitane (metros) exist in Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin, with smaller metros in Genoa and Catania. The Minimetrò in Perugia connects the train station with the city centre. Cities and towns of any size will have an urbano (urban) and extraurbano (suburban) bus network. Services are generally limited on Sundays and public holidays.
- Planning to hire a car in Italy? Be aware travellers from other countries than EU should obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP).
- Visiting the South of Italy? Almost everything shuts up for lunch time and does not reopen till 4 pm in the afternoon. Churches, major monuments and tourist information close at noon, shops sometimes later.
- Cover shoulders, torso and thighs when visiting churches and other religious monuments.
Why we love it!
Italy has been, the centre of history, culture and art for thousands of years. Our museums, collections and archaeological sites reveal countless tokens of the past and the many civilizations that have passed across this country, evidence of which is still inextricably woven into the present day landscape. Artistic wonders can be found everywhere, and every corner of the country holds countless and wonderful surprises. Our artistic and cultural heritage is one of the most valuable in the world. Rome, Florence, Assisi, Venice, Siena, Pisa, and Naples are its most renowned cities of art, but the whole country can boast towns of breathtaking beauty, as these numbers demonstrate: 95,000 monumental churches, 40,000 forts and castles, 30,000 historical residences with 4,000 gardens, 36,000 archives and libraries, 20,000 historical cities and towns, 5,600 museums and archaeological sites, and 1,500 convents.
Immerse yourself in Italy’s rough and wild environment and you’ll uncover innumerable treasures, and maybe a few well-kept secrets, too. Italy’s lush and diversified environment is best illustrated in its wildlife parks, an ideal setting for those keen to get amongst nature, discover Italy’s flora and fauna, visit its sunny islands and be surrounded by the typical Mediterranean landscape. There are many national parks well worth exploring: the Gran Paradiso, Circeo, Stelvio, Dolomiti Bellunesi, Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga, Cilento and Vallo di Diano, and Gargano National Parks; the parks of Calabria and Aspromonte; not to mention the Maddalena and Tuscan Archipelagos, the Vesuvius, the Cinque Terre National Parks, and many other protected areas, nature reserves, and marine parks.
Italy counts 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within its borders, the most of any country on the World Heritage List. Italy’s World Heritage Sites are well-known. The Dolomites; The City of Verona; Ferrara and the Po River Delta; the Historic Centers of San Gimignano, Florence and Rome; Hadrian's Villa and the Villa D’Este at Tivoli; the archaeological area of Pompeii, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata; the Sassi (rupestrian architecture and churches) of Matera; the Amalfi Coast and the Aeolian Islands are just some among many others. All 55 sites have been, at one time or another, travel destinations for those seeking out history, art and culture in the Bel Paese.
Italian is one of the world’s most renowned cuisines. Characterised by its simplicity, Italian food is a celebration of local history and culture, and it is enjoyed with passion and intention. Pizza and pasta are the country’s most famous culinary exports, but there’s nothing quite like the home-soil version, where the freshest ingredients are prepared to perfection. And if you’re still hungry (you won’t be), dessert will never disappoint: think creamy gelato and fresh cannoli. And limoncello to finish? Don’t mind if I do. You’ll find some of the world’s best restaurants in Italy, but expect to be just as impressed by the mouth-watering fare at the casual trattoria down the street. Buon appetito!
The great artistic legacy of Italy, unequalled anywhere in the world, is not only distributed throughout Italy’s major cities and their famous museums. In fact, there is no Italian city, however modest, that does not contain and cherish some share of this wealth of art. Tuscany alone possesses more artistic treasures than the whole of Spain, which is the second country in the world for cultural heritage. There are more than 3600 museums, art galleries and archaeological sites across Italy. Italy also brims with magnificent architectural achievements, which can be found in all corners of the country, from Rome’s famous Colosseum and St Mark’s Basilica in Venice to the striking Milan Cathedral and the Tower of Pisa.
Italy is divided into 20 regions, each and every one with its own unique cultural heritage, culinary tradition and most often, its own independent language (also known as a dialect). Tourists travelling from region to region will notice the different points in history showcased by each location, such as Florence uncovering the Renaissance period, Latium the Roman Empire, Veneto the Middle Ages and Sicily the Greek period.