Five Things First Time Travellers To The Italy Should Know
- Expect more than a one-course meal. At a traditional Italian dinner, there are at least three courses. Pasta is usually a starter dish followed by a meaty main and finished off with something sweet like gelato.
- The stores in Italy close in the afternoon. From 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. you won't be able to stop at a restaurant for lunch or pick up something from the grocery store. Plan ahead and keep some snacks in your bag.
- You don't need to tip. In fact, you're already paying a supplement on your bill. Most restaurants add a service or cover charge, sometimes both.
- Pepperoni is not what you think it is. Many first-time travellers make a mistake by ordering a pepperoni pizza and expecting salami. In Italy, pepperoni are bell peppers. If you want salami, look for a pizza that has salame piccante as an ingredient.
- Don't touch fruit and vegetables with your bare hands at the markets. Instead, use the plastic gloves or wait for the people at the stall to help you. It's also considered rude to tell the vendor which piece of fruit you would like.
Best Time To Visit Italy
The best time to visit Italy is April to June and September to October. You'll have some of the best weather for sightseeing, crowds will be thinner, and flight deals are easier to find.
Italy has more than enough to offer at any time of year.
If you're looking for a party, head to Italy in the summer. From June to August you'll be able to take part in some of the country's biggest festivals. But the warm weather also means it's peak tourist season. Book your hotel a few months in advance to beat the rush and lock in lower prices.
From September to November, temperatures start to dip, and the crowds begin to thin out. It's one of the best seasons for foodies and wine lovers. Not only do the vineyards look stunning during fall, but it's also time for feasts. These "sagres" are celebrated across the country, giving you ample opportunity to sample all the truffles, wine and chestnuts you can manage.
For those that want to escape the crowds, the best time to visit Italy is during the winter months. From December to March, you can explore the famous landmarks, museums and galleries without the long queues. It's also opera and theatre season, and there are plenty of Christmas markets to visit as well.
Rome is the capital of Italy and full of ancient history.
From magnificent medieval churches to relics of the Roman empire and beautiful Renaissance palaces, Rome is a mecca for history buffs.
Visit the Vatican City (the smallest country in the world), explore the Colosseum and indulge your taste buds at the best restaurants in the country.
The city of Florence is one of Italy's most important Renaissance centres. It's filled with some of the world's greatest artistic treasures, opulent palaces and one of the biggest cathedrals in the world.
Make sure you visit the Accademia Gallery to catch a glimpse of Michelangelo's famous statue of David.
Milan is Italy's fashion capital. Each year, fashionistas, designers and models descend upon the city for one of its biggest events, Milan Fashion Week.
The city also has a rich artistic underbelly. It's home to The Last Supper painting by Da Vinci, the third largest cathedral in Europe and some of the world's most famous opera houses.
Located in the south of Italy, Naples is one of Italy's oldest and biggest cities. Its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's unearthed some of the most important archaeological treasures.
Once the home of the royal family, Naples is full of opulent palaces, castles and churches that rival the more popular cities of the north.
Top Attractions in Italy
The Colosseum is one of Italy's most famous landmarks. It's the largest surviving structure from ancient Rome, completed in under ten years by the Flavian dynasty in 80 AD.
Since then, this impressive structure has survived multiple earthquakes, fire damage, pillaging, and neglect.
The best time to visit the Colosseum is during low season. From November to February, the crowds are thin, and you won't have long queuing times.
But if you want to skip the lines altogether, sign up for the Ancient Rome and Colosseum Half-Day Walking Tour. You'll have more time to explore this ancient piece of history and a guide to walk you through its tumultuous past.
Located below the volcano of Mt Vesuvius, lies the ruins of Pompeii. This once thriving Roman city was turned to ash after an eruption in AD 79.
Today, Pompeii is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Italy. It gives visitors a fascinating insight into the lives of the ancient Romans with many villas, baths, temples and shops still intact.
The site is an easy day trip from Naples, Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast. Just be sure to arrive early, there's a lot to see, and you'll need a full day to explore Pompeii's ruins.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a world-famous attraction that took 177 years to complete.
After construction started in 1173, the tower was left alone for almost a century when it began to sink due to a poor foundation.
The tower was finally completed in the 14th century and has been standing awkwardly ever since.
Although many predicted the tower to topple over by the early 2000s, it hasn't lived up to any of those expectations yet. In fact, if all goes well the tower should be stable for another 200 years.
In the meantime, tourists can climb the 296 stairs for a beautiful panoramic view of the city below.
Venice is one of Italy's most romantic travel destinations, all thanks to its winding canals.
Called "The City of Water", more than 150 canals connect Venice's small islands. A boat ride down here will take you past the city's century-old buildings, palaces and magnificent churches.
The most famous of these waterways is The Grand Canal. It's one of Italy's most photographed places and winds its way through the lagoon and the Saint Mark Basin.
If you're looking to up the romance factor, make sure you take a ride in one of the beautiful gondolas.
Florence Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence Duomo Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. Located in Florence, it took 140 years to complete this architectural wonder that was once the largest church in the world.
Its most popular attraction is the Brunelleschi Dome. Its stunning fresco completed by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1434 attracts hundreds of visitors each year.
If you're feeling energetic, you can climb the 436 stairs to the top of the dome for an unrivalled view of the city below. But you will need to pre-book as the climb to the top is often sold out.
Major International Airports in the Italy
- Leonardo da Vinci International Airport
- Milan–Malpensa Airport
- Orio al Serio International Airport
- Milan Linate Airport
- Venice Marco Polo Airport