A country of olive oil and pasta, wine and sunshine, roman ruins and renaissance palaces, Italy has a lot to offer its visitors. Although some of these images are appealing, it would be a shame if that was the only thing you come away with. Italy is a modern country with deep Roman Catholic roots, full of interesting stuff for the casual tourist and even more for the educated visitor. It is easy to spend two weeks in major tourist centers without any reason to get bored, but it is equally simple to get off the beaten track.
Italy is a large country in Southern Europe. It is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites - art and monuments are everywhere around the country. It is also famous worldwide for its cuisine, its fashion, the luxury sports cars and motorcycles, as well as for its beautiful coasts, lakes and mountains.
Of the hundreds of Italian cities, here are nine of the most famous: Rome, Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Pisa, Turin, and Venice.
As one local put it, "just try not to love every moment spent in Italy." This country has it all, from beautiful landscapes complete with mountains, beaches and a cypress and olive tree-filled countryside, to vibrant, modern cities with energies all their own. Between Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice, all you can do is hope to squeeze it all in: the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, Boboli Gardens, the Duomo - the list is endless.
Visit the Pisa's leaning tower, wander through ancient Pompeii, tour vineyards, see beautiful ruins at every turn, marvel at Renaissance art, explore the canals of Venice, gaze at beautiful churches, in short, live 'la dolce vita' complete with good food and good wine. This is a country with three millennia of history, culture and cuisine and the only real regret you'll have is when it comes time to say Ciao.
Vacation Destinations in Italy
It's so easy to fall in love with Rome, the fabled Eternal City. No other city has been the focal point of the world for such a long period of time and few have such a long and turbulent history as has Roma.
Renown as where the delicious Limoncello liqueur originated from, Sorrento has more to offers than tickling your palate, experience great sea fishing, diving, boat cruises and appetizing restaurants.
Venice begs no comparisons with any other place in the world and to get the most of this illustrious city, it is best experienced by ambling though the streets and canals, stumbling across unheralded trattorias and finding respites in piazzas that become personal gems.
Things to know about Italy Vacations
Electricity: 220V at 50Hz
Time Zone: GMT +1hr. Daylight savings time is applied.
Land size: 301,230 km2
Language: Italian officially; minor German, French and Slovenian
Population: 58,000,000 approx
Religion: Roman Catholic 90%, other 10% (Protestant, Jewish, Muslim)
A valid passport and a return or onward ticket required for stays no longer than 90 days.
A valid driver's license is accepted but an International Driving Permit is recommended.
Italy Vacation Tips
Italy is quite an expensive country. It's best to exchange currency or traveler's checks at a bank, not a cambio, hotel, or shop. Traveler's checks can be changed at all airports and some travel agencies. ATMs are prevalent in all Italian cities and even the smaller towns. ATMs are linked to a national network that most likely includes your bank at home.
Italians generally believe that theirs is the best cuisine in the world and many visitors would agree with them. However, this does mean that the range of cuisines available in Rome is limited compared to other capital cities. Most restaurants close one day a week - normally Sunday or Monday - and it is always wise to make a reservation. Prices are extremely reasonable and quality is consistently high.