Italy Travel Guide
Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world, with a great variety of things to do, especially those related to art, architecture and history. Along with Greece, Italy is recognized as the cradle of Western culture.
Cradle of the Roman Empire, its influence and reach is undeniable. Many of today’s countries have their origins in Roman bases. Latin, a language spoken during the imperial era, gave rise to several of the most important European and world languages.
It is possible to find traces of Roman culture all over Italy. Rome, of course, is the perfect place for those seeking to explore more about its past. The Roman forum and the Colosseum (one of the new seven wonders of the world) are not to be missed. There are also well-preserved Roman ruins at Pompeii and Herculaneum, Ostia or Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli.
To the south, in Sicily, there are also several Greek archaeological sites, in what used to be the ancient cities of Syracuse and Agrigento.
Italy is the country with the highest number of sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in the world. Art and monuments can be found all over the country thanks to its turbulent but fascinating history. Without a doubt, it is a paradise for all those who are looking for a place with a rich culture.
The most important international airports are Rome and Milan, where most flights arrive and are generally the cheapest. Some flights arrive also in Pisa, which has service of some low cost that fly direct.
Rome has two airports. Fiumicino Airport (the largest, where Spanish companies such as Iberia or Vueling land) and Ciampino Airport (increasingly used by low cost companies such as Ryanair or Easyjet). It is possible to get the cheapest flights from the Skyscanner app or directly on its website.
What to see in Italy
Italy is, by European standards, relatively large, but it is certainly not a question of size but of the amount of things to see that it is impossible to list everything that there is to visit. Some of the most popular cities for tourism are:
Capital of Italy and one of the places you can’t miss when you visit it. Impressive, it has a lot to see and every corner of the oldest part of the city has something to see. Many of Italy’s most famous pictures are of Rome, from the Fontana di Trevi to the Colosseum.
Among the things we can’t miss is the Roman forum, the birthplace of what for many was the most important and influential civilization in history. The baths of Caracalla, Agrippa’s Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Piazza Spagna and the Bocca della Veritá are just some of the other sights one can visit in Rome.
Also, although technically it is a country apart, the Vatican is a must. Being the largest and most important Catholic temple in the world, the seat of the pope, St. Peter’s Basilica is magnificent. The Vatican’s museums, including the famous Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo, are also a must see.
Florence is a beautiful city full of art and architecture. Cradle of the Renaissance, it was the origin of the movement that had a great impact on Europe and, consequently, the world.
The cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the famous Ponte Vecchio, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Galleria della Uffizi are some of its most famous tourist attractions. In the Galleria dell’Accademia we can also find the David, one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance according to most historians, and one of the most famous sculptures in the world.
Milano, also known as Milan, is Italy’s most important economic metropolis. It is also the fashion capital of the world, so several times a year the most important designers and personalities meet here for events.
Despite its commercial importance, it does not have great appeal for tourists in general, who tend to pass it by. However, the famous Duomo de Milano (the cathedral) is an impressive neo-Gothic construction and one of the largest churches in the world. It is worth the visit just to see it.
Naples, is one of the oldest cities in the Western world. It is said to be the “capital of southern Italy”, as it is the largest city in the area. The difference in customs and culture between Naples and central and northern Italy is incredible.
A city with a strong personality, at times chaotic, noisy and dirty but which ends up catching you with its narrow streets, balconies full of sun-dried clothes, and beautiful coast. It used to be one of the most important cities in Europe, until it slowly lost its relevance after joining Italy about 150 years ago.
“Vide Napule e po’ muore!”, which would be something like “see Napoli and then die” is a famous phrase attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe after he visited it and fell in love with its beauty.
Naples is located near Mount Vesuvius, the only active volcano in continental Europe, and many archaeological ruins of the Roman Empire such as Pompeii (Pompeii), Herculaneum (Ercolano), Cumae, Pozzuoli, Oplontis and Stabiae
Pisa knew how to be a medieval maritime power, with great importance and influence in Europe. It was around this time that they built one of the most famous monuments in the world, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which with its unintentional inclination offers unique views.
The area of the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Belfry, next to the famous Tower, can be visited in a single day, so many tourists go just to see that and continue on their way to some of the other Italian cities.
Turin, or Torino, is a famous industrial city in northern Italy, well known as the city where many car companies like FIAT are based. It is a city with beautiful natural landscapes.
Venice is unique in the world. With a rich history, it was a major naval power a few centuries ago. Art and architecture, it is world famous for its famous canals. This city is forbidden the use of land vehicles. Definitely one of the must-see places of any visit to Italy.
Amalfi is another of the former maritime powers that are now part of Italy. It has a beautiful rocky coast with small houses that look like they came out of a postcard. Positano is probably the best known and most beautiful place in the area.
During the summer it is usually full of people, who go to enjoy its beaches and landscapes. Many people prefer to base in Sorrento, which besides being beautiful on its own is also close and cheaper than sleeping, for example, in Positano.
Capri is a well-known island in the bay of Naples, with beautiful landscapes, beaches and buildings that seem to be fairytale. It can be reached by boat from nearby Naples or Sorrento.
Cinque Terre is another of the most incredible landscapes in Italy. There are five small and fascinating cities that go on the Ligurian coast. It’s not a cheap place, but it makes up for being tremendously beautiful.
Popular since Roman times, Lake Como offers incredible views. Just steps from Switzerland, it is a beautiful natural landscape, so much so that many famous people like George Clooney and Madonna have homes here.5
Pompeii and nearby sites such as Ercolano are villages near Naples that were covered by the eruption of the Vesuvius volcano a little over two thousand years ago. Since they were covered without time to even escape, this tragedy today is an important archaeological site and tourist center that tells us how the locals lived so long ago.
When visiting Pompeii, besides being able to appreciate how big and prosperous it was, we can see some people who, as if petrified, perished from the volcanic eruption. Impressive and worth visiting. The ruins in general are among the best preserved in the world.
Where to sleep
Like any European country, the options for staying in Italy are many, especially in tourist places. As long as you can do couchsurfing it is a good idea to meet locals and save on accommodation.
We also found it useful to stay in local houses for a much lower price through Airbnb. Here I leave you my discount to make it cheaper, as well as a small guide of how and why to use it.
In Booking.com there are also good options to check. Even many accommodations are on both sites.
The hostels are of good quality in general, with reasonable prices in some cases. If you want a more comfortable and luxurious experience, most of the top international hotel chains are present in Rome, Milan and many of the most visited destinations.
In general, Italy is a very safe country, to the same standard as other European Union countries. The basic precautions always apply: be careful with valuables such as cameras, cell phones or laptops. I recommend not to leave cash inside the room of the accommodation.
There are neighbourhoods and cities that are not so beautiful for walking at night. Avoid alleys and areas with little light. Apply logical criteria and there should be no problems, unless you are very lucky. Italy is among the safest countries in the world by international standards.
As a general rule, Naples is a little less safe than the cities further north. However, in all big cities like Milan or Rome you have to be careful about robberies especially in bus or train terminals.
Like most of Europe, Italy does not present major health hazards. The water is drinkable, there are no endemic diseases and it is difficult to have problems in general. There are no problems with bad food or contagious diseases.
However, one must always be cautious. I also recommend reading this article on vaccinations for travelers.
Italy has a wide range of possibilities to move around, from trains (in the connected areas), urban and interurban buses, planes and even ships for the areas that can be reached.
In general all services are of good quality so I recommend getting the most economical one. Usually it is the buses, except for very long distances that sometimes low cost flights can be surprisingly cheap).
I recommend you to take advantage of the 10 euro discount we have in Omio by clicking on this link to have a search engine that compares all options and also pay cheaper for transport.
Best Time To Visit Italy
Italy enjoys a varied climate that sometimes differs from the classic Mediterranean climate. In general, it can be visited all year round. The summer months are usually hot and dry.
However, the winter months are cooler (especially in the north, near the Alps) and have far fewer hours of sunshine, making the overall experience less enjoyable.
The high season is the months of July and August, at the height of summer, when the country also enjoys the warmest climate. Unless we plan to enjoy the country’s beaches extensively, it is entirely feasible to go in spring or autumn. The climate is usually excellent, and the prices of everything, to the being low season, are minor.
It is also ideal to go out of season to avoid the waits to enter tourist places, or to have hundreds of people in every place that one cannot even take a calm photo.
If we enter from any European country, there is no problem to enter. The European Union, or at least the countries within the Schengen agreement, work as a block so there is migration in and out of the area, not country by country.
They tend to be quite flexible. If we enter Italy directly, they are more accessible and relaxed than the Nordic countries or Germany. Many countries do not require a visa, but they may ask for proof that we have enough money to pay for the trip, as well as having an exit ticket from the European Union.
It is also useful to have a hotel or accommodation booked to show. Although they generally do not ask for it, it is also technically mandatory to have travel insurance when entering the European Union.
Please note that you cannot stay more than 90 consecutive days in Europe. For those who are looking to stay longer, or leave and re-enter, I recommend reading this specific article on how to stay more than three months in Europe.
Italy is part of the European Union, so it is not one of the cheapest destinations in the world. However, if you look for it, it is possible to go there without spending so much.
Italy is easy to tour with less than 50 euros a day, including accommodation, transport, meals and tickets to local attractions. It is always advisable to cook, stay for free by couchsurfing, or use
Airbnb to get much better prices on rooms in houses than we can find in most hotels.
Another excellent option to save in Italy is that at the time of transport take advantage of the discount of 10 euros we have in Omio by clicking on this link. It is a search engine that compares all options and also pay cheaper for transport.
In Italy, like many other European Union countries, they use the euro. It is easy to change money in any country, so if possible I recommend taking cash, or withdrawing it from any local ATM. Credit cards are common and almost all shops accept them.
The Internet in Europe is fast and accessible. There is wifi in almost all restaurants and hotels, with good general speed. Even in many public places there is free wifi connection.
With a European SIM card with data, we can take advantage of 4g without paying extra (since roaming now works for all of Europe without additional costs). The connection is good, fast, reliable and covers the whole country.