Italy trip planner

If someone asked me which should be the first country they should travel to, I would say Italy  the cradle of European civilization, without hesitation. Its richness and diversity in both culture and scenery ensure (47 Unesco World Heritage sites, 20 National Parks and 40% of Italy’s land is mountainous) assures that you won’t run out of things to see and discover.

The beautiful countryside of Tuscany, ancient streets of Rome and the shimmering bays of Amalfi coast are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to places to see.

Fast facts

Population: 59.6 million
Area: 301,230 sq. km
Highest point: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) at 4807m
Coffee consumption: Italians drink 600 cups per head a year, according to one study!

Taste of Italy

Bursting with flavor offers the best pasta or risotto you will have in this lifetime. City-state turf battles long fought by armies are now waged by pizzaioli (pizza-makers) over the correct thickness of a crust – best not to get the Neapolitans and Romans started. Just eat and smile and enjoy tastes of Italy.

Slow Food – Italy is the home of the slow food movement and countless excellent markets, farm restaurants. Seasonal, organic food is available (and prized) throughout the country. Read more

Delicious Italy – Here’s where to find that cooking course in Venice, learn about mozzarella di bufala (buffalo milk cheese) and immerse yourself in Italy’s fabulous food and wine. Read more

You can even graduate from Gelato University in Bologna(Gelato University Carpigiani) and make Italian style ice cream. In my opinion, it’s Best ice cream in the world. Read more

Getting around Italy

It is easy to reach Italy and travel around the country once you arrive. Italy offers excellent air links with the rest of the world, but it is also possible to come here by train, by sea or by using the extensive motorway network. All the main cities are connected with frequent daily flights. To reach all of Italy’s islands, regular ferry services depart from the main towns and cities along the coast.

Tip

What could be more Italian than hopping on a Vespa and cruising the countryside, stopping to visit wine estates, medieval pieve (rural churches) and hilltop towns along the way? The famous scooter – nicknamed a Vespa (wasp) by its original manufacturer Enrico Piaggio – is ubiquitous throughout the region and ideally suited to slow travel.

Vespa rental in italy
In Amalfi Coast, you can rent them here
In Rome, you choose from Bicibaci or Myvespa
Of course, there are plenty other rents, these are my favorites.

When to go

Italy is regarded as one of the most popular options for tourists around the world, with almost 50 million people visiting the country each year in high season (from June to early September).
You can experience a more relaxed vacation from April to June and mid-September to October—temperatures are usually comfortable, rural colors are more vibrant, and the crowds aren’t too intense

Experiences

Italian Movie Trips Film buffs can check locations used across the country for a plethora of films.

Take a night ride in Venice with line 1 water bus (Vaporetto). Timetable is available here

Internet resources

Ente Nazionale Italiano per il Turismo – The Italian national tourist body’s website has everything from local tourist office addresses to gallery and museum details.
Official Italian tourism website. Look here for travel ideas, maps of top places of each region and many more useful information.

TIP

Italy Is a perfect destination for the family with kids. This Family travel & lifestyle guide to Italy has covered tips and tricks for excellent family vacation planning.

Must see in Italy

Rome

Once caput mundi (capital of the world)

Italy’s capital is a sprawling, the metropolitan city grew to be Western Europe’s first superpower, became the spiritual centerpiece of the Christian world, and is now the repository of over 2500 years worth of European art and architecture.

From the Pantheon and to the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.

Fast facts

The population of Rome city is around 2.9 million (2014)
Area: 1,285 sq km
Founded in 753 BC by Romulus

Fun facts

– There is a law in Rome that allows cats to live without disruption in the place where they were born.
– Modern Rome has 280 fountains and more than 900 churches.

Rome attractions

Museo e Galleria Borghese

In comparison to big museums, this is a quite compact journey that takes you from the Roman period to golden-age masters like Caravaggio, Bernini, Borromini, Titian and Canova and many, many more…

Colosseum

Vatican Museums

The highlight of these miles of the museum is the Sistine Chapel, with Michelangelo’s iconic ceiling of God bringing Adam to life with a touch. Don’t miss the Raphael rooms and priceless Renaissance paintings

TIP Purchase tickets at least one week before to skip very long lines.

St Peter’s Basilica

Was built by a brain trust of Renaissance architects and capped by Michelangelo’s dome

Roman Catacombs

Along the Appia Antica are miles of tunnels and over 30 catacombs with Roman graves, including early Popes and Christian martyrs.

Trastevere neighborhood

Trastevere is a visual charmer, with ivy-tickled facades along old lanes

With its network of cobbled lanes, flapping washing hung between 17th-century ivy-draped facades, and crumbling ochre buildings, Trastevere is bewitchingly pretty and gets packed on summer evenings – when I was visiting, I truly enjoyed the real Italian vibe.

Pantheon

This Roman temple has been standing for almost 2000 years, and it’s a unique, unparalleled experience to enter its great doors and have your vision directed upwards, just as it would have been for the ancient Romans.

Taste of Rome

Gelato, gelato and one more time gelato. 🙂

Pizza Bianca
Translated as “white pizza”, this focaccia style pizza bread can be found in all bakeries in Rome.

Fritti
From baccala (salt cod) to fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers), to seafood (fried rice balls) in Rome fried foods reign supreme.

Carbonara
When Italians think of food in Rome without question the first thing that comes to mind is carbonara; it’s painful to imagine life without it.

Getting around Rome

Public Transport
Rome public transport system includes buses, trams, metro and a suburban train network. Children under 10 travel free. Buy tickets at tabacchi, newsstands and from vending machines at main bus stops and metro stations.

Tickets, route planner are available at ATAC or this one

Internet resources

Roma Turismo – Official Rome Tourist Board site it also has an airport office near arrivals

Venice

Venice is possibly the city that has, in appearance, changed least down the decades but it has recently opened a sleek new bridge over the Grand Canal and a spectacular contemporary art space at the Punta della Dogana. That is a city to fall in love with not only by visiting gorgeous historical buildings and learning about its history, but also just by getting lost in maze-like streets.

Fast facts

The capital of Vento region(northern Italy)

Built on about 100 small islands in the Adriatic sea

Population: 61,500 (City)

Sights of Venice

Streets of Venice

Beautiful Venice is a walking city with the exception of taking the water bus( Vaporetto)

Here is one of the walking routes around Venice, created by local Venetian

St Peter’s Basilica
Many a Renaissance genius was defeated by the same puzzle: how do you build a suitable shrine for the apostle and church founder, St Peter, while making room for all humanity within its portals? Michelangelo topped everyone with a novel solution: cutting corners.

Ducal Palace
Propaganda never looked as pretty as the gorgeous Gothic Ducal Palace, covered floor to ceiling over three stories with testimonials to Venetian virtues by Titian, Veronese, Tiepolo, and Tintoretto.

Tip Purchase tickets at least one week before to skip very long lines. You can purchase them here

Gallerie dell’Accademia

The Gallerie dell’Accademia contains masterpieces of Venetian painting up to the 18th century.

Murano island
Venetians have created glass marvels since the 10th century, but due to fire hazards, glass-blowing was moved to Murano.

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
It has 200 modern artists in the collection.Peggy collected according to her own convictions rather than for prestige or style, so her collection includes folk art and lesser-known artists alongside Kandinsky, Picasso, Man Ray, Calder, Joseph Cornell and Dali. More information

The Flavours of Venice food

Squid Ink Risotto or Pasta
the sweetness of the risotto rice, the salty tastes of fresh seafood and the briny flavors of the squid ink all blend well together

Moleche
This seafood delicacy yields a soft and tender bite, and is usually eaten fried, in a salad and served with polenta or mashed potatoes

Sarde in saor
Originated in middle ages it’s a dish who lives on like a modern-day antipasto or appetizer. It’s weeted and sour sardines are cooked in a tangy sauce containing an eclectic mix of ingredients, such as onions, pine nuts, and raisins.

Tramezzino
Venetian snack and it consists of two triangular pieces of white bread with all kinds of inventive fillings inside, bulging out delightfully in the middle

Spritz
Probably everybody has heard about Aperol Spritz. Spritz it originated from Venice. The drink is prepared with prosecco (or champagne) wine, a dash of some bitter liqueur such as Aperol, Campari, Cynar, or, especially in Venice, with Select.

Getting around in Venice

Public transport in Venice

Venice water bus (Vaporetto) timetables and tickets can be found here

Walking around Venice is an adventure itself, but with some tips of routes, it will be even more interesting.

Few other walking routes from local Venetian 

Internet resources

Venice official tourist information website

TIP

Museum Pass was huge time saver when I visiting Venice. No lines, just go and enjoy. Valid for single entry to 10 civic museums for six months, or just the five museums around Piazza San Marco. Purchase them here

Renaissance Florence

Florence is home to ‘the greatest concentration of universally renowned works of art in the world’ according to Unesco. Whereas Rome and Milan have been torn down and rebuilt many times, central Florence looks much as it did in 1550, with stone towers and cypress-lined gardens. “The effect is rather like a Renaissance painting, which of course makes perfect sense when you think about it.”

Renaissance art and architecture artists in the world, including Michelangelo’s “David” statue, Botticelli’s works in the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo basilica.

Fast facts

Population: 364,710

Capital of Tuscany region

Fun facts

  • “Il Duomo” of Florence took approximately 140 years to build.
  • Nearly a third of the world’s art treasures reside in Florence.
  • The piano was invented in Florence by Bartolomeo Cristofor.

Things to do in Florence

The Duomo (Piazza del Duomo)

The city’s most iconic landmark. A building that graces a million postcards (and then some), the Duomo isn’t just the most spectacular structure in Florence – it’s also one of Italy’s most recognizable built icons

Palazzo Vecchio

Built by Arnolfo di Cambio between 1298 and 1314

Ponte Vecchio

When the Germans were fleeing from Florence during World War II, they blew up all of the bridges except The oldest and most famous bridge in Florence Ponte Vecchio

Michelangelo’s David at the Accademia

Michelangelo carved David from a single block of glistening Carrara marble over two years, gradually revealing the nude Old Testament hero in a moment of concentration before slaying the giant Goliath

Pallazo Pitti

Raphaels and Rubens vie for center stage in the enviable collection of 16th- to 18th-century art

The flavours of Florence food

Pappa al pomodoro

Traditional Tuscan soup, called pappa al pomodoro, combines tomatoes, basil, garlic, as well as stale bread and olive oil to great effect.

Pappardelle al Cinghiale

Papardelle is a long, wide, flat pasta that is usually paired with a heavy sauce, such as a ragu. Cinghiale is wild boar meat. Wild boar meat is surprisingly delicious, with a rich flavour and texture that makes for a luxurious ragu.

Tagliatelle Funghi Porcini e Tartufo

This dish can be found almost anywhere in Florence since it contains two delicious local ingredients, truffle mushrooms, and procini mushrooms.

Pane Toscano

Florentine bread is very bland and dense with a hard crunchy crust because it is traditionally made without salt.

Aperitivo

Tuscans love a tipple or two, and who’s to blame them? While you’re here, be sure to join them in the age-old ritual of aperitivo (pre-dinner drinks accompanied by cocktail snacks) or in the recent phenomenon of apericena (drinks with a snack buffet so generous that it can double as dinner).

Getting around in Florence

Florence public transport

Buses and electric bussini (minibusses) Learn more

Tickets valid for 90 minutes (no return journeys) cost €1.20 (€2 on board) and are sold at kiosks, tobacconists

Internet resources

APT Florence
Comune di Firenze Tourist Office

Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitano) is a 50-kilometer stretch of coastline along the southern edge of Italy’s peninsula, in the Campania region. With its scented lemon groves, flower-strewn cliff sides, tumbling sherbet-hued towns and bobbing fishing boats, the Amalfi Coast claims the crown as the prettiest coast on the peninsula. Small beaches and pastel-colored fishing villages. The beautiful coastal road between the port city of Salerno and clifftop Sorrento winds past Ancient villas, terraced vineyards, and cliffside lemon groves

Fast facts

  • Amalfi Coast is UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Length: 50-kilometer stretch
  • Lemon trees orchards can be found all over the coast, and they add a unique, colorful touch to the landscape, local ceramics, and the cuisine.

Amalfi coast attractions

Positano

A pearl in the rugged Amalfi coastline, Positano is the coast’s most photogenic town. The loft, ceramic-tiled dome of Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta is Positano’s most famous sight, with cherubs peeking above every arch indoors.

Ravello

Ravello’s sweeping coastal panoramas the world’s finest, and it’s hard to argue otherwise at sunset on the Infinity Terrace at Villa Cimbrone or to wander romantic hillside gardens at Villa Rufolo. Above the gardens towers Ravello’s 11th-16th-century Cathedral

Paestum

Offerings to Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, once graced the temples of ancient Paestum. Three well-preserved temples are Unesco-protected. With modern pest-control, Paestum makes a pleasant Amalfi Coast road trip.

Amalfi coast food flavours

Culinary heaven, the Amalfi Coast is a great place for pizza (nearby Naples is the self-proclaimed home of pizza), pasta, seafood and cheese

Caprese salad (Capri)

Mozzarella, tomato and basil salad and calorific torta caprese (almond and chocolate cake).

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Plunge into spaghetti alla puttanesca (spaghetti with olives, chili, garlic and tomato sauce), coniglio all’ischiatana (rabbit with garlic, chilli, tomato, herbs and white wine)

Getting around Amalfi coast

You can fly to the nearest airports, Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport or Naples International Airport, and hiring a car is a great way to get about, further inland as it is difficult to drive into the cliff-side towns and villages. Buses and ferries also run along the coast.

Boat service to Amalfi Coast towns are limited to the period between April and October

With car Exit the A3 autostrada at Vietri sul Mare and follow the SS163 along the coast.

End

I could keep visiting Italy every year for the rest of your life and still not exhaust all it has to offer. It’s a treasure chest of art, a living tableau of human history, a culinary delight, and a natural wonder itself.

The country has left me with great memories that I will always cherish and some of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. This article will be updated constantly…

ps.

Also, I would appreciate that you leave feedback was this post useful to you or you have some suggestions for others that you think are missing here. As I’m a traveler, not a full-time writer. Thank you in forward and have many fun travel experiences

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