Whether you love Italian food or just have a hankering for some history, Italy is the place to be. Traveling here can be romantic, exhilarating, and enriching. That is, if you know where to stay, what attractions to check out, and the best way to save some cash while abroad.
Fortunately, we've got the insider scoop on everything Italia so you can focus on picking out cute outfits and packing your bags. Here are 11 things to know about Italy while planning your trip.
Italy Has Arts, Culture, & More
Italy is full of amazing architecture, ancient buildings, and colorful cobblestone streets. Whether you're in Roma or somewhere else in this delightful country, there's a ton to see. Rome's highlights include the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Trevi Fountain.
Beyond Rome, though, there's the celeb-studded Lake Como (in Lombardy), the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa (in Pisa, naturally), the Venice Canals (which are experiencing lots of floods as of late in coastal Venice), and Pompeii, the site of Mount Vesuvius' 79 A.D. eruption. In short, anywhere you go, there's a ton to see that's touristy.
Weather In Italy Is Ideal In Spring Or Fall
Spring and fall are both mild and enjoyable in Italy, and you can expect fewer crowds than in the summertime. It's icky hot in summer anyway, and you don't want to pay premium prices in peak season anyhow. Grab a sweater and some cute maxi dresses and hop on the plane!
Rome Is Your Go-To Destination
For most travelers, Rome is the ideal spot from which to adventure around Italy. Pompeii is a day trip away (about two and a half hours driving), so you can still bed down in gorgeous Roma for the duration of your adventure.
About a three-hour drive from Rome is the Amalfi Coast, which is on the Sorrentine Peninsula and is a super-popular tourist spot. There are breathtaking villas, cute fishing villages, vineyards, and even lemon groves *sigh*. If you want to feel like a celebrity, it's more affordable than you might think to book a room atop one of the sheer cliffs.
A bit further (three and a half hours) is Pisa, and you can catch a cheap train there and back (for less than $40 either way). Venice is a longer trip, so if you want to see the canals, it'll take a five-hour drive (or an affordable train trip) to get there from Rome.
Both Hip And Historic Hotels Are Everywhere
In Rome, you can stay near tourist attraction the Pantheon and Piazza Navona in Navona Luxury Apartments for under $200USD per night. On a budget? Try a spot like Hotel Mercure Roma West for under $60USD per night in a quieter area just outside the Tenuta di Castelporziano, a state nature reserve.
On the Amalfi Coast, the picturesque cliffside setting, you can stay at a converted monastery (Hotel Luna Convento) for less than $200USD per night. You get sea views, an outdoor pool, and plenty of photo ops with the historic hotel as a backdrop. Want a grander experience? We'd love to stay at the NH Collection Grand Hotel Convento di Amalfi, which is like a pristine chapel on the inside and costs around $300USD per night.
Pizza (And Pasta And Gelato) Are Italiano Dishes To Die For
Pizza and pasta are top-ranking dishes hailing from Italy. While you're there, you must try authentic plates from local family-owned restaurants. The spices, fresh cheese, and handmade pasta will not disappoint. Try lasagne, risotto, polenta, focaccia, and bruschetta (but not all in one day!).
Ready for dessert? Gelato, Italy's version of ice cream, is an epic treat. You can expect to pay about €3 per cone (or a little over $3 USD), but it'll be worth it. Make sure to look for muted color palettes (natural gelato isn't neon-colored), say the gelato experts at Wanderlust Crew. Their recommendation for the best frozen treat in Rome? Fatamorgana: they have three branches that all feature epic flavors like raspberry and hibiscus with black rice.
Oh, and don't forget to try fette biscottate (a cookie-type bread) with your coffee for a traditional Italiano breakfast.
Getting Around Roma And Beyond Is Easy
To work off all those carbs from your delicious meals in Italy, you might want to walk to see the sights. And the cities are quite walkable, for the most part. But to get to many tourist destinations, you'll need to navigate the train system (Trenitalia), which many tourists (and locals) swear by.
You've Got To See These Sights In Italy
Fashion runs the streets in Milan, Michelangelo's David is at home in Florence, and Rome is full of ancient sites like the Colosseum, Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, and the excavated "heart of the Roman Empire," the Roman Forum.
But really, anywhere you go, there's iconic imagery, classical art, and remnants of the past. Just wandering the streets will be an Instagrammable adventure, if you're into that sort of thing.
Italian Cash & Common Courtesy
Italy uses the Euro, denoted by €. Finder notes that a lot of bigger businesses will accept credit cards, but having some Euros on hand is ideal. It's rare (although possible) to find spots that take USD or another currency.
Things can be expensive in Italy, more so than in the US and Canada, so expect to carry a bit more pocket cash. Of course, you're not really expected to tip throughout Italy, which can save some cash. You will find surcharges in some places, though—check the menu before buying.
Find Flight Deals For Italy In Wintry Weather
The tail end of November to mid-December (pre-holiday rush) is the best time to book your Italy trip, says Travel and Leisure. Flying out on weekdays can also save you on flight costs, with February departures costing the least.
Italy's Rich History Is Everywhere
Italy, the heart of the Roman Empire, has a rich and colorful history. The present-day country became a sovereign nation-state in 1861 when a bunch of countries on the Italian peninsula combined. Today, Italian folks are pretty welcoming and friendly, and lots of them speak English, which can help travelers get around.
Spiagge d'Italia Are Stunning
There, you already know some Italian! Spiagge de'Italia means beaches of Italy, and boy do they have a lot. We've already discussed Amalfi, which boasts plenty of portside beaches. Tourists typically admire Chia Beach in Sardinia, Follonica Beach in Tuscany, and Furore Beach on the Amalfi Coast, among others.
Ready to check them out for yourself?