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What to Know About Visiting Italy

Visiting Italy

From the awe-inspiring Colosseum in Rome to the Renaissance masterpieces in Florence, Italy is one of those places that’s on nearly everyone’s travel bucket list, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

It looks like the Omicron variant may be waning, and you could be looking ahead to your future travel plans that include Italy.

With that in mind, the following are the most important things to know about an Italian dream trip.

The Basics

Italy has history, architecture, culture, food, and natural beauty. It’s a country that really does have everything for travelers.

Officially known as the Italian Republic, Italy is a peninsula. It’s in Southern Europe, in the middle of the Mediterranean, and considered part of Western Europe.

The country shares land borders with Austria, France, Switzerland, and Slovenia.

There are 60 million inhabitants, making it the third-most populous member state in the EU.

Italy has been home to many different cultures because of its geographic location. Throughout its history, Italy has been at the center of art, music, science, philosophy, and fashion.

It’s the fifth-most visited country in the world and has the largest number of World Heritage Sites.

Getting To Italy

If you’re coming from the US, Delta and American Airlines offer daily flights to Rome and Milan from New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, and Chicago.

Many European carriers also fly to Italy via their capitals from all major US cities. As an example, you can take British Airways via London or Lufthansa via Frankfurt.

There isn’t often a lot of variation in the direct fares, so you’re probably not going to find much price differentiation. The cheapest round-trip tickets to Rome or Milan are usually going to be midweek flights in low season, coming from New York or Boston.

If you’re flying into Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, the average round trip cost is around $1,020.

Northern Italy’s largest airport, Milan-Malpensa, tends to have lower fares, with an average round trip ticket from the U.S. costing around $780. Another relatively cheap airport is Linate, also in Milan. You’ll have to get a connection somewhere else in Europe, however.

Getting Around

Once you’re in Italy, depending on your itinerary, traveling by train tends to be your best option, at least as far as going between regions and cities.

The Italian train system tends to be inexpensive and relatively efficient. The Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane trains operate under the name Trenitalia. There’s an extensive network across the country, and you can connect to other major European cities on sleeper trains.

When you get to the train station, there are validating machines where you stamp your ticket. You have to validate your ticket before your journey starts. If your ticket is booked on a particular train, you don’t have to stamp it. If you don’t validate your ticket, you might have to pay a fine on the spot.

There are Regionale trains which are very inexpensive but also slow.

La Frecce is the high-speed train network system in Italy that offers daily connections between cities. If you book in advance, you’ll secure the best fares, and you need to have seat reservations.

Italo trains are privately operated and high-speed, connecting different destinations in Italy.

If you’re just going to Italy, you probably don’t need to buy a rail pass.

If you’re going to travel around Europe, InterRail and Eurail passes are accepted on the Trenitalia network, but you still have to book specific times. You have to pay a supplemental fee for traveling on the Freccia trains.

You can rent a car to travel around Europe, but it can be expensive, especially in high season.

If you’re driving, try to avoid doing so in central city areas because there’s a lot of congestion and the one-way systems are complex.

The Must-Sees

The hardest part of a trip to Italy will be narrowing down where you go when you’re inevitably limited on time.

The entire country is stunningly beautiful, and every region and city is so distinctive from the next.

The following are some of the places that tourists tend to visit most frequently to give you a starting point for your planning.


Rome is the capital of Italy, and it’s beautiful but also feels vibrant and energetic. Rome is known as The Eternal City, and while you’re there, you have to visit the Coliseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon. You’ll also have to make time for Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona.

During your time in Rome, you’ll want to go to Vatican City for the Vatican museums, including The Sistine Chapel. You’ll also be able to see Saint Peter’s Square and Saint Peter’s Basilica.


Florence is known as the art city, and it’s home to so many Renaissance pieces, as well as stunning architecture. Located in the Tuscan region, half of all Italian works of art are in Florence.

In Florence, the Uffizi Gallery is a must-see, along with the Duomo and the Piazza Della Signoria. If you’re willing to climb the 400 steps at the Cupola del Brunelleschi, you can get a 360-degree view of the city and surrounding Tuscany.


Venice is one of the biggest tourist draws in all of Europe. It’s known for romance and, of course, the amazing canals with gondoliers.

Venice must-sees and do-s include Saint Mark’s Square and St. Mark’s Basilica. The Ducale Palace and the Bridge of Sighs are also worth including on your list.

You can wander through the narrow alleys and get lost as you explore this stunning city that’s like no other.

In the morning, you’ll catch a glimpse of the boats conducting business on the canals.

Many people also take time to visit the islands of Murano, which are known for glassmaking, including Burano with the signature colorful houses.


Verona is the Shakespearean city, as it was the setting for Romeo and Juliet. You can visit Juliette’s house and admire the balcony. Also in Verona are the Piazza Bra, which is the location of the Verona arena, and the Piazza Delle Erbe, with a market and many restaurants and bars.


Capri is a luxurious island that attracts the famous and wealthy. You can take the ferry from Naples for a day trip, or you can spend a few days there. Capri’s town center is Piazzetta. There are cafes with outdoor seating that looks over the bay.

Also notable in Capri is the Arco Naturale, which is a rocky arch. The Blue Grotto is another attraction in Capri, requiring a boat to get there.

The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is south of Naples, with cliff-side villages and rugged coastline.

Some of the top towns to visit on the Amalfi Coast include Sorrento, Positano, and Ravello.

What Else to Know

Some other general things you should know as you plan a trip to Italy include:

  • Dinner starts late in Italy, although not as late as it typically does in Spain. Restaurants may not open until six or seven in the evening, and you’ll find that many business owners are casual in their opening and closing times, doing what they feel like.
  • Don’t forget about the art in Italy. You might be drawn in by the architecture, food, and shopping, but the art is amazing, and you can’t miss the chance to take it all in.
  • When you’re at the Vatican, you’ll have to follow a dress code. This means no sleeveless tops or low-cut items. You can’t wear short skirts or shorts either. You have to keep your knees and shoulders covered when you visit.
  • The northern and southern parts of the country are very different from one another. In fact, they can seem like different countries altogether. The north is more industrialized and feels more like other cities in Europe. The south is more laid-back and has a Mediterranean-inspired feeling.
  • It can be helpful to learn very basic Italian before a trip. Of course, you don’t need to be fluent, but if you have a few key phrases you can pull out when needed, it will be appreciated.
  • If you love wine, you’re in luck in Italy. You’ll find that it’s very high-quality but also inexpensive. You can get a good bottle of wine for $5.
  • While above, we list the major tourist destinations, there are so many under-the-radar options in Italy that are just as beautiful and are less crowded. For example, Varenna is on Lake Como, and it has a charming, unpretentious atmosphere that you might appreciate compared to the much more famous Bellagio.

Finally, the summers are very hot in Italy, no matter where you are. The winters are very cold in the north but mild in the winter, so plan accordingly.

Good travel times because of the potentially extreme temperatures can include April through June and September through October. If you want to hit the beaches, you’ll need to go in summer, however, particularly starting from July because otherwise, the water will be too cold for a swim.

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