Italy is the world’s cultural heavyweight. From the country’s vast history to its works of art, exquisite taste and natural landscapes, Italy has left a prominent stamp on the human race. What was once the heart of the Roman Empire transformed into Renaissance beauty to a fashion empire and master chef to finally, a leader of the modern world. Italy is one of the countries that will overwhelm you with inspiration for your soul.
Benvenuto – Welcome to Italy
With a series of famous itineraries, travelers are eager to experience history in Rome, amore in Venice, wine in Tuscany, and the haunted past in Pompeii. Along the way, you’ll also be able to dip your toes in Italian fashion or entertain your mouth with their rich cuisine. On the streets, you’ll learn to appreciate the finer things in life, a concept that Italians hold dear with their unlimited sophistication and class.
Once referred to as Roma Caput Mundi, Rome’s time as capital of the world has ended and it is now the capital of Italy. But that doesn’t mean that this city has diminished in any way. If any city still deserved the title as world capital, it is Rome. With iconic sites like the Colosseum, Pantheon and Vatican City, Rome is history come alive. The city’s extensive past will always be marked in the history books but experiencing it in real life will take you to the next level of travel. With a little taste of la dolce vita, Rome will have you constantly dropping your jaw in amazement.
Culture and Language
It would be very fair to say that it will be impossible to cover the history of Italy in this section. Even summarizing it would fill several chapters of a book. There is not one period of Italian history that slides under the radar. Seriously, from the pre-historic times to the Roman period, Renaissance, World War II and modern life, Italy is a true powerhouse.
From the earliest period, Ötzi the Iceman is Italy’s famous icon that was found in the southern Alps. This ancient mummy is dated back to about 3400-3100 BCE and was remained a significant find that tells us not only about Italy’s unique past, but the development of the human race.
Italy’s next most famous time in history began in 753 CE, which is when the capital, Rome, was first being founded. The Romans are famous for their high intelligence with the development of aqueducts, bridges, dams, and amphitheaters. With better sanitation, the Roman Empire was able to thrive and expand across much of Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. The Romans drive to better understand our world and how it works, as they strongly believed in stoicism, helped push and advance the human race.
Italy would only flourish more and by the 15th century, the Renaissance was born. It is during this time that the arts, literature, architecture, and science expanded by bounds and leaps. Some of the icons of the Italian Renaissance include Michelangelo’s David, Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. Florence was the heart of the Renaissance and from that northern epicenter, it spread throughout the country. But the Renaissance was much more than art. It can after the time of the Black Death, which devastated Italy and helped rebuild the country’s trade and economy.
But beyond Italy’s positive influence, they have also had dark times. Their entry into World War II came after a time when fascism began to rise, and it only tied Italy closer to Germany. Mussolini supported Hitler and for a time, they were allies. But as fascism began to fall, the alliance severed, and Italy officially declared war on Germany in October 1943. Italy then worked hard to become a democratic republic. Today, Italy is a positive world leader who has a relatively stable government.
Italy is now famous for its culture, from its art to its cuisine and architecture. Family and religion are important to many Italians. The dominant religion is Roman Catholicism, which is centered in Vatican City, which is an independent state but located within Rome. Italians are happy and they are known for having high class and sophistication. With pride in their history and culture, Italians are happy to welcome visitors into their world.
Language is another important part of culture, which also adds to a country’s identity. Italy’s official language is Italian. The Italian language is also the most widely spoken language throughout Italy. Italian is a Romance language and the one considered to be most similar to Latin.
However, due to the country’s location and popularity, a variety of other European languages may also be spoken. The English language is also spoken in Italy, but it is not as widespread. Instead, travelers are most likely going to encounter English in major cities like Rome or Madrid.
Travelers should always be responsible, and this means that you need to be aware of the tourist visa requirements for Italy. US citizens do not need to acquire a tourist visa for any visits that are under 90 days because Italy is part of the Schengen Area and Agreement. The Schengen Agreement allows you to travel through various countries in Europe without obtaining a tourist visa. But there are a few other requirements that you must meet to be allowed entry into Italy.
US citizens need to have a US passport that has at least 6 months validity remaining, past your planned date of departure from the Schengen Area. Your passport also needs to have two blank pages for your stamps. Italy is very strict about your travel documents and you are required to have a valid travel document. If you have previously reported your passport as lost or stolen and have not been issued a new one, you will be denied entry into Italy.
During the Customs process, you may also be asked to provide sufficient proof of funds for the duration of your stay and a return ticket with an airline. There are no vaccination requirements for Italy, but the US government consistently suggests that you are up to date on all vaccinations before you travel abroad. There is a currency restriction in place for Italy and it is €10,000 Euros or the US dollar equivalent.
Travelers are often eager to fulfill their wanderlust and set off for their destination. But before you can go chasing your dreams, you need to be sure that you can afford traveling abroad. A spending budget is the best way for travelers to estimate how expensive their trip will be and outline what they can or can’t afford.
By planning ahead, this is also a great way to travel safely by leaving space in your budget for unexpected costs. As a part of Europe, most people would assume that Italy is overly expensive, which is true. But travelers who plan ahead can also visit this stunning country on a budget. Airfare, accommodation, food, drink, and transportation are the key portions of your spending budget.
Airfare is always a large chunk of your budget because traveling across any ocean is expensive. Italy is no exception to this rule, and you’ll have to be prepared to buy an expensive ticket. For US travelers, the average cost of an airline ticket from the United States to Italy is $1,000 US dollars. However, if you’re looking to travel on a budget you may want to consider having flexible arrival and departure dates. Some budget airline ticket sites may have special deals, which lower the price of a ticket to about $300 US dollars.
But when you’re looking at ticket prices online, you should notice that the price will increase during the tourist high season. Most people actually consider there to be three tourist seasons in Italy, which range from the peak, shoulder, and off season. Italy’s peak tourist season begins in mid-June and ends in August. The shoulder tourist season begins in April and ends in mid-June as the high season picks up. While finally, the off season runs from November to March.
With each season, you’ll notice different airline ticket prices. The most expensive season to travel is the peak season, which is when tickets will likely cost about $1,000 US dollars. The price will then decrease according to the season, until it is the cheapest in the off season. Last-minute bookings to Italy will also be incredibly expensive and you should look to make your reservation as soon as possible.
While its always give travelers a jolt of excitement to book their ticket, you also need to get excited to make bookings for your accommodation. All travelers need a safe place to stay every night of their trip, so you’ll need to find hostels, hotels, or Airbnb bookings to fulfill your needs. With plenty of options, you should be able to find accommodation that fits your budget, as well as your preferences.
For budget travelers, hostels are the way to go because they will be the most affordable option. Most dorm rooms in hostels will cost 20-35 US dollars per night. You do also have the option for a private room in a hostel, but the cost will be higher with most nightly rates ranging from $55-$115 US dollars. Private rooms in a hostel are a great choice for budget hotels, but if you want to have a full concierge service, you’ll have to raise your budget and look for the best hotels. Hotels are more expensive, and you should expect to pay up to $250 US dollars per night for a room. The most expensive hotels will cost $300 US dollars or more per night. But they would have luxurious amenities and likely be located in the center of a major tourist area.
Airbnb is another accommodation option and it can be great for travelers who are on a budget, but still want the privacy of a hotel. Private rooms are often listed on Airbnb for $25 US dollars per night, while a full apartment would likely cost $45-$70 US dollars per night. If you are traveling in a group, this can be the best way to split up the cost and still get a great place to stay.
Many booked accommodations will also provide some form of breakfast, which would be included in the price. Airbnb is less likely to include a breakfast, but you may find a gracious host who provides a simple meal. But breakfast isn’t the only meal of the day and it is important to budget the cost of food too. Italy is famous for its cuisine with pizza and pasta hogging the limelight. But there’s a lot more to Italian cuisine than their famous exported dishes.
Aside from the wide ranges and variations of pasta and pizza, Italy has some other tasty dishes that you’ll be eager to try. One scrumptious dish is arancini, which is a rice ball stuffed with cheese, tomato sauce, and ragú. The. rice ball is then breaded and fried to perfection. Osso buco alla Milanese is another meal with a strong aroma. The dish is made of veal shanks with fresh vegetables and a rich, white wine sauce. For a salty treat, you should try prosciutto, which is cured ham in thin slices.
A switch from savory to sweet also unlocks a whole new slew of tasty treats. Gelato is an icon in Italian culture, and it is a great way to cool down after a day exploring the city. Torrone is Italy’s version of a hard candy, which is made with honey, egg whites, citrus, and nuts. Finally, you can’t leave Italy without trying a true Tiramisu. This infamous pasty is beloved by locals and travelers alike.
Unfortunately, good food comes at a cost and many travelers will find themselves splurging for Italian cuisine. A budget traveler who cooks for themselves and only eats out occasionally can survive spending about $18 US dollars per day. However, most travelers will want to eat out more. This means that you could spend up to $90 dollars a day on food. Most restaurant meals will cost about $30 US dollars per person, if you aren’t going to Michelin star establishments. But since Italy is known for their food, the top restaurants will be very pricey and cost hundreds of US dollars for a meal.
Italy is also known for their wine, which is surprisingly affordable. Many of the house wines are packed with flavor and they can cost about $1 US dollar. Wines that are not on the house will normally be priced at $5 US dollars or less. Beers will cost about the same and hard alcohol can be a few US dollars more per drink.
With a view of your possible spending budget broken down, you may be curious to know how much you’ll need per day. Backpackers should expect to spend about $100 US dollars per day. But if you are really strict with your spending, you could lower it to $80 US dollars per day. A more moderate budget would cost up to $250 US dollars each day. Some travelers also have the option for luxury vacations, which could cost hundreds or thousands of US dollars per day.
How to Get Around
With so many places to visit, many travelers will need to select a mode of transportation to reach their new destination. The extensive transportation network in Italy makes it easy to travel and you can choose a mode that fits your budget. Budget airlines, buses, trains, ferries, and public transportation are the most popular ways to travel around Italy.
While some budget flights cost as little as $70 US dollars, you should expect to pay up to $120 US dollars per flight. For some travelers this is expensive, but for others, the airplane offers a fast mode of transportation that allows you to see more of Italy in less time. Buses are a more affordable alternative to airplanes, but they will be slower. Most bus tickets will be less than $35 US dollars per trip. Trains are another option in addition to buses, but some tickets can cost up to $75 US dollars for a journey.
Public transportation is well established in major hubs and the best way to get around big cities. Most rides on public transportation will cost $4 US dollars per trip or less. However, you can also pay a little more and hail a taxi or order an Uber.
The absolute best way to keep a tight budget is to walk. In the big cities, walking is safe and free. But travelers still need to be alert about their surroundings and keep any bags or purses close to their body.
Top Cities to Visit
If you’ve never been to Italy, or even if you have, you may be overwhelmed by all the city destinations. With plenty of places to choose from, we’ve highlighted the best cities in Italy that are worth a visit.
Rome is the best way to get introduced to Italy and its impressive history. The city is famous for its sights and sounds, as well as the ornate architecture. With sites preserved from Roman times and Renaissance treasures, you can explore the biggest parts of Italian culture in this lively hub.
Venice is most famous for its canals because the entire city was built on top of a lagoon. With boats constantly cruising along the water highways, Venice has become one of Italy’s treasured beauties. With plenty to see and do, Venice will capture your heart as you traverse the narrow corridor-like streets.
Home to the Renaissance, Florence is where Italian art thrived. There are multiple museums that pay tribute to the Renaissance past and hold amazing works of art like Michelangelo’s David. But the geographical location of Florence also places it in Tuscany and makes it a gateway to explore this stunning area.
Milan oozes sophistication with its high art, fashion, cuisine, shops, and galleries. A fast-paced lifestyle makes it one of Italy’s busiest cities, but visitors still take the time to view masterpieces like da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting or the famous opera house, La Scala.
Acting like a gate to the southern region, a visit to Napes is a must for people who are headed to Pompeii or the Amalfi Coast. The city is just another place that holds plenty of Italian artefacts that pay homage to the country’s history and culture.
Points of Interest
While Italy’s cities often hold the most coveted treasure, you can also liven up your trip by visiting some points of interest. Italy’s hottest points of interest with draw you in and display more of the country’s beauty.
Encased in ash, Pompeii is famous for being frozen in time. Or super-heated to have time suspended. Here, Mount Vesuvius erupted and devastated the nearby area in 79 AD. Now, tourist can visit Pompeii to see the mosaics and sculptures that remain. Like taking taking at time machine to the past, you can glimpse what life was like in Ancient Italy. Pompeii is also famous for the bodies of people who attempted to escape their fate.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Italy and the Leaning Tower of Pisa go hand in hand. The tower is one of the most iconic sights in Italy and has become a favorite for cheesy tourist photos. But the tower is just one highlight and there is more to see at the connected church and city of Pisa.
Lake Como is nature’s gift to Italy. Here, the mega mansion and villas sit along an idyllic landscape that has green mountains and clear water. With a Mediterranean like feel, people have fallen in love with this area and you may even encounter someone famous on its shores.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Amalfi Coast stretches from the city of Naples to Sorrento. Here, the colorful cliffside buildings are stacked along a jagged and rocky coastline. Positano and Amalfi are the two most visited towns, but you can tour the entire area by boat for a better perspective.
While the Vatican City is located within Rome, it is considered to be its own state. St. Peter’s Square is the highlight alongside the Sistine Chapel. Inside the Vatican Museum, there are priceless works of art my Michelangelo and Italy’s other great masters.
Get Out and Go
With such a big impact on our history and the world today, it’s no wonder that Italy is at consistently on traveler’s lists of must-see and do. But with so much to experience, it’s impossible to even see all the highlights in one trip. Italy should be traveled with leisure and you shouldn’t worry about not seeing it all the first time around because Italy with enchant you to return for a new adventure.