Italy is located in the Southern Europe and has borders with Switzerland, France, Austria and Slovenia. Italy also has two independent countries within its borders. The Vatican City (center for the Roman Catholic Church, and the world’s smallest country) and San Marino, on the north east coast of Italy, is also considered an independent republic.
Until 1870 Italy was a collection of separated states with complex history witch explain the diversity of people and attitudes. Early 1920s Benito Mussolini established a Fascist dictatorship. His disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy’s defeat in World War II. In 1946 Italy became a Republic.
Climate in Italy
In northern Italy, temperatures can reach below freezing during winters, with snow in the northern most areas. The Southern and coastal areas of Italy experience much milder winters and are generally hot and dry in summer.
Language in Italy
The main language spoken in Italy is Italian. This is a Romance Language descendant of Latin. Tourism is a major industry, so you will find English widely spoken in city hotels and restaurants, around tourist’s areas.
The official currency is the Euro. The Currency exchange rate varies. Please call or stop by the individual bank for the exact rate.
Italy Major Cities
Rome, Florence, Pisa, Tuscany, Milan, Naples, Genoa and Venice
Things to do in Italy (Cities and main point of interest)
Italy has one of Europe’s highest standards of living, making traveling easy and pleasurable. Italy has many internationally known tourist areas and had something for everyone. Weather the visitor is looking for great cities, small villages, peaceful countryside or gorgeous beaches.
Italian Hotels are all rated and inspected by regional authorities; regardless of their price range they are extremely clean. The favorite Italian pastime is probably eating, drinking and talking. The Italians are very nice and sociable people. Here are some major cities to visit:
Rome: is the capital of Italy and one of the major attractions. Rome is wonderful but huge an exhausting on the first time visit. It is almost impossible to see all Rome’s attractions in one week. But if all you have is just a day or two the best places to see are the Coliseum, Capitol Hill, The Pantheon, climb the dome tour to The Vatican Museum, The Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, walk to the Trevi fountain and Spanish steps and if you still have some time you could visit the National Museum of Rome. The best ways of getting around Rome are sightseeing on foot, by city bus, metro or taxi. The public transportation system is cheap and efficient. Roman enjoys dining out and there are plenty of restaurant choices.
Florence: is the capital of Tuscany and the home or the Renaissance. This is a small but very attractive city with stunning art and history. Due to Florence’s artistic and architectural heritage, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982. Some major attractions are Uffizi Gallery, Bargello Museum, Accademia, Brancacci Chapel, Church of San Lorenzo, The Cathedral (Duomo), Piazzale Micheleangelo and the Museum of San Marco. Most of this required a previous reservation and is particularly helpful to avoid lines. The best ways of getting around Florence are sightseeing on foot, although it requires a lot of walking but a bus doesn’t really cover the old center well. Other options are using a taxi or Tour companies. While in Florence take some time to try the Gelato (One of Italy’s best Ice Cream).
Pisa: is a city located in Tuscany the central part of Italy. Pisa is well know for its leaning Tower but there also lots of other historic museum, churches and beautiful bridges around the city. The best way to visit Pisa is walking around the streets. Attractions are within a half hour walk of each other, the city center is very small, and you could enjoy the sight and the atmosphere. There are also regular buses around town, including from the train station to some attractions. While you will not need a car in the city itself, it can be a good choice if you want to go around and visit some other parts of Tuscany.
Milan: is a city in Italy and the capital of the region of Lombardy. Milan is one of Europe’s largest cities. Some major attractions are The Cathedral Duome, Santa Maria delle Grazie church (to see “The Last Supper”), the Museum at La Scala or you could also Discover Milan’s Canals in the Navigli and Shop in the Quadrilatero d’Oro. The best ways of getting around Milan is by walking. Renting a car in Milan is not a good idea due to the amount of traffic. Other way to get around is by using a metro, bus or a tram. There are five main train stations, three Metropolitan lines, and a public transportation network making fast and cheap to get around on Milan.
Naples: Located Southern of Italy and is one of Europe’s most beautifully located cities. The people in southern Italy are generally delightful, warm and passionate. People feel genuinely eager to help. The most important tourist attraction in Naples is the National Archaeological Museum located in a huge old cavalry barracks that houses many of the treasures discovered at Pompeii and other ancient Roman excavation in and around the city of Naples. Other attractions are Castel Nuovo, Capella Sansevero, Castel dell Ovo, the Palazzo Reale and The Duomo of Naples. The best ways of getting around Milan is by walking as traffic is horrendous and any form of transportation will be moving very slow. Much of what you wanted to see if relatively short distance and sights are grouped together in different areas. Wandering around is an essential and fascinating part of the Naples experiences. You could use a train if you want to travel to the coast of Pompeii and the Sorrento Peninsula. The best way to appreciate the beauty of Naples is by taking a boat trip to Sorrento around the harbor.
Venice: Is an old metropolis and one of the world most captivating places. The city stretches across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea in northeast Italy. Venice is shape like a fish and is laced together by more than 400 bridges and thousands of alleys. The major attractions are The Grand Canal, Frari Church, St Mark’s Square (Doge’s palace and St. Mark Basilica) and San Giorgio Maggiore. Behind St Mark Basilica you could find “The bridge of Sighs”. Venice greatest sight is the city itself; take some time to wondering around. No car, taxi or motorcycles are permitted within the city. If you arrive to Venice in a vehicle you must park outside the city and enter the city by foot or boat. The city has no major roads and addresses are totally confusing. To find your way navigate by landmarks, no streets. Venice is the ideal town to explored on foot and don’t worried about getting lost you will find your way. The public transit system is a fleet of motorized bus-boat called vaporetti. Other forms of transportation are the Tragbetto (gondolas) or water taxi.
Restaurants and Food in Italy
Italians are well known around the world for pizza, pasta and cheese but the national diet of Italy has traditionally differed greatly by region. There is a great variety of cheese made in Italy. Another tradition of the Italian cuisine is to use herbs and spices for enhancing the flavor like rosemary, oregano, basil, parsley and sage.
There are a lot of great places to eat around Italy and you will find amazing dishes everywhere you go. One of the things not to be missed is going to a local restaurant and trying their specialties. For lunch and quick snack you could find a lot of self serving pizzerias and cafes around the country. The evening menus basically consist on three courses in most places. Vegetarians will also find plenty of choices. Many Italians automatically like to drink wine with their meals in moderate amounts. If you are a coffee lover you will need to know that Italian coffee is extremely strong, so make sure to ask for American coffee if you like it weaker.
Shopping in Italy
One of the major pleasures of Italy is shopping in local stores and at the animated street market. However, some out of town shopping centers and mall are also increasing in popularity the last decade. If you’re looking for a bargain during your vacation to Italy, outlet stores are also a great option.