Italy, with its architecture, gastronomy and long Mediterranean coastline, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. The capital city, Rome, where the past effortlessly blends with the present was the center of the Roman Empire and is home to the Vatican and the Colosseum. Florence has Renaissance masterpieces; Milan is one of the main fashion hubs of the world and Venice is the floating city. Adventurous travelers should consider climbing Mount Etna, cruising the rolling waters of Lake Garda or skiing in the Alps. Italy has something for everyone, it’s diverse, unique and oh so beautiful… and then there’s the pasta.
ITALY TOP 5 THINGS TO DO
Cinque Terre (“Five Lands”) is a string of five centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera. These five villages are Vernazza, Manarola, Corniglia, Monterosso, and Riomaggiore. Monterosso, the most Northern of the Cinque Terre villages is the most visited, mainly due to its sand beach. Vernazza is one of the most picturesque. Corniglia is the quietest village mainly because it’s the most difficult to access. The stunning scenery and laid-back lifestyle of Italy’s Cinque Terre has made this small area a must-visit destination.
Set against the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, Lake Como (aka Lake Lario) has a reputation as a playground for the wealthy. The beautiful scenery of Lake Como has enchanted artists and travelers for centuries. If you love dramatic Alpine views, opulent villas, romantic bougainvillea and lake side cafes, visit Lake Como!
The Grand Canal
There’s only one legendary canal in Venice: the Grand Canal! One of the most famous waterways in the world. The Grand Canal not only connects most of Venice’s top tourist attractions, it is one of its top attractions. Experience this stunning canal by foot or by boat. Take a Vaporetto (a water bus) and travel to the different parts of the canal or take a gondola for a more romantic ride.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the freestanding bell tower of the cathedral in the city of Pisa and one of the seven wonders of the world. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most recognizable buildings on earth however it’s actually an architectural fluke and the result of an unstable foundation. The tower has been opened and closed several times to the public as it has been a struggle to assess whether it is safe or not. When the tower is open, you can climb up the viewing platform and see the city of Pisa.
Pompeii was a large Roman town in the Italian region of Campania that was completely buried in volcanic ash following the eruption of nearby Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. This ancient city is located in the modern commune of Pompei near Naples in the Campania region of southern Italy. Explore the preserved site featuring the excavated ruins of streets and houses that were once part of a sophisticated Roman city.
Adventurous Traveler? Browse our
Bucket Bunny List of the top 25 Europe travel adventures.
Run with the bulls in Spain, do a husky safari in Finland or take a dip in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. Enjoy browsing our top 25 Europe Travel Adventures and be inspired to tick off a few yourself.
ITALY TOP 3 FESTIVALS
The Venice Carnival is an annual celebration consisting of masks, parades & concerts. The festival ends with the Christian celebration of Lent, forty days before Easter, on Shrove Tuesday. The Venice Carnival is famous around the world for its elaborately decorated masks. You will need an invitation to attend the ball, and the ticket prices are sky high, but the street performances are open to all and free.
Battle of Oranges
The Battle of the Oranges is the largest food fight in Italy and lasts for three juicy days. It is a festival in the Northern Italian city of Ivrea, and involves a tradition of throwing oranges between organized groups. Battle buses also run across the city and participants hurl oranges from these buses, so do watch out if you’re not feeling fruity.
The Marriage of the Sea
The Marriage of the Sea, also known as the Marriage of the Adriatic, was a ceremony which used to symbolize the maritime dominion of Venice. During the last weekend of May the city of Venice celebrates it’s maritime expertise with a procession of boats from St Mark’s to Port of St Nicolo. Visitors come in thousands to witness this water festival and watch teams compete in races.
Language: The official language of Italy is Italian. English is also widely spoken as many people who live in Italy are fluent in English due to working in the tourism industry. In smaller rural areas you might face some communication problems so learn a few basic phrases of Italian so you can get by.
Visa: Visiting Italy will usually require a valid passport and visa for any travelers that are not from the European Union. Use these free online visa checker and calculator tools so you know if a visa for Italy is required, which will depend on the country you are from, and if so, how long it will take to process your visa and the cost.
Electricity: In Italy the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. Buy a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each new country you visit.
Lonely Planet Italy: Check price on Amazon
WHAT TO EAT IN ITALY
Some of the most delicious, traditional dishes that you must try when in Italy are listed below.
Pizza: World famous and a main staple of most peoples diets… Pizza! Loved all around the world, pizza originated in Italy and tomato sauce was incorporated in a Pizza for the first time in Naples. This legendary combination of dough, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil is perhaps every Italian’s first love.
Lasagna: Believed to have originated from the city of Naples, this classic Italian dish is made by baking sheets of lasagne pasta layered with cheese, ground meat, vegetables and different varieties of sauces, such as the ragù, bechamel or tomato sauce.
Ribollita: A famous traditional Tuscan bread soup popular with peasants due to its affordable and hearty nature. There are many variations but the main ingredients always include leftover bread, cannellini beans, kale, cabbage, and vegetables such as carrot, beans, celery, potatoes and onion.
Carbonara: It would be quite easy to visit Italy and eat nothing but Pasta. But if you want to have the best pasta, Italy’s finest, then you should order a Spaghetti Carbonara. This is an extremely simple dish with spaghetti, eggs, cured guanciale (an Italian cured meat prepared from pork jowl or cheeks), pecorino cheese and black pepper. Yes it’s carb overload but when in Italy do as the Italian’s do.
Gelato: Gelato is a world famous dessert today, with Gelato shops all over the world selling Italian “ice-cream”. The best gelato is perhaps the simplest, the gelato that’s not brightly colored and can’t me made into a tall tower resembling the leaning tower of Pisa. Go with simple, traditional flavors when trying Gelato in Italy.
WHERE TO STAY IN ITALY
Italy is a reasonably affordable place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in Italy is super easy because there’s so many options whatever your budget.
Hostels and dormitories make travel to Italy affordable for backpackers and any travelers on a shoe-string budget. Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, Italy will not disappoint you. A basic hotel room in Italy can cost less than 100 euros.
If you’re looking for accommodation that includes luxury amenities and comforts then there will be endless options to choose from in the big cities and popular tourist hotspots like Milan, Rome, Florence or Venice. Whatever month you choose to visit Italy, it’s wise to book your accommodation in advance. Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best places to stay have been snapped up already. Italy is an extremely popular year-round destination with business travelers and backpackers.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in Italy. However, if you are backpacking in Italy or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in Italy very affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies where ever you go.
PLAN YOUR TRIP
BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY
The best time to visit Italy is in May and June or September and October when the weather is reliably sunny. It is also less crowded at these times than the summer months of July and August which are high season and can be very hot, more expensive and extremely crowded, especially during the afternoons.
ITALY TRAVEL BUDGET
Italy is generally an affordable destination for travelers on all budgets. The cost of your trip to Italy really depends on the level of comfort you want. If you are backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 50 to 100 euros per day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 100 to 250 euros per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants then budget at least 250 to 500+ euros per day.
IS ITALY SAFE FOR FEMALE TRAVELERS?
Safety does not need to be a huge concern for women travelers in Italy which is considered a generally very safe country to visit. As with any country you visit, always be extra careful when walking alone or at night. Some parts of Italy aren’t as safe as other areas so do your research before you go and avoid these places. Based on many years of travel in Europe I would never leave home without insurance and recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks before your Italy trip.
ITALY VISA CHECKER
ITALY FLIGHT DEALS
ITALY TOURS & ACTIVITIES
ITALY PACKING TIPS
Packing for a trip to Italy, like most other places in Europe, is a breeze. You really don’t need as much travel gear as you may think for a trip to Italy.
That said, the gear you do bring on your trip should be the very best option available for you and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive. Jetset Bunnies around the globe are always discovering the latest and the greatest in travel gear for women and this is where we share our awesome finds with you.
If you’re visiting Italy during the warmer months it will be much easier to travel light. Pack mainly lightweight and breathable clothing but still be prepared for cold mornings and evenings depending on the month you visit. You’ll need to wrap up warm between November and February. So pack a warm sweater, waterproof coat, gloves, scarves and a wooly hat if you’re traveling during winter.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to Italy include, most importantly, a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Read our related blog post with advice on how to choose the best backpacks for women travelers. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
So if you’ve found your travel inspiration, figured out the practicalities and got the travel gear it’s time to stuff it all in a bag and go right? Well, no, hold your horses, you see there’s an art to packing which we have (almost) perfected. Hop to our Travel Packing Tips for all of the latest on this topic.