General Italy Tourism Information

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Italy

Italy's attractions are well known and impressive in both quality and quantity. But if you're looking for more than a superficial understanding of this rich and varied country, the sites below provide detailed information about its cities, landscapes, and culture. You'll also learn how to get there, where to stay, and what your fellow travelers were inspired to share about their Italian journeys.

General Italy Tourism Information

Most people don't need to be told why Italy is worth visiting. However, the following sites provide a useful overview for anyone wanting a taste of la dolce vita, including the country's most beautiful cities and regions, and of course, the cuisine. 

Dulcinea's Insight

  • August is the month when Italians go on vacation, and (for understandable reasons) most of them stay within their national borders. Hotels fill up and many shops and restaurants close. Plan your trip for another month if you can.
  • Venice is high up on many a traveler's to-do list. However, central Venice gets very crowded in the summer. Because its architecture, galleries, and romantic ambiance aren't dependent on the seasons for their appeal, consider visiting at another time of year. (Some canals get a little pungent in the summer heat, which is another reason to go in the off-season.)
  • In pricey restaurants, you ought to leave the kind of tip that's customary in America: around 15-20 percent of the check. But the staff in less costly establishments won't expect a gratuity.
  • The Rome City Break Feature in our Netcetera section covers the attractions of Italy's capital, providing the resources you need to make the most of the Eternal City.

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Travel Requirements for Italy

Here you'll find links to sites providing practical information on the more mundane aspects of traveling in Italy, like money and visas, and to sites focusing on the Italian language. You'll also learn about Italy's history, and ways to embrace Italy's present with festivals and events.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • Visitors to Italy who have a valid U.S. passport are entitled to stay in the country for up to 90 consecutive days without applying for a visa.
  • Even if you're not much of a linguist, it's still worth trying to grasp a bit of the native tongue. Italian has fewer irregular verbs than French, the spelling is almost phonetic, and the pronunciation is relatively easy for an English speaker.
  • Italians are generally very hospitable and encouraging even to the most tongue-tied student of the Italian language. After all, no other nationality speaks Italian, so natives tend to be pleased when a foreigner makes the effort to acquire a little of the homegrown lingo. Making things a bit easier is that many Italians, especially in large cities, speak at least some English.
  • The currency in Italy, as it is in most other European countries, is the euro. Use a free online currency converter like the one at OANDA.com [http://www.oanda.com] to find current conversion rates.

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Getting to Italy

If you're coming from the United States, you'll probably fly to Italy, although if you're already in Europe, the option of train travel should not be overlooked. The following sites will help you explore options, compare prices, and book tickets.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • The findingDulcinea Travel Web Guide offers information on how to book international flights and make sure you're getting the best deal.
  • Direct flights from the United States land in Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Airport (FCO), Milan's Malpensa Airport (MXP), or Venice's Marco Polo Airport (VCE).
  • As a benchmark when working out your itinerary, consider that a flight from New York to Rome lasts about nine hours, and Italy is six hours ahead of East Coast time.

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Getting around Italy

As slowly as possible is one answer. You'll have more time to enjoy the view when you travel by train, and rail travel in Italy is generally a comfortable and reliable option for journeys between major cities. Driving gives you less time to look out the window, but is also an option.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • Rail travel can be quite pleasant in Italy, especially on the Eurostar routes. (The Intercity and Regionale trains, which service smaller stations, aren't quite so plush.) Also, since fares are relatively inexpensive, a first-class ticket is often well worth the extra money.
  • Don't forget to validate your ticket before boarding a train. That means stamping the ticket in a little yellow machine at the station. If you fail to do so, the ticket's not activated, and you may incur a fine when you're on the train.
  • The following words will be useful not only when you're actually in Italy, but also if you're booking tickets online beforehand: "giorno" means day; "mese" means month; "arrivo" is arrival; "partenza" is departure; and "fermata" is stop as in train station or bus stop.  For more tips on learning the language, visit the "What should I know before I go to Italy?" section of this guide.
  • Alitalia forbids use of digital equipment of any kind (even portable CD players) on some of the airline's older planes; after you book your flight but before you pack, check with the airline to find out what the rules are for the particular aircraft you'll be taking so you can plan your in-flight entertainment accordingly.

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Italy Hotels

Italy's architecture and countryside are perhaps its two greatest assets. Depending on which of these piques your interest, you can choose to stay in a hostel, hotel, or vacation on a farmhouse ("agriturismo").  Use the sites below to uncover your options and settle your arrangements.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • One option you might not have considered is agriturismo, a type of farmhouse vacationing. The Italian government began sponsoring agriturismo in 1985 as a way to preserve rural traditions and economies. Agriturismo can open the door to the serene pleasures of the Italian landscape and the best of local produce, with the added bonus that your money helps to maintain the environment. See the links below for more information.
  • If you're planning on backpacking, know that hotels and hostels in Italy are often fully booked. When you can, make arrangements in advance.

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Books and Travel Blogs on Italy

Reading the accounts of other travelers' explorations is a great way to add an extra dimension to your trip. Peruse the stories of professional travel writers and fellow travelers below for revelatory pictures of adventures in Italy.

Dulcinea's Insight

  • Many of the travel Web sites we've mentioned throughout this guide have forums or message boards. Use these forums to post questions for other members to answer, or browse existing threads on topics that interest you.
  • Blogs can be another excellent source of advice and opinions from ordinary travelers. Even if a blog isn't updated regularly, it can still be worth a visit because you can read archived posts. To find blogs about traveling to Italy, use a blog search engine like Technorati[www.technorati.com] or BlogPulse[www.blogpulse.com].
  • Read the findingDulcinea Blogs Web Guide for more tips and Web sites to help you find blogs and even start your own.

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