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Italy

About

Though the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, Italy has remained a major influence worldwide on everything including food, wine, art, fashion, and religion. Travelers visiting Italy in search of their personal "dolce vita" have 20 regions from which to choose. An Italy vacation can include exploring major cities such as Rome, Florence, Milan, or Venice, or meandering through the tiny hill towns and vineyards of Tuscany and Umbria. Beachgoers visit the Amalfi Coast along the Mediterranean and the Italian Riviera on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the popular summertime months, while experienced skiers and trekkers head to the Italian Alps year-round. Visiting Italy can require a good deal of preliminary research, particularly to narrow down destinations and activities. One of the most comprehensive resources on the Web is the Italian Government Tourist Board, which offers in-depth information by region, as well as information and travel tips about Italy in general, including practical topics such as accommodations, money, shoe- and clothing-size comparisons, and laundry services. You can indulge your less pragmatic side on ItalianCulture.net. The website features many pages of Italian art, design, opera, language, fashion, cuisine, and of course, wine. Rick Steves, guidebook author and PBS favorite, is a great resource for first-hand information from a lifelong Italy lover and budget traveler. Steves' Best Destinations: Italy section is a treasure trove of articles about Italy, with helpful itineraries and walking tours, as well as articles on everything Italian, such as sports, festivals, liquor, and food. The online version of Frommer's Italy guidebook has lots of information about dining, accommodations, and attractions around Italy, and has individual pages for each region and many cities. Fodors' website has rather extensive "mini-guides" for 10 destinations, including Florence, Rome, and Venice, but also the Amalfi Coast, the Riviera, and Sicily. If you want information on specific destinations, you'll likely have better luck researching each city or region on its own rather than the country as a whole. For city-specific travel tips, the best place to start is the official tourist office for each city, like those for Florence, Rome, and Venice.

A few more sites for information

  • Dream of Italy: Devoted Italophile Kathy McCabe updates her Italy blog daily, and offers a newsletter full of insider's tips on shopping, food, and travel with subscriptions starting at $79 per year.
  • WineCountry.net: Features information about Italy's wine regions and news and articles about Italian wine.
  • Trenitalia: The website for Italy's rail system has information about fares and timetables, as well as an online booking system.

When To Go

Italy has a temperate climate that varies by region and season. Although the most popular time to visit is during the warm summer months, winter can also be a busy time for ski areas. The spring and fall feature mild temperatures and fewer crowds. Spring is often the best time to find deals.

high season: mid-May to September, lateDecember to January
low season: October to mid--December
shoulder season: February to early-May

Weather Information

Summers are usually hot and dry in the south, and hot and humid in the north and central part of the country, with cooling sea breezes along the coast. Winter can offer ideal conditions for skiing in the mountains, but can also be cold, foggy, and wet with snow in the north and rain in the south. Spring tends to be pleasant, with occasional thunderstorms or sporadic showers. The fall also experiences mild temperatures, but the rains are heavier.

Crowd Information

The art cities of Florence, Venice, Rome, Bologna, Sienna, Palermo, and Milan, as well as beaches, tend to be very busy in July and August. Christmas is a popular time for visits to the cities, as well as to mountain ski areas. Check with specific destinations for local events and festivals that attract crowds.

Closure Information

Many offices shut down on Saturdays, while all close for the entire day on Sundays and usually Monday mornings, except in major tourist areas during the high seasons. Stores and attractions are closed for public holidays such as Easter, Labor Day (May 1), Ferragosto (August 15), Christmas, New Year's Day, and Epiphany (January 6). Shops in individual cities may close or reduce hours of operation for a patron saint's celebration.

When to Save

Reduced prices are available on lodging during the spring shoulder season.

When to Book

To find the best deals and ensure availability, book January through March for travel during the summer high season.

Information provided by the Italian Government Tourist Board

A few more sites for information

  • Italy-weather-and-maps.com: Here you will find current weather for the entire country, divided by specific region or province, and information on what weather to expect when you visit.
  • Italian Government Tourist Board: This website provides links to events such as opera, music, sports, and cultural happenings taking place all over Italy.
  • The information and websites listed here were valid at the time of publication, but some details may have changed since that time. Please check directly with the provider for the latest information.