Italy


A Visitor’s Guide To Italy

Italy in the way we recognize today is quite a modern country by European standards, having been formed in 1861 by several smaller kingdoms that decided to overcome centuries of fighting among themselves in order to form a stronger union. However, the origins of the country lie much further back than that, and the city of Rome was one of the leading lights of civilization for centuries, and at one point the Roman Empire stretched for thousands of miles. Today the country is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, and is famous for its excellent food, thriving art scene and vibrant culture.

While there are no specific threats that American citizens should be concerned about when visiting Italy, the US State Department does advise people to be wary of anything unusual or suspicious. They do also warn that there are parts of rural Italy that are susceptible to seismic activity, with earthquakes and volcano eruptions possible in these areas.

The Top Sights To Enjoy In Italy

Vatican City – A small country located within the city boundaries of Rome, visitors to the Vatican can explore the amazing collection of art and the grand buildings, as well as seeing the Sistine Chapel, with the famous fresco on the roof painted by Michelangelo.

Pompeii – Located near the modern city of Naples, Pompeii was once a thriving town of around 20,000 people, but was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the first century AD, but after renovation visitors can now see the well preserved town that was hidden for centuries.

Florence – Having once been one of the most important city states in the region, Florence is a beautiful place to visit that is famous for its remarkable art with the Pitti Palace one of the most important historic sites in the city.

The Legacy of the Roman Empire in Rome – The great Roman civilization has certainly left its mark on the sights of Rome, with the Pantheon, the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus among the stunning sights to see in the city.

Amalfi Coast – This spectacular stretch of coastline is in the south west of the country, and boasts a series of beautiful towns nestled among the steep cliffs that are accessed by the Strada Statale 163 between the towns of Amalfi and Sorrento, which is a beautiful road to drive.

The Alps – As a part of the largest mountain range in Western Europe, the southern end of the Alps stretch into northern Italy, with Mont Blanc being the largest mountain in the range with its peak marking the border between Italy and France.

Lake Garda – The largest lake in Italy is also one of its most popular tourist attractions, with several small towns and villages along the lake shore all popular destinations for visitors, with the beautiful fortifications at Sirmione among the highlights of exploring around the lake.

Villa Borghese – This large villa was built for a nephew of the Pope in Rome, but has developed into one of the most important art galleries in the city, with works by Bernini, Raphael and Titian, along with the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna looking at more recent masterpieces.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa – There are few buildings that are as iconic as this particular bell tower, with a tilt that is caused by soft ground to one side of the building, meaning that the fifty five meter high tower leans nearly four meters to one side from where it should be if it was vertical.

Venice – This wonderful city is spread over a network of islands that are connected by bridges and canals, and is famous for its beautiful traditional architecture and the boats that link different parts of the city, with the gondoliers being almost iconic as they gently propel visitors around the canals.

Where To Stay In Italy

Rome

Visconti Palace Hotel – Just a short walk from the Vatican this attractive and modern hotel is a great base from which to explore Rome, and offers some great views from the roof terrace along with access to a nice fitness center and boasting wireless internet throughout the hotel.

Impero Hotel – This hotel has a great central location near the main Termini train station in Rome, offering spacious rooms with luxury bathrooms, while a pleasant roof terrace offers a charming atmosphere in which to relax.

Venice

Hotel Rialto – A stunning hotel that offers wonderful surroundings when staying in Venice, rooms are beautifully decorated with sumptuous beds and furnishings, while its location near the Rialto Bridge is perfect for seeing all the sights of Venice.

Ca’Zose Hotel – Located a short distance from the city center within yards of a nearby water bus station, this hotel is a good choice for those looking to stay in Venice on a budget, with simple but comfortable rooms and wi-fi internet available.

Florence

NH Firenze – This modern luxury hotel is a great place for those looking for a central location with a few luxuries included, with visitors able to enjoy spacious rooms with flat screen televisions, fast internet access and a balcony area.

Machiavelli Palace Hotel – Located within a former convent this pleasant hotel offers great access to many of the city’s sights within walking distance, with well decorated rooms and a nice terrace area.

Milan

Hotel Nasco – A stylish and modern hotel that reflects the character of this northern city, visitors can enjoy modern features such as flat screen televisions and wireless internet access, while the rooms are spacious and comfortable, with lovely modern bathrooms.

Windsor Hotel – This recently refurbished hotel offers a great balance between price and features, offering guests easy access to the city center along with comfortable rooms that are an ideal place to relax after a day exploring the city.

Italian Cuisine

Food has long been one of Italy’s most famous exports, with each region of the country offering its own distinct dishes. The northern city of Bologna is famous for the quality of its food, and is a great attraction for those looking to taste the best the country has to offer, with a wide variety of meat dishes and products. One such dish is salumi e formaggi, which is a plate of different local cold cuts and cheese. Pizza is also something that is commonly available in Italy, while there are a wide variety of different dishes using pasta as a base for the wonderful olive oil and Mediterranean vegetables produced there.

There is also a strong coffee culture in Italy, and espresso is a common drink, although Italians will only drink cappuccino early in the day, opting for an espresso later in the day.

Currency and Visa

The local currency in Italy is the Euro, which is shared with many countries across Europe, and those exchanging US Dollars will usually find they will have to pay 1.37USD per Euro. Italy is also a member of the Schengen Agreement which has open borders with its neighbors, and those traveling from the United States will find that they can stay in the countries party to this agreement for up to ninety days without having to arrange a visa.

Further Reading

Italy is a country that is a delight for visitors, but the people also have their own customs and manners, and this article looks at how to enjoy your visit without offending the locals. One of the main cities that draws visitors to Italy is Rome, the majestic capital with a long and interesting history, and this article looks at some of the main attractions of the city, and its popularity as a destination. Venice is another of the great cities of Italy, and here are some great pictures of what you can expect when visiting this lovely city.

You might also want to read more about trains in Italy.