Italy Travel Guide
Ancient history, chic fashion and culinary sensations
Travel Guide to Italy
There’s a reason why La Dolce Vita is famously associated with Italy. Where else can you find breathtaking scenery, delicious food and wine, captivating art, fascinating history, trendy fashion and fast cars, all in one spot? Italy really does excite the senses like no other.
But this Italian extravaganza wasn’t built in a day. Italy was the birthplace of the Roman Empire and Renaissance and as you traverse the country, you’ll stand face-to-face with some of the world’s most iconic masterpieces from this long, winding history.
Rich in culture and charm, feel transported to another world as you experience the winding canals of Venice, family vineyards of Tuscany, Renaissance wonders of Florence, ancient marvels of Rome, and the decaying beauty of Naples. Venture outside these hotspots however, and you will find that Italy has undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in Europe. Explore between a sunny Mediterranean coastline, enchanting alpine lakes perfect for romantic getaways, and impressive mountain ranges ideal for hiking and skiing.
It’s a challenge to break away from the magic of Italy’s top sights, even if they are expensive and crowded. But Italy has so much more to offer on a local level than people think. With much of the country’s towns and villages still overlooked, the perfect opportunity awaits for you to navigate into the deeper, more traditional Italy for a truly fulfilling Italian experience. Here you’ll find random festivals, farm-to-table food prepared slowly with love, amazing wines you’ve never heard of, and friendly people that have truly mastered the art of slow living with old world charm.
Food Glorious Food
Italian food is one of the most diverse in the world. Eating it is like sightseeing for your palate. Like the language and culture, food in Italy differs with each region, city and village. It is this assortment of regional cuisines which make up the country’s complex gastronomical identity, and together, they reflect Italy’s ethnic, geographic and agricultural diversity.
Regardless of where you go, though, a few things can be settled: fresh, quality produce is paramount; eating is all about enjoyment – to be done together; and wine was made to complement every meal.
Foodies are well at home in Italy, but you don’t have to be an eating aficionado to appreciate the revered meats, heavenly cheeses, and delicious pizza and pasta dishes of each region. While Italian food favours simplicity, it is equally fine-tuned and sophisticated, causing each bite to feel like a revelation. Predictably so, Italy is home to some of the world’s top fine-dining destinations.
Prepare to undo a button or two when you come to Italy as you enjoy an odyssey of food ranging from aperitivo nibbles to three-hour long degustations, all washed down with delicious, locally produced wine.
Cradle of the Roman Empire and birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy packs an enormous historical legacy and is decorated with some of Europe’s greatest cultural sights and artistic masterpieces.
Fittingly, it’s also host to the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, meaning you’re never short of something to see and do. As you explore Italy, you’ll get up close and personal with the ruins of Pompeii, the monumental Colosseum and Roman Forum, St. Mark’s Square, the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s David, Botticelli’s Venus and da Vinci’s The Last Supper… the list is as thrilling as it is overwhelming.
What’s certain is that regardless of what you choose to see, each site will give you a deeper appreciation for the ingenuity and beauty which Italy has to offer.
Passion for Italian Fashion
Made in Italy is as much a look as it is a feeling. Art and life come to an effortless confluence in Italian fashion, which just like its luxury vehicles, has a signature style of quality and elegance. Brands such as Versace, Prada, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino dominate the streets of Italy, furnished on well-dressed locals going about their daily lives.
Unsurprisingly, fashion is of the great attractions for tourists flocking to Italy, and shopping is indeed a guilty pleasure that can be easily mixed in with visits to monuments and museums. From boutique stores with emerging designers to the most famous labels, Italy is a magnet for those seeking the trendiest clothing and styles. If fashion is your thing, leave some space in your suitcase as you’re going to need it!
Italy’s Micro Nations
Two of the smallest sovereign countries in the world reside landlocked within Italy: the hill town Republic of San Marino, and the world’s most famous theocracy, Vatican City.
San Marino is an echo of an older era when city-states thrived across Europe. Situated on the Italian Peninsula bordering the Le Marche and Emilia-Romagna regions, this hilly nano-nation is just over 61 square kilometers and has about 32,000 residents. Somehow, this scenic oasis of blue skies, rugged mountains and rolling hills has managed to remain an independent state since AD 301 and is one of the world’s oldest surviving republics. As a result, it retains much of its historical architecture and cultural appeal.
Interestingly, San Marino’s passport stamps are some of the most sought after in the world for this reason. Visiting San Marino makes for a great day trip, however it is typically packed during the day. Stay till after dark when the tourists leave though, and you will see a rare calm sweep over this cute little country.
The Vatican is a tiny walled enclave within the city of Rome which covers an area of 110 acres, or 1/8th of the size of Central Park in New York. Ruled by the Pope, the country has about 1,000 residents and although it is incredibly small, it contains some of Italy’s most celebrated masterpieces. Many of its most revered works are housed in the vast Vatican Museums, which you will need at least a full morning to explore.
The highlight is the Sistine Chapel decorated by Michelangelo. St Peter’s Basilica is another major attraction, and it’s easy to see why – its sheer size and the love and toil that went into building it will make your jaw drop. Vatican City also contains the famous St. Peter’s Square where the Pope delivers his speeches and blessings.
Official Language: Italian
Population: 61 million
Currency: Euro (EUR)