Located in Mediterranean Europe, Italy is one of the European countries of great tourist importance both for its great amount of history and for its peculiar tradition and gastronomy, making it one of the most popular places for tourism.
Information about Italy
The total population of Italy is approximately 60.7 million
The main city and capital of Italy are Rome. But, we can also find some important cities like Florence, Milan, Naples, Venice, Turin, Palermo, Genoa, Bari
Electricity in Italy
The voltage in Italy is 230 V. The plugs are type L and type F.
As we all know, the main language in Italy is Italian. But, in addition to Italian, other languages such as French, German, Slovenian, or Sardinian are also spoken.
Currency in Italy
The euro is Italy’s currency. Debit and credit cards are generally accepted and frequently utilized. Carry cash with you at all times, especially if you’re in a tiny, rural town or if an emergency arises.
Tips in Italy are not mandatory, the service is included in restaurants, taxis, hotels, and other services. However, it is customary to tip 10% in restaurants.
Security in Italy
Like many European countries, Italy is a safe country to travel to. Even so, it is necessary to take certain precautions and take care of your belongings, especially in train stations, above public transport and in tourist attractions where there are a large number of people.
You have to know that Italy is part of the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area is a group of 26 countries that abolished immigration controls at their common borders, functioning in terms of external borders as a single country. This space was created in 1995 by the Schengen Agreement. (The Schengen Area will be mentioned a few times in this article)
Do I need to know Italian to travel to Italy?
Although knowing a few words of the language of the country you are going to visit is always good advice, the truth is that traveling to Italy without knowing Italian is more than possible.
This all depends on your native language. It is almost likely that if you speak to an Italian in English, he will not understand anything you are saying unless he knows English. Luckily, in many regions of Italy, they know that tourism is gigantic and it may be that English is already spoken in many popular places, this is due to the transit of many people from other countries.
But, like any trip to a foreign country, it is always a great option to learn at least the basics of Italian, such as directions.
What are the requirements to travel to Italy?
If you are planning to visit Italy you have to know that you are required to present certain documentation to enter the country (or any member of the Schengen Area).
These documents are:
Valid passport: your passport must be valid for at least 3 months after the end of your trip. That is, if your trip is until March 30, your passport cannot expire before June 30.
Return ticket: this can be either a return ticket to your place of origin or a ticket out of the country to somewhere outside the Schengen Area.
Reservations or letter of invitation: accommodation reservations must be consistent with the itinerary that you are supposed to do during the trip. If you don’t have everything planned and you’re changing plans as you travel, it’s best to make free cancellable reservations and present them at check-in and then cancel if they’re not going to be used.
If they are going to visit someone and stay with them, they must then present a letter of invitation. This is a procedure that varies depending on the country.
In the particular case of Italy, the host must complete a letter with the data of both and sign it. At the time of travel, the guest must present the signed paper (it does not have to be original, you can print it from an email attachment, for example) along with a copy of the host’s identity document. It is not necessary to certify it or have it stamped by any official entity.
Proof of funds: to enter the Schengen area it is necessary to show economic solvency of at least 70 euros per day of stay. This doesn’t have to be all cash, credit cards or bank balances can also be shown.
Medical insurance: not only mandatory but necessary. To travel to Europe you have to prove that you have health insurance with a limit of at least 30,000 euros. As much as there are people who tell you that immigration does not ask for it, our number 1 recommendation is that you do not go to Europe, or anywhere, without good health insurance.
TIMETABLES IN ITALY
Businesses in Italy are usually open from 09:00 to 12:30 and from 15:30/16:00 to 19:30/20:00 and are usually closed all day on Sunday or Monday morning.
The hours also depend on the area and the season, for example, in summer they usually open until later.
Businesses in the center of large cities, such as Milan and Rome, remain open during lunchtime. Otherwise, the streets are empty during the lunch break when Italians take a break to eat.
Supermarkets and retail malls are open all day, six days a week, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., while some are increasingly opening on Sunday as well.
Italian meal times also vary by area and by the time of year.
But broadly speaking, breakfast is served between 7:00 and 10:00, lunch around 12:30-1:00 p.m., and dinner around 7:30-8:30 p.m. also depending on the area (in the north before and in the south after).
Out of season, it is common for restaurants and bars to close their doors earlier.
Weather in Italy
Italy’s climate varies quite a bit depending on the region. Most of the country has hot, dry summers, with July being the hottest month of the year. Winters are cold and wet in the north, and much milder in the south.
Best time to travel to Italy
Due to the somewhat extreme weather during the summer and winter, the best times to travel to Italy are spring and fall.
The mid-season of April/May and September/October ensures warm days, long hours of sunshine, and little rain.
Avoid summer in the southern areas, where temperatures exceed 40 degrees, and winter in the north, unless it’s for ski season.
Itineraries through Italy
Italy is a destination with a huge number of destinations, and that makes planning an itinerary not very easy. The simplest thing is to limit yourself to north or south, two areas already quite different from each other.
If you start from Rome, the closest thing is to visit the area of Tuscany and cities like Pisa and Florence.
Continuing north, you can visit Milan, Venice, Verona, Bologna or the picturesque area of Cinque Terre.
Heading south, the itinerary may include Naples and the Amalfi Coast and the beaches and towns of charming Sicily.
Transport in Italy
Travel by plane to Italy
If your first destination is Italy, there is a good chance that your flight will arrive at Leonardo Da Vinci Airport in Rome or Malpensa in Milan, the two largest in the country.
The Italian national airline, Alitalia, has international connections with almost all destinations in the world. Other airlines that fly to Italy are British Airways, KLM, Air France, and Lufthansa.
Among the low-cost, EasyJet and Ryanair stand out. Generally, these arrive at smaller airports, such as Ciampino in Rome.
Travel by train in Italy
If you have ever seen an Italian drive, you will know that the best transport options to travel in Italy are the trains! There are several, with good frequencies and quite affordable prices.
The other advantage of the train is that it is very practical if you want to travel to the cities of Italy, you will not have to worry about finding parking or avoiding traffic. The stations are usually well located in the city center and with extensive public transport links.
Trains in Italy are divided into:
Frecce: Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca. They are high-speed and long-distance trains that connect the main cities. It is necessary to reserve seats in advance.
InterCity: Cheaper trains than the Frecce, but also slower. Seat reservation is also required. There are night options with sleeping cars.
Regional: The cheapest of all, but also the slowest. They come to small towns and villages. There are no assigned seats, and the ticket can be used for any train within 4 hours of validation.
They can all be purchased at the station (there are several vending machines), but it is advisable to book long-distance tickets online.
The main railway operator is TrenItalia, where you can book your ticket very easily, or you can use a portal like Omio.
The most common routes are from Rome to Florence (1h30, from €20), Rome to Venice (3h35, from €30), Rome to Naples (1h10, from €20) and Rome to Milan (2.55h, from €30).
You can track train routes and get exact pricings online at places like italiarail if you really want to too.
Travel by car in Italy
Although it is by no means our preferred option, there are areas of Italy that are perhaps easier to access if you have a car. An example of this is knowing the most remote places where a train cannot reach. If you want to make this trip to the most remote villages, a car is your best option.
However, driving in this country for a few days might give you a headache, as the way people drive here is not very polite or friendly.
To rent a car in Italy you will need to have an EU license, or, if you are from another country, it is recommended to have an international driver’s license.
If you are going to drive we give you two tips:
The first is that you rent the smallest vehicle feasible. The majority of Italian cities have narrow streets with extremely narrow widths. Your automobile will be easier to drive and park if it is smaller.
The second is that you try to park in paid places or away from traffic. Like we said, driving in Italy can be crazy, and leaving your car parked anywhere can mean getting hit in a few minutes. Therefore, it is always best to look for private parking or the furthest from the rest of the world.
Actually, you can find more information about the driving rules on the official website of Italy.
Metro, Tram, and Bus in Italy
The metro systems in the major Italian cities, such as Rome, Naples, Milan, and Turin, are vast. Genoa, Catania, and Perugia are a little smaller.
It’s vital to remember that Rome’s metro system isn’t as extensive as those in other European cities like Madrid or London. Because the city has so much subsurface historical value, excavations are limited.
The cities and towns of Italy usually have urban and suburban bus lines, as well as long-distance options. These services are cheaper than the train, although they generally have limited hours on Sundays and holidays.
In Rome and Milan, the tram is an excellent alternative that connects various points in the city and is a bit more picturesque and easier to use than the buses.
Where do I buy a bus, tram, and metro ticket in Italy?
To use the bus, tram, or metro, you must purchase tickets in advance and verify them at the machines once on board. It’s crucial that you do this because if a guard checks your ticket and it’s not validated, you’ll be fined between €50 and €110.
Tickets can be purchased at newsstands or vending machines at stations.
Prices usually vary between €1 and €2 per ticket. Several Italian cities offer cheap 24-hour passes or tourist tickets.