Famous for its food, wine, architecture, history, and art, Italy boasts a stunning natural landscape and a very proud culture. A country whose impact has spread across the planet, travelers flock to Italy to experience everything it has to offer.
Once the heart of the Roman Empire and the birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy is known as a culinary star and fashion powerhouse. Home to 59 million citizens (as of 2021) and still a leader in the modern world, the country has been inspiring people for centuries.
Livin’ La Vida Italy
Benvenuto – Welcome to Italy!
With a series of famous itineraries, travelers are eager to experience history in Rome, amore in Venice, wine in Tuscany, and the haunted past in Pompeii. Along the way, you’ll also be able to dip your toes in Italian fashion or entertain your mouth with their rich cuisine.
On the streets, you’ll learn to appreciate the finer things in life, a concept that Italians hold dear with their unlimited sophistication and class. Once referred to as Roma Caput Mundi, Rome’s time as the capital of the world has ended and it is now the capital of Italy.
But that doesn’t mean that this city has diminished in any way. If any city still deserved the title of “the world capital”, it’s Rome. With iconic sites like the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Vatican City, Rome is where history comes alive.
The city’s extensive past will always be marked in the history books but experiencing it in real life will take you to the next level of travel. With a little taste of la dolce vita, Rome will have you constantly dropping your jaw in amazement.
- Culture and Language
- Spending Budget
- How to Get Around
- Top Cities to Visit
- Points of Interest
Culture and Language
It would be very fair to say that it will be impossible to cover the history of Italy in this section. Even summarizing it would fill several chapters of a book. There is not one period of Italian history that slides under the radar. Seriously, from the pre-historic times to the Roman period, Renaissance, World War II, and modern life, Italy is a true powerhouse.
From the earliest period, Ötzi the Iceman is Italy’s famous icon that was found in the southern Alps. This ancient mummy is dated back to about 3400-3100 BCE and remained a significant find that tells us not only about Italy’s unique past but the development of the human race.
Italy’s next most famous time in history began in 753 CE, which is when the capital, Rome, was first founded. The Romans are famous for their high intelligence with the development of aqueducts, bridges, dams, and amphitheaters.
With better sanitation, the Roman Empire was able to thrive and expand across much of Europe, North Africa, and West Asia. The Romans drove to better understand our world and how it works, as they strongly believed in stoicism, which helped push and advance the human race.
Italy would only flourish more and by the 15th century, the Renaissance was born. During this time that the arts, literature, architecture, and science expanded by bounds and leaps. Some of the icons of the Italian Renaissance include Michelangelo’s David, Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, and Sandro Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.
Florence was the heart of the Renaissance and from that northern epicenter, it spread throughout the country. But the Renaissance was much more than art. It can after the time of the Black Death, which devastated Italy and helped rebuild both the country’s trade industry and economy. Beyond Italy’s positive influence, they have also had dark times.
Their entry into World War II came after a time when fascism began to rise, and it only tied Italy closer to Germany. Mussolini supported Hitler, and for a time, they were allies. But as fascism began to fall, the alliance severed, and Italy officially declared war on Germany in October 1943. Italy then worked hard to become a democratic republic.
Today, Italy is a positive world leader who has a relatively stable government.
Italy is now famous for its culture, from its art to its cuisine and architecture. Family and religion are important to many Italians. The dominant religion is Roman Catholicism, which is centered in Vatican City, which is an independent state located within Rome.
Italians are happy and they are known for having high class and sophistication. With pride in their history and culture, Italians are happy to welcome visitors into their world.
Language is another important part of the culture, which also adds to a country’s identity. Italy’s official language is Italian. The Italian language is also the most widely spoken language throughout Italy. Italian is a Romance language and the one considered to be most similar to Latin.
However, due to the country’s location and popularity, a variety of other European languages may also be spoken. The English language is also spoken in Italy, but it’s not as widespread. Instead, travelers are most likely going to encounter English in major cities like Rome or Madrid.
Travelers are often eager to fulfill their wanderlust and set off for their destination. But before you can go chasing your dreams, you need to be sure that you can afford to travel abroad. A spending budget is the best way for travelers to estimate how expensive their trip will be. As a part of Europe, most people would assume that Italy is overly expensive, which is true.
But travelers who plan ahead can also visit this stunning country on a budget. Airfare, accommodation, food, drink, and transportation are the key portions of your spending budget.
Airfare is always a large chunk of your budget because traveling across any ocean is expensive. Italy is no exception to this rule, and you’ll have to be prepared to buy an expensive ticket.
For US travelers, the average cost of an airline ticket from the United States to Italy is around one thousand dollars. However, if you’re looking to travel on a budget you may want to consider having flexible arrival and departure dates. Some budget airline ticket sites may have special deals, which lower the price of a ticket.
But when you’re looking at ticket prices online, you should notice that the price will increase during the tourist high season. Most people actually consider there to be three tourist seasons in Italy, which range from the peak, shoulder, and off-season.
Italy’s peak tourist season begins in mid-June and ends in August. The shoulder tourist season begins in April and ends in mid-June as the high season picks up. While finally, the off-season runs from November to March.
With each season, you’ll notice different airline ticket prices. The most expensive time to travel is peak season, with prices decrasing during the off-seaso. Last-minute bookings to Italy will also be incredibly expensive and you should look to make your reservation as soon as possible.
While it always gives travelers a jolt of excitement to book their tickets, you also need to get excited to make bookings for your accommodation. All travelers need a safe place to stay every night of their trip, so you’ll need to find hostels, hotels, or Airbnb bookings to fulfill your needs. With plenty of options, you should be able to find accommodation that fits your budget, as well as your preferences.
For budget travelers, hostels are the way to go because they will be the most affordable option. Most dorms are fairly priced, but if you need a bit more personal space, private rooms are also an option. Budget hotels are another great choice that won’t break the bank, however, don’t expect the best amenities.
Nicer hotels are more expensive, and you should expect to pay a few hundred dollars per night. If you’re looking for something centrally located or a luxury location, you will need to increase your budget drastically.
Airbnb is another accommodation option and it can be great for travelers who are on a budget but still want the privacy of a hotel. Private rooms are often listed on Airbnb for a reasonable amount, and if you’re traveling in a group, splitting a location can be a great option.
Many booked accommodations will also provide some form of breakfast, which would be included in the price.
Italy is famous for its cuisine with pizza and pasta hogging the limelight. But there’s a lot more to Italian cuisine than their famous exported dishes. Aside from the wide range and variations of pasta and pizza, Italy has some other tasty dishes that you’ll be eager to try.
One scrumptious dish is arancini, which is a rice ball stuffed with cheese, tomato sauce, and ragú. The rice ball is then breaded and fried to perfection. Osso buco alla Milanese is another meal with a strong aroma. The dish is made of veal shanks with fresh vegetables and a rich, white wine sauce. For a salty treat, you should try prosciutto, which is cured ham in thin slices.
A switch from savory to sweet also unlocks a whole new slew of tasty treats. Gelato is an icon in Italian culture, and it is a great way to cool down after a day exploring the city. Torrone is Italy’s version of a hard candy, which is made with honey, egg whites, citrus, and nuts.
Finally, you can’t leave Italy without trying a true Tiramisu. This famous pasty is beloved by locals and travelers alike.
Unfortunately, good food comes at a cost, and many travelers will find themselves splurging for Italian cuisine. While budget travelers who cook for themselves and only eat out occasionally can survive by spending much less, those who want to eat out more should be prepared for a hefty bill.
Most restaurant meals will be fairly pricey, especially since Italy is known for its food. If you’re looking for something high-end of Michelin-rated, you will need to double or triple your budget, as it can cost hundreds for a meal.
Italy is also known for its wine, which is surprisingly affordable. Many of the house wines are packed with flavor and they can cost as little as a euro. None-house wines will still be very cheap, so don’t be too concerned about spending too much when it comes to drinking.
Beers will cost about the same and hard alcohol can be a few US dollars more per drink. Consider ordering one of these famous Italian cocktails with rum to imbibe.
How to Get Around
With so many places to visit, many travelers will need to select a mode of transportation to reach their new destination. The extensive transportation network in Italy makes it easy to travel and you can choose a mode that fits your budget. Budget airlines, buses, trains, ferries, and public transportation are the most popular ways to travel around Italy.
While some budget flights cost under one hundred dollars, you should expect to a bit more per flight. For some travelers this is expensive, but for others, the airplane offers a fast mode of transportation that allows you to see more of Italy in less time.
Buses and Trains
Buses are a more affordable alternative to airplanes, but they will be slower. Most bus tickets will be reasonably priced, however, if you’re looking to get somewhere faster, Trains are another more costly, but quicker, option.
Public transportation is well-established in major hubs and the best way to get around big cities. Most rides on public transportation will cost minimal, however, you can also pay a little more and hail a taxi or order an Uber.
The absolute best way to keep a tight budget is to walk. In the big cities, walking is safe and free. But travelers still need to be alert about their surroundings and keep any bags or purses close to their bodies.
Top Cities to Visit
If you’ve never been to Italy, or even if you have, you may be overwhelmed by all the city destinations. Each boasting different landscapes and historical landmarks, your itinerary will be packed full of adventure. With plenty of places to choose from, here are the best cities in Italy that are worth a visit.
Rome is the best way to get introduced to Italy and its impressive history. The city is famous for its sights and sounds, as well as its ornate architecture. With sites preserved from Roman times and Renaissance treasures, you can explore the biggest parts of Italian culture in this lively hub.
Venice is most famous for its canals because the entire city was built on top of a lagoon. With boats constantly cruising along the water highways, Venice has become one of Italy’s treasured beauties. With plenty to see and do, Venice will capture your heart as you traverse the narrow corridor-like streets.
Home to the Renaissance, Florence is where Italian art thrived. There are multiple museums that pay tribute to the Renaissance past and hold amazing works of art like Michelangelo’s David. But the geographical location of Florence also places it in Tuscany and makes it a gateway to explore this stunning area.
Milan oozes sophistication with its high art, fashion, cuisine, shops, and galleries. A fast-paced lifestyle makes it one of Italy’s busiest cities, but visitors still take the time to view masterpieces like da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” painting or the famous opera house, La Scala.
Acting like a gate to the southern region, a visit to Naples is a must for people who are headed to Pompeii or the Amalfi Coast. The city is just another place that holds plenty of Italian artifacts that pay homage to the country’s history and culture.
Points of Interest
While Italy’s cities often hold the most coveted treasure, you can also liven up your trip by visiting some points of interest. Italy’s hottest attractions will draw you in and display more of the country’s beauty. Boasting plenty of historic sites, here are some of the top tourist hotspots in Italy.
Discover the best of Italy’s thermal springs to add to your itinerary, on our sister site, Top Hot Springs.
Encased in ash, Pompeii is famous for being frozen in time. Or super-heated to have time suspended. Caused by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD, tourists now visit Pompeii to see the mosaics, ruins, and sculptures that remain.
Like taking a time machine to the past, you can glimpse what life was like in Ancient Italy. Pompeii is also famous for the bodies of people who attempted to escape their fate.
Leaning Tower of Pisa
Italy and the Leaning Tower of Pisa go hand in hand. The tower is one of the most iconic sights in Italy and has become a favorite for cheesy tourist photos. But the tower is just one highlight and there’s more to see at the connected church and city of Pisa.
Lake Como is nature’s gift to Italy. Here, mega-mansions and villas sit along an idyllic landscape that has green mountains and clear water. With a Mediterranean-like feel, people have fallen in love with this area and you may even encounter someone famous on its shores.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Amalfi Coast stretches from the city of Naples to Sorrento and boasts colorful cliffside buildings that are stacked along a jagged and rocky coastline. Positano and Amalfi are the two most visited towns, but you can tour the entire area by boat for a better perspective.
While Vatican City is located within Rome, it’s considered to be its own state. St. Peter’s Square is the highlight alongside the Sistine Chapel. Inside the Vatican Museum, there are priceless works of art by Michelangelo and Italy’s other great masters.
“Bel Paese” (“Beautiful Country”)
With such a big impact on our history and the world today, it’s no wonder that Italy is consistently on travelers’ bucket lists. But with so much to experience, it’s impossible to even see all the highlights in one trip.
Italy should be traveled with leisure. Don’t worry about seeing it all the first time around because Italy will enchant you to return for a new adventure!