Italy as a Travel Destination

Overview of Italian History

After 21 years of fascist rule, Italy developed into a Republic following the result of an accepted referendum held on June 2, 1946.

Today, this date is celebrated by way of Festa della Repubblica (Republic Day) – Italy memorializes June 2nd of each year paying homage to the referendum seized by universal suffrage when the Italians were entitled to make a decision about the form of government by way of voting.

Climate

Italy is typically thought of as a region with sunny skies and warm temperatures. Though, the region’s climate differs depending upon the location.

The majority of the inland northern areas of Italy illustrate mild and muggy conditions, while the Po Valley bears sweltering summers and severe winters.  Spring and autumn are quite nice with the occasional hailstorm or minor tornado.

Areas along the coast consist of dry hot summers and mild wet winters.  In the higher elevations of the region, you can expect cooler temperatures and many times snow, during the winter months.

Visas & Passports

If you are a tourist visiting Italy; or you maintain citizenship within one of the 27 countries who are a part of the European Union (EU), AND your trip to Italy will be 90 days or less, you aren’t required to possess a visa.  Although be aware of the following.

  • Be sure to check the legality or validity of your passport as it should be good for at least 90 days from the point in which you arrive in Italy.  It is highly suggested that your passport is valid for at least 6 months prior to your trip.
  • Be sure that your passport has sufficient blank or unused pages, at least 2 pages, permitting for any essential stamps for departures and arrivals.
  • Always check with your airline to be sure you will not be required to carry a transit visa.  When you are flying overseas, and you are subject to layovers or connecting flights; passing through other countries as part of your travel to Italy, those countries may require a transit visa, so be sure to check with your airline if this will be the case.
  • Lastly, always check with your local consulate prior to your journey to Italy for any visa updates or changes in regulation.

Currency in Italy

Currently, Italy accepts and uses the Euro.  Euro bills are in increments of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500.  Coins are in cent increments of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50.

While in Italy, you will be able to use your Credit Card.  The fees are comparable to what you would be charged if you were using your card within your hometown.   It is advisable that you utilize your credit card to avoid high rates or fees.  Though some places may not accept credit cards and in this case it’s best to have euro on hand.

Withdrawing Italian Euro from an Italian Bank’s ATM machine, using your bankcard is also another option.  The fees or rates are slightly higher than if you were to use a credit card.

When exchanging travelers checks or currency, always exchange your money at a bank or if you hold an American Express card, at the local American Express office.  If you have time and are interested in getting the most out of your money, shop different banks to get the best exchange rate.  With each bank they will carry charts displaying exchange rates, look for the highest number in the “buying dollars” column.  Be sure to also factor in the commission fee.

NEVER exchange money on the streets or use multi-national bill-to-bill changer machines – they are extremely expensive and are frowned upon as scams.

The Language

While in Italy you would speak Italian of course!  Easier said, than done for sure!  Italian is distinguished by its dialects and accents.  Most towns and villages carry their own dialects and accents significant to the region.  As a traveler to Italy, it’s always best to learn a few phrases to minimize the language barrier.  

 

Traveling to Italy

You are able to access Italy via plane or ship.  By plane is most likely the least expensive.  It’s important to check rates so that you’re getting the best price – if possible, to access the best rates, always book a couple of months in advance.

Depending upon where you will begin your Italian adventure, there are several major airports:

Milan Linate International Airport (LIN); Milan Malpensa International Airport (MXP); Leonardo da Vinci International Airport (FCO); Trieste International Airport (TRS) Palermo International Airport (PMO)

Once you arrive in Italy, the region is accessible via local bus or train.  Hiring a private driver can also be beneficial as they are always very knowledgeable about the region and its attractions.

Cities to Visit While in Italy

To get the most out of your sight-seeing Italian adventure, the must-see cities are:

  • Rome – full of history with stunning fountains, medieval churches, museums and palaces
  • Florence – an incredible piazza, gardens and medici palaces, museums full of world famous sculptures and paintings
  • Venice – the floating city; one of the most romantic cities
  • Naples – vibrant city with historical and creative riches
  • Milan – stylish galleries, restaurants and shops
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