Italy Key Facts
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In Italy they drive on the right side of the road
When is the best time to visit?
The best time to go to Italy is from April until mid-June, and mid-September until November. Those times have the best weather, and you avoid peak tourist season. If you want to go skiing, the winter months from early December until the end of February usually bring snow in the north of Italy.
- Airports (26 international, 104 domestic)
- Ports and harbours
- Water taxi
World Heritage Sites
- 18th-Century Royal Palace at Caserta with the Park, the Aqueduct of Vantielli, and the San Leucio Complex, created specifically to rival the palaces at Versailles and Madrid
- Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardi, which is a group of 9 mountains with chapels and other features dating back to the late 16th century
- Archaeological Area and the Patriarchal Basilica of Aquileia, one of the largest and wealthiest cities of the Early Roman Empire famously destroyed by Attila
- Archaeological Area of Agrigento, founded in the 6th century BC and one of the leading cities of the Mediterranean world
- Archaeological Area of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata, a group of towns that were beautifully preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD
- Assisi, the Basilica of San Francesco and other Franciscan Sites, all are located in the medieval city of Assisi which is also the birthplace of St Francis
- Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico), Padua, the world's first botanical gardens created in 1545
- Castel del Monte, a stunning piece of medieval military architecture that blends Oriental and European building traditions
- Cathedral, Torre Civica and Piazza Grande, Modena, a stunning example of early Romanesque art that was built in the 12th century
- Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with 'The Last Supper' by Leonardo da Vinci; construction of the convent began in 1463 and the famous painting by da Vinci was painted between 1495 and 1497
- Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park with the Archaeological Site of Paestum and Velia, and the Certosa di Padula, all part of one impressive cultural landscape that documents the era's historical evolution
- City of Verona, founded in the 1st century BC with the height of its power in the 13th and 14th centuries
- City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto, which represent a unified artistic achievement with innovative architectural designs that inspired the 'Palladian' style
- Costiera Amalfitana, an area of amazing natural beauty and diversity
- Crespi d'Adda, an outstanding example of a 'company' town built during the late 19th and early 20th century
- Early Christian Monuments of Ravenna, containing a truly unique collection of early Christian mosaics and monuments
- Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia, bearing witness to the burial practices in the period from the 9th until the 1st century BC
- Ferrara, City of the Renaissance, and its Po Delta, which was an artistic and intellectual center of Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries
- Genoa: Le Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli, which date back to the time when Genoa was at the height of its seafaring and financial power
- Historic Centre of Florence, which as one stands for the Renaissance in Italy and contains numerous important works of art and buildings
- Historic Centre of Naples, which bears the marks of all cultures that emerged in the Mediterranean since it was founded in 470 BC by the Greeks
- Historic Centre of Rome, the Properties of the Holy See in that City Enjoying Extraterritorial Rights and San Paolo Fuori le Mura, all form part of the capital of the Roman Republic and later Empire and the capital of the Christian world to this day
- Historic Centre of San Gimignano, which contains masterpieces from the 14th and 15th century as well as its iconic towers
- Historic Centre of Siena, a city designed as one work of art and the main rival of Florence in historic Italy
- Historic Centre of the City of Pienza, represents the first application of the Renaissance Humanist concept of urban design
- Historic Centre of Urbino, with its remarkably well preserved Renaissance appearance
- Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto (South-Eastern Sicily), which bear witness to the genius of late Baroque art and architecture
- Longobards in Italy. Places of the Power (568-774 AD), a group of seven important buildings that attest to the achievements of the Lombards
- Mantua and Sabbioneta, two important centers for the spread of Renaissance culture
- Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany, which are twelve stunning villas and gardens built between the 15th and 17th centuries
- Piazza del Duomo, Pisa, which contains the world famous Leaning Tower
- Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto), are all part of a cultural landscape of great scenic and cultural value
- Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps, which consist of 111 sites with prehistoric dwellings dating back to around 5000 to 500 BC
- Residence of the Royal House of Savoy, an outstanding complex built to demonstrate the power of the ruling house
- Rhaetian Railway in the Albula/Bernina Landscapes, which are two historic railway lines that cross the Swiss Alps through two passes
- Rock Drawings in Valcamonica, which is one of the world's greatest collections of prehistoric petroglyphs
- Su Nuraxi di Barumini, which are the remains of a unique defensive tower only found on the island of Sardinia
- Syracuse and the Rocky Necropolis of Pantalica, which bears witness to the development of Mediterranean culture over three millennia
- The Trulli of Alberobello, which are a great example of a prehistoric construction technique still in use today
- The Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera, the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean
- Val d'Orcia, a stunning example of how landscapes were rewritten in Renaissance times
- Venice and its Lagoon, a truly extraordinary architectural masterpiece of a city
- Villa Adriana (Tivoli), a complex of buildings created by Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD
- Villa d'Este, Tivoli, a remarkable illustration of Renaissance culture
- Villa Romana del Casale, the supreme example of a luxury Roman villa
- Vineyard Landscapes of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrator, which are 5 wine growing regions with a rich cultural history
- Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands), which offer a record of volcanic island building and destruction and a very important site for the study of volcanoes
- Monte San Giorgio, the best fossil site for marine life from the period of 245-230million years ago
- Mount Etna, which is not only the highest island mountain in the Mediterranean but also the most active stratovolcano in the world
- The Dolomites, a collection of 18 peaks rising over 3,000m high and a spectacular site
Average Annual Temperature
Average Annual Rainfall
Italy is home to 7 different climatic zones. Generally speaking, the north has harsh winters and hot summers, while the south enjoys a very typical Mediterranean climate with temperate winters and hot summers. Due to the mountains, the north of Italy offers some excellent skiing in the winter months of December, January and February. Average annual temperatures in the skiing town of Cortina D'Ampezzo are around 7 degrees, whereas average annual temperatures on the southern island of Lampedusa are 19 degrees. You will generally find all four seasons in Italy.
- January 1 - New Year's Day
- January 6 - Epiphany
- March/April - Easter Sunday
- March/April - Easter Monday
- April 25 - Liberation Day
- May 1 - Labor Day/May Day
- June 2 - Republic Day
- August 15 - Assumption of Mary
- November 1 - All Saint's Day
- December 8 - Feast of the Immaculate Conception
- December 25 - Christmas Day
- December 26 - St. Stephen's Day
Why Visit Italy?
Italy is very popular destination in Europe and for good reason.
- Great food
- Cultural heritage is astounding with 50 world heritage sights
- Beautiful beaches
- Wonderful weather
Things To Do In Italy
- Have a pizza
- Eat fresh pasta
- Experience Venice
- See the Palio in Siena
- Visit the galleries in Florence
- See the Vatican
- Have truffles in the Piedmont
- Walk around Rome
- See its many UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Travel Tips For Italy
Every Italian town has a food market going on somewhere and they are a great way of exploring many different regional specialities.
Italian cuisine is probably one of the most popular cuisines in the world with many foods that are globally popular such as pizza and pasta. However, when you get to Italy you discover that those two dishes are only a tiny amount of what Italians actually eat and there is so much more to Italian cuisine than you thought. Every region and often every town makes use of a different combination of ingredients and techniques to produce its own unique tastes and flavors. Generally speaking you will find more butter and rice based foods in the north, while the south relies more on olive oil and pasta as staples, and central Italy happily mixes both and throws in some meat. Risotto, the famous creamy rice, is best eaten in the north, particularly in Lombardy and the Piedmont. The Piedmont is also a famous truffle region and if you come here in September the smell of truffles will be everywhere. Pizza is best enjoyed in Naples, but you will find good pizzerias in most bigger Italian towns and pizza slices are also very popular foods on the go. While you are in Venice, make sure to try their famous sandwiches: tramezzini, which are made of a light, crustless white bread and a myriad of delicious fillings. For travellers with a sweet tooth Italy also offers well too many delicious options: you can try some world-famous gelato (ice-cream), enjoy a tiramisù (cake made with thick, sweet cream and coffee soaked ladyfingers), profiteroles (custard filled choux pastry balls), panna cotta (vanilla flavored cream pudding), or any of the many other desserts. Italians are really proud of their food, and they have good reason to be!
Italy's Travel Safety and Warnings
Italy is quite safe for travellers, however in big cities:
- Keep an eye on your belongings
- Be mindful of scam artists - on the street, your taxi driver, tour guide, accommodation provider
- Purse snatchers are prevalent, carry your hand bag on your front or we're a satchel style bag across your body and not over one shoulder.
- Be wary of pick pockets when lots of people are around, in busy tourist areas and on public transport
- Ensure you have adequate travel insurance for Italy.
This small soccer mad nation, with its countless historical sites, gorgeous cities, stunning food, friendly locals, and beautiful scenery is probably one of the most popular travelling destinations in the world.
In fact, you could go to Italy on holidays for the next 30 years, and still not see everything there is or taste even a fraction of all the delicious foods.
Get your visas in order, make sure you have appropriate travel insurance for Italy, and go explore this beautiful Mediterranean country that gave us Pizza, Pasta, and Espresso.
What to do in Italy:
If Greece is the birthplace of modern, western civilization, then Italy would be everything from kindergarten to university. Ancient Romans took Greek culture, philosophy, science and art and transformed it with their own ideas to create the culture we have today.
Italy's cultural and historic heritage is immense, and it is the country with the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. Truly, wherever you look, there is something to see, and somebody probably wrote about it too!
Rome is the capital and an absolutely amazing city, perhaps one of the world's most romantic cities too! From the huge squares, the tiny cobbled roads, the smell of coffee and good food, the amazing nightlife, and the Vatican, there is enough to see and do in Rome to fill an entire holiday or several.
The nice thing is that the monuments are scattered around town and form part of one urban fabric.
Italy and its cities are usually very safe for travellers, it’s best to watch out for petty crime and purse-snatchers though.
The Colosseum and Forum Romanum should be on everybody's list - they are astonishing sites. You truly get a sense of ancient Roman culture and gain a lot of respect for what they were able to build without even so much as a power tool!
The Vatican is, technically speaking a state of its own, but it is also conveniently located within Rome. St Peter's square is mesmerizing in scale and scope, and the number of artworks and statues in this area must be in the thousands.
If you had to pick one thing to see in the Vatican, head to the Sistine Chapel.
Not only is it a true masterpiece of technique, skill and imagination, it has recently been fitted with hundreds of LED lights, making it more visible than it ever was before!
The most traditional destination for a romantic getaway is Venice. This city is an engineering marvel, with every single building being built on stilts. The architecture and monuments will keep you busy for a while, as will finding them, but if you have some time to spare make sure to explore the surrounding islands, such as Murano.
Murano is a series of islands that are famous for their glass production, and seeing a man shape a prancing horse out of a molten blob of sand in 30 seconds is quite the sight to behold.
Florence is also a firm favorite with travellers. The Palazzo degli Uffizi houses probably one of the most important and valuable collections of classic art in the world. The Doumo and its surrounding area are home to many museums and palaces that are well worth checking out.
To have a real Italian experience make sure to sit in a coffee shop and see the world go by while looking sophisticated and sipping on an espresso.
But Italy is not only about big cities, the countryside has as much to offer. Around Florence is the Tuscany region that is home to many smaller, gorgeous medieval cities, such as San Gimignano, Pisa, and Siena.
North of Tuscany is the Piedmont, which is famous for its wines and the truffle season in September, when every town in the Piedmont smells of, and sells the famous fungus.
As a general travel precaution, buy travel insurance for Italy before starting your trip.
For more information on Italy, visit the Italy Tourism Website.
City Profile: Venice
Venice is made up of 122 Islands, connected by 40 bridges - famous ones are the Rialto Bridge which spans the Grand Canal and the Bridge of Sighs, originally used to transport prisoners to prsion, with the centre of the city being St Mark’s Square…and there’s not a car in sight! Travel is purely by foot, “hailing” a gondola, catching a vaporetti (water bus) or train. Take in the spectacular views of the Venetian islands from the Bell Tower and there are churches, bridges, markets and palaces from the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th centuries all for your viewing and walking pleasure. Oh, and of course the obligatory side walk café should you need some refreshments!