Visiting the land where the foundations of western civilization were laid is always educational and edifying. It is also delicious, as the Romans have been testing out their recipes, sauces and fine wines for at least a couple millenia. Walk where the Caesars walked, view the amazing artistic genius of mankind in museums and churches in Rome, Florence, Venice and elsewhere, gaze at the quiet caldera of Vesuvius from the streets of Pompeii, or hike to the edge of Etna in Sicily. The past is always present in Italy, and it is rich indeed.
Italy is a country where history, art, food, fashion and “la dolce vita” — “the good life” — combine to form an unforgettable experience for most visitors. Whether visiting one of Italy’s cities, places where western civilization was nurtured, or getting out into the countryside, a land of rolling vineyards and agricultural fields and tiny hilltop villages, Italy is an immensely rewarding place.
All roads, they say, lead to Rome, and certainly, visiting this ancient city is a remarkable experience. From wandering around the Roman ruins on the Palatine Hills, tossing a coin into the Trevi fountain, making a pilgrimage to the Vatican and its many museums and holy places, or gabbing with the tourists on the Spanish Steps, Rome is endlessly fascinating. It’s hard to find a bad restaurant in this city, nor a meal that doesn’t feature a delicious wine from one of Italy’s many wine-growing regions.
Of course, Italy’s other urban districts are also well worth a visit. The canals of Venice, the museums and churches of Florence, the style and high finance of Milan, and the sun and sights of Naples are all hard to beat. Go back in time to the medieval cities of Padua and Pisa, Assisi and Verona.
Then there are the beautiful vistas of Tuscany, the towering peaks of the Dolomites, the azure-blue seas of the Italian Riviera and the Adriatic, the lush Po Valley and the sleepy villages of Sicily. Beautiful people gravitate to the isles of Capri and Sardinia and the lake district of the southern Alps.
And everywhere are reminders of Italy’s historic past. There are Roman villas and roadways. Medieval palaces and churches. Battlegrounds from before Christ and the last World War. All in today’s vibrant and active European nation.
Italy is a moveable feast for those whose for whom life is never sated.
Italian is Italy’s mother tongue. English and other European languages are understood in most of the major urban and tourism areas.
The official currency is the Euro (€). The euro is divided by 100 cents. The U.S. dollar buys approximately € 0.88.
The electrical current in Italy is 220-240V AC, 50Hz. Socket and plugs typically are either two or three round prongs. Adapters and converters may be necessary.
Internet connections and WiFi spots are found throughout the country. Most major hotels provide good accessibility.
Tourist visas are not required of visitors from the USA, Europe and most western nations. A valid passport is required for entry. Tourists may legally stay in Italy for up to 90 days.
Tap water is generally safe to drink throughout Italy. Exceptions are water on trains and anywhere where one sees a sign that says “acqua non potabile” and/or a pictogram of a glass with a slash or X across it.
Italy is in the Central European Time zone, which is GMT +2. Italy observes daylight savings time from the last Sunday in October to the last Sunday in March. When it is noon in New York, it is 6 p.m. in Rome.
Although visitors arrive year-round, Italy’s peak tourist season is in the summer months: May through October.