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What you need to know about Italy
It’s easy to fall madly in love with beautiful, bustling Italy – this seductive Mediterranean country has 20 regions, each with its own traditions, architecture, dialects and glorious, glorious food.
From the market streets of Sicily to the romantic canals of Venice and the stunning hills of Tuscany, there are treasures to be found at every turn. It’s also the country that gave the world pizza and ice cream – what’s not to love?
Food and drink
If you’re looking for the ultimate foodie heaven, it has to be Italy. Dining is a national obsession, whether it’s delicate antipasti or velvety pastas swimming in delicious sauces.
Italians take time to prepare and enjoy their food, and you’ll discover a feast for the senses on every corner, from rustic country trattorias to Michelin-starred fine dining.
Tuck into a steak in Tuscany, fresh fish in Liguria, pizza in Naples or street food in Sicily, and you’ll enjoy the freshest ingredients and a touch of passione that is distinctively, delightfully Italian. Buon appetito!
When Italians aren’t eating, they’re shopping, so it’s no surprise that Italy is a shopper’s paradise.
Souvenirs can be found in abundance from Milan to Messina, or you can follow the locals to discover incredible artisan shops, speciality boutiques and street markets packed with beautiful foods, fashions, jewellery or homewares.
In Rome you’ll find a world of department stores, fashion outlets and flea markets, whilst Perugia is famous for its speciality boutiques and artisan goods. For high fashion, it has to be Milan – you’ll find the best boutiques on the Quadrilatero d'Oro, packed with the latest catwalk styles.
Italy has more artistic treasures than the rest of the world put together – it’s a country with art, history and culture in jaw-dropping abundance. Discover Michelangelo’s David and the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Giotto’s frescoes in Padua, St Mark’s Square in Venice and stunning Palladian villas at every beautiful turn.
Wherever you go in Italy, you’ll find a wealth of museums, galleries and historic treasures to be explored – a unique and ancient Italy that forms the foundations of this lively, captivating nation.
All the major regions of Italy are connected by excellent train, bus and ferry services, and most of the cities are easy to explore on foot. Hiring a car will give you freedom and flexibility, but be aware that petrol and road tolls in Italy are expensive, and Italian driving is an experience you may never want to repeat!
Driving and parking in Italian cities can be stressful, so we’d recommend public transport or taxis for getting around in the city, and save the hire car for exploring the countryside.
Things to watch out for
Lots of smaller shops in Italy still insist on cash, particularly for transactions under 10 Euros. Also don’t be tempted to tip your waiter or taxi driver – it’s not part of Italian culture, and in some places is considered an insult! Also if you fancy a latte, ask for a latte macchiato – in Italy, ‘latte’ is a glass of hot milk!