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We're Andre & Lisa, adventurers and experienced budget travelers.

We have over two decades of travel experience and since 2018 have led a full-time nomadic lifestyle.

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ITALY TRAVEL GUIDE

Country Introduction

Italy, a country synonymous with history, art, and gastronomy, invites travellers to embark on a journey through its vibrant culture and stunning landscapes. From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the historic streets of Rome, each region offers a unique tapestry of experiences. Whether you're drawn to the romance of Venice's canals, the ancient ruins of Pompeii, or the fashion capital of Milan, Italy promises an adventure that will captivate your senses and leave you with unforgettable memories.

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Quick Facts

Italy is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. It is one of Western Europe's youngest countries, having unified in 1861, yet it possesses a history that dates back thousands of years with Rome being over 2,000 years old.


Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country, a testament to its profound cultural impact. It's also the birthplace of many scientific advancements; for instance, the battery was invented there, and it's the home of the oldest population in Europe.


  • Currency: Italy has the Euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries.

  • Electricity: 230V AC electricity. Power outlets are round two-prong sockets (type F which also accepts type C and type E). Be sure to pack a universal travel adaptor so you can still use all your electronic gadgets. If you are from a country with 110V as a standard be aware that you will need a voltage converter.

  • Visa: Italy is a member state of the European Union and Schengen Agreement. Citizens of EU countries can enter Italy freely on a valid passport or national identity card, while those from many non-EU countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, among others, do not need a visa for a stay of up to ninety days. All other nationals should consult the relevant embassy about visa requirements.

  • Safety: Italy, like most of Europe, is a generally safe country. While violent crime involving tourists is rare, petty theft is not uncommon in all the big cities, on beaches, and at major tourist sights. Tourist scams are most prevalent in bigger cities such as Rome, Milan, or Naples. Make sure that you don’t accept any “gifts” in the form of trinkets, flowers, or bracelets from any vendors. Be stern and respond to them saying "no" or "vai via" ("go away"). Do not help someone “trying to break a large cash note” as this is notoriously fake money. In most places tap water is perfectly drinkable and where it is not, a "NON POTABILE" warning is usually visible. After leaving a restaurant or other commercial facility, it is possible, though unlikely, that you are asked to show your bill and your documents by Guardia di Finanza agents. This is perfectly legitimate (they are checking to see if the facility has printed a proper receipt and will thus pay taxes on what was sold). It's a good idea to review your insurance coverage before you leave to make sure it's adequate. We would suggest checking out either SafetyWing or World Nomads, for travel insurance as they have the best coverage for active travellers.

  • Language: Italy's primary language is Italian and although English is understood and spoken in larger cities and tourist destinations this should not be relied on. Once you venture into the countryside and visit smaller, rural villages you should be prepared for no English whatsoever.


Italians consume around fourteen billion espressos annually! Italy is also the world's largest wine producer, emphasizing the country's deep-rooted wine culture.

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SEASONS AT A GLANCE

Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists. 

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

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Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY

Best time to visit

While you can visit Italy all year round, it’s worth knowing what to expect in each season, especially if you need a particular climate for your travels or if you’re planning on hitting all the top tourist attractions but want to avoid the crowds.


Italy's best travel months are May, June, September, and October. Unfortunately, they can also be the busiest and most expensive time to visit. Crowds aside, these months combine the convenience of peak season with pleasant weather.


The heat in July and August can be gruelling, particularly in the south, where temperatures regularly exceeded 30°C. August is also when many Italians take their summer vacations and the big cities tend to be quiet this time, but beach and mountain resorts are jam-packed. You can also expect the scene in the major historic cities – Rome, Florence, Venice – to be slightly artificial, as the only people around will be fellow tourists.


  • April & May: Perfect spring weather; ideal for exploring vibrant cities and blooming countryside.

  • June & July: Summer means beach weather and a packed festival calendar.

  • September & October: Enjoy mild temperatures, autumn cuisine, and the vendemia (grape harvest).


Between November and April, you can expect cooler weather, and you'll miss most of the sweat and stress of the tourist season - although during major holidays crowds can certainly gather. Off-season, you should expect shorter hours at tourist sights, more lunchtime breaks, and much fewer available activities. During the middle of winter, temperatures often drop to near 0°C in the Milan area and beach towns are nearly shut down.


The best time to visit Italy, in terms of the weather and lack of crowds, is April to late June, and September or October. If you’re expecting beach time and plan to swim, however, bear in mind that only the south of the country is likely to be warm enough outside the May to September period.

BEST TIME FOR:

Hiking and trekking

Italy offers a plethora of hiking and cycling opportunities that cater to a variety of preferences, whether you're looking for scenic coastal paths or challenging mountain trails. For those interested in hiking, the Dolomites present awe-inspiring routes with their towering peaks and picturesque valleys.

The Dolomites

The Amalfi Coast, with its cliff-hanging trails, offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean. Cyclists can enjoy the diverse landscapes of Tuscany's vineyards or the historic paths of the Cinque Terre.


The best time for these activities is during the spring months of March to May and the autumn period from September to November. These seasons provide pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds, allowing for a more enjoyable experience. Additionally, the autumn season aligns with the harvest period, adding an extra layer of charm to the scenery.

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ITALY TRAVEL COSTS

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As in every country, you can travel around for as cheap or as expensive as you want. Italy can be one of the more expensive European countries to visit, but how much a visit will cost depends on where in the country you go and when. Much of Italy is little or no more expensive than its Eurozone neighbours, with reasonably priced accommodation and restaurant food. That said, you’ll find the south much less expensive than the north and as a broad guide, expect to pay most in Venice, Milan, Florence, and Bologna, less in Rome, while in Naples and Sicily prices drop quite a lot in comparison. During the height of summer, in July and August when the Italians take their holidays, hotel prices can escalate; outside the season, however, you can often negotiate much lower rates.


Some basics are reasonably inexpensive, such as transport and, most notably, food, although drinking can be pricey unless you stick to local wine. Room rates are in line with much of the rest of Europe, at least in the major cities and resorts. As an indication, you should be able to survive on a budget of about €50–60 per day if you stay in a hostel, have lunchtime snacks and a cheap evening meal. If you stay in a mid-range hotel and eat out twice a day, you’ll spend closer to €130–140 per day.


When compared to other European destinations, Italy is less expensive than the UK, Iceland, and Switzerland, but slightly more costly than Spain, Portugal, and Germany. The key to an affordable Italian vacation lies in off-season travel, utilizing budget accommodations, and enjoying the wealth of free cultural experiences available throughout the country.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR ITALY

Unless you opt for a single-base holiday, you will probably find yourself travelling around Italy a fair bit. When planning on how to get around Italy, it is worth considering personal and public transport options.


Most rail and bus services are good value and efficient. Regular ferries service the islands, and local buses link more remote areas. However. especially around the southern parts of Italy, trains can often run well behind schedule and may not be air-conditioned. Internal flights can be worthwhile and even work out cheaper than the train for some of the longer journeys.


We found it easy enough to drive our rather unwieldy campervan around for a few months although we did avoid major cities and for the most part any toll-roads. In rural areas roads can get very narrow and you should allow for enough time to reach your destination than when using major roads. Car rental is easily accessible and might be cheaper than expected.


Buying your own food in Italy can be affordable and the best way to experience the country’s cuisine. The market is your friend, and you will find plenty of bread, cheese, and meat shops around – this is how the locals eat! They go to their markets, buy food, and cook it at home. By visiting a discount grocer like Aldi or Lidl, you will get away for even less. If you want an idea of what groceries cost in Lidl have a look at the video walkthrough we did in Italy. Also, keep an eye out for workers lunch (pranzo di lavoro) across Italy, these are generally also good value for money and will usually consist of a set menu and drink for the day.


BUDGET FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES IN ITALY

Italy offers a plethora of budget-friendly activities that allow you to experience the country's rich culture and stunning landscapes without overspending. For instance, you can explore the ancient streets of Rome, where you can visit iconic sites like the Colosseum and the Pantheon for free from the outside. The Trastevere neighbourhood is perfect for enjoying delicious street food and people-watching in a charming setting.


In Venice, while gondola rides can be pricey, wandering through the city's maze of canals and alleyways costs nothing and is an experience in itself. The islands of Murano and Burano are also worth visiting for their colourful architecture and glass-making demonstrations.


If you're interested in art, Florence is home to many galleries that offer free entry or reduced prices on certain days. And for a unique historical experience, the ruins of Pompeii near Naples provide a fascinating glimpse into ancient Roman life at a modest fee.

Florence

Travel Tips Section

REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF ITALY