Italy is a unique country, rich in culture and history, with magnificent and diverse landscapes and terrains. From its cosmopolitan cities, Tuscan countryside, stunning beaches and mountains to villages, towns and cities steeped in historic significance and architectural wonder, it is not surprising Italy is regarded as one of the world’s most popular holiday destination. Whether you are after a sun holiday, a romantic getaway or a city sight-seeing adventure, Italy has something for everyone.
Renowned for their love of life, passion for food and appreciation of wine, the Italian people are welcoming and friendly. Enjoy traditional Italian dishes, many regionally distinctive, with simple, fresh ingredients served with locally produced wines. Whether you prefer to experience Italian food first-hand by joining a cooking class, or enjoy a meal in a local restaurant, you will not be disappointed. Delight in a glass of Chianti on the Piazza, stroll through town with a gelato or start your day with an espresso – La vita e bella!
Whether you visit during the warm summer or the cooler months of winter, Italy has much to offer. From skiing in the north to the plentiful beaches along its extensive coastline, art, culture and activity there’s something on offer for every visitor. Enjoy a city break to Rome and soak up its rich history and architecture. Extend your stay and visit the beautiful city of Florence and the canals of Venice. Stand as Romeo below Juliet’s balcony in Verona or marvel at the magnificent views of the Amalfi Coast. Whatever your interests you will find it here.
This information has been compiled for your reference in good faith but please use this only as a general guide. We advise you to check with relevant authorities with regard to the latest requirement for passport, visa, travel advisory, entry restrictions, health requirements, local currency etc. as these are subjected to change with without prior notice and our information given below may not be as current.
Best time to go: Italy is a destination that offers a fabulous holiday at any time of the year. It is generally accepted that the best time to visit is April to June and September to October when the weather is comfortable and the attractions are not over crowded. July and August can be hot and humid and is also Europe’s peak season with airfares and hotel rates at their highest
Clothing: Italians are known for their impeccable style and fashion sense so you can expect a high standard of presentation in general every day wear. Attractive informal wear is also common when exercising or at the beach. Italy is a Christian country however so we recommend you dress appropriately when visiting religious places
Visa: For stays up to 90 days visa is not required for New Zealand citizens. A passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay is required for tourists visiting Italy.
Currency: Italy has been using the euro currency since the beginning of 2002. ATMs can be found in large towns especially in all the tourist areas. If you’ve got MasterCard or Visa/Access, there are plenty of places to withdraw money.
Health: Italy does not have any particular health risks. Non-EU nationals are advised to purchase medical insurance. Many medications that can only be acquired by prescription in New Zealand can be purchased without prescription in Italy but they may have different trade names, so either the generic name is required to purchase the medicines or the best option is to carry your own medication. It is recommended that you have all the current vaccinations available in New Zealand.
Food and drinks: Italian cuisine is known to be one of the most popular cuisines in the world and much of traditional Italian life is centred on preparing and eating food. Known for its simplicity and quality ingredients, Italian food is rich in diversity and style. Cheese, fish, pasta, vegetables and meat all play key roles and ingredients can vary depending on the region you are visiting. Wine is normally served alongside your meal and dishes are mostly served in courses. Tap water is usually drinkable and in many places very good, although its quality depends on the region.
Safety & security: Italy is generally a safe destination for the traveller: the vast majority of people you interact with will be honest and helpful. Travellers are advised to take usual sensible precautions – locking cars and hotel rooms, not leaving valuables unattended. Please use the safe deposit box in your hotel room or reception to keep your money or valuables in, including your passport. While Italy has long being associated with Mob gangs, crime and extortion, these activities are an internal issue and are unlikely to involve tourists or visitors to the country.
Language: Italian is the national official language spoken by the majority of the population, however there are a number of regional dialects. English is widely spoken however we suggest learning a few simple phrases and make an effort to communicate in Italian first. German and French are also commonly spoken.
Gratuities: Tip in Italy if you have enjoyed the food and service or the waiter has been friendly. 10% is sufficient and should be given to the waiter or left on the table. Tip taxi drivers or hotel staff that have been helpful. Public WC staff will expect between 50 cents to 1 euro.
Airport & Hotel Tax: Generally your international air ticket should include airport tax on international departure. Some city councils have recently imposed a new city tax on hotel accommodation. Charges are per person per night and paid directly to the hotel. Price depends on the city and grade of your hotel and can range from .50 cents to 5 euro’s per person per night (rates current at time of printing but subject to change).
Internet: Internet facilities are available at almost all places. Most hotels have it and internet cafes are commonly found in all major cities and tourist places.
Telephone: Italy has a dialling code of +39 from New Zealand. Telephone numbers of Hotels arranged by us will be supplied to you in your itinerary .While calling New Zealand from Italy, you will need to dial +64 and then the number you require. Pre-paid calling cards are sold in many shops and kiosks. If you want to call internationally, ask for an international calling card.
Time Difference: Italy is 10 hours behind New Zealand from April to September and 12 hours from October to March.
Photography: Normally it is forbidden to take photos of military installations and government buildings or airports. Many museums and churches prohibit photography; some prohibit only flash or tripod photography. It is forbidden to use photography in the Sistine Chapel and in the Academia – where the Statue of David stands.
Electricity: The standard electric current in Italy is 220V (50Hz) alternating current; round two- or three- pin plugs are standard. Appliances from North America require a transformer while travellers from New Zealand require an adaptor.
Postage: Post boxes are red and stamps can be purchased at most Tabacchi – shops marked with a white-on-brown T. Airmail letters and postcards take about 3 days to reach EU countries, and around 6 days to reach the US, Australia and New Zealand however, the system is known for being slow and unreliable.
CITIES OF INTEREST
Known as the ‘City of Water’ Venice is made up of 118 islands divided by canals and linked together by bridges. As one of Europe’s most popular attractions, it is estimated that on average 50,000 people visit on a daily basis. With local attractions including St Marks Basilica, the Grand Canal and Piazza San Marco, Venice offers plenty of history, architecture and art to keep you busy. Enjoy a relaxing gondola boat trip along the canals or sip a coffee and watch the world go by.
Steeped in historic significance, Rome offers a plethora of archaeological sites and artistic treasures. From the Colosseum and Ancient City to the modern Vatican Museum, along with the many churches, fountains, palaces and piazzas, Rome is a bustling metropolis rich in historical and cultural importance. Contemporary art galleries, shopping and entertainment complete Rome as an iconic yet modern city to visit with something on offer for everyone.
Located in the more affluent north of Italy, Milan is an economic hub renowned for its love of fashion, design and architecture. Art galleries and museums are plentiful and La Scala is considered one of the world’s most prestigious opera houses in the world.
Florence, the capital of the Tuscan region, has an abundant collection of some of the world’s most famous art and sculptures. With the Uffizi and Accademia Galleries housing large collections of art from the Renaissance period and the Statue of David, alongside its rich cultural and historic background, Florence is one of the most visited cities in Europe. Learn about the reign of the Medici family, visit the sights, take a cooking class or stroll around this accessible city to take in all Florence has to offer.
If you are looking to get out of the larger cities and enjoy the traditions and slower pace of the Italian countryside, then Tuscany is a very popular choice. Known for its landscapes and traditions, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves and is recently experiencing a new phenomenon Agritourism, an initiative focusing on sustainable farming, organic farming methods and traditional food preparation. Tuscany also offers 7 World Heritage sites including the city of Florence, the square of the Cathedral of Pisa and the historic city of Siena.
An area in the north of Italy, the Italian Lake District includes Lake Garda, Lake Como, Lake Lugano and Lake Maggiore. As popular holiday destinations, the lakes offer resort towns, magnificent views, gardens and lake side accommodation.
Perched on the cliffs of the Sorrentine Peninsula, overlooking the Bay of Naples, Mt Vesuvius and the Isle of Capri, Sorrento is a popular tourist destination. Easily reached from Naples and Pompeii, Sorrento attracts many of the rich and famous, many of whom own luxury holiday homes here. The small town offers a relaxed atmosphere with options to explore the surrounding areas by boat or tour.
The Amalfi Drive links Sorrento to Amalfi via a narrow road carved into the high cliffs. Visit Positano, a quaint fishing town built in an enclave on the hill with a number of boutique shops and galleries. Amalfi is another popular tourist destination. In the centre of the town Saint Andrew’s Cathedral overlooks Piazza Duomo and many cafes and restaurants are perfectly positioned to enjoy the wonderful views on offer.
Cinque Terre, ‘The Five Lands’, consists of 5 villages, not accessible by car, built into the rugged landscape of the Italian Riviera. This area is part of the Cinque Terre National Park, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Popular with tourists, you can access by train, boat or path. Cars can be parked outside the area within walking distance.
Separated from the mainland by the narrow Strait of Messina, Sicily is a region of its own with very strong traditions and cultures. With 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, its many beaches, villages and towns, Sicily is a popular destination year round. Mt Etna, Europe’s tallest and most active volcano, dominates the eastern landscape with warm beaches scattered along the coast. Lively Taormina offers restaurants, bars and shopping within its ancient walls with magnificent views of the Ionian Sea and surrounding areas.