Capital

Rome

Population

60.3 million

Dialing code

+39

Currency

Euro (EUR)
Located in the central part of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy has many cultural and environmental tourist routes, a great number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, abundant vineyards, wine cellars and good quality wines, exquisite gastronomy, impressive natural hotsprings, beaches and ski resorts. This comprehensive Travel Guide to Italy intends to provide you some tips on places to visit, things to see and to do, and much more. The diversity of Italy package vacations allow you to choose a private tour  or opt for a group tour.
Italy, officially the Italian Republic is a country located in south-central Europe (it is also considered a part of western Europe) consisting of a long peninsula delimited by the Alps and surrounded by several islands. more
Due to the fact that the peninsula resembles a tall boot, the country is often referred to as “the boot”.
Italy is a Mediterranean country surrounded by four different seas in the Mediterranean Sea from three sides: the Adriatic Sea on the east coast, the Ionian Sea in the south and both the Ligurian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west. In the north, Italy is bordered by countries such as France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia and is roughly delimited by the Alpine watershed, enclosing the Po Valley and the Venetian Plain. To the south, it includes the entirety of the Italian Peninsula and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia (they are the two biggest islands of the Mediterranean), in addition to many smaller islands. The country also shares land border with the enclaved states of Vatican City State and the Sovereign State of San Marino and has the following exclaves: Campione d'Italia, which is an Italian exclave in Switzerland and Lampedusa and Lampione Islands, a maritime exclave in Tunisian waters. The islands of Lampedusa and Lampione belong to the African continent, fall within the province of Agrigento (Sicily) and represent the southernmost part of Italy.
A unitary parliamentary republic with Rome as its capital, Italy is also a European Union member state since 1 January 1958. It is located between latitudes 35° and 47° N, and longitudes 6° and 19° E and covers a total area of 301,340 km2, of which 294,020 km2 is land and 7,210 km2 is water. Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) in Aosta Valley is the highest point in the European Union.
Extreme points:
Northernmost point: Testa Gemella Occidentale or Westliches Zwillingskopfl (both meaning "Western Twin Head"), Predoi, Alto Adige at 47°5′N 12°11′E;
Southernmost point on the mainland: Melito di Porto Salvo, Calabria at 37°56′N 16°3′E; on island: Punta Pesce Spada, Lampedusa at 35°29′N 12°36′E;
Westernmost point: Rocca Bernauda (Roche Bernaude), Bardonecchia, Piedmont at 45°6′N 6°37′E;
Easternmost point: Capo d'Otranto, Otranto, Apulia at 40°6′N 18°31′E;
Lowest point: Le Contane, Jolanda di Savoia, Emilia-Romagna (-3.44 m) at 44°53′N 11°59′E;
Highest point: Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc), Courmayeur (4,807.5 m) at 45°50′N 6°51′E. 
About 40% of the Italian territory is mountainous, offering splendid places for skiing in winter and hiking in summer. There are two major mountain ranges in Italy, the Alps, which form most of its northern boundary, where the country’s highest point is located on Mont Blanc (4,807.5 m) and the Apennines, which form the peninsula’s backbone. The Alps are on the borders with France, Austria, and Switzerland and are divided into regions called, from west to east, the Occidentali, the Centrali, and the Orientali. The Dolomites located in the regions of Veneto, Trentino-South Tyrol and Friuli Venezia Giulia covering an area shared between the provinces of Belluno, Vicenza, Verona, Trentino, South Tyrol, Udine and Pordenone are part of the Southern Limestone Alps. The Dolomites offer you the possibility to explore scenic valleys providing beautiful views of soaring massifs, more
visit ancient villages, museums and monasteries and relax in the treatment baths and wellness facilities. There are also other worldwide-known mountains in Italy including the Matterhorn (Monte Cervino), Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso in the West Alps, and Bernina and Stelvio along the eastern side.
Italy has many lakes, especially in the north of the country, where there are number of subalpine moraine-dammed lakes. The five largest lakes in Italy are Garda (367.94 km2), Maggiore (212.51 km2, whose minor northern part is in Switzerland), Como (145.9 km2), Trasimeno (124.29 km2) and Bolsena (113.55 km2). Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Como along with Orta, Lugano, Iseo, and Idro are well-known subalpine lakes. The subalpine lakes of northern Italy set against the foothills of the Alps are a magical place to visit. The five most important lakes in the Italian Lakes District (Region) from west to east are Lakes Maggiore, Lugano, Como, Iseo and Garda offering impressive scenery and a respite from the intense heat of the summer.
Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian) is the most popular lake of Italy and the deepest (410 m). It is shaped like an inverted Y, has a long shoreline, and is a popular spot among Italians from cities like Rome, Milan (it is under an hour from Milan), and Torino, as well as among foreign tourists, especially Americans. Surrounded by mountains and hills and embraced by green wooded escarpments, it offers good hiking paths, boat trips, and a multitude of water activities. The lake is also dotted with beautiful villas and resort villages. The lake’s centre (i.e. centre of the Y) where Lake Como divides into three parts boasts a breathtaking panorama that comprises the fantastic Villa Melzi (Bellagio). Since Roman times, Lake Como has been a top travel destination and a great spot for photography especially in the summer.
Located between Venice and Milan, Lake Garda is the largest and easternmost Italian lake with a distance around the lake of 158 kilometres. It is surrounded by rolling green hills and gardens, vineyards, lemon and olive trees and offers visitors a multitude of trip options: from ancient towns to vivacious and crowded downtowns, from lakeshores, which are perfectly-tailored for families to amusement parks, and from nature reserves to natural spas (such as the famous terme at Sirmione and at Lazise). The spa town of Sirmione is the most popular resort of Garda.
The westernmost lake, Lake Maggiore, which stands north of Milan, is a long and narrow lake whose northern end extends in Switzerland. The main tourist town is Stresa that offers a delightful lakeside promenade known for its flowers and views of the islands of the lake. Lake Maggiore is home to three scenic islands called the Borromeo Islands that can be reached by ferry from Stresa town. The most romantic of the three Borromean Islands, Isola Bella, is famous for its Italian-style garden and Borromeo Palace. You can take the cable car up Mottarone Mountain for a 360-degree view of the Lombardy lakes, the Alps and the Po Valley. The lake is perfect for active travellers, being one of the most vivid locations in the world to practice windsurfing and offering many spots for hiking and biking, as well as kayaking and rafting.
Other notable lakes on the Italian peninsula are Bracciano, Vico, Varano and Lesina in Gargano and Omodeo in Sardinia.
The rivers of Italy correspond to some of the most important tourist destinations and most of them drain either into the Adriatic Sea, such as the Po, Piave, Adige, Brenta, Tagliamento, and Reno, or into the Tyrrhenian Sea, like the Arno, Tiber and Volturno. The rivers from some border municipalities such as the Aqua Granda (Spol) in Livigno (Lombardy) and the Drava in Innichen (Trentino-South Tyrol) drain into the Black Sea through the the Danube (the Aqua Granda drains into the Inn, which meets the Danube in Germany), while the the Reno di Lei in Lombardy drain into the North Sea through the basin of the Rhine.
The Po, Italy's longest river (652 kilometres), starts in the Alps on the western border with France and flows to the east coast and the Adriatic Sea, going through the very fertile Po Valley. The Po Valley is the largest plain in Italy (46,000 km2) representing over 70% of the total plain area in the country. The Po Delta, formed at the end of the river, is a nice place to visit.
The Tiber River (406 km) is the third-longest river in Italy and the most important river of central Italy. It flows from the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and goes south through Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio, emptying into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The river is known as the main watercourse of the city of Rome, founded on its eastern banks. The Arno River (241 km), which is the second most important river of central Italy after Tiber River, originates on Monte Falterona in the Casentino area of the north-central Apennines and flows through the cities of Pisa, Empoli and Florence (where it is crossed by the famous Ponte Vecchio) emptying into the Tyrrhenian Sea at Marina di Pisa.
Situated at the meeting point of the Eurasian Plate and the African Plate, Italy faces a considerable seismic and volcanic activity. There are 14 volcanoes in Italy, four of which are active: Etna in Sicily (the largest active volcano in Europe), Stromboli, Vulcano and Vesuvius (the only active volcano on the European mainland). Many elements of the Italian territory are of volcanic origin and there is still a large active caldera, the Campi Flegrei north-west of Naples. Most of the small islands and archipelagos in the south, including Capraia, Ponza, Ischia, Eolie, Ustica and Pantelleria are volcanic islands that have been created by volcanic activity.
Italy is divided into 20 different regions that include the islands of Sicily and Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea, being each a separate region. Each region has its own unique culture, customs, traditions and cuisine and you will find many differences between the regions in the north and those in the south.
Italy’s population is about 60,317,116 people and although the Italian birth rate is low, the population is increasing due to immigrants’ arrival in the country. The population density at 202 inhabitants per square kilometre is higher than that of most Western European countries, but the distribution of the population is widely uneven. The most densely populated areas in Italy are the Po Valley (accounting for almost a half of the national population) and the metropolitan areas of Rome and Naples, more
while such vast regions as the Alps and Apennines highlands, the plateaus of Basilicata and Sardinia island, as well as much of Sicily, are very sparsely populated. While Italian is spoken throughout the country, there are also many regional dialects.
The largest city and the capital of Italy is Rome, with a population of 4.2 million people (Metropolitan city). Rome is an artistic, cultural and cinematographic centre of world relevance that was the ancient capital of the Roman Empire, seat of the Pope of the Catholic Church and capital of reunified Italy. Other large cities in Italy are Milan (Lombardy), the industrial and financial capital of Italy and one of the world’s fashion capitals, Naples (Campania) with the largest historic city centre in Europe and the oldest continuously active public opera house in the world (Teatro di San Carlo), Turin (Piedmont), former capital of Italy and currently one of the world's great centres of automobile engineering, Palermo (Sicily), capital of the region of Sicily, Genoa (Liguria), former capital of one of the most powerful maritime republics for over seven centuries from the 11th century, Bologna (Emilia-Romagna), the main transport hub of the country, as well as the home of the oldest university in the world, Florence (Tuscany), the heart of the Renaissance, a period of great achievements in the arts at the end of the Middle Ages, Bari (Apulia), Catania (Sicily), Venice (Veneto) and Verona (Veneto).
Italy was the fifth most visited country in the world with a total of 64.5 million international tourist arrivals in 2019. The central region of Tuscany is probably the most well-known and most visited by tourists. Italy has many cultural and environmental tourist routes and is home to 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Rome was the 3rd most visited city in Europe and the 12th in the world in 2017 with 9.4 million arrivals. In addition, Milan, Venice and Florence were also among the world's top 100 destinations.
Italy is known for its Mediterranean climate (found mainly on the coastal areas, especially as you move south) with hot, dry summers and mild winters. However, because of the great longitudinal extension of the peninsula, the climate ranges from more temperate in the northern part of the country to firmly Mediterranean in the south. The coastal areas of Liguria, Tuscany and most of southern Italy generally fit the Mediterranean climate stereotype.
In most of the inland northern region and the mountainous zone, winters are cool and humid. Sometimes cold air from northern Europe can spread south into Italy and bring snow to most mountains, while southern Italy has mild winters and the coasts are kept warm by the high sea temperatures. Summers can be quite hot and dry along the coastal areas, more
mainly in the south of the peninsula, with high nocturnal temperatures sometimes even reaching 40°C, while northern and central areas can face occasional strong thunderstorms from spring to autumn. Average winter temperatures range from 0 °C on the Alps to 12 °C in Sicily, while average summer temperatures vary from 20 °C to over 25 °C.
The climate of Italy is one of the most hospitable in the world. The summer provides assurance of warm weather and is the most popular time to visit. Southern regions such as Apulia, Sicily and the Amalfi Coast, where the Mediterranean climate provides temperate weather from March to November, can be also visited in spring or autumn when they are less crowded. Autumn is also the time when the grape harvest season takes place in Italy. It is a perfect time to visit the country and enjoy the many celebrations, festivals and feasts. The grapes in Italy are usually harvested between late-September and mid-October. Another option in autumn is to celebrate olive harvest in Italy. In regions such as Tuscany, Apulia, Campania, and Umbria with mild autumns, the olives are harvested and pressed from late October through much of November.
Considered one of the birthplaces of western civilization and a cultural superpower, Italy has been the starting point of many phenomena of international impact such as the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, the Romanesque, the Renaissance, the Scientific revolution, the Baroque, the Neo-classicism and the European integration. For more than 2,000 years, the country experienced migrations and invasions and was divided into numerous independent states until its unification in 1861. Due to this late unification and the historical autonomy of the regions that form the Italian peninsula, many traditions and customs considered now distinctly Italian can be identified by their regions of origin. During its history, the nation has given birth to an enormous number of notable people and its contributions to the cultural and historical heritage of Europe and the world remain immense. more

Italy was home to many influential civilizations, including the Etruscans and Samnites, whose cultures flourished in Italy before the emergence of the Roman Republic, and the Romans, who conquered and incorporated them. It also hosted colonies from important foreign civilizations like the Phoenicians and Greeks, who established settlements in Italy several centuries before the birth of Christ and whose influence and culture had a large impact through the peninsula. The Greek ruins in southern Italy are probably the most spectacular and best preserved.
Italy has rich collections of art, culture and literature from many periods and according to some estimations is home to half the world’s great art treasures. Overall, the nation has an estimated number of 100,000 monuments of any sort (museums, palaces, buildings, churches, statues, art galleries, villas, fountains, historic houses and archaeological remains) and is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites totalling 55 sites in 2019.
Italy had many important architectural achievements, such as the construction of domes, arches, and similar structures during ancient Rome, the initiation of the Renaissance architectural movement in the late-14th to 16th centuries, and Palladianism, a style of construction which inspired movements such as that of Neoclassical architecture, and influenced the designs which noblemen built their country houses all over the world. The Christian concept of a Basilica, a style of church architecture dominating in the early Middle Ages and representing long, rectangular buildings, which were built in an almost ancient Roman style, often rich in mosaics and decorations, was invented in Rome. The most important achievement of Italian Renaissance architecture was probably St. Peter’s Basilica, originally designed by Donato Bramante, Italian architect and painter, in the early 16th century.
One of the most fruitful and creative periods in Italian architecture was the Romanesque movement, which went from approximately 800 A.D. to 1100 A.D. when important masterpieces, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli, and the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio in Milan were built. The main innovative element of Italian Romanesque architecture was the vault, which had never been seen before in the history of Western architecture. Palladianism approach to architecture, strongly influenced by the sixteenth century architect Andrea Palladio is seen in the villas and palaces he designed: twenty-three buildings of the city of Vicenza and twenty-four Palladian Villas of the Veneto are designated by UNESCO a World Heritage Site named City of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of the Veneto.
The Baroque period produced several outstanding Italian buildings in the 17th and 18th century, one of them being the Royal Palace of Caserta, the largest palace erected in Europe during the 18th century and designated later a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its construction begun in 1752 for Charles VII of Naples (Charles III of Spain), who worked closely with the architect, Luigi Vanvitelli.
Italian cuisine has developed through centuries and is one of the world’s finest. It has roots as far back as the 4th century BC and bears strong influences, including Etruscan, ancient Greek, ancient Roman, Byzantine, and Jewish. The Mediterranean diet rich in pasta, fish, fruits and vegetables forms the basis of Italian cuisine. It is a diet inspired by the eating habits of Spain, Italy and Greece in the 1960s and includes a proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, whole grains, nuts, bread, fruits, and vegetables and a moderate to high consumption of fish. The Mediterranean diet is characterized at the same time by a moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), a moderate wine consumption and low consumption of non-fish meat products.
Italian cuisine is very simple and varied, more
with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Dishes often rely on generations-old recipes deriving from local and family traditions, so many recipes are ideally suited for home cooking. This is one of the main reasons behind the worldwide popularity of Italian cuisine, from America to Asia. Italy has the most traditional specialties protected under EU law, heavily relying on traditional products.
Because generations-old recipes tend to vary by region, Italian cuisine is noted for its regional diversity and abundance of difference in taste. The cuisine of Northern Italy includes such ingredients as potatoes, rice, corn (maize), sausages, pork, and different types of cheeses. North Italian recipes compared to southern ones call for unsalted butter rather than olive oil, use much less tomato and include many kinds of stuffed pasta such as tortellini (both Bologna and Modena cities in Emilia-Romagna region claim to be its birthplace), cjarsons from Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, pansotti from Liguria or agnolotti del plin (a traditional dish from Piedmont). Northern Italy is home to risotto, polenta, dumplings, the Tyrolean ham and slow-cooked meat dishes. Due to the mountainous terrain and proximity to France, Austria and Switzerland, Northern Italian cuisine includes many kinds of meat dishes (prepared from beef, veal or pork) and buttery sauces made with local cheese, wine and broth instead of olive oil or tomato-based sauces found in Southern Italian cuisine. A well-known veal dish is ossobucco (bone with a hole), a specialty of Lombard cuisine of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth often served with polenta. Fish and seafood dishes, as well as basil (found in pesto), nuts, and olive oil are very common in Liguria, known for herbs and vegetables (as well as seafood) in its cuisine. Given the fact that the region has some of the most rugged landscape in Italy and the arable land is scarce, it is natural that the Ligurian diet is primarily vegetarian and fish-based.
Traditional Central Italian cuisine uses ingredients such as tomatoes, different kinds of meat, fish, vegetables and cheese. Summers in the central regions are hotter and longer than those in the north, and consequently, tomato-based dishes are more common than they are in the north. Though there are braised meats and stews, in much of Central Italy, a classic holiday dish will be a platter of mixed grilled or roasted meat, like bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine steak), one of the most popular dishes of Tuscan cuisine. Another region known for grilling in terms of cooking technique is Umbria. Meat in Umbria, particularly lamb, pork and game, is either cooked over the fire or worked into cured hams and salamis including lombetto, capocollo di Norcia (typical of the Norcia tradition), and mazzafegato. Norcia town and commune in the province of Perugia in southeastern Umbria, is both famous as the centre for the production of cured meats and the homeland of the black truffle (tartufo nero). Truffles play an important role in many Umbrian dishes, starting from hors d’oeuvres such as crostini al tartufo nero (made with black truffles) or crostini alla norcina (made using anchovies, truffles and chicken liver), and continuing to strangozzi al tartufo nero (strangozzi with black truffles), a pasta dish that is a traditional Umbrian specialty. In Tuscany, pasta (especially pappardelle) is traditionally served with game sauce or meat sauce, or with a simple tomato sauce (penne al sugo finto toscano). In Lazio, pasta sauces also tend to be simple: spaghetti all’aglio, olio e pepperoncino (spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chili pepper) for example, or pasta all'amatriciana (a spicy tomato sauce with guanciale, pecorino cheese from Amatrice, and tomato) or pasta alla carbonara (with pancetta, eggs and pecorino cheese). Central Italy also has a rich specialty farming tradition, where many crops and vegetables grow and are added considerably to many dishes. Thus, the central part of the country is also noted for its vegetable and bread-based dishes including savoury bruschetta (a starter dish born in Umbria), ribollita (Tuscan vegetable and bread soup), and panzanella (Tuscan tomato and bread salad).
Continuing to the south, the classic vegetables of the Mediterranean take over, and traditional dishes based on fresh seafood, vegetables and greens predominate in the region. In the southern part of Italy, tomatoes, peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, ricotta cheese, eggplants, zucchini, some types of fish and capers are important components of the local cuisine. Southern Italy and Sicily cuisines are known for such fragrant dishes as pesce spada alla ghiotta (braised swordfish with tomatoes, olives and capers) popular in both Calabria and Sicily or caponata (aubergine stew) which is a traditional dish in Sicily. Fresh vegetables are also prominent in dishes such as spaghetti with zucchini or the well-known insalata caprese (literally the salad from Capri), which includes tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese.
Pasta and pizza dishes are spread in all Italy and are known all over the world. Italian cuisine uses a diverse variety of pasta including noodles in various lengths, widths, and shapes, most of which are distinguished by the shapes for which they are named, for example penne, maccheroni, spaghetti, linguine, fusilli, etc. Originating in Neapolitan cuisine, pizza has also become popular in many parts of the world. The most popular pizza types are pizza margherita, pizza alla mapoletana (Napoli), pizza marinara, pizza capricciosa, quattro stagioni, quattro formagi, pizza ai frutti di mare, pizza romana, etc. For a quality pizza, opt for a pizzeria with a wood-fired oven (forno a legna), so that the pizzas arrive bubbling on the surface and with a charcoal taste.
Cheese and wine are a major part of Italian cuisine, with many Protected Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication labels. Along with coffee (especially espresso), they make up a very important part of the Italian gastronomic culture. Always excellent, coffee can be served throughout the day in many different ways: small and black (espresso or just caffè) or white and frothy (cappuccino), coffee with a little milk (caffè macchiato) or very milky (caffè latte or latte macchiato), a watered down espresso (caffè lungo) or coffee with a small amount of liquor (caffè corretto).
Wine has been produced in Italy for more than 3,000 years and is virtually synonymous with Italy. With more than 2,000 labels and 48,000 hectolitres, it recently surpassed France as the world’s largest wine producer. Oenophiles are fond of saying that the whole of Italy is one big vineyard and with good reason. From the Alps in the north to southernmost Sicily, the country’s climate, soil and varied geography of mountains, foothills, and coastline, create ideal conditions for viniculture. The regions of Piedmont and Veneto in the country’s northwest and northeast parts produce 17% of Italy’s wine. The hillsides of Piedmont are blanketed with sun-splashed vineyards, which produce fine dry reds such as the light, elegant Barbaresco (however the star of the region is the complex Barolo), while Veneto produces some of Italy’s most consistent table wines, such as Amarone della Valpolicella usually known as Amarone (literally the Great Bitter). Originally, the name meant to distinguish it from Recioto della Valpolicella produced in the same region, which is sweeter in taste.
Tuscany in Central Italy is the most celebrated Italian wine region thanks to Chianti and Super Tuscan wines and produces 11% of Italy’s wine. For a wine to be labelled as Chianti DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), it must be made with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes, some of Tuscany’s finest having been cultivated since 1141 AD. Super Tuscans don’t follow the strict rules of the Chianti appellation and can be produced entirely from Sangiovese grapes, or can include or be made entirely from international grapes like cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and syrah.
Sicily’s fortified dry or sweet Marsala is a wine produced in the region surrounding the Italian city of Marsala that received Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status in 1969. It has a long history and traditions, and is considered one of the best Italian wines thanks to its intense flavour and versatility.
With over 2,500 traditional cheese varieties, among which more than 300 kinds of cheese with protected designation of origin (PDO, PGI and PAT), Italy is the country with the largest variety of cheeses in the world. Lombardy is the first Italian region for the number of protected cheeses (77 varieties), among which Granone Lodigiano, Mascarpone, and the well-known Gorgonzola blue cheese. Italian cheeses such as Mozzarella, Ricotta and Parmigiano Reggiano are also among the most popular cheeses worldwide.
Italian desserts have a long tradition of merging local fruits or nuts (citrus fruits, pistachio, almonds) with sweet cheeses (mascarpone and ricotta) and/or exotic tastes (coffee, cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon, etc.). Gelato, tiramisu and panna cotta are among the most famous examples of Italian desserts, but besides these world-known courses, each region of Italy has its own specialties.
The most known dessert in the list of Northern Italian desserts is tiramisu. It is an Italian dessert made of sponge cakes known as savoiardi (ladyfingers) dipped in coffee and layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese, flavoured with cocoa. The recipe has been adapted into many varieties of cakes and its origins are often disputed between the Italian regions Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Another popular dessert known all over the world is panna cotta, a traditional dessert invented in the mountainous area of Piedmont. It consists of a sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and moulded, which afterwards may be flavoured with coffee, vanilla, or even rum. The following dessert that may be unknown to you is sbrisolona, a crunchy, almond cake originating from Mantua, Lombardy. Bonet is a Piedmontese dessert representing a type of creme caramel that is enriched with amaretti, cocoa and rum. The last one in the list of the best traditional North Italian desserts is Torta Barozzi, a flavourful cake consisting of almonds, chocolate, rum and coffee from the town of Vignola in the region of Emilia-Romagna. It was invented in 1906 by Eugenio Gollini in his pasticceria in Vignola and is named after one of Vignola’s most famous artists, Jacopo Barozzi, who is a famous Renaissance architect.
Some of the most beloved traditional desserts from Central Italy are biscotti or cantucci (Italian almond biscuits that originated in the Tuscan city of Prato), budino di riso (a hybrid of a tart and a custard usually eaten in Tuscany for breakfast or as a snack), zuppa inglese (one of the most traditional Italian homely desserts widespread in all the central regions of the country) or baba (a tall, soft and airy version of a sponge cake soaked with syrup or rum considered a symbol of Neapolitan culinary heritage).
The most known classic desserts from Southern Italy are cannoli, granita and tartufo. Cannoli represent a thin, tube-shaped shell of fried dough filled with a creamy mix of ricotta and sugar, which can also be mixed with chocolate cream and then decorated with candied fruits, chopped almonds or pistachios. The traditional recipe of cannoli filling, thought to have been originally baked for Carnival, is now enjoyed all year in every corner of the beautiful island of Sicily. Granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavourings originated in Sicily. Try granita with brioche as the Sicilians do. Tartufo (meaning truffle) is an Italian ice cream-based dessert originating from Pizzo, Calabria. It is usually made of two or more flavours of ice cream, often with either fruit syrup or frozen fruit in the middle and is typically covered in a shell made of chocolate or cocoa. Today tartufo di Pizzo has a protected geographical indication (IGP) in Italy, meaning that the dessert must be made in Pizzo to be called as such. 

NORTH-WEST (NORD-OVEST)
           
           Aosta Valley
               Cities and Tourist Attractions in Aosta Valley
               Nature Parks in Aosta Valley
               Ski Resorts in Aosta Valley
               Natural Thermal Spas in Aosta Valley
              Wineries in Aosta Valley
         
           Liguria
              Cities and tourist attractions in Liguria
              Nature Parks in Liguria
              Natural Thermal Spas in Liguria
             Wineries in Liguria 
There are many cultural and tourist events organized in Italy and below you can see some of them. However, changes and updates may occur and because of that, it is necessary to verify the information before travelling.
Epiphany, Rome (January 6)
In Catholic tradition, this is the day when the three Wise Men (three Kings) reached the baby Jesus to worship him and offer him gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh.
Today, it is an important Italian festival for children because of the arrival in Piazza Navona of La Befana, the good witch who brings toys and sweets to children who have been good, and coal to those who have not been so good.
Carnevale di Viareggio (and super-elaborate parades), Viareggio (about six sporadic days in January - February)
Viareggio, more
located on the Tuscan coast, is known for the largest Carnevale celebrations in all of Italy. It lasts for multiple weekends and attracts more than 600,000 visitors gathering to attend the magic of the long, lively parades of large floats in papier-maché. The parades take place in a ring-like circuit on the seaside avenue of Viareggio, best known as La Passeggiata, which becomes a true open-air Museum.
Carnevale di Venezia, Venice (January - February, most festive on weekends)
From late January or early February (depending on the year), you can celebrate Carnevale in Venice. Carnevale di Venezia (The Carnival of Venice) is one of the most famous carnivals around the world when many beautiful costumes and typical Venetian masks transform the city in a magical way.
With centuries-old origins, this glamorous event attracts around 3 million of tourists each year who come to Venice to admire the sumptuous costumes and masks parades. The major festivities for this festival come alive on the weekends, especially the final weekend of the event.
Carnevale di Ivrea (and the Battle of the Oranges), Ivrea (January - February)
The Carnival of Ivrea is a good reason to go to Piedmont and enjoy one of the most particular Carnevale celebrations in all of Italy. Every year, the colourful parade ends in a huge orange-throwing battle - a massive fight where oranges are thrown at opposing groups, commemorating a medieval battle between the townsfolk and the nobility. The Battle of the Oranges is the most spectacular part of the Carnival and takes place during three days, from Sunday to Shrove Tuesday. Put on a red Phrygian hat (as dictated by the tradition and rules) to show that you won’t be throwing any oranges and avoid being chosen as a target during the traditional orange battle. Though it might not totally protect you from flying oranges, it can help.
Almond Blossom Festival, Agrigento (April)
The Almond Blossom Festival in Agrigento is one of Sicily’s most famous folkloristic event celebrated with folk music from around the world. It was founded in 1934 to celebrate the blossoms of the almond trees, which symbolize the beginning of the spring in Sicily. The festival is a huge opportunity to visit Agrigento, one of Italy’s most popular attractions, due to its historical heritage including the renowned Valley of The Temples. The event starts with the lighting of the Torch of Friendship right in front of the Temple of Concordia in the Valley of the Temples, Sicily’s most important archaeological site. It is a moment to celebrate the brotherhood between different cultures and send a very important message of peace to all countries. At the end of the festival, you can see Sicilian carts with musical bands moving from the city to the Valley of the Temples, while a jury elects the groups that have danced and sung the best.
The lovely climate and the scent of the almond flowers offer a perfect opportunity to have a taste of the Sicilian spring and to lose yourself in its history and traditions.
Easter Sunday (all over Italy) and the Scoppio del Carro fireworks, Florence (Easter Sunday)
Easter Sunday is celebrated with parades and events all over Italy, but one of the most memorable of them is the Scoppio del Carro in Florence. Literally translated as the “explosion of the cart”, the event has its origins in the First Crusade, when Europeans laid siege to the city of Jerusalem in a conflict to claim Palestine for Christianity. This folk tradition commemorates the actions of a young man called Pazzino, a Florentine from a prominent family who was the first man to scale the walls of Jerusalem. As a reward for this act of bravery, he was given three flints from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem as a prize. When he returned, he used the fragments to start a Sacred Fire before the people of Florence and it became a practice for a “holy fire” to be struck from these flints at Eastertide. They are kept in the Church of Santi Apostoli.
Vinitaly, Verona (April)
The largest wine exhibition in the world, VinItaly, tales place in the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage city of Verona. For four days, the visitors can study, taste, buy and share wine in a setting where food, art, and music are also celebrated. For wine lovers and amateurs, this event is one of the best ways to get a taste of Italy.
Natale di Roma (Rome’s Birthday Celebration), Rome (April 21)
Natale di Roma (Rome’s Birthday Celebration) takes place on April 21 each year and is based on the legendary founding of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC. The event includes historical re-enactments featuring costumed parades and gladiator fights, but the highlight of Natale di Roma is the grand parade that usually takes place along Via dei Fori Imperiali, with more than 1,500 costumed participants. The costumed parade begins and ends at the Circus Maximus. Other traditional events include the tracciato del solco (trench-digging ritual), re-enactments of the Palilia ceremony honouring the agricultural goddess Pales (protector of flocks and herds), and other nods to the Eternal City’s epic history. This event is one of the best ways to truly take part in the rich history of the city.
Italian Liberation Day (all over Italy) and St. Mark’s Day, Venice (April 25)
The Festa della Liberazione or Liberation Day celebrated on April 25 is a national Italian holiday that marks the end of the WWII in Italy, the victory of the Resistance and the end of the Fascist regime. It is the day, when Italy gained independence following Nazi occupation, and all over the country band performances, concerts, food stalls, political rallies, and other public events are held to commemorate it.
April 25 also happens to be the feast day of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice and this day is celebrated by the Venetians with a gondolier regata (boat race) and a huge party in Saint Mark’s Square. The feast day also coincides with an ancient tradition called the Festa del Bocolo (Blooming Rose Festa) when men offer a red rosebud (bocolo) to the significant women in their lives.
Festival del Teatro Greco, Siracusa (early May - early July)
From early May to early July, Syracuse city, which has the only school of classical Greek drama outside Athens, hosts live performances of Greek plays (in Italian) at the Teatro Greco (the city’s ancient theatre), attracting Italy's finest performers.
Sagra del Limone (Lemon Festival), Monterosso al Mare (third Saturday of May)
On the 3rd Saturday of May, Monterosso al Mare town is decorated with lemons offering you the possibility to taste limoncino, lemon cream, lemon marmalade and the special torta al limone (lemon cake). The town also hosts a guided walk in the town called the “8000 lemon-scented steps,” where guests can visit an ancient lemon grove and taste some local specialties surrounded by nature. The event closes in the evening with a musical party in Piazza Garibaldi with the awarding of the best showcase and the biggest lemon.
Infiorata di Noto (Flower Festival of Noto), Noto (third Sunday of May)
On the third Sunday of May, the central street via Nicolaci of Noto becomes the protagonist of the traditional Baroque Flower Festival, being covered with colourful petals that form enormous designs. Teams of young artists use millions of flower petals to adorn and decorate the floor of the street forming elaborate multicoloured designs. It is a Baroque representation that was created in Rome to celebrate Corpus Christi and dates back to the 1600s.
Cantine Aperte (Open Wineries), all over Italy (last Sunday of May)
Cantine Aperte (Open Wineries) is one of the most celebrated events in Italy and has taken place every year for over 20 years on the last Sunday of May. On this day, wine estates all over Italy open their cellars to the public. The event has grown over the years among locals and tourists and the number of wineries participating in the event increases each year. The event is a good opportunity to taste the Italian wine, discover the wine cellars, and get valuable information about the wine-making process and how it has evolved through the years or generations.
Festa di San Giorgio (Feast Day of San Giorgio), Ragusa Ibla (last Sunday of May, lasts for three days)
The town of Ragusa Ibla is extraordinary even without a festa, but if you visit it in late May during the Festa di San Giorgio (patron Saint of Ragusa Ibla), you’ll experience some of the most colourful and atmospheric days in Sicily. The event starts at the magnificent baroque Duomo di San Giorgio, which houses the statue of San Giorgio on horseback, slaying the dragon. Local people bring bread, which is later offered to farmers and workers in the fields in order to bring good luck for the forthcoming harvest. On each of the festival’s three days, the statue of San Giorgio and the huge silver casket containing the saint’s relics, are carried out of the Basilica (Duomo) and paraded through the streets of the city. The procession takes place against a backdrop of pealing church bells, booming cannons, military bands and the explosion of fireworks as the statue of San Giorgio is carried up the Duomo steps and returned to its initial position.
Vogalonga Regata, Venice (1 day in late May or early June)
Vogalonga is a non-competitive gondola race that was created as a peaceful protest against the use of motor traffic in Venice’s canals and lagoon degeneration. The first Vogalonga Regata took place in 1974 and brought out more than 500 boats and 1,500 rowers. Since then, the 30-kilometre race takes place every year on Pentecost through some of the most scenic parts of Venice’s canals and lagoons renewing the pride in Venetian handicrafts and traditions.
Festa della Repubblica (Anniversary of the Republic), Rome (June 2)
The Festa della Repubblica (Aniversary of the Republic) takes place on June 2 and celebrates the foundation of the Italian Republic. The day commemorates the institutional referendum held by universal suffrage on June 2, 1946, when the Italians voted to abolish the monarchy and establish a republic in its place. Following the results, the members of the Italian royal family were forced to leave Italy.
Rome holds the largest celebration but depending on the city, you can find anything from parades, festivals and concerts. The event organized in Rome includes the deposition of a laurel wreath as a tribute to the Unknown Soldier at the Altare della Patria by the President of the Italian Republic, as well as a military parade along Via dei Fori Imperiali in Rome.
Arena di Verona Summer Opera Festival, Verona (June - September)
Each summer marks the start of Verona’s incredible Opera Festival known internationally as one of the most spectacular festivals in the world. From June to September operas are held in the awe-inspiring ancient Roman amphitheatre known as the Arena di Verona (Verona Arena), an open-air Colosseum built in the 1st century AD. It has been used for countless purposes over the years but it gained a new lease of life on August 10, 1913 when the first Opera season opened in commemoration of the centenary of Verdi’s birth. This is the perfect place to dip your toe into the world opera.
International Festival of Arts, Taormina (July - September)
Also known as Taormina Arte, the International Festival of Arts runs from July to September in the Greco-Roman theatre, hosting concerts, exhibitions, and the Taormina Film Festival. This world-class International Film Festival held in July brings the best of film into a week of premieres and photo shoots alike the film festival in Cannes. Visit Taormina in summer and you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a number of plays, music, dances, films and other events.
Umbria Jazz, Perugia (10 days in July)
Each year in July, Perugia hosts a 10-day Jazz Festival, gathering music lovers in the town’s beautiful piazzas, gardens, and wine bars. It is one of the world’s best-known jazz festivals and one of the most important events held in Perugia along with the scrumptious Eurochocolate and the International Journalism Festival.
Ferragosto, all over Italy (August 15)
The Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady (Assunzione della Beata Vergine Maria) marks the day when the Virgin Mary rose into heaven in the Catholic faith. This Italian festival, popularly called Ferragosto, marks the start of the country’s annual holiday period that lasts until the beginning of September. This National holiday is celebrated with local festivals, water fights and fireworks all over Italy. Many Italians like to celebrate Ferragosto by retreating to the coast or countryside with their friends and family.
Palio dell’Assunta, Siena (August 16)
Formerly titled the Palio di Siena, this ancient horse race was renamed the Palio dell’Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary the day before. It is held twice a year, on July 2 and August 16, but the one held on August 16 tends to be more famous as it is near to the national holiday. This medieval tradition pits Siena’s ten neighbourhoods, or contrade, against each other in a bareback horse race around the central Piazza del Campo. Ten horses and riders dressed in the appropriate colours run three laps of the Piazza del Campo on which a thick layer of earth has been laid.
Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro (mid-August)
The Rossini Opera Festival is an international music festival held each year in mid-August in Pesaro, the birthplace of the opera composer Gioachino Rossini. The festival was instituted in 1980 with the intention to revive and perform Rossini's works in a unique setting that allows collaboration of scholars, artists, and audience. Performances are given in the Teatro Rossini (850-seat theatre built in 1818), and, since 1988, the modified "Palasport" sports arena and, since 2000, also the Teatro Sperimentale (Experimental Theatre).
Ferrara Buskers Festival, Ferrara (late August)
The Ferrara Buskers Festival is one of the most important international events based on music and street art in Italy gathering some of the world’s best street performers. The festival stands for unity and connects art, music and different cultures. It will provide you a unique experience where you can appreciate a new world with every step.
Venice International Film Festival, Venice (early September)
The Venice International Film Festival, founded in 1932, is one of the world’s oldest international film festivals and alongside Cannes and the Berlin International Film Festival, is one of the “Big Three” film festivals in the world. Founded as part of the Venice Biennale, which celebrates international art, architecture, dance, music, theatre, and film, the aim of the festival is to raise awareness and promote international cinema as art, entertainment and industry. The events organized during the festival take place on Lido Island in the Venice Lagoon in the famous Palazzo del Cinema.
Regata Storica di Venezia (Venice’s Historical Regata), Venice (first Sunday of September)
The Regata Storica di Venezia is the main event in the annual "Voga alla Veneta" rowing calendar and includes a water pageant featuring costumes and boats from the 16th-century with a procession to carry the Doge, the Doge’s wife, and all the highest-ranking Venetian officials up the Grand Canal. After the event, four different races are held divided in terms of age and boat type, but the most exciting of them is the “Campioni su Gondolini” race, where a series of small, fast gondolas fly down the Grand Canal to the finishing line at the famous "machina", the spectacular floating stage located in front of the Ca' Foscari palace.
Juliet’s Birthday, Verona (September 12)
The hometown of Romeo and Juliet characters from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Verona, celebrates Juliet’s Birthday on September 12. On this day, all the citizens and guests of Verona have the opportunity to attend the party held in honour of the town’s most famous lover and Shakespearean heroine. You can expect plenty of music, dances, street entertainment, delicious food and a special parade honouring the two families the Montagues and the Capulets. It is a very touching event for all the people who like the play.
Sagra dell'uva di Marino (Marino Grape Festival), Marino (first Sunday of October)
Sagra dell'uva di Marino (Marino Grape Festival) is one of the oldest and most famous wine festivals in Italy, with fountains literally flowing with wine. First launched in 1925 by a local poet named Leone Ciprelli, it is typically held on the first Sunday of October and attracts thousands of people from all over the region. During this day, the streets are decorated with food stalls and clusters of grapes arch over them covering terraces and doorways. Furthermore, a parade with a lovely virgin queen and her court sitting in the grapes and another one celebrating the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 when the Christian forces of Europe defeated the Ottoman Turks take place.
However, the highlight of the event is when the “Fountain of the Four Moors” of the town starts gushing white wine (5,000 litres), which is distributed free amongst the crowd. The traditional cellars of the town also open on this day offering visitors the possibility to purchase soft white bread, meat and wine.
Fiera Internazionale Del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba (Alba International White Truffle Fair), Alba (early October - early December)
The Fiera Internazionale Del Tartufo Bianco d’Alba is the biggest international fair dedicated to truffles growing in the hills of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato area. The centre of the fair is the White Truffle Market where in addition to renowned white truffles, visitors can taste and buy local delicacies such as wine, liquors, cheese, pasta, desserts, chocolate, mushrooms and the famous hazelnuts from Piedmont and chestnuts from Cuneo. Over the weekend, meetings and cooking shows with world-famous chefs, tastings, wine courses and conferences for “Alba Truffle Show” take place within the Truffle Market in Cortile della Maddalena. The fair is one of the top showcases of haute Italian cuisine and excellence.
Eurochocolate, Perugia (October)
Eurochocolate, one of the largest chocolate events in all of Europe, takes place in Perugia every October. Taking place since 1993, the festival is a true delight for all chocolate lovers who can discover different chocolate flavours and cultures from around the world, take part in cooking classes, attend performances, chocolate-sculpting displays, and of course, buy and eat chocolate! You can taste various types of chocolate with free tastings, but if you do not want to miss a taste of the most particular types of chocolate, you can buy the special Choco Card. During the event Perugia becomes the “Chocolate City", turning into a real open-air chocolate factory and shop.
L'Immacolata Concezione (Immaculate Conception), all over Italy (December 8)
Immaculate Conception is a traditionally Catholic holiday celebrating the Virgin Mary’s Immaculate Conception. On this day many Italians attend a church mass to honour the Virgin Mary, whom they believe is immaculate, or “free from sin” and a celebration is led by the Catholic pope in Rome, who kneels down in prayer and lays a floral wreath on the statue of the Madonna at the Piazza Mignanelli.
This day is also used by the Italians to mark the official start the winter holiday season when trees, lights, and decorations are seen around Italy and Christmas markets open in cities and towns. It’s a great time to immerse in the Christmas atmosphere and in some places there is street entertainment by jugglers and street clowns for the public.
Christmas Day and Giorno di Santo Stefano (Saint Stephen’s Day), all over Italy (December 25, 26)
On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, everyone can participate in a midnight mass in any town in Italy and enjoy the many different nativity scenes set up on the spare places. On Christmas Day, most things are closed, and if you want to eat out, make a reservation beforehand.
The day after Christmas Day is known as St. Stephen’s Day, also a public holiday in Italy. Traditionally, on St. Stephen’s Day people go out with friends and family and the streets are bustling with well-wishers, as it’s traditional for people to visit the nativity scenes inside local churches and make a small donation.
The currency of Italy is Euro abbreviated as € (international code is EUR), which is the official currency of the group of European Union member states known as the eurozone or euro area. It exists in banknotes of various denominations such as €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500. The euro is made up of 100 cents (also referred to as euro cents). Coins go from 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents to 1 and 2 Euros, each one depicting an Italian icon, either a piece of architecture, a sculpture or a piece of art. The Italian currency banknotes are printed by the Bank of Italy, while the coins are minted by State Printing Works in support with the Ministry of Finance and Economy.
Italy used the “lira” as its official currency before adopting the euro on January 1st, 1999, although it was still legal tender until February 2002. more
After the exchange of all lira notes and coins to the Euro by the Bank of Italy, in 2002, the Euro physical banknotes and coins started circulating in the economy.
You will usually get the best rate of exchange when buying foreign currency with a credit or a debit card that can be used in Italy to withdraw cash from the cash machines (bancomat sign) and to pay for goods and services in hotels and shops. Big cities and even small towns are full of cash machines (ATMs) these days, but you won’t find them in the tinier and more remote villages, so make sure you carry enough cash with you. Most Italian bancomats will only allow you to withdraw a maximum of €250 per day.
1 USD = approx. 0.85 euro
1 GBP = approx. 1.10 euro 
The citizens of the following states do not need visas to enter the territory of Italy for a period of stay until 90 days, for tourism, on missions, business, invitations, sports events, study (however changes can occur and the list could be updated, it’s necessary to check the information before travelling):
Albania (passport with biometric data)
Andorra
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Bahamas
Barbados
Bosnia and Herzegovina (passport with biometric data)
Brazil
Brunei
Canada
Chile
Columbia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Dominica
El Salvador
European Union member states
Georgia
Guatemala
Grenada
Holy See (do not need visa)
Honduras
Hong Kong
Israel
Japan
Malaysia
Macao
Mauritius
Mexico
Moldova (passport with biometric data)
Monaco
Montenegro (passport with biometric data)
New Zeeland
Nicaragua
North Macedonia
Northern Mariana Islands
Panama
Paraguay
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Samoa
Santa Lucia
San Marino (do not need a visa)
Serbia (passport with biometric data)
Seychelles
Singapore
South Korea
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Switzerland (do not need a visa)
Taiwan (holders of passports with identity card number included)
Timor-Leste
Trinidad and Tobago
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United States of America
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela
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