How to Tour Italy
There is a reason Italy is one of the most popular vacation destinations. It really does have it all; Art, music, cities, charming hill towns, beaches, mountains and more. You feel like you want to see it all. Tour Italy Now is here to help you figure out best how to tour Italy.
The first piece of advice is do your homework.
With 47 UNESCO sites,more than any other country,95,000 churches, 20,000 historical cities and towns and 5,600 museums and archaeological sites, Italy has such a variety of opportunities that you need to decide what kind of vacation you would like and work from there. Don’t try to see everything in the entire country or you will end up overwhelmed and exhausted. Pick just a few major sites or experiences and work from there. You can spend a few days viewing art and walking city streets in Rome or Florence. Then move on to a day touring wine country and hill towns in Umbria or Tuscany. You can have a beach day near Venice or a mountain trek in the Dolomites or a day of outlet shopping.
Train vs car
Our guided tours in Italy take care of all of your transportation using a private tour bus to shuttle guests from place to place. Choose one of our private escorted tours and you will have a driver at your disposal. If you are on your own you will have to choose between driving or taking the train.
Train service between cities it fast and efficient. There are now two services to chose from; Trenitalia and Italo. The farther ahead you book the more reasonable the fare. Eurostar trains are the quickest route between major cities and the most reliable. InterCity and regional trains are slightly slower, making more stops and may experience delays. Remember to validate your ticket at a machine before you board the train.
To explore the smaller towns, not easily reached by train, a car can make things easier. It is important to know that manual transmission is the norm in Italy and automatic transmission cars can be difficult to reserve and are more expensive. Driving on the Autostrade is really not very different than an American interstate. Fuel costs are more expensive than in the states. If you want to stop for a rest look out for the Autogrill. They are a combination of gas station, cafe, convenience store and restaurant and are located all over the country along the autostrade. On smaller roads the signs can be confusing and at time non-existent. Patience, a paper map and a GPS are all good ideas to have with you.
Where to Sleep
Of course you can book with us to guarantee the best rates and service at some of Italy’s finest hotels, but we have a few other suggestions for you too. A variety of lodging options are available in Italy. You can choose from a Hotel with room service and an elevator or smaller Guesthouses/B&Bs. In the country there are Villas to rent and apartment rentals in larger cities for a longer stay can mean you can try some italian cooking of your own. There are even monasteries and agriturismos – farm stays, for a unique experience.
The Italian star system for hotels and bed and breakfasts refers only to the facilities offered and not the quality of the hotel. So you might find that a 3 star is a much more elegant choice than a 4 star, it is just missing breakfast service or a fancy lobby.
When to Go
Each season in Italy offers something wonderful.
If you wish to avoid the crowds and don’t mind carrying an umbrella, the winter season may be best. In winter you may have entire rooms of the Vatican museums to yourself, you can eat hearty pasta dinners fireside and spend a day relaxing in a natural hot spring. January is when the winter sales begin and you can snag a great deal on a pair of Italian boots.
Spring and fall offer the best combination of weather and events. The weather is mild and dry and you can avoid the big crowds than you may encounter during the summer high season. In spring the flowers are blooming and the spring fruits and vegetables are some of Italy’s finest.
Summer is busy with town festivals, music performances in major cities and seaside activities. Summer in Italy is hot and many places are not well air conditioned. Plan for crowds and some closures in the month of August, when Italians traditionally take their vacations.
You will need a valid passport to travel to Italy. According to the U.S. Department of State, U.S. citizens may enter Italy for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa. The passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay. For the latest travel requirements and news check the State Department website.