Pasta has been used in Italy since 4th century BCE.
Italy is on Central European Time (CET) during most of the year, and Central European Summer Time (CET+1) during daylight savings time/the summer.
Italy is part of the Schengen Agreement, meaning that entering Italy from most other parts of the EU is pretty easy. There are no border checkpoints or customs. Document and customs checks remain standard if arriving from (or departing to) a non-Schengen country.
If you are an EU or Swiss citizen, you can travel to Italy with your national identity card alone. All other nationalities need a valid passport. Visas are not generally required if you are staying less than 90 days (or at all for EU citizens), for citizens of countries including, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA.
If you are entering Italy for more than 90 days or for any reason other than tourism (such as study or work) you may need a specific visa. See vistoperitalia.esteri.it or contact an Italian consulate for details.
Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your departure date from Italy.
Italy’s trains are generally cheap to ride and help get you right into most city centers. Click here for info regarding Italian rail passes. Because there is no national bus network system, it is probably cheaper and easier to rent a car if you’re staying for a couple weeks or longer. Italy’s rail network is also very popular, and this is simply the best way to get around the majority of the country. Especially if you want to hit major tourist centers and major cities, hit the rails.
Traveling to Italy is relatively safe, either you’re with friends or going solo, watching out for pickpockets is a must. Whether you’re in a luxe neighborhood or on a bus, keep an eye on your handbags and open pockets. When you see groups of people coming your way, that’s when you to stay alert. Pickpockets happen in crowded places, and landmarks filled with tourists.
Female solo travelers: Gender equality is enforced in Italian law, as any type of violence or discrimination against women is illegal. This, however, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen. It’s just rare. Beware of general cat calls, whistles or comments made as beautiful women (like you!) pass by. Be street smart, and be careful when you meet strange men. Try to steer away from dark alleys at night.
The climates vary depending on whether you’re in northern or southern Italy, with the climate being milder in the south, and harsher in the north. Each season has its perks and pitfalls, but if you want a mix of good weather and less crowds, go during the spring.
Winter: Italy can get bitterly cold in the winter, but the plus is that you’ll find smaller crowds and lower prices. Pack for temperatures in the 30-50s °F range.
Spring: Some parts of Italy during spring will still get cold, but you’ll see a bigger majority of sunny days and warmer weather. High 40s-low 70s °F.
Summer: It gets quite hot once it hits June and July, which can be nice if you’re on the coast, but if you’re in a city it can get uncomfortable. Think mid to high 80s °F.
Fall: The summer heat fades and gives way to a wonderfully mild climate. Much like spring you’ll find high 40s-low 60s °F.
Italian is the main language of Italy, although many Italians also understand and speak English well, especially in restaurants, shops, and hotels in large cities. Here are a few words to get you through a trip.
Hello/Goodbye = Ciao (informal)
Good morning/Hello = Buongiorno
Good afternoon/Good evening = Buonasera
Goodbye = Arriverderci
Goodnight = Buonanotte
Yes = Sì
No = No
Please = Per favore
Thank you = Grazie (grah-tsee-eh)
You’re welcome = Prego
I’m sorry = Mi dispiace
Excuse me/I’m sorry = Scusa
Do you speak English? = Parla inglese?
I don’t speak Italian = Non parlo italiano
Italy is actually a very formal society, so follow these tips and you’ll avoid any offensive encounters.
Always greet people you don’t know with the formal versions of greetings. Buongiorno (Hello/Good morning), buonasera (Good afternoon/Good evening), buonanotte (Good night).
Cover up when visiting churches! Many churches won’t grant you entrance if you’re wearing tank tops or shorts (even during the summer). Also dress appropriately when eating out.
Italy uses Euros (€) as their currency. You’ll be able to find ATMs everywhere throughout the country. Most places will accept credit cards but prefer you pay with cash. They also don’t like splitting the bill with multiple cards so keep that in mind if you’re with a group.
Tipping! It’s not necessary, as many places have a service charge already included in the bill.
Like the rest of Europe, Italy uses one of the two European standard electrical socket types, with voltage of 220-240 Volts (U.S./Canada are 110-120 Volts.) Your converter should look like this:
Italy’s tap water is perfectly safe to drink, and you’ll find many people using public water fountains in cities and towns. It does have an odd taste that takes getting used to but that doesn’t make it unsafe to drink. Try to fill up your own water bottles because restaurants will charge for water.
WiFi is available in most places in Italy (excluding the countryside). Most restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels will have Wi-Fi, however it won’t always be free (or work well).
Uber is currently only operating in Milan, Turin, Padua, Genoa, and Rome. Uber also only has Uber Black and Uber vans because these drivers are obligated to have town car NCC license. Since there isn’t UberX or Pool, the ride-sharing app is typically more expensive than local taxis.
When you’re arriving at an Italian airport, try to get taxis from the taxi line rather than striking up a deal with drivers calling you at the exit. They tend to up-charge.
Taxis in Italy also don’t respond to hailing, so you need to find a taxi stand that’s usually around a famous landmark/plaza. Tipping is not necessary but drivers tend to round up the fare so you can let them keep the change. If the driver helps you with your luggage and bags, then you can tip €1 – €2.
For a socially conservative country, homosexuality is legal in Italy so LGBTQ travelers can feel safe here. LGBTQ rights have changed drastically in Italy during recent years, becoming much more culturally liberal. There are occasional homophobic instances, despite that same-sex unions have been legal in Italy since 2016.
Milan, of all the cities, is the most gay-friendly since it’s where the headquarter of Arcigay is located. It’s Italy’s first and largest national gay organization.
Hand holding, or public hugging your partner won’t be looked down upon but still, be more careful in small towns.
According to legend, Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus, twin brothers who claimed to be sons of the war god Mars. They were said to have been raised by a she-wolf.
The Roman Republic was formed when the last king was overthrown.
Julius Caesar’s nephew, Octavius, seized power and declared himself Emperor Augustus; The Roman Empire was born. For the next two hundred years, Rome thrived.
Pax Romana ended with the death of Marcus Aurelius. A multitude of issues occurred including economic problems, and rebellions that resulted in a gradual decline of Rome.
The Roman Empire split into two. The East based out of Constantinople, in what is now Turkey and the West becoming the Byzantine Empire which continued to decline.
For the next thousand years, Italy became comprised of city-states again. This period was known as the Dark Ages.
City-states such as Florence, Milan, Pisa, Genoa, and Venice became centers of trade and Italy began to flourish again.
Giuseppe Garibaldi an Italian nationalist led a popular movement that took over much of Italy in 1861 and ended in 1870 with the fall of Rome and complete unification of the country.
Mussolini led his supporters, known as Fascists, on a march to seize power through a coup. The Italian king was scared and did not put up a fight, letting Mussolini become supreme ruler of Italy.
Italy joins NATO.
Summer Olympics opens in Rome.
The Italian general election was held on March 4th, 2018, after the Italian Parliament was dissolved by President Sergio Mattarella on December 28th, 2017.