Top Attractions in Italy
In Italy, where no town is complete without a Roman-era theater or aqueduct, the ancient and the modern live in harmony. Many travelers still consider this vibrant land an essential destination. With famous cultural treasures, Italy beckons with its legendary hospitality and relaxed lifestyle.
Destinations to Visit and Things to Do
More of Italy
Italy, slightly larger than Arizona, is a long peninsula shaped like a boot, surrounded on the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea and on the east by the Adriatic. It is bounded by France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia to the north. The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula’s backbone; the Alps form its northern boundary. The largest of its many northern lakes is Garda (143 sq mi; 370 sq km); the Po, its principal river, flows from the Alps on Italy’s western border and crosses the Lombard plain to the Adriatic Sea. Several islands form part of Italy; the largest are Sicily (9,926 sq mi; 25,708 sq km) and Sardinia (9,301 sq mi; 24,090 sq km).
The climate in Italy
The climate varies considerably from the north to the south of Italy. In the north of the country – the area between the Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines – the climate is harsh, with very cold winters and very hot, particularly humid summers. In central Italy the climate is milder, with a smaller difference in temperature between summer and winter and a shorter and less intense cold season than in the north; summers are longer, but the sultriness of the northern cities is mitigated by the sea. In southern Italy and the islands winters are never particularly harsh, and spring and autumn temperatures are similar to those reached in the summer in other areas of Italy.
Temperatures vary widely in Italy, in the north, center or south of the country. The table below illustrates the monthly average minimum and maximum temperatures for three cities, one for each climate area.
What currency is used in Italy?
Since 2001, the currency used in Italy is the euro. One euro is divided up into 100 euro-cents. There are eight different coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents) and seven notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros).
As well as in cash, purchases can be paid for using the most common credit cards. This payment system is common in Italian shops, which generally display the symbols of the credit cards they accept on the outside door. If you pay by credit card you will be asked to show an identity document. Travelers cheques (in USD or Euros) can also be cashed in Italian banks.
Tips are not compulsory and in Italy there are no generally established rules, although it is common practice to leave a sum amounting to around 10% of the bill if you are satisfied with the service you have received.
Italian is the official language of the country, although accents and dialects may vary widely from one region to another. A large number of local dialects are spoken in Italy.
There are two regions, however, which have a second official language: the Aosta Valley, where French is also spoken, and Trentino Alto Adige, where German is also spoken. In these regions, road signs, as well as place names, for example, appear in both languages. There are also a number of small areas in which languages other than Italian are used, although these languages do not have official status: in Friuli-Venezia Giulia there is a Slovenian-speaking area, and in Calabria (in the Bovesìa area) and in Apulia (in the Grecia Salentina zone), Greek is spoken in some areas. In Sicily, in Piana degli Albanesi, you will find the largest Albanian community in Italy, where the Albanian language is widely used, even in official documents and on road signs.
The Italian Constitution guarantees freedom of worship. Most of the population is Catholic; there are also, however, a large number of minority religious communities, some of them of Christian or Catholic inspiration, such as the Apostolic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), the Waldensian Evangelical Church and the Holy Orthodox Archdiocese, as well as Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist communities.
What time is it in Italy?
Italy is in the Central European Time (CET) Zone, 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and observes Daylight Saving Time: at the beginning of spring the clocks go forward an hour in order to take advantage of an extra hour of sunlight in the late afternoon/evening. At the beginning of autumn the clocks are shifted back an order to standard Central European Time.
What are the typical mealtimes in Italy?
Italians usually have breakfast from 7.00 a.m. onward. Hotels generally set a time (around 10.00 a.m.) after which breakfast may no longer be ordered. In restaurants, lunch is served from 12.30 to 2.30 p.m, and dinner between 19.30 and 23.00. These times are merely indicative, and may vary significantly, depending on the area of the country you are visiting: in the north they tend to be earlier, becoming later the further south you travel..
What are the shop opening hours?
Shops are generally open from Monday to Saturday, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 and from 3.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., although shopping centers and department stores often stay open all day, from 10.00 a.m. to 9.00 or 10.00 p.m. Shopping centers and stores are also open on several Sundays throughout the year.
Pharmacies have the same opening hours as shops, from 9.30 a.m. to 12.30 and from 3.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.; in the larger cities, some pharmacies are open 24 hours. For emergencies during the night, or when the pharmacies are normally closed, a number of them remain open, on a rotational basis. A calendar listing the nearest one open can be found on the doors of all local pharmacies.
There are 12 national holidays on the Italian calendar:
1 January – New Year’s Day
6 January – Epiphany,
Easter Sunday (date varies from year to year)
Easter Monday (the day after Easter Sunday)
25 April – Anniversary of the Liberation
1 May – Labour Day
2 June -Republic Day
15 August – Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary ( Ferragosto )
1 November – All Saints Day
8 December – Immaculate Conception
25 December – Christmas Day
26 December – Boxing Day
Festività locali e feste patronali
The local patron saint’s day is generally a local public holiday: offices are closed and a range of events and markets are held. Below is a list of the patron saints of the capital cities of the Italian regions:
29 January – San Costanzo, Perugia (Umbria)
23 April – San Giorgio, Campobasso (Molise)
25 April – San Marco, Venice (Veneto)
4 May – San Ciriaco of Jerusalem, Ancona (Marche)
9 May and 6 December – San Nicola, Bari (Apulia)
30 May – San Gerardo, Potenza (Basilicata)
10 June – San Massimo d’Aveia, L’Aquila (Abruzzo)
24 June – San Giovanni, Genoa (Liguria)
24 June – San Giovanni, Florence (Tuscany)
24 June – San Giovanni, Turin (Piedmont)
26 June – San Vigilio, Trent (Trentino)
29 June – San Pietro, Rome (Lazio)
15 July – Santa Rosalia, Palermo (Sicily)
16 July- San Vitaliano, Catanzaro (Calabria)
7 September – San Grato, Aosta (Aosta Valley)
19 September – San Gennaro, Naples (Campania)
11 luglio – Santa Rosalia, Palermo (Sicilia)
4 October – San Petronio, Bologna (Emilia Romagna)
30 October – San Saturnino, Cagliari (Sardinia)
3 November – San Giusto, Trieste (Friuli Venezia Giulia)
7 December- Sant’Ambrogio, Milan (Lombardy)