Italy

Home to artistic treasures, renowned sights, celebrated fashion and some of the tastiest food on the planet, Italy will surely impress. From Rome's ancient streets to the romantic canals of Venice, be seduced by a slice of La Dolce Vita.

Italy Tours & Travel

Top deals in Italy

Departing Days Price AUD
3 Nov 2014 Best of Italy 15 $2850

All our Italy trips

Best of Italy

15 days from
CAD $2,995
AUD $2,850
EUR €2,350
GBP £1,865
NZD $3,380
ZAR R28,310
CHF FR2,895
USD $2,940

Immerse yourself in classic culture, history and incredible sights on this Best of Italy tour. Visit Rome, Florence,...

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Amalfi Coast Sailing Adventure

7 days from
USD $1,488
CAD $1,539
AUD $1,507
EUR €1,035
GBP £870
NZD $1,680
ZAR R15,092
CHF FR1,255

Sail Italy’s Amalfi Coast, exploring the Bay of Naples, Capri, Amalfi and Procida island, all the places that makes...

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Rome to Amalfi

8 days from
USD $1,775
CAD $1,830
AUD $1,795
EUR €1,235
GBP £1,040
NZD $1,995
ZAR R17,970
CHF FR1,495

Travel to Italy on a tour from Rome to Amalfi and explore the best of the region. Southern Italy is the perfect...

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Italy Experience

10 days from

Explore the boot of Europe on an Italy Experience. Cruise the canals in Venice, walk the Cinque Terre, view a leaning...

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Highlights of Italy

8 days from

Travel from Venice to Rome via Florence and Italy's coast. The Highlights of Italy is the ideal way to explore this...

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Italy Family Holiday

8 days from
USD $1,860
CAD $1,925
AUD $1,875
EUR €1,295
GBP £995
NZD $2,095
ZAR R18,770
CHF FR1,565

Travel to Italy on a family holiday with a difference. Climb volcanoes, see ancient cities, experience island life...

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Italy Family Sailing

7 days from
USD $1,843
CAD $1,904
AUD $1,867
EUR €1,285
GBP £1,090
NZD $2,075
ZAR R18,697
CHF FR1,555

Take your family sailing along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, exploring the Bay of Naples, Capri, Amalfi and Procida Island -...

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Rome to Paris

21 days from

Take an epic tour through the heart of Italy, Switzerland and France. Visit ancient attractions in Rome, the Cinque...

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Italy Family - Around the Bay of Naples

8 days from
USD $1,705
CAD $1,728
AUD $1,795
EUR €1,251
GBP £1,075
NZD $2,128
ZAR R16,344
CHF FR1,525

Travel to Italy on a family holiday with a difference. Climb volcanoes, see ancient cities, experience island life...

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Real Food Adventure - Italy

9 days from

Explore the traditional delights of Italian cuisine while travelling through the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Emilia...

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Real Food Adventure - Italy

9 days from
USD $2,740
CAD $2,825
AUD $2,770
EUR €1,895
GBP £1,595
NZD $3,095
ZAR R27,730
CHF FR2,295

Explore the traditional delights of Italian cuisine while travelling through the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Emilia...

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Barcelona to Rome

15 days from

Travel through three of Europe's most enchanting countries. Visit Spain, head through the Pyrenees into France and...

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Classic Italy

21 days from
USD $4,150
CAD $4,205
AUD $4,370
EUR €2,955
GBP £2,615
NZD $5,180
ZAR R39,800
CHF FR3,640

Discover why Italy is one of the world's premier destinations on this culture-rich tour. See the classics of Italy...

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Berlin to Rome

22 days from

Embark on a tour of Europe as you travel from Berlin to Rome visiting Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria,...

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Italy Uncovered

15 days from

Discover la bella Italia on this intoxicating Italy Uncovered tour. Travel from Venice to Assisi, Rome to Naples and...

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Umbrian Discovery

8 days from

Visit Italy and tour through the countryside of Umbria. Travel to Italy's sacred sites and be enthralled by ancient...

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Sail Italy - Procida to Amalfi 2015

4 days from
USD $854
CAD $872
AUD $856
EUR €590
GBP £495
NZD $955
ZAR R8,573
CHF FR710

Sail Italy’s Amalfi Coast from the colourful village of Procida, through ancient worlds in Pompeii, medieval...

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Sail Italy - Amalfi to Procida 2015

4 days from
USD $854
CAD $872
AUD $856
EUR €590
GBP £495
NZD $955
ZAR R8,573
CHF FR710

Sail Italy’s Amalfi Coast, stopping in at the ancient isle of Capri, exploring incredible sea caves, cruising the Bay...

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The Cinque Terre Explored

8 days from
USD $1,706
CAD $1,815
AUD $1,882
EUR €1,271
GBP £1,132
NZD $2,235
ZAR R17,145
CHF FR1,571

Walk the coast of the Cinque Terre. On this beautiful coastline tour of Italy, we hike from Levanto to Monterosso,...

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Italian Lakes Discovery

8 days from

A superb sojourn that winds through the splendid lakes of Italy’s lake district and St Moritz’s spectacular mountain...

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Highlights of Sicily

8 days from
USD $1,750
CAD $1,795
AUD $1,770
EUR €1,220
GBP £1,025
NZD $1,970
ZAR R17,720
CHF FR1,475

Explore Catania’s attractive city centre, drive out to the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna, sample Sicilian delicacies...

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Spirit of Sicily

11 days from
USD $3,900
CAD $4,150
AUD $4,305
EUR €2,910
GBP £2,575
NZD $5,105
ZAR R39,205
CHF FR3,590

Travel to Sicily and experience Italy’s Mediterranean heaven. From castles in Montalbano to the moon-like surface of...

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Italy Experience - Independent Journey

10 days from
CHF FR4,195
USD $4,977
CAD $5,135
AUD $5,035
EUR €3,465
GBP £2,910
NZD $5,607
ZAR R50,400

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The Cinque Terre Explored

8 days from
USD $2,270
CAD $2,340
AUD $2,295
EUR €1,580
GBP £1,325
NZD $2,565
ZAR R22,970
CHF FR1,910

Walk the coast of the Cinque Terre. On this beautiful coastline tour of Italy, we hike from Levanto to Monterosso,...

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Spirit of Sicily

11 days from
USD $3,685
CAD $3,925
AUD $3,995
EUR €2,750
GBP £2,320
NZD $4,450
ZAR R37,090
CHF FR3,330

Travel to Sicily and experience Italy’s Mediterranean heaven. From castles in Montalbano to the moon-like surface of...

View trip details

Italy trip reviews

Our Italy trips score an average of 4.8 out of 5 based on 116 reviews in the last year.

Best of Italy, June 2014

Italy Experience, June 2014

Video

Articles on Italy

A perfect day in Italy

Posted on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 by Skye Gainey

So it’s my second time travelling to Italy and I’m so excited just to be in my favourite Italian city, Florence. Today we have time to explore at our own [...]

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Top 10 aquatic adventures

Posted on Fri, 2 Aug 2013 by Sue Elliot

As a holiday destination, we reckon the sea gets a bit of a rough deal. Together with its buddies (lakes, rivers and bays), the ocean makes up 70 percent of [...]

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Festival of film in Venice

Posted on Mon, 8 Jul 2013 by Sue Elliot

"Even though the city was teeming with people, and I am not a great fan of crowds, it just added to my excitement..."

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A beverage with a bitter divide

Posted on Sun, 14 Apr 2013 by Sue Elliot

What do Italy, Argentina and San Francisco have in common?

Read more

Transport

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending on which trip you're on while in Italy, you may find yourself travelling by:

About Italy

At a glance

Trips Available: 18
Capital city: Rome (population 3.8 million)
Population: 61 million
Language: Italian
Currency: EUR
Time zone: (GMT+01:00) Amsterdam, Berlin, Bern, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth) Type L (Italian 3-pin)
Dialing code: +39

Best time to visit Italy

Italy enjoys a temperate climate most of the year, with June, July and August being the warmest months. Popular tourist spots can get very busy and crowded during the European summer, but the sun is shining and the weather is hot so it's still a great time to go.

April - May and September - October (while not as hot) still offer great conditions for travel, with milder temperatures and fewer crowds at the sights and beaches.

It can get quite cold in the winter months, especially in the north, with cities like Milan, Turin and Venice often seeing snow, fog and rain in December and January. Major coastal tourist spots like the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre all but close (except to locals) during winter and are truly best seen in the warmer months.

Rome weather chart

Culture and customs

Michelangelo's David Colleseum
With the Renaissance, Vespa, slow-food movement, opera, Valentino, espresso, the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel, the culture of Italy is as rich as its food. And with iconic cities like Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples featuring reminders of the past around every corner, it's easy to see why Italians are so very proud of their heritage. Italy drips with sensational artwork, ancient icons, ornate architecture and historic sights. The streets are filled with people and places that exude character and charisma, and the famous Italian artists, inventors and public figures that have contributed so much to the world are openly adored and celebrated.

In general, Italians place great value on family, food and the enjoyment of life. Good quality food made with the best ingredients is preferred to processed, fast food. Eating is a pleasure to be enjoyed with friends and family, not a necessary inconvenience. Respect for the family unit is paramount, with many families choosing to live close to each other for life. Community is also an important element of Italian life and this can be seen with neighbours enjoying a passeggiata (an after dinner stroll and chat).

Italians certainly live their lives with passion and this is evident in their zealous approach to driving, passionate patronage of football (soccer) matches and exuberant social life. It's common to see Italians debate politics, fashion, sport and current affairs with ferocious verve, which can sometimes be quite confronting for people from meeker cultural backgrounds. But lying underneath the bold, animated exterior of most Italians is a deep, passionate love of life itself.

Eating and drinking

Pizza Gelato in Italy Fresh olives at a market in Italy

Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.

Italy is famous for its food and rightly so! Carb-addicts will enjoy the bounty of pasta and pizza on offer, foodies will love the parmesan and olives, and those with a sweet tooth won't be able to resist the desserts and sweets. From fine dining to street carts, aperitivo and family-run kitchens, Italy's got cuisine covered.

Things to try in Italy

1. Gelato

A true favourite, gelato shops and carts can be found nearly everywhere in Italy. Try traditional Italian flavours like bacio (choc-hazelnut), amarena (sour cherry) and limone (lemon) - the perfect accompaniment to sightseeing on a hot summer's day.

2. Pizza

Naples is the birthplace of pizza but you'll see it all over Italy. Gorge on a whole pizza in a restaurant or grab a slice from a street stall. Simple is usually the best - fresh basil and mozzarella are a top combo and a calzone is great to eat on the run.

3. Pasta

This is your chance to try all shapes - tortellini, spaghetti, farfalle, linguine, rigatoni, fettucine - and all sauces, from a fiery arrabiata to a hearty bolognese or a tangy puttanesca.

4. Fresh Produce

Fruit and vegetables are sold in street stalls and carts on the side of the road, even in big cities. For a healthy snack, pick up some fresh berries, cherries, grapes or figs. There's no self-service here so ask for what item you want - Italian fruit sellers don't appreciate fruit being handled before purchase.

5. Coffee

The quintessential Italian experience, sip an espresso while standing up at a cafe bar, just like the locals do. It's also cheaper.

6. Wine

Italy produces some of the world's best wine so savour a glass (or two!) of Sangiovese with dinner. Fans of white wine will love a crisp Pinot Grigio, a summer wine best served with seafood or chicken.

7. Limoncello

This lemon liqueur is super strong and usually served after dinner. Native to southern Italy, Limoncello can be found everywhere in Italy but especially on the Amalfi Coast.

Geography and environment

San Gimignano bell tower
Sharing borders with Switzerland, France, Slovenia and Austria, Italy also encompasses the independent territories of San Marino and Vatican City and includes the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.

Home to mountains, volcanoes, islands, beaches, spectacular cliffs and expansive stretches of coastline, the natural landscapes of Italy provide dramatic scenery as well as popular places to explore and relax for locals and visitors alike.

The major cities of Italy, although industrialised, still retain buildings, churches and relics from the past. It's quite common to see modern shops housed in historic cobblestone streets and new Vespas perched in ancient piazzas. In smaller cities and more isolated areas, rural life is a whole lot slower and simpler. Permaculture remains popular, with many Italians growing fruit and vegetables in their backyards. The traffic and frenetic pace of the cities give way to idyllic olive groves, vineyards and farmhouses.

History and government

Trevi fountain, Rome Guards at Vatican city

Early History

The rise of the Roman Empire has been the subject of much fascination, intrigue and interest from scholars, artists, travellers and students around the world, and through the ages. Dominating the world for many centuries, the modern world can pay great respect to the fruits of this mighty civilisation, with many important scientific inventions, art movements, architectural triumphs and philosophical ideas being born during Roman civilisation - most notably during the Renaissance.

Founded sometime around 750 BC, Rome endures as one of the most important cities in the world. Home to such famous citizens as Julius Caesar, Emperor Augustus, Claudius, Nero, Mark Antony and Marcus Aurelius, Rome has enjoyed the great highs of dominating the Mediterranean region and the artistic triumphs of the Renaissance, but also the lows of the Great Fire of Rome, which ended up destroying a large part of the city. Rome has survived natural disasters, political turmoil, feuding families, the plague, war and more, to be the great city that is it today. Still a cultural and political powerhouse, any visit to Italy needs to include Rome's major sites in order to understand the birth of this nation. The Colosseum, The Pantheon, Circus Maximus and Palatine Hill are all great places to start.

Lasting centuries, the amazing history of Ancient Rome is full of dramatic twists and turns, and we suggest you read up on it before visiting.

Recent History

After the Renaissance, Italy was unified with Sardinia in 1861, becoming the Kingdom of Italy. After World War I, Italy came under the fascist rule of Benito Mussolini, who ruled until 1943. Siding with Nazi Germany in World War II, the Italian Army suffered many losses and ultimately surrendered in 1945. After a referendum in 1946, Italy became a Republic and flourished well during the 1950s and 1960s. The post-war period marks a time of economic progress for Italy, also largely reflected by the rest of the world's increased economic stability during this period of relative peace.

From the 1970s, Italians have lived with political upheaval and uncertainty. Corruption, organised crime, terrorism and government debt have created times of turmoil and concern. In 1994, media mogul Silvio Berlusconi was elected into office as Prime Minister but was forced to step down later in the year after losing support from his political partners. Undeterred, Berlusconi regained power in 2008 and has continued to rule Italy amid much controversy and scandal.

Top Picks

Venice at dusk Vineyard in Italy Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Top 10 Iconic Italian Landscapes

1. Captivating Capri

Be blown away by the shimmering beauty of this sun-bleached island that sits in the middle of a mass of blue-green water. Home to luminous sea caves, stunning cliff faces and whitewashed buildings, Capri is the perfect setting for a romantic escapade, relaxing boat ride or some serious sun worshipping.

2. Tuscan Hills

An enchanting mix of rolling green hills, vineyards, simple farmhouses and charming villages, Tuscan landscapes are effortlessly beautiful. Whether you're cycling around vineyards, hiking through the countryside or lying in a field of golden grass, Tuscany is made for life in the slow lane.

3. Luscious Lake

Picturesque Lake Como is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy and any visitor will tell you why. A vast expanse of azure water set to a stunning mountainous backdrop, dotted with rustic villas and wildflowers, Lake Como is the sparkling jewel of Italy's north, naturally polished to perfection.

4. Mighty Mount Vesuvius

Sitting on the Bay of Naples, the austere beauty of brooding Mt Vesuvius offers a contrast to the luscious, green landscapes of the Mediterranean. A reminder of the raw power of nature, Mt Vesuvius is still active - yet a hike to the summit is possible and worthwhile for the sweeping views of the bay below.

5. Wonderful Waterways

No trip to Italy is complete without taking in the canals of Venice. A truly unique spectacle to behold, these classic waterways have served for centuries as a transport route for Venetians. Nowhere else in the world will you find a place such as this - hop onboard a gondola and ride the canals for an up close look at this fascinating city.

6. The Romantic Road

A journey along the winding roads of the Amalfi Coast offers panoramic ocean views, alluring towns perched on cliffs and beaches bathed in sunlight. Admire the luscious landscapes dotted with fragrant lemon trees and olive groves, feel the soft touch of a gentle sea breeze and fall in love with this spectacular corner of the world.

7. Authentic Italian Island

Sitting under the watchful eye of moody Mt Etna, Sicily is a place where you can experience a taste of authentic Italy and see spectacular views at the same time. Surrounded by a sea of turquoise water speckled with volcanic islands, Sicily possesses diverse landscapes of rocky mountains, rural pastures, ancient ruins and villages steeped in history.

8. The Pleasures of Piedmont

While not as famous as other regions of Italy, the quiet, pastoral beauty of Piedmont is definitely pleasing to the eye. With classic vineyards, simple home-grown gardens, sleepy villages and divine cafes, Piedmont rewards visitors with attractive scenery and a serene vibe to match.

9. The Dolomites

Verdant green and carpeted in wildflowers during summer, and covered in a blanket of white snow during winter, the Dolomites are a breathtakingly beautiful sight to behold in any season. Whether you're scaling the epic slopes during summer hikes or skiing downhill during winter, making the most of these mountainous landscapes is too easy.

10. The Five Lands

A quintessentially beautiful Mediterranean landscape, the Cinque Terre is a destination to be cherished. Walk the rocky path over steep cliffs and pass character-filled villages perched over a brilliant blue ocean. Wander past shady trees, gardens and groves as the ocean reflects the radiance of the sun. This is panoramic perfection!

Shopping

Mask

Italians are known for their style and this is reflected in the designer fashion and furniture of Italy. Be prepared to part with money - shopping in Italy can get quite expensive - but the quality of handmade and tailored items is generally exceptional.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.

Things to buy in Italy

1. Clothing

Milan, Rome and other big cities are packed with high-end designer fashion boutiques, chic chain stores and tailors. Either way, when in Italy you're guaranteed to get the latest fashions straight from the catwalks of Europe.

2. Colourful Ceramics

Vibrant, hand-painted ceramic bowls, jugs and glasses can be found in the shops and markets of the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. A perfect reminder of the Mediterranean.

3. Masks

Venice is filled with shops selling elaborate, handcrafted masquerade masks. These colourful creations look great hung on walls and are a true Venetian keepsake.

4. Leather Footwear, Bags and Accessories

Florence and Rome are hot spots for sourcing gorgeous handmade leather items. Splash out on an 'investment purchase' - a leather handbag that will last a lifetime.

Festivals and Events in Italy

Easter (Pasqua)

Beautifully decorated shop windows, colourfully painted eggs, church services, parades, feasts and fireworks make Easter a wonderful time to visit Italy and be immersed in Italian culture.

Venice Historical Regatta (Regata Storica)

Held on the first Sunday of September and dating back to the 13th century, this historic event sees the canals of Venice turned into a competitive rowing race between colourful, carved boats. Passionate supporters line the banks of the canals and street performers and artists come out to celebrate too.

FAQs on Italy

Tipping isn't customary in Italy; however, if restaurant service is particularly good or if you're feeling generous, a tip would be welcomed by most. Some restaurants charge a 'cover charge' which will be added to your bill.
Internet access is good in Italy and internet cafes are easily found in most cities and major towns.
Mobile phone coverage is generally very good in Italy. Ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive.
Western-style, flushable toilets are the standard in Italy. Expect to pay a small fee when using public toilets in some parts of Italy.
Cup of coffee = 2 Euro (less if you forego the table and stand up)
A glass of beer = 5 Euro
Bottle of wine in a restaurant = 16 Euro
Small gelato cone = 3 Euro
Drinking water from taps in Italy is considered safe. For environmental reasons, try to use a refillable water bottle rather than buying bottled water.
Major credit cards are widely accepted by stores in Italy. Smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards, so ensure you carry enough cash to cover small purchases.
ATMs are common in Italy, so finding one won't be a problem in most towns and cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year's Day
Jan 6 Epiphany
April 1 Easter Monday
April 25 Liberation Day
May 1 Labour Day
June 2 Anniversary of the Republic
August 15 Assumption
November 1 All Saints' Day
December 8 Immaculate Conception
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 St. Stephen's Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. Local feast days in honour of patron saints are also held in Italy and aren't listed here.
For a current list of public holidays in Italy go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/italy/public-holidays
ITALY:
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Italy Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Italy

1. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

2. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.

4. Try to use public transport wherever possible.

5. Refrain from touching or interfering with ancient monuments, relics or historic sites.

6. Learn some Italian and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

7. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Naples 44Norman Lewis
The SicilianMario Puzo
Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an EmpireSimon Baker
The Name of the RoseUmberto Eco
A Thousand Days in VeniceMarlena de Blasi
The Divine ComedyDante Alighieri