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A Beginner Traveller’s Guide to Italy

Any new traveller to Italy needs to consider the wide range of different regions and key cities to visit within the European country. There is a noticeable contrast within Italy between the more industrialised North and the rural South, as well as between some of the country’s major cities. A trip to Italy can also be solely made to its adjoining islands of Sardinia and Sicily, or can fill time within the ancient history of Rome, Florence, or Venice. If deciding when to go, July tends to be the hottest and busiest month for travel, with the North of Italy generally being having more moderate temperatures.

The North of Italy includes the Alps, and the major cities of Turin and Milan, as well as the rural beauty of Lake Como. To the North East, you can find the lagoon city of Venice. The capital Rome is located in the middle of the country, with Florence and Tuscany on the East Coast. Heading South, Naples is the main port city, and is near to Sicily and ancient sites like Pompeii. In terms of a trip to the North, a city like Turin is recommended for its cosmopolitanism and historic landmarks, which include the Mole Antonelliana, and the Porta Palazzo Market.

Trips to Venice are recommended for honeymoons, or for anyone that wants to soak in the atmosphere of its lagoon location and ancient canals and buildings. The Doge’s Palace and the Rialto market, as well as the Basilica di San Marco are popular destinations, while there are few places in the world as unique as Venice for being built on water. By comparison, a trip to Milan can be organised around the city’s rich history, which includes the Duomo cathedral and the Museo D’Arte Paolo Pini, as well as the city’s world class shopping and reputation for fashion.

Rome remains one of the most fascinating cities in the world, with visitors able to explore its ancient ruins and its diverse collection of architecture and museums. Ancient Rome include the Colosseum and the Forum, while a trip can also be made to the self-contained Vatican City, home to the Pope and the base of the Roman Catholic Church. Alternatively, you can head West to Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance and a source of some of the world’s best art and museums.

To the South, Naples is an ancient port that is defined both by its busy streets and local character, but also by its excellent archaeological museum, its cathedrals, and the Teatro San Carlo opera house. Naples is also home to some of Italy’s best pizza and seafood, and provides a good base for visiting the ruins of Pompeii and Sicily. If going for a longer trip, you can take in the views of the Amalfi Coast, visit the Italian Alps and Mont Blanc for skiing and hiking, or relax in the villages and towns of Tuscany. Remember, if you are planning to ski, you should ensure that you have adequate travel insurance for your trip. Italy is also distinguished by its wine growing tours and regions, with Chianti being one of the most popular.

Places to eat and drink will vary across Italy, and don’t just associate the country with pasta and pizza. Regional delicacies can have marked differences from each other. It is important to remember, though, that Italians prefer a light breakfast, a large lunch, and a late dinner. You’ll be able to find an extensive choice of coffee houses in larger cities, as well as bars and sandwich shops. In terms of general safety when travelling, be cautious in larger cities of pickpockets, and don’t take unreasonable risks late at night. Similarly, watch out for overly aggressive souvenir sellers and merchants, and be aware of taxi license numbers if you feel you’ve been overcharged.

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