Did you know?
- Two of Europe’s smallest countries, San Marino and the Vatican City, are enclaved within Italy.
- St Peter’s Basilica in Rome is the largest Christian church in the world. Its construction took 120 years (1506-1626).
- Rumour has it that the colourful uniforms of the Vatican's Swiss Guard were designed by Michelangelo. But don't think the guard is just there for ceremonial purposes or to look pretty – it's a highly trained security force sworn to protect the pope.
- Cigar smokers should try the curious Tuscan cigar, the Toscano vecchio. Made in Lucca of all-natural tobacco, it comes twisted together in groups of three and is sold all over Italy.
- Italy has three active volcanoes: Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli.
- Italy is home to the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites – more than 40.
- Italy has 20 regions and 6 islands.
- The thermometer is an Italian invention as was the piano and typewriter.
- The average Italian consumes 26 gallons of wine a year!
- Everyday €3,000 gets tossed into the Trevi Fountain.
- 60% of the world’s art treasures are in Italy.
- Bubonic Plague killed one-third of the Italian population in the 14th century.
- The average consumption of pasta in Italy is 25 kilograms per person per year.
- Italian pizza originated in Naples during the 18th century.
- The oldest European university in continuous operation is the University of Bologna, founded in 1088.
Visas and Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to Italy do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
Australian Embassy in Italy:
Via Antonio Bosio 5
Ph. +39 06 852 721
Fax. +39 06 852 72300
The official currency of Italy is the Euro. Notes come in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5.
The recommended currency to take to Italy is the Euro. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have Euro’s with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Rome is approximately €3 - €3.50.
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately €10.
- The price dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately €25.
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately €4.50 - €5.
Italians are quick to tell you there’s no such thing as Italian food. Rather, each city or region has its own distinct cuisine. In the north of the country, you’ll find risotto, polenta and cream sauces that are not at all native to the south. The south offers spicier foods, and the original version of pizza was created in Naples. Two of Italy’s most famous dishes are pizza and gelato (ice cream). A good tip is to check out where the locals eat and join them for lunch or dinner at a pizzeria. The standard tomato, basil and cheese variety is called a margherita, but there are so many more choices, you’ll want to try a few. The best restaurant pizza is cooked in a wood-burning oven. Look for the sign, “Forno al Legno” outside. For pizza in a more casual setting, the best is pizza rustica. After you select your pizza from large trays, its cut and heated in a hot oven, giving it a crisp bite. Then take a walk around the block, gelato in hand. The food alone is an excellent reason to visit the country!
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
Situated in a temperate zone and jutting deep into the Mediterranean, Italy is regarded by many tourists as a land of sunny, mild weather. However, due to its north–south orientation and the fact that it is largely mountainous, the country’s climate is variable. The best time for travelling to Italy is from mid April to mid June or mid September to the end of October, when the days are usually warm, with nights cooler. July, August and the first half of September are generally quite warm.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
In Italy’s larger cities such as Rome, you can use the metro rail system; tickets are sold at train stations and at the tobacco shops – Tabaccheria. Metered taxis are also readily available throughout the country; however, walking is the best way to discover many of the small towns and villages throughout Italy.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Italy…
Italy is famous for its high quality items (and matching price tags...!) Shop for leather goods, truffles, antiques, clothing, wood carvings, embroidery and lace, silver and gold jewellery, violins, ceramics, objects of marble and alabaster, glass (Venice), decorative paper (Florence and Venice), food products, and wine or liqueur. Also fun are ingenious kitchen utensils and accessories. Clothing, both men's and women's, is often of excellent quality. Custom-made suits can be good buys, and many people consider shoes and other leather accessories to be among the best things to take home from Italy.
For true bargain hunters, many designer outlets (think Prada, Fendi, Gucci and Armani) dot the northern provinces, especially outside Florence, Como and Milan. McArthur Glen opened the first true outlet mall in 2001 at Serravalle, between Milan and Genoa. It was so successful the company opened another in Castel Romano, south of Rome, and a third one outside Florence. (Florence has another designer outlet mall, near Leccio Reggello.) Many people now make dedicated short breaks to Milan for winter and summer sales when it's possible to snap up bargains.
Food can almost be called a national obsession. It is best shared with friends, family and neighbours and is to be endlessly discussed. To be able to cook well is a source of pride and is widely acknowledged by all and sundry.
Italians on the whole believe in living life to the fullest. They are not afraid to laugh, shout, cry and argue at the top of their lungs in public!
The Italian way of communicating is very direct. They are much more open and demonstrative than the English, Australians or Americans.
Italians are not big breakfast eaters. They usually have a cappuccino and a croissant or bun for breakfast and they have this standing up at the bar counter. It is usually the tourists who are seated paying double price for the coffee. Cappuccino is a breakfast drink only as Italians usually have the short espresso throughout the day.
The largest meal of the day is lunch as this is followed by a siesta. After siesta, walk off your meal with a passeggiata (stroll)!
Most shops close from 1pm to 4pm for siesta time (except for restaurants) then open again from 4pm to 7:30pm.
Italians seem to naturally have an inherent style where everyone is out and about on a Sunday afternoon, parading to be seen in the latest fashion with the best cut!
Coffee making is an art in Italy, especially in the South.
Celebrations & Public Holidays
Many of the public holidays celebrated in Italy revolve around the Roman Catholic calendar.
These and other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year’s Day
- Epiphany (Jan 6th)
- Easter Friday and Easter Monday
- Liberation Day (April 25th)
- Labour Day (May 1st)
- Republic Day (June 2nd)
- Assumption of Mary (August 15th)
- All Saints Day (November 1st)
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th)
- Christmas Day
- Boxing Day
The capital of an empire to which it gave its name and the seat of Christianity after the collapse of ancient civilisations, Rome is rich in relics of its past and was for a long time the first museum city in the world. Rome, the Eternal City was built on seven hills in the middle of an undulating plain. The honey-coloured city of fountains and marble created by Augustus was, according to the legend, founded by Romulus in 753 BC. Rome has been the capital of the Italian Republic since 1870 and is the seat of the Papacy. The cradle of Western civilisation and the heart of Catholicism, today Rome is the centre of Italian political, administrative and cultural life.
Everywhere you look in Venice there’s an archetypal romantic scene: a short bridge arching over a canal, a gondola gliding by, the moon reflecting off the water. Its winding, narrow streets can be eerily quiet and mysterious, particularly on a foggy night. Without a city’s usual traffic noise, you can hear the laughter of children from your window, as well as the enigmatic sound of footsteps seemingly just around the corner. Set between islands connected by bridges, Venice’s main street – the Grand Canal – is traversed by an assortment of watercraft, from rowboats and water buses to barges piled high with cargo. Within this charming city is a plethora of world-famous museums and artistic treasures.
Meaning Five Lands, the Cinque Terre, is a UNESCO World Heritage-Listed Site and comprises five small coastal villages (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso) all located along some of the Europe’s most beautiful and rugged coastal landscape. There are hiking trails connecting the villages, as well as a frequent train service, but no cars. The brightly painted houses are set amongst steep cliffs, along with terraced vineyards created from stone walls held together by nothing other than clever engineering!
A visit to Florence is a visit to the living museum of Italian Renaissance. The Renaissance began right here and the city bears witness to the proud spirit and unparalleled genius of its artists and artisans. This place has more sights to visit within one square kilometre than any other city in Europe. It is also a shopper’s paradise with countless shops laden with jewellery of Florentine gold and silver, exquisite leather goods, chic fashion houses and the straw market, where you will find great bargains.
Small Group Tours
Immerse yourself in 'la dolce vita' on this Italian small group tour.
Taste the ‘good life’ in northern Italy and breathe the pristine air of the beautiful Italian and Slovenian Alps.