Land of la dolce vita, it is little wonder that Italy is one of the world’s most-loved destinations. Two-thirds of the world’s historical artistic heritage is in Italy. Whether it’s culture, gastronomy, cutting-edge design, sybaritic pleasures or simply the art of dolce far niente – doing nothing and just soaking up the atmosphere – this is a country for lovers of all that is good in life. A visit to Italy is a lesson in living well.
Small Group Tours
Immerse yourself in 'la dolce vita' on this Italian small group tour.
Immerse yourself in 'la dolce vita' on this Italian small group tour.
From the grand city of Rome to Malta, the ‘Jewel of the Mediterranean’, experience stunning landscapes, picture-perfect towns and exquisite cuisine.
Explore the stunning European Alps across five uniquely beautiful countries.
Italy Facts & Tips
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 & 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 85 2721
Fax. +39 06 85 272 300
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.
From the enchanted rooftop world of the Duomo, you can see the graceful porticoes and ornate friezes of medieval Milan fade into the sharp lines and angles of the modern city. It's a clear reminder that Milan isn't just a relic from the past. This magical yet understated city is bursting with a perfect mix of history, polished style and urban energy. Italy's most prosperous and populous city, Milan doesn't draw the tourists that tend to overrun Rome, Florence and Venice, but its streets are lined with famous sites, from the beloved opera house, La Scala, and the spired Gothic splendour of the Duomo to the beaux arts filigree of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
Nestled on Italy’s border with France, the Langhe region is famous for its wine, cheese and truffles, particularly the white truffles of Alba. Its hilly landscape was inducted as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2014 as a testament to the wine growing traditions that date back centuries. Sleepy villages dot the undulating landscape and the acres of grape vines create incredible patterns on the hillside. The Langhe region is a picturesque food and wine lovers paradise.
Well known for its amazing local cuisine and miles of covered porticoes, Bologna is a fascinating city to explore. Historically a city of commerce due to its location in central Italy, Bologna has also developed as a wonderful cultural centre with many interesting sights to offer visitors.
In the centre of Italy, the Tuscany region of rolling hills, amazing food and wine and incredible art and culture are a joy to explore. The serene country landscapes merge beautifully with the picturesque villages of Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa to name a few. And not to forget the capital of the region, Florence.
On the southern outskirts of Naples lies Mount Vesuvius, the volcano whose eruption in 79 AD covered Pompeii and Herculaneum (Ercolano) with tufa stone and volcanic mud. The cities remained covered until the 1700s, when a farmer discovered Pompeii while digging a well. The two cities (reached on the Circumvesuvio railway) give you a real grasp of what life was like in the Roman Empire – they are exceptionally well-preserved. Pompeii was a city of nearly 20,000. The Forum (central town “square”), is surrounded by temples, triumphal arches, shops and a basilica (courts of justice). Stroll through ancient paved streets (complete with stepping stones at each intersection), stopping at several houses or shops along the way.
Sorrento, a popular tourist destination, is a small city in Campania, Italy, with some 16,500 inhabitants. The town can be reached easily from Naples and Pompeii, as it lies at the southeastern end of the Circumvesuviana rail line. The town overlooks the bay of Naples, as the key place of the Sorrentine Peninsula, and many viewpoints in the city allow sight of Naples itself (visible across the bay) and Vesuvius. The Amalfi Drive (connecting Sorrento and Amalfi) is the narrow road that threads around the high cliffs above the Mediterranean. Ferry boats and hydrofoils provide services to Naples, Amalfi, Positano, Capri and Ischia.
Walk along Sharambeyan street in Dilijan, marvel at some of the oldest Greek, Persian and Arabic manuscripts in Yerevan, and witness the historic cave monastery of Geghard.
From the spectacular snow-covered Alps and picture-perfect panoramas, to the quintessential elegance of its larger cities, Austria is a fascinating country to explore
A relatively untouched country, there is so much to see in Azerbaijan including the Baku Fire Temple, Burning Mountain and the Palace of Shirvanshahs.
Discover intriguing history at the old city centre of Sarajevo, Baščaršija and the Museum of Sarajevo and experience the world-famous Stari Most bridge.
With its magnificent coastline, 1,185 islands, islets and reefs, Roman ruins and picturesque medieval villages, Croatia is alluring for lovers of fun, sun and fascinating history.
From its picturesque capital, Copenhagen, to its windswept coastline and everything in between, Denmark will lure you in with its warmth and welcoming hospitality.
Watch the northern lights dance across the sky, relax and unwind in a Finnish sauna, cruise Lake Inari and visit Suomenlinna, an 18th-century sea fortress steeped in history.
A popular destination with all travellers, you can soak up the glamour of the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles or sip on a coffee and watch the world go by.
Positioned between Europe and Asia, the country of Georgia has one of the most unique cultures in the world.
Infused with a rich history, Germany offers a fascinating mix of picture-perfect towns, lively festivals, modern, urban cities and beautiful rolling countryside.
Discover ancient sites like the Acropolis and the Agora in Athens, Delphi on the Greek mainland and delicious Greek cuisine in the glamorous Greek islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Crete.
Hungary’s location in the centre of Europe, along with its hospitable attitude, makes it an inviting destination, proudly upholding its Magyar traditions, culture and arts whilst incorporating a fascinating mix of history and the present-day.
Otherwise known as the jewel of the Mediterranean, Malta is an island located off the Italian coast packed with stunning scenery and a rich culture.
Experience jaw-dropping coastal views of the Mediterranean Sea, try your luck at the Casino Monte-Carlo or explore the botanical world of Jardin Exotique.
Discover surreal views and charming villages across the Bay of Kotor, explore the old town of Kotor surrounded with ancient medieval architecture and enjoy some local Montenegrin cuisine.
Morocco’s dazzling mosaic of Arab and Berber cultures, with a dash of African and European influence, is at once strange and romantic, alluring and surprising.
From fields of colourful tulips and beautiful canal-lined cities to historic architecture and iconic windmills, the Netherlands is a wonderland for any kind of traveller.
Known as ‘The Land of the Midnight Sun’ Norway is ideal for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy stunning scenery, while history buffs can immerse themselves in Norway's rich cultural heritage.
Portugal has it all; the sun-drenched beaches of the Algarve, exclusive golf resorts, medieval hilltop towns, colourful fishing villages, a cosmopolitan capital, the vine-filled valley of the Douro and wild remote mountains.
Slovenia is packed with unusual and often unique experiences, from primeval forests, Karst limestone caves and thermal springs to the lively and architecturally beautiful city of Ljubljana.
Fall in love with Spain’s intriguing history, marvel at the architectural wonders of Barcelona, enjoy a traditional Spanish tapas dinner and people-watch at a terrace café in Madrid.
Snowbound winters, meatballs, herring, Vikings and Volvos, IKEA, ABBA and the Hives - whatever your pre-existing notions about Sweden, a visit to this multifaceted country is bound to both confirm and confound them.
With its snow-capped Alps, emerald green forests, fairy-tale castles and shimmering lakes, it’s easy to see why Switzerland has been one of the world’s top tourist destinations for the past two centuries.
With its covered bazaars, whirling dervishes, sultans’ treasures and Byzantine mosaics, Turkey is both a cosmopolitan and exotic destination.