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La Dolce Vita – Italy makes living the good life seem so simple

Picture yourself sipping a glass of red on a wine-tasting tour of Tuscany, catching the breeze on a sailing trip across Lake Garda, gazing at the pink-hued pinnacles of the Dolomites or marvelling at fabulous architecture in Florence.

Stand on Juliet's balcony in Verona (Romeo not included), become Rome-antic or glide the Venetian canals - and have you seen the glorious view from the top of Mount Vesuvius?

Italy just oozes style, culture and effortless beauty - you'll see it in the seductive beaches of the Amalfi Coast, the jaw-dropping detail of the Sistine Chapel and in the people themselves, who make the business of everyday living into a true art form.


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Culture and history

Italy is a predominantly Roman Catholic country where the family is paramount.

Appearances are very important and you will be judged on your clothes, shoes, accessories and how you carry yourself.

A handshake with eye contact is the correct greeting. Football is by far the most popular sport.

An architectural delight, Italy is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and, according to one estimate, the country guards half of the world’s great art treasures.

Music writing began in Italy and many of the top fashion designers are Italian. Then, of course, history is littered with famous Italians, who include Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Giuseppe Verdi, Rudolph Valentino, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, Sergio Leone, Mark Antony, Antonio Vivaldi, Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavarotti, Frankie Dettori, Enzo Ferrari, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, countless Popes and, er, Vito Corleone.

Things to do

Who could resist all those world-famous Italian cities drenched in culture, the seductive language of love, or a slice of fresh mozzarella pizza? The charms of Italy are many.

Discover your own piece of paradise on a quiet beach holiday in Sicily, cruise the Mediterranean stopping off to explore Florence, the Isle of Elba and Sardinia, or head to Northern Italy to soak up the culture in fair Verona.

Travel slowly through the rolling hills of Sardinia on a walking holiday or explore ancient Italy on an archaeological tour of Pompeii.

Whichever Italian holiday you choose, take our advice and make plenty of time for eating. From the gelato to the espresso and back again, the Italian flair for food is unparalleled.

Northern Italy

Northern Italy encompasses a large and varied area bordering Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The mountains of the Dolomites offer incredible walking and gastronomy (two things that go together rather well), and are also perfect for a snowy Christmas retreat. The Italian lakes of Garda and Como are found here too, amidst an Alpine landscape dotted with medieval villages.

Walking and train tour holidays are both great ways to take in the sights. Perched on the Adriatic Coast, and with no need of an introduction, is Venice, while just down the road you'll find fair Verona.


Shady olive groves, sun-drenched vineyards and gently rolling hills; the bucolic charms of Tuscany are the stuff of dreams - or indeed of dream holidays. The region’s main city is Florence, a true powerhouse of art and history. It is here, amidst the churches and museums of the historic centre, that you'll find Michelangelo's David. The Leaning Tower of Pisa isn't far away and, sparkling just off of Tuscany's gorgeous coastline, is the pristine island of Elba.


Prepare to be wooed - from the moment you set foot in Rome, you can't help but be swept up in the romance of it all. She'll wow you with sight after incredible sight - the Pantheon, the Coliseum, Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel, the Spanish Steps... the list goes on. But it's not just history and grandeur that entice - you'll also be seduced by the contemporary street life of this glamorous diva of a city.

Sip a glass of spumante on the terrace of some stylish restaurant, or pull up a chair at a pavement café. You'll be greeting passers by with a ‘ciao bella’ in no time.

The Amalfi Coast and around

This little corner of Italy really packs in the sights. The stunning Amalfi Coast stretches south from the Sorrento Peninsula in all its dramatic glory. Lush forested mountains plunge steeply into the ocean, fringed by pastel-hued villages and sandy coves - this truly is picture-postcard Italy.

Within easy striking distance is Pompeii with the imposing cone of Mount Vesuvius looming on the horizon. Just off of the Mediterranean coast is the fabled island of Capri, while to the north you can enjoy the faded charm and gastronomic treats of Naples.


Sun-baked and full of character - if Sicily were a person, it would be a charming old rogue with a weather-beaten face and a heart of gold. History, archaeology and a distinct culinary tradition await you here. From the faded markets in the crumbling old town of Palermo, to the lovely coastal Cefalù and the majestic Mount Etna, this singular island at the tail end of Europe is sure to win your heart.

Flight time

It obviously depends where you fly to, but as an example flight time from London to Rome is 2 hours 15 minutes.


Euro -

Gone are the days of six million lira being worth 20p, Italy now uses the euro.

Passports and visas

By law, you’ll need to carry a photocopy of your passport at all times.


Yes – Si

No – No

Good morning – Buon giorno

Good evening – Buona sera

Good night – Buona notte

Thank you – Grazie

Please – Per favore

How much? – Quanto costa?


Italy is one hour ahead of GMT.


Mains voltage is 220 volts AC. All sockets take small, round two-pin plugs.


Italian -

Italian is of course the main language, although almost half of the population speak different local dialects which adds colour to the regions. In most large towns and cities you will find that English, German or French are understood.


You are not expected to tip in Italy and leaving something for hotel staff is at your own discretion. Restaurants will automatically add the service charge to your bill.


Hot and dry in the summer, cool and wet in the winter.


As health information can change at any time, we’d advise you to consult your GP at least 12 weeks before departure.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

Almost 61 million people live in Italy, two million less than the UK.

Italy is one and a quarter times the size of the UK.


Smoking is banned in all public places.

Places in Italy

Adriatic Riviera

The beautiful Adriatic runs down the east coast of Italy, fringing the region of Emilia-Romagna


Gavinana offers a taste of Tuscan life, whether taking in the peaceful mountain air, or setting off to explore...

Lake Garda

A stunningly beautiful lake, more than 30 miles long and partially enclosed by mountains

Lake Molveno

Beautiful Lake Molveno lies to the north of Lake Garda, beside the Brenta region of the Dolomite mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site


A distinctly Italian island with a hidden history and spectacular surroundings…


Sun-baked and full of character


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