Italy has been a favourite travel destination for tourists from the UK for a long time and it is easy to understand why. There is plenty to see and do – from stunning countryside and beaches to sophisticated cities and more peaceful and rural areas. Many visitors first taste of Italy is the eternal city of Rome, home to many ancient sites and the Vatican City, home of the Catholic Church. For many, the big lure of Italy is its famous regional cuisine, much loved by British folk who have never set foot in the country. Italians love British people who make an effort with the language so learn to say please, “per favor” and thanks, “grazie”, at least. That way, you will enter the hearts of a welcoming people and have a holiday that is, well, fantastico!
Where To Go
Italians like to holiday within their own borders just as much as British people like to visit. If you are looking for the majesty and splendour of Roman times then a visit to the capital should not be missed out on. The Great Colloseum, Trajan’s Column and the Forum are all easy to find in the centre of the city. Rome is jam packed with historical influences that don’t just reflect ancient times. St. Peter’s Basilica, in the Vatican is well worthy of a visit, as is Castello D’Angelo, one time home of the popes. Rome’s 16th century Silvano Toti wooden built theatre, which is shaped in a circle, is a must for theatre lovers. It can hold over a thousand people. Romantic couples and film fans, alike, should make time for the famous Trevi Fountain which has an opulent style designed by the architect Nicola Salvi.
Outside of Rome, there are many cities worthy of visiting. Milan is justly famous as the fashion centre of Europe and, if not, the globe. The city’s cathedral is certainly worth a visit as it is the largest Gothic structure in the world. Turin has a reputation for being an industrial city but it, too, should not be missed out on. Turin’s Piazza San Carlo is a stunning example of the fine architecture on view in the city. Florence and Venice are other cities of exceptional beauty which should also be mentioned. However, Italy simply has too many beautiful cities to list in one go.
If you are looking for a rural idyll then head for Tuscany. It is a great place to explore by bicycle or by simply hiking around. You can stay in anything from five star hotels to rustic farmhouses. And if you like to study, Tuscany is a great place to take a holiday language course or, perhaps, one in fine art.
When To Go
The South of the Italian peninsula gets very hot in high summer. To see it at its best it is recommended to go in late spring or early autumn. Of course, one of the advantages of springtime is that you can see all of the region’s natural flora blooming. Further north, from Rome northwards, all times of the year are good for UK travellers. However, if you want a beach holiday then head to the country from between May and September. For skiers who want to make the most of Italy’s Alpine regions, then the best snow is from late November onwards, although you can certainly find runs earlier than that.
Travel to Italy is less expensive than ever it once was. Indeed, if you have time on your hands it is possible to get there by coach for as little as £66, albeit one way. However, coach travel is probably not the most luxurious form of transportation you could choose.
Nowadays, more tourists fly to Italy than anything else. There are plenty of competing routes that are offered by the low cost airlines. Booking early is usually advisable and always check the return flight costs when putting together your budget because these can vary. A good idea is to use a flight comparison sight, such as Momondo.co.uk, so you can see what all of the operators offer at a glance.
The train network in Italy is exceptionally efficient and yes, they really do run on time. With express international services to Europe from London, it is quite possible to take the train all the way to the Mediterranean. However most rail services to Italy will mean you have to change in Paris.