Italy

Food, wine, family, love, art, history, culture, architecture and an exuberant love of life are all things synonymous with Italy. This beautifully romantic country of vivacious people is home to more UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world, and with a fascinating array of architectural icons depicting its beguiling 2000-year history, it’s no wonder that Italy is a dream destination for those after a rich and educative journey filled with colour and passion. And food – there is always more food.

When to Visit

The best time to visit Italy is from April to June and September to October. The weather is milder and more comfortable, the colours are rich and the crowds are manageable. The country's top tourist spots are filled with visitors from June through to mid-September. Try to avoid visiting in August if you can - the weather is very hot and the Italians are also on holidays so places can be crowded and shops and restaurants closed.   

Highlights

FLORENCE A city for art lovers, romantics and history buffs, aptly dubbed the ‘cradle of Renaissance’. View Michelangelo’s David at Galleria dell’Academia Da Vinci’s work at the spectacular Uffizi Gallery.

TUSCANY Tuscany’s museums and streets are bursting with paintings, sculpture, frescoes and architectural masterpieces from across the ages. Fantastic food and wine draws foodies to the region’s beautiful countryside and charming hill towns.

VENICE Built upon 117 islands with 409 bridges and 150 canals, there are no cars in Venice, so transport is on small ferries or by gondola. Get lost in an enchanting maze of ancient and ornate buildings.

ROME Known as the ‘eternal city’ and home to the epic ruins of the Colosseum, Piazza San Pietro, Vatican City and the stunning Sistine Chapel – home to Michelangelo’s frescoes on its barrel-vaulted ceiling.

AMALFI COAST Stretching from Sorrento to Salerno, this magical coastline connects a string of pretty towns with azure waters. Visit sobering Pompeii, where an entire ancient city is preserved under volcanic ash and rock.

THE LAKES In Northern Italy, The Lakes district is a holiday mecca. Pretty villages accessible by boat surround the famous Lago di Como and the City of Como is known for its antique markets.

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Useful Information

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Tipping

Tips (la mancia) are not customary in Italy, and used only if a special service is given or as thanks for high quality service. Almost all restaurants (with the notable exception of those in Rome) have a price for the service (called coperto) and waiters do not expect a tip but will not refuse it, especially if given by foreign customers. In cafés, bars, and pubs it's not uncommon, on paying the bill, to leave the change saying to the waiter or to the cashier "tenga il resto" ("keep the change"). Recently tip jars near the cash register are becoming widespread, however in public restrooms they are often forbidden. Leaving the change is also quite common with taxi drivers. When using a credit card, it is not possible to add manually an amount to the bill, so it is possible to leave some coins as a tip.

Getting around

Italy is a big country and unless you opt for a one-base holiday you will probably find yourself travelling around a fair bit. Both rail and bus services are good value and relatively efficient while regular ferries service the islands and local buses link more out-of-the-way areas. Internal flights can be worthwhile for some of the longer journeys – and may even work out cheaper than travelling by train. Naturally, you’ll have most flexibility with your own transport.

Language

Italian

Customs

Italians generally are effusive in their public behavior. There is a great deal of public embracing and kissing upon greeting people. It is also polite to sit close to people and to interact by lightly touching people on the arms. Italian gazes are intense. It is felt that someone who cannot  look you in the eyes is trying to hide something. Elders expect and get respect. They enter a room first. Men stand for women and youngsters for adults. Children tend to be used to run errands and help any adult, certainly any adult in the family. Gazing intently at strangers is common, and Italians expect to be looked at in public. Traditionally, younger women deferred to men in public and did not contradict them. Older women, however, joined in the general give and take of conversation without fear. Italians have little respect for lines and generally push their way to the front. There is great care given to preserving one's bella figura, dignity. Violating another's sense of self–importance is a dangerous activity.

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Italy. Depending on a travellers itinerary and activities, vaccination against Hepatitis B may also be considered. All travellers should be up-to-date with their routine "background" vaccinations, including a recent annual Influenza vaccination. Tick-borne encephalitis is widespread in Europe (predominately in forested regions). Whilst the vaccine is not licensed for use in New Zealand, travellers visiting risk areas and planning outdoor activities between May and September might consider vaccination once in Europe. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Italy should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay.

Electricity

Electrical Socket type: European Voltage: 220-240 volts Modem Plug Type: American and Italian Source: Korjo Travel Products. To purchase electrical/modem adapters, or for further information on this matter, please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.

Communications

Country Code for Italy: +39 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz  Emergency Services: General - 112 Ambulance - 118 Fire - 115 Police - 113 As a matter of common practice, the 112 number will have English speaking staff. Other services may not always have English speakers available.

Shopping

Opening hours in Italy depend on the kind of business, the season and it sometimes depends on the city. Italian business hours are generally from 8am to 1pm, and from 3pm to 7pm, Monday-Friday, with an afternoon lunch break lasting for approximately 2 hours. This break may be shorter in most major cites. Most shops are closed on Sunday but you can find at least one shop open; shop opening hours are not rigorous in many cities in Italy.

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