A Comprehensive Guide for Families Travelling to Italy
Italy remains one of the best travel destinations in the world, be it for living, working, shopping, or simply enjoying a long summer vacation or weekend getaway. The city houses several tourist attractions, breath-taking landscapes, appetizing dishes, historic sculptures, and welcoming citizens. It doesn’t matter what time of the year you hit the beautiful country, these numerous possibilities are readily available all year round. Better still, there’s something for all age groups, gender, couple, or family, making it possible to meet the needs of diversified groups.
In a few words, Italy has all it takes to earn a tick on your next travel list. Whether you are looking for a great place for a retreat or a destination that guarantees maximum security for you and your family, with juicy travel insurance plans and easy access to healthcare and emergency services, this travel destination is just right.
Top 10 Places To Visit In Italy
Before embarking on that trip to Italy, it is important to familiarize yourself with some of the vacation hotspots in the country. Most tourists opt for destinations around the countryside to have a more serene experience of Italy. This especially works best for couples hoping for a relaxed spot to enjoy a romantic getaway. The Italian Lakes and beaches also offer similar experiences, with locations like Lake Como, Puglia, and Tuscany taking the front seat.
Italian cities have also become a popular stop for tourists, especially during peak seasons like summer and spring. Touring remote villages and islands also offers the best adventure-packed holiday experience, especially when you figure out the right places to hit. That said, here are some of the best Italian Holiday and travel destinations.
Venice is one of the most popular vacation spots in the world and unarguably the pride of Italian tourism. From its alluring atmosphere to its romantic ambience, the city offers an overall magical experience. Many believe the city is at its most alluring in February, yet, Summers in Italy witnesses an influx of tourists looking for a peek at the sparkling canals interconnecting the city. In fact, a visit to Italy is never complete without hitting this popular romantic tourist destination, and with good reasons.
While Venice is undoubtedly a number one pick when looking to give your family a memorable travel experience, securing worthwhile accommodations may prove tricky. This is due to the rapid influx of people, causing most renowned hotels and lodges to be filled up. Hence, it is best to book your lodging before embarking on the trip. This saves you unnecessary glitches upon arrival. Some lodging options in Venice to look into include The Grill Palace, The Gritti and the Rosa Salva.
Famous for its unique traditional conical-roofed Trulli houses, Puglia is another must-visit Italian city. The region boasts of not only the idiosyncratic houses but also a spread of Masseria hotels once standing as fortified manor houses. The extensive coastline further contributes to the city’s irresistible ambience and serenity. Puglia is a great choice for a seaside vacation, having several amenities on-hand to keep a family engaged throughout the trip. Couples could take an intimate stroll along the long coastline, kids could get their adrenaline boost running around the beach or taking occasional dips in the sea while friend groups could have a blast partying around a campfire or acquiring the perfect tan in the warm Italian sun.
The island of Sicily offers the best of both worlds, combining the natural serenity of surrounding beaches with the cultural appeal of the small baroque towns and villages spread across the Island. It is home to several historic sites like the Greek and Roman Ruins, traditional restaurants and the most exotic delicacies. Sicily allows tourists to experience the fulfilment one could only get from bonding with nature, without missing out on the rush of the typical city life.
Families who choose to vacation in Sicily have the luxury of enjoying a full-blown pampering at the Verdura Golf and Spa Resort, an adventurous day connecting with nature at the Sardinia Beach or the perfect environment for families to bond at the Forte Village Resort. Interestingly, a handful of beach clubs are also available in the region, availing you of opportunities to connect with other visiting families.
If historic landmarks are your thing, then Verona would make a great vacation spot for both adults and kids. The city, home to the infamous Arena hosts thousands of tourists yearly, flocking in to experience the annual open-air opera festival held in the summer. With July being the peak season, families looking to have a memorable trip could do so seamlessly, equipping themselves for the thrills that await them in this citadel of history and culture.
Notably, while a trip in the summer would certainly pay off, it is advisable to plan your lodgings ahead as thousands of other families are also eyeing that dream vacation. Some lodging options to check out before hitting the road with your family include the Palazzo Victoria located a reasonable distance from several culturally-significant landmarks of the ancient city. For a complete experience touring the region, be sure to explore the Roman Arena, the infamous Juliet’s House, and the ancient town centre.
The incredible architecture of Florence is a magnificent sight to behold all year round, making it a preferred vacation destination. One of Italy’s most remarkable cities, tourists flock in all year round, hungry for a taste of the architectural wonder or the artistic masterpieces on display. Aside from the bustling city life, Florence is home to several iconic museums and historic cathedrals. Furthermore, locals endeavour to keep a couple of items on display in community stores which tourists could purchase at great prices. Bonus point if you hit the location earlier on in the year just before the spring or summer sets in. That way, you and your family could beat the crowd of tourists, land more affordable accommodation and touring deals, and even benefit from the infamous January sales reeking with eye-popping prizes.
Some top accommodations you could check out include The Place, Portrait Firenze, and the Four Seasons Hotel in Firenze. Beware that during peak seasons, lodgings in these areas sell out fast, making it necessary to book accommodations ahead of the planned vacation.
6. Italian Lakes
The Italian Lakes offers some of the best vacation experiences for families, with a wide range of activities for adults and kids. The location lives up to the reputation of Northern Italy, with places like the infamous Lake Como housing several grand lakeside hotels punctuated by mountainous landscapes. Lesser-known destinations like Lake Iseo and Lake Orta also give tourists access to breathtaking sites that make the vacation worthwhile. Families looking for a more active Italian getaway could cruise along with Lake Maggiore’s Borromean Islands.
Several locations also offer tour packages, which is an easy way to experience the Italian Lakes to the fullest without the stress of mapping out locations. A fully-paid Lake Como tour for instance gives tourists not only a tour of the small Lake-town but also a drive through the Bernina Express through Alpine terrain and a day in St. Moritz, Switzerland. This tour also covers accommodations at the Hotel Rissi located right on the northern shores of Lake Como. Continental breakfasts and three-course meals comprising the best Italian dishes are some of the benefits you get to enjoy with your family.
Capri is a popular Italian destination with exotic villas and resorts, picturesque cliffs and the calm water bodies surrounding the astonishing Island. For years, this dramatic location has attracted celebrities, public figures and the wealthy, thanks to its stunning structures that blend seamlessly with the natural environment giving off an overall display that seems straight out of a painting. Thanks to the effect of the green landscapes, clear blue rivers, bougainvillaea-covered walls with colourful papery bracts and artistic structure, the Island gives off an overall mythical effect one can’t ignore.
When visited in the spring or summer, tourists can enjoy this Island at its most beautiful. The abundance of hospitable villas around makes it perfect for anyone to spend the holiday irrespective of their budget, and families are no exception. Wondering where to start? Check out the wonderful Villa Calypso to make the most of that trip.
For a fun-packed vacation away from the busy city life or crowded towns, look no further, as Calabria holds numerous promises. This Italian destination lets you experience the country on your terms while giving families an avenue to bond with little or no distractions. The southern region of Calabria especially holds hidden wonders only a few get to explore. Experience a memorable vacation frolicking through the white sand beaches and dramatic landscapes. For a more sublime experience, avoid the Italian cities completely by opting for a weekend or week-long getaway in one of the medieval villages. Additionally, you can have your fill taking in the ancient ruins of Calabria.
Brera is a beautiful district in Milan, Italy marked by slick designs and historically significant structures. The district, situated within Zone 1 is home to the Brera Art Gallery and the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. These two locations contribute primarily to making the neighbourhood the city’s artistic centre. Also, the Bohemian atmosphere and other significant features serve to attract tourists.
A visit to the artists’ neighbourhood avails tourists the opportunity of exploring the bountiful spread of restaurants, art fairs, local markets, and antique stores. Those craving a taste of the nightlife could also hit the numerous bars and nightclubs spread throughout the district. Kids would have a great time surfing the Milan Botanical Garden and various kids’ parks upholding the Milano culture. Learning has never been more fun.
10. Remini, Marche
There is no point in a family vacation if it does not appeal to the kids. Hence, when it comes to picking out an enjoyable vacation spot for everyone, one must pick out kid-friendly destinations that still give room for the adults to benefit. Remini, located on the Adriatic sea in Marche, Italy offers the promises of a memorable fun-packed vacation, especially when there are kids in tow.
The destination, comprising a 9-mile beach with hotels lining the shores, is as appealing as it gets for all age groups. Each hotel boasts of unique colourful beach huts where guests could change before a fun day at the beach, they also have play areas for children. The region also boasts of the Fiabilandia theme park, which gives families a taste of Disneyland.
Top 10 Places To Eat Out In Italy
Aside from the breathtaking architectural structures, historical monuments and dramatic blend of nature and culture one could experience, traditional cuisine is another of Italy’s selling points. Italy is known for its variety of dishes, from local to continental. Each cuisine is not only pleasing to the palate but also holds special significance to one of the cultures or tribes around the region. Little wonder traditional Italian cuisines have become highly sought-after across the globe.
Therefore, while taking a trip to Italy, as an individual, family or group, having an idea of the types of dishes to expect, and the restaurant that makes them readily available at the best prices could save you some time and money. Bonus points if your trip to Italy was inspired by the zeal to try out a bunch of Italian dishes and tick them off on a bucket list. Let’s look into the ten best places to eat out during an Italian family vacation based on popular recommendations and five-star ratings.
1. Combal.Zero, Rivoli
With two Michelin stars, Comnal.Zero restaurant in Rivoli, Italy is one of the best restaurants in Italy and the world at large. The establishment offers the best selection of dishes created through years of experimentation with various ingredients. The experienced chefs working in the restaurants constantly come up with the right texture, and temperature best suited for each dish. Enjoy the taste of classic Piedmont cuisines like barbecue sweetbreads.
2. Dal Pescatore, Runate
For a taste of the best-chargrilled eels, a visit to the Dal Pescatore would offer the best palate-stimulating experience. Famous for its authentic Italian cooking, this fancy restaurant in the heart of Runate is one of the best in the country, sporting three Michelin stars. The recipes are in line with the traditional cuisines passed down in families, with some modern twists. Tortelli with pumpkin is also a great addition to the recipe.
3. Restorante Il Desco, Verona
If you ever hit Verona with your family, one thing you do not want to miss is a visit to the Il Desco restaurant. This iconic location serves local dishes made from the best traditional Italian ingredients. With its elegant décor and salon-like ambience, the Il Desco has become popular among tourists, earning it a one Michelin star. Chef Elio Rizzo and his son Matteo constantly work to make the restaurant more reputable with newer dishes added to the menu.
4. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, Naples
Being around for over a century, the L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples serves its pizzas as healthy as they come. Driven by the belief that good pizza requires no added junk, this pizzeria mastered the art of pizza-making, serving only Margherita and marinara pie. Families looking for the top restaurant to eat out in Italy should check out this location in Naples to give the kids a much-deserved treat.
5. Le Calandre, Rubano
Boasting three Michelin stars, the Le Calandre restaurant in Rubano is the one-stop joint for modern Italian delicacies. This tourist hotspot, masterminded by Chef Massimiliano Alajmo serves the best cuttlefish cappuccino and hand-chopped beef tartare with black truffles.
Additionally, the food outlet has a contemporary décor and an overall ambiance that makes the eating experience a memorable one.
6. Osteria Francescana, Modena
Ranking among the top restaurants in the world, Osteria Francescana, Modena is one of the top places to eat out in Italy. Run by the infamous chef Massimo Bottura who has shown his genius in shows like the Netflix docuseries “Chef’s Table.”
The restaurant has been in business since 1995, advancing over the years to the three Michelin stars wonder the world knows today. In fact, Osteria Francesca was voted the world’s best restaurant in 2016 and 2018, further popularizing its services.
7. La Pergola, Rome
La Pergola, located within the Rome Cavalieri has become a highly sought-after restaurant in Italy. It is renowned for its top-of-the-art wine list and the exotic roof-top garden that impresses just about any guest. Coupled with the luxury Mediterranean dishes, the La Pergola is no doubt a favourite, hoping for a place to enjoy a lavish family moment over cocktail.
Treat yourself and your loved one to a plate of sous vide lamb, served with broccoli and goat cheese for a complete experience of the La Pergola’s special.
8. Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia
Located in Milan, the Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia is a famous Michelin-starred restaurant that upholds a great customer-service culture. It offers a mix of traditional Italian recipes with some modern twists to produce the best meal spread. One of the recommended dishes one could enjoy in this lavish destination is the beef oxtail, which melts easily into the palate, releasing its rich flavours.
9. Fiola at Dopolavoro Venezia, Veneta
The Fiola at Dopolavoro, only accessible by boat, is another eatery in Italy that promises families the best experience eating out. With its historic architectural structures and exotic décor, this restaurant provides just the right atmosphere for families to bond and enjoy each other’s company over cocktails.
The staples are made from fresh seasonal locally sourced ingredients all hand-picked from their private garden, the Adriatic Sea, and Rialto Market. Tourists flock to this location to enjoy their unique upgrade to conventional Venetian dishes. Craving a bite of the best foie gras Alla Veneziana in Italy? This chic eatery is a must-visit!
10. Reale, Caste di Sangro
Housed within a historic 16th-century monastery overlooking Castel di Sangro, the Reale is a must-visit restaurant for families vacationing in Italy.
The eatery offers a spread of delicacies with mild, yet savoury flavours that tease the palate, leaving guests wanting more. Their staple includes the lamb rib, which is a blend of tender lamb meat with a grassy-sweet after-taste. Pairing this with the black truffle’s earthy flavour would certainly become the highlight of your Italian getaway.
Things To Do As A Family In Italy
After figuring out the right town to visit and the perfect places to eat out, the next step in making your Italian vacation worthwhile is engaging in numerous fun activities. These activities range from sightseeing to watersports. There’s so much to do once you hit your destination, and a lot more to keep the kids engaged.
Depending on your kids’ taste, deciding on the right activity to engage in during an Italian trip can prove tricky. That is because each child may desire something different at any given point. To work around this and inadvertently avert a catastrophe, try creating a bucket list of things the family can engage in throughout the trip. A common trick to making this work is including at least one of each person’s favourite activities. That way, everyone would have a fulfilling moment to remember. Outlined below are some of the best things to do as a family in Italy to reap the most out of the planned vacation.
1. Go Hiking In A Kid-Safe Zone
One thing you could bank on in Italy is an abundance of hills and mountains, and these physical features are just perfect for family hikes. Hence, to get your fill of adrenaline-pumping adventures, add hiking to the list of activities to engage in with your family. Hiking not only gives you the adrenaline rush but also allows your hiking party to enjoy the view of the beautiful countryside to the fullest.
Irrespective of your destination in Italy, there is always an ideal hiking spot, which could be easily located by communicating with the locals or searching the web for child-friendly hiking spots in Italy. To enjoy this activity with kids, your safest bet is a hiking trip to the Dolomites in Trentino Alto Adige. This spot features family-friendly trails with a full view of the surrounding farms, natural sceneries, and beautiful horizons.
2. Explore Family-Friendly Beaches In Italy
With numerous coastlines in Italy, a visit to the beach seems like an obvious option when vacationing with family in the region. Yet, some trips to the beach may not go as planned, especially for particular age groups. This is especially true when you have younger kids in tow. While older kids and adults may find it interesting to take occasional dips in the sea, go surfing or take a leisure stroll along the coastline, younger kids are more interested in their sand crafts. Hence, it is necessary to opt for beaches that have sand in abundance for the kids but still feature a tall coastline to make it enjoyable to the adults as well.
Many such options exist on the eastern coast of Italy, which has sandy beaches. The north also has an impressive selection of family-friendly beaches, plus an array of resorts and beach clubs spread across the coastline to make the experience more fun. Italy’s Tyrrhenian coast is also a great place to explore with the family. This location has a beautiful mix of sandy coves and tall coastlines. Other family-friendly beaches to visit in Italy include:
- Diano Marina in Liguria
- The beaches of Versilia in Tuscany
- The Sperlonga in Lazio
- Trentova in Agropoli, Campania
- The White beaches in Nicotera, Calabria
3. Visit The Numerous Beautiful Lakes
The Italian lakes are renowned for their incomparable beauty, breath-taking landscapes, and unique coastlines. These lakes are ideal for a family vacation, making available numerous activities like boat-cruising, kayaking, hiking, swimming, windsurfing, and sightseeing. Many of these lakes also have coastlines adorned with sandy beaches, family-friendly resorts, and captivating parks.
One of the best lakes to visit in Italy is Lake Como, which has gained popularity thanks to the influx of celebrities to the area during the summer. Lake Garda, the biggest lake in Italy is another good spot where you could enjoy a fun day with family engaging in water sports or a boat cruise.
4. A Day At The Museum
Italy is big on art and culture. Hence, it is a no-brainer that the city would be packed with numerous historically-significant museums and art galleries. While kids may not necessarily find a day at the museum worth their while, they could have a blast just exploring the significant monuments on display. Notably, opting for child-friendly museums could make the experience more enjoyable.
These museums have attractions like dinosaurs, starship prototypes, and perhaps something out of their favourite superhero comics. Play areas for kids are also reserved in most museums to keep the children occupied while the adults bring themselves up to date on Italian culture. Some great choices for families include:
- Explora Children Museum in Rome
- Muse, Trento
- Leonardo Museum in Florence
- MuBa Children Museum in Milan
- Science and technology Museum Milan
5. An Excursion To A Theme Park
When it comes to leisure activities, theme parks are the easiest way to a child’s heart. Therefore if looking to give your kind an enjoyable vacation, endeavour to include theme parks and water parks on your list of things to do in Italy. Suck locations are flocking with fun activities like rides on a ferry’s wheel and pseudo boat rides among others. Kids also get to engage in water fights, paint-balling, or a stroll through a Jurrasic park. The possibilities are endless. Some of the best theme parks to visit with your children in Italy include Etnaland Waterpark, Sicily, Gardaland in Lake Garda, and Le Caravelle water park in Liguria.
6. Check Out Family-Friendly Historical Sites
Numerous outdoor activities are available for families to engage in Italy. So make the most of it by enjoying a day out, and sightseeing with your family. A good place to start is exploring the various historical sites and structures in the country. From archaeological sites to ancient ruins, Italy has it all in abundance.
When making this trip with kids, endeavour to consciously seek out areas that appeal to them. Be it an iconic architectural structure from the 18th century, or an ancient ruin in a historic city, Italy has various kid-friendly sites to explore. Some destinations that come highly recommended include Paestum, in Ostia Antica, and the Colosseum.
7. Go Gelato Hunting
Once kids are involved, nothing beats a walk through the city trying out the best gelatos you come across. In fact, gelato is a major tourist attraction in the city of Italy. The traditional Italian variant, gelato artigianale, is infused with milk and egg, which gives it a unique rich taste. The milk or egg-free versions are also delightful and could make any kids’ day.
So next time you find yourself in Italy with your family set out a day to go gelato-hunting, and have a blast trying out variants from as many stores as you can. Gelatos also have various unique tastes and flavours which make them more appealing.
8. Visit Ferrari Museums
Most comics and modern-day movies put exotic cars on centre stage, which in turn makes kids idolize them. Hence, any child, especially the car-lovers would not pass off an opportunity to indulge their passions in a studio filled with exotic straight-out-of-the-movies cars.
Thankfully, Italy has an abundance of car museums to indulge both the adults and kids. The Ferrari factory and museum in Maranello for instance has a variety of car prototypes on display. Visitors have opportunities to fill their eyes with old, new, and existing models from the brand. So when looking for an exciting adventure to undertake during a family vacation, hitting one of the car museums in Italy may be your best bet.
9. Say Yes To Animal Encounters
In Italy, tourists and residents alike have equal opportunities to be close to animals. If you happen to pop by the city, never hesitate to exploit these opportunities by visiting sites where animals are likely to be. From zoos to animal farms, families could have an awesome time exploring the wildlife or domestic animals, awakening their fondness for animals.
Some available opportunities to have animal encounters include a dolphin cruise at the whale and dolphin sanctuary in Liguria. The Fattorie Didattiche exposes visitors to rural life, availing them of opportunities to connect with various farm animals.
10. Spend A Day Out In A Natural Hot Spring
Various volcanoes are distributed across Italy, some of which offer the surrounding natural springs an endless supply of warmth. Families visiting this location can dedicate their day to soaking up the warmth of this wondrous work of nature. Additionally, you could have a series of dishes on hand to help you take breaks within baths to have a family picnic. The city of Tuscany especially has these hot springs in abundance, most of which can be utilized for free, and is perfect for touring families.
If none of these fun and creative activities appeals to you, you could always hit the net for a more creative idea of things to do as a family.
Safety And Security
The idea of safety and security is quite vague, meaning something different to various groups. But overall, the term refers to a condition of being protected from potential danger or injury. These dangers range from accidents to exposure to criminal activities. Notably, the law enforcement agencies in a country could only do so much to protect citizens and tourists from risks. Hence, individuals are often required to take responsibility for their safety by playing it safe at all times.
For this reason, safety and security are major concerns of tourists hoping to visit Italy. Questions like, “Is Italy safe for tourists,” and “how can tourists stay safe in Italy,” keep flooding media platforms. Here we look into some of these questions, along with tips to help families maintain safety and security while enjoying holidays in Italy.
Is Italy Safe?
Italy boasts of a fairly low crime rate, with little or no violence. The majority of the crimes recorded are petty, with activities like pick-pocketing, purse-snatching, and thefts making the list. However, more violent variants like gang fights, gun violence, or drug-related crimes rarely occur. Additionally, few cases of kidnappings have been recorded, whether involving citizens or tourists, while terrorist activities are between rare to non-existent. Given the low records of crimes and insecurity, one can safely say Italy is a relatively safe place to visit all year round for individuals, friend groups, and families.
Criminal Activities In Italy
As mentioned earlier, criminal activities in Italy are very low, with few recorded cases. These cases can be grouped into petty or non-violent crimes, and violent crimes. Accidents do occur as well, especially on major roads, with the majority of cases resulting from breaking traffic rules.
Petty Crimes: Petty crimes are mostly opportunistic, with perpetrators committing them only when the chance presents itself. Purse-snatching for instance mostly occurs in populated places, especially where a crowd is gathered. Tourists engrossed in sightseeing or other distracting activities often fall victim to these petty criminals. Pick-pockets also apply the same strategy, preying on unsuspecting tourists. The subways, buses or other public means of transportation are hotspots for these crimes.
Petty crimes like sales of counterfeit items, bait-and-switch of items, giving incorrect changes and other petty scams are common. Home break-ins also occur, with vacation homes often targeted. Some of these petty crimes can be prevented easily by paying attention to your surroundings at all times or choosing vacation homes with a working security system.
Violent Crimes In Italy
Cases of criminals brandishing a weapon hardly occur, with even fewer cases of homicide recorded yearly. This alone ranks it among the safest countries to live in. However, the country records an alarming number of sex-related crimes, with up to 5,018 cases of sexual assaults reported in 2019 alone. While these crimes are relatively uncommon, adhering to certain safety measures could help you and your loved ones avoid such encounters throughout your Italian vacation.
Tips For Staying Safe While Vacationing In Italy
Families visiting Italy on holidays deserve the best experience, and falling prey to security-compromising situations would rob them of that. The following tips can help guarantee maximum safety and security for you and your family throughout your stay in Italy.
Double-check Euro notes received from currency exchange sources other than legitimate bureaux de change or banks.
When traveling locally, endeavor to use only officially-licensed taxis, marked by the “Taxi” sign on the roof.
Whether busy or not, always cross highways and freeways with caution, making sure to utilize zebra crossings. Also pay attention to oncoming vehicles, as most tend to jump the stop signs.
Adhere to all traffic rules and restrictions to ensure your safety and that of other commuters.
If you plan to engage in outdoor activities like skiing and hiking, seek the service of companies established in the industry. Also, ensure the tour guide provided is well-experienced.
Store valuable items in a hotel safe rather than carrying them around or leaving them lying unguarded in the lodge.
Minimize intake of drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicating substances as they make you less alert and more prone to the activities of criminals.
Leave your vehicles locked at all times, whether or not it is occupied. This helps mitigate incidents of car robberies that have become prevalent in recent times.
Even after employing these safety measures, tourists may still fall victim to criminals. This is because most tourists are unaware of their environment, landmarks, or the activities of people in certain areas. Using the services of a tour guide can help reduce this risk to a minimum. However, families that opt to explore Italy on their terms could still keep safe by knowing the areas more susceptible to criminal activities. A rule of theirs is to stick to the city centres, small towns, the countryside, and leafy suburbs. These areas are safe and secure, posing no threat to tourists.
Health, Medical, Insurance, And Emergency Resources In Italy
Health is perhaps the most important factor to consider when deciding to embark on a dream vacation. This is because good health is key when it comes to having fun and making the most out of the vacation. Hence, the benefits of seeking out plans that ensure you stay safe and healthy throughout your vacation can not be overstressed.
A great way of checking all the boxes is by considering all available insurance options for travellers, equipping yourself with the necessary information to access the best healthcare at will, and becoming acclimated to the emergency network within the country. This is best done even before embarking on your trip as it ensures you and your family stay prepared for any emergency situation.
Medical And Healthcare For Tourists In Italy
The Italian healthcare system is not as complicated when researched beforehand. Some of the most common questions tourists tend to ask include, Is healthcare free in Italy? “Do I need health insurance to access healthcare in Italy? And what are the available emergency medical assistant resources for travellers? Luckily, this travel guide has it all covered.
Italy boasts of one of the best healthcare systems, ranking second-best in the world in terms of performance. While healthcare in the region is not free, the fees are quite affordable both for residents and tourists. Additionally, hospitals offer Emergency Medical Assistance to anyone, irrespective of nationality, without asking for upfront payment.
Italy recognizes health as a fundamental human right. The health system renders fundamental Assistance to anyone, irrespective of nationality, without asking for upfront payment. By implication, healthcare service is available to anyone present in the country at any given time, with mixed public and private systems. To make it more accessible, some healthcare services are completely free, while others fall under affordable basic healthcare plans like co-sharing. It is worth noting that foreigners in the country with a regular stay permit enjoy the same rights and treatment as any other Italian citizen.
How To Handle Emergencies
Emergencies happen unexpectedly, hence the name. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tourist visiting the city or a resident, these incidents can put one in potentially life-threatening situations if not properly mitigated. Therefore, before embarking on that trip with your family, it is important to equip yourself with the necessary emergency phone numbers within the city, as well as other tips to scale through any emergency during your Italian tour.
Notably, these emergencies are not restricted to medical issues alone, but also cover accidents, fire, or other forms requiring police intervention. As pressing as these situations could be, the law deems it a crime to offer medical assistance if you are not a doctor or qualified first aider. Likewise, failure to offer assistance during emergencies is also an offence in the city. This is not as confusing as it may look.
For non-qualified personnel, assisting in an emergency case involves calling the appropriate emergency service to the scene. Those qualified, who are present must offer first aid after witnessing such incidents. Emergency numbers are usually displayed at the front of all telephone directories making them easily accessible. Below are some life-saving tips to adhere to when visiting Italy.
- Always have records of doctors, local hospitals or ambulance services on hand when in need of an ambulance, call the local ambulance service.
- In times of life-threatening emergencies, call the free public first-aid number and give your personal details, where you are calling from and the nature of the emergency. Stay on the line until the operator says otherwise.
- For medical emergencies occurring outside working hours, call the local duty doctor service, (Guardia Medica).
- Those with pre-existing medical conditions can subscribe to MedicAlert to have access to a special internationally-recognized identification bracelet or necklace. These contain the necessary information about your medical history, and phone numbers to help medics obtain vital medical information in dire situations.
- When confused about the required course of action, just dial 113, the free national emergency number.
Insurance Plans During Your Italian Vacation
What could make that long-anticipated Italian trip more glam? The assurance that you and your family are protected every step of the journey. Luckily, having a working travel insurance plan could guarantee that and so much more. Hence, before embarking on that vacation, consider purchasing one of numerous travel insurance policies available to Italian tourists. Pretty sure you would find just the right fit.
Why Get Insured?
No matter how prepared one might be, predicting when troubles or hiccups may come is near impossible. From flight delays to touring accidents, you can’t rule out the possibility of encountering certain hitches that could disrupt your trip or cut into your travel investments or vacation budget. But with the right policy, tourists can rest assured they are protected at every front.
How To Pick the Right Travel Insurance Plan For Vacations To Italy
Seeing as the whole idea of an insurance policy revolves around unpredictable situations, the right insurance policy must cater to the most common hiccups tourists have been known to encounter. These include trip disruption, delay or cancellation, accidents or other medical emergencies and any baggage mix-ups.
It is advisable to purchase a plan as early as possible before the trip so you could enjoy the benefits for longer periods. The recommended time is within15 days of making an initial deposit for the trip, especially when using the services of agencies like AIG Travel, which offer specified waivers for early birds. Generally, purchases must be made at least 24 hours before the trip departure date. Here are some of the insurance policies available to travellers in Italy.
- Trip Cancellation Insurance: This type of plan enables travellers to cancel a trip at will and get reimbursement provided the reason for the cancellation is covered by the policy. Purchasing a travel insurance plan while paying for the said trip offers maximum coverage. Usually, these reasons are either health-related. Some also cover cancellation due to grief, perhaps involving the loss of a loved one. However, those looking to cancel a trip for any other reason could upgrade to the “cancel for any reason coverage.”
As the name implies, this allows travellers to get some reimbursement for reasons not covered in the base policy.
- Trip Interruption Coverage: One major setback to a long-anticipated vacation is a trip interruption. This ranges from a sudden health scare to unforeseen work emergencies requiring you to cut short the vacation. The trip interruption coverage ensures you get some reimbursement on that trip in such a situation. Hence, many liken this type of insurance to “having a safety net in place.”
- Trip Delay Insurance: The trip delay insurance covers any expenses accrued due to a flight delay, including feeding, lodging, local transportation and sometimes booking a new flight. Delays may result from inclement weather conditions, stop-over flight delays, or faults from an airline.
- Winter Sports Liability Insurance: The whole point of a vacation is to relax and have fun, and winter sports happen to be a major tourist attraction. Therefore, if you plan to hit the slopes with your family while vacationing, note that Italy requires all skiers to have winter sports liability insurance. This can be purchased easily at any ski resort in the country, costing about $3 per day for each person.
- Baggage Troubles Insurance: As with most tourist destinations, Italy is a hot hub for thieves, especially the city areas overflowing with tourists and residents going about their daily lives. Hence, the possibility of baggage mix-ups or losing one’s properties is very high. While being vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas like metro stations is the best way of keeping your belongings safe, having travel insurance that reimburses you for lost items can save you a lot of trouble. Luckily, several agencies offer baggage coverage as secondary coverage in a travel insurance policy. Usually, claimants must have filed a loss or theft report with local law enforcement authorities or a representative of the prime location.
- Travel Insurance With Medical Coverage: The importance of having working health insurance coverage, especially during international travels, cannot be overstressed. To avoid accruing bogus medical expenses after suffering an injury or illness during a vacation, endeavour to purchase a travel insurance plan with medical coverage. This guarantees you access to free or subsidized medical care throughout the trip. In more adverse situations, tourists could also get emergency medical evacuation coverage, which covers the cost of medevac to an adequate facility during travels.
The Italian Weather Conditions
The weather condition in Italy is generally conducive for tourists, especially if they target their choice outfits to the time of the year, and region they intend to visit. Overall, it is usually cold and sometimes snowy or foggy in the winter, hot and muggy in the summer, and rainy on spring or autumn days. The severity of these climatic conditions varies from one region to the other, with the coastal and lowland areas of the coastal-south and Liguria offering the dreamy mild and sunny climate that makes Italy appealing to tourists. July is often the hottest month of the year, with temperatures up to 86F, while January is the coldest.
The Weather Conditions In Popular Italian Tourists Regions
Italy has a varied climate across the country, leading to variations in overall temperature at a given time. The north, for instance, is characterized by snow-capped mountains resulting in the infamous Alpine climate, while the south boasts of year-round warmth characteristic of the southern Mediterranean climate.
Italy is bordered in the northwest region by Mont Blanc, which is the tallest mountain in Western Europe standing at 4810m. This mountain serves as a boundary between the country and France. Other mountains like the Monte Rosa and the Gran Paradiso surround the country. Hence, the county is dominated by the Alps. This accounts for the all-year-round cold climate and snowfall, with temperatures dropping to -30oC.
Generally, Northern Italy enjoys a continental climate with hot summers and cold winters in regions far away from the mountains. Verona, Milan, and Turin for instance, which lie at the foot of the Alps can experience an average temperature drop to -2oC on winter nights, and up to 27oC in July and August. Vernice on the other hand lies in the northern flatlands and experiences mild winters. On average, the temperature ranges from 3oC to 23oC, with summer highs of 28oC, while winter lows are -1oC.
The East Coast
The climate on the east coast is influenced by the temperate Adriatic Sea and the Apennine mountains inland. It is marked by mild winters and warm summers, with these conditions becoming less Mediterranean and more continental as you move north. Therefore the northern half of the east coast, above Pescara is expectedly cooler and more prone to the Bora winds, likewise Ancona. Meanwhile, Bari, which is further south of the east coast, is warmer, with winter lows of 5oC.
The West Coast
Italy’s west coast has a Mediterranean climate relatively wetter than the east coast. Winter in this region has slightly warmer temperatures with areas north of the west coast like Genoa having winter lows of 5oC. In July, the temperatures can reach 28oC which is the record summer high. Towards the south, cities like Naples have mild winters as well with slightly hotter summers.
The rainfall pattern in the region is quite tricky, with about 900 to 1000mm per year. Rainfall is lowest in the summer and spring, while late autumn represents the wettest period on the Italian West Coast. Tourists hitting the region in November would experience the maximum rainfall, and hence should come prepared.
The Far South
The major tourist destinations in the far south of Italy are the Islands of Sicily and Sardinia. These two locations, houses to the west of Italy boast of a record period of sunshine, which is the highest in the country. During the winter, the location experiences about four to five hours of sunshine per day, while summer sees about 11 hours of sunshine. The rainfall is relatively low in these regions, about 500 to 600mm yearly, which is perhaps the least in the country as a whole.
Sicily enjoys mild winter seasons, with temperatures rarely falling below 10 degrees, while Sardinia, although mild as well, can get colder on some days. Standing about 3000km above sea level, Mt Etna in Sicily experiences snowfall each year, unlike the other parts of the city.
Central Region Of Italy
The Apennines which make up the central region of Italy records a decrease in temperature as rainfall increases. Generally, the region experiences cold temperatures in winter and snowfall over the holiday period. Further west of the Apennines, more rainfall is recorded, with warmer winters and moderate summer temperatures. Rome for instance, which sits at the centre of the country, west of the mountain range has temperatures varying from 2oC to 31oC. The peak temperature is recorded in July, while January has the winter low. Autumn has moderate rainfalls, while Winter is generally the wettest period of the year.
When Is the Best Time To Visit Italy?
As already established, Italy is characterized by a Mediterranean climate having cool wet winters and hot dry summers. This knowledge informs tourists’ visitation. April to June represents the peak tourist season due to the warm, reliable weather during the period. Notwithstanding, if you are looking to beat the crowd and score lower prices, hitting the city in July and August is not a terrible idea.
Again, the time of the year best suited for each person depends on the climatic conditions they hope to encounter in the region. Ideally, tourists tend to visit the country anytime from April to June, or September-October, as these months boast comfortable temperatures.
Skiers hoping to hit the ice can visit during peak winter seasons, usually December to February. If catching the warm summer sun is your thing, a summer trip might serve you better. Looking to avoid the crowd and still enjoy mild weather, try scheduling your trip in autumn and enjoy a whole new side of Italy as a flourishing nation. The spring offers the same experience, with fewer crowds in even the major cities and tourist hotspots. Your best pick when planning a spring vacation to Italy in the South, most notably Sicily which may become scorching hot and humid in the summer.
What To Wear When Visiting Italy
Tourists looking to spend time in Italy pay special attention to the types of outfits they don in the city as most do not want to end up feeling out of place. Often, these dress options are determined by the weather conditions in the country during the time of visit or the places you hope to explore during the trip.
It goes without saying that visitors coming around during the summer months should pack lighter clothing with bright colors to survive the hot weather. Winter requires thicker clothing items to help keep warm and cozy amid falling temperatures. However, when picking out these items, endeavor to have the Italian style at the back of your head to inspire the chosen style or design. With these factors in mind, let’s look into the different choice outfits your would pack for your next Italian vacay.
Italy’s Fashion And Style
Italian fashion is similar to that of any other country in Europe and several parts of the world. However, Italians prefer clothing that appears tailored and fitted to one’s appearance. As tourists, it is okay to wonder, “what do Italians wear? How do Italians manage to look tailored at all times.” This knowledge can make the difference between blending in during your tour of the city and looking like clueless tourists and a potential minefield for swindlers and petty thieves.
No matter how much you want to blend, always remember that your comfort is of utmost importance. You don’t want to go skiing in a thin-sleeved mini-dress and summer sandals just because it fits. That said, also pay attention to your choice of footwear. Most Italian footwear is designed with a focus on the cobblestone streets, which may not be as easy to navigate as normal shoes worn in the United States. Furthermore, you are bound to encounter hilly roads, slippy or wet floors, and uneven terrains, making it necessary to specially handpick your shoes before setting out for this Italian adventure with your family. Some great footwear options include:
- Ballet flats best suited for warm weather
- Comfortable summer sandals for a stroll or night out
- Ankle boots suitable for autumn and spring
- Slip-on sneakers for sightseeing
- Comfortable sight-seeing shoes for a day of adventure, especially in Venice or Rome
- Waterproof boots for rainy or snowy days
Ideally, three pairs of shoes are enough to see to your footwear needs throughout the trip, provided they are selected in accordance with the weather, and destinations you hope to visit.
What To Wear In The Winter
Being a cold time of the year, winter requires thicker outfits that could help ward off the cold while touring the city. Therefore, before making that trip, stuff your bag full of thick scarves, warm gloves and a hat or head muffins. A padded winter coat and a layer of merino wool thermals would also go well in the winter. Sweaters, cardigans, and long-sleeved tops are also helpful. As a rule of thumb, always dress in layers to enable you to take off or add on clothing as desired as the temperature fluctuates. Pair these outfits with your warm winter boots, waterproof leather booths or leather sneakers and you are all set.
What To Wear In Italy During Spring
The weather during the spring is unpredictable due to the fluctuating periods of rainfall and sunshine. This leads to varying temperatures necessitating different outfits, from thin to thick. Travel experts suggest matching up 10-15 clothing items that combine well. This pick must include up two outer layers thick enough to brave the cold, yet light enough to rock the perfect layered look. Jeans are a must-have, especially black denim which never goes out of style. Sweaters, colorful blouses and high trench coats are also notable additions when packing for a spring vacation in Italy. Ankle-length boots can help you navigate wet floors easily.
What To Wear In Italy In The Summer
Dressing for the ideal Italian summer requires the use of loose and light dresses. This helps keep you as comfortable as possible despite the scorching heat. Skirts, shorts, loose blouses and capris are some of the commonly embraced fashion items best suited for the climatic condition of that period. Fabrics made from rayon, linen or cotton are more effective when it comes to absorbing or deflecting the heat, keeping you cooler throughout the tour.
Opt for a comfortable bikini to make the most of the numerous beaches, lakes and pools around the country. A light scarf to cover the neck and shoulders when needed can also be a lifesaver when you least expect it, so you can throw that in as well. Summer sandals, ballet flats and sneakers are the right footwear this season while flip-flops are a “no-no,” as locals frown upon them.
What To Wear In Autumn
When traveling to Italy during the Fall, endeavor to pack clothing items that cater to the changing weather conditions. If confused about what to wear in Italy in the fall or autumn, pack the same outfit you would when hitting the destination in the spring (see above) as these two seasons share similar temperature ranges.
The fall is the perfect time to rock the monochrome look unapologetically. Just throw in the right-coloured silk scarf, handbag and footwear and watch yourself turn heads all day long.
What To Know About Italy And Its People
Where is Italy located? What is the official language spoken in Italy? Are Italians hospitable? Are Italy residents accommodating of other races? Are they receptive to the LGBTQ+ community? These are some of the commonest questions people ask while planning a visit to the country. A simple guide breaking down the culture, traditions and way of life of Italians can help keep you in the know about some of these questions.
Italy As A Nation
Before its recognition as a world-renowned tourist destination, Italy was a great nation located in South-Central Europe. The country consists of a peninsula shaped like a high-heeled boot punctuated by several islands scattered throughout the country. This accounts for the name, Italian Peninsula, which the Romans eventually termed Italia. Italy covers up to 116300 square miles, having the Mediterranean sea to the south and the Alps located to the north.
The country holds an estimated population of 60.26 million people based on the UN data for July 2022. While a vast percentage, (up to 96%) of residents are native Italians, other ethnic groups can be found within the country. These diverse groups include Italo-Albanian, North African Arab, Germans, Albanians, Austrians and immigrants from other European countries.
Languages Spoken In Italy
The official language people speak in Italy is Italian, with over 93% of the population speaking Italian as a native language. Notably, natives speak various dialects of the language, which forms a basis of separation based on educational level.
This is because the more polished or refined your speech is when speaking the central dialect used in cities, the more educated you are believed to be. Some of the local dialects include Sicilian, Venetian, Calabrian, Piedmontese, Friulian and Sardinian among others. Bavarian, Slovenian, Greek, Cimbrian, German, French and Croatian are some of the other languages spoken in the country.
Religion In Italy
Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in Italy, with the Vatican City, which houses the pope, seated in the heart of Rome. At least 80% of the population practices Catholicism. However, a growing number of Muslim immigrant communities has been recorded in recent years, where atheism also prevails.
Holidays In Italy
The common Italian holidays are influenced by the religion practised in the country. Hence The city celebrates most Christian holidays, observing them as national holidays. Among the bigger Italian vacations is Christmas, which is also celebrated worldwide. The Epiphany, marked on January 6, is another bu=ig festivity in the city, celebrating an old lady who delivered presents to good kids while flying on her broomstick.
Pasquetta routinely holds on the Monday after Easter, creating an avenue for families to come together for a picnic. This holiday marks the onset of a new springtime. Finally, the All-saints day, celebrated annually on November 1, to honor all the departed faithful. If your family trip to Italy falls waiting any of these periods, endeavor to actively take part in the festivities to make the most of your vacation.
Family Life In Italy
Italian culture upholds family as an important value, with a focus on the extended family. This is alien to the practice in most western nations where a major family structure consists of just a father, a mother and their children. These family values help keep the family stronger and united across generations. While some live together, others observe frequent family gatherings, where members get to spend time bonding with each other. This way, upcoming generations are trained to embrace the culture.
Italian Art And Architecture
Italy is home to numerous architectural structures and historic artworks housed in famous museums. Most tourists flocking into the country do so to catch a glimpse of these abundant artefacts and unique architectural styles during tours or sight-seeing sessions. Some famous structures in Italy include the Colosseum, the Basilica and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Several eye-catchy castles are also present in Italy, including the Verres Castle. In the city areas, tourists can enjoy visits to numerous museums with a breath-taking display of decades-old artworks made by renowned artists of old.
Food In Italy
Traditional Italian cuisine has become widespread throughout the world, influencing food culture in the process. Hence, tourists are unlikely to hit a food vendor or restaurant without finding a meal they are already familiar with.
In fact, a traditional meal enjoyed by Italians is the good-ol’ pasta dish in a variety of shapes, textures, and sizes. Varieties like Lasagna, spaghetti, penne, fusilli, and linguine are common in the country. These are usually combined with a serving of cheese or meat and a glass of wine to complete the experience.
Getting Around Italy
Navigating your way as a tourist in Italy can prove very daunting, especially if you are completely dependent on public transportation. Most tourists opt for rental cars upon reaching the country to enable them to get around more seamlessly. This option can prove more expensive compared to the public transport system, but the overall convenience makes it worthwhile especially when traveling as a big family.
Most times, using a rental car might also require you to hire the services of a driver, as being road-worthy in Italy requires the individual to meet certain standards which differ greatly from the laws in your home country. And if you meet these criteria, all the better for you and your family. With these facts in mind, let’s explore all the available options for commuting within Italy and its environs.
1. Private Drivers And Airport Transfers In Italy
As previously mentioned, if you do not meet the necessary criteria to drive in Italy, or simply find the road-use laws incomprehensible, feel free to employ the service of private drivers. Italian drivers have a reputation for speed when it comes to reaching your destination timely. This makes it easier to commute between regions timeously throughout your stay.
Right from your arrival at the airport, you have choices of booking airport transfer services from the comfort of your mobile phone or PC. Many find that having a third party drive them around takes the bulk of the stress off them, thereby making the vacation all the more enjoyable.
2. Renting A Car
Travel experts recommend renting a car to make the most of your Italian vacation. While this option is not always feasible, it sometimes proves to be the most cost-effective means of getting to some regions that have no public transportation links. Some examples of rental companies many tourists swear by include Auto Europe and Rentalcars.com offering competitive prices.
3. Public Buses In Italy
Another road travel option Italian tourists could explore is the public bus system, which is a budget-friendly alternative. This option works best for routes that are not served by the metro system. Note that the Italian Peninsula has no national bus service. Hence, all public buses are owned and operated by individual companies.
A good example of such a service company is Flixbus, which services major and minor routes linking main cities and small towns alike. The buses under their network boast comfortable seats with onboard wifi to keep commuters engaged and comfortable even during long trips. Cities like Puglia, which are not well-served by trains, thrive on the local buses plying the region. However, before opting for bus travels, ensure you have lots of time on your hands, as they take noticeably longer periods to complete a trip.
4. Flying Within Italy
Tourists can navigate the various states in Italy using the air transport system. However, this option is not pocket-friendly. Additionally, they take the fun of sightseeing out of your trip. This is because while flying, tourists get to miss major marking points in the surrounding city, which they would have seen or passed through if travelling by bus. Not to mention the fulfillment one derives from a successful family road trip.
Notwithstanding, plying some routes may necessitate the use of flights due to convenience, time frame or unavailability of motorable roads. These include:
- Mainland to Sardinia: A ferry is required to cross into the Island of Sardinia from the mainland, which may take up to 8 hours. However, flights can cover the same route within minutes, making it more convenient.
- Mainland to Sicily: Like Sardinia, Sicily is also surrounded by water, and requires a ferry ride to navigate. Therefore, a flight can save lots of time and is more convenient and surprisingly inexpensive.
- Rome to Reggio Calabria: Going to and fro this route may necessitate the use of an air travel system for convenience.
- Milan to Puglia or Vice versa is more convenient by air.
- Vernice to Southern Italy or vice versa: Given the distance, opting for air travel is advisable.
5. Ferries In Italy
Being a region marked by numerous water bodies, Italy relies on various ferry services to commute between the mainland and the Islands. Tourists hoping to get to Sicily by water can board a short car ferry ride from Reggio Calabria to Messina. Overnight ferry services are also available and are best for lengthy journeys. You can easily book rides online at Direct Ferries.
6. Traveling By Train In Italy
The metro system represents one of the best ways of travelling around Italy, especially when touring cities like Vernice, Rome, and Florence. Italy has a network of inter-city trains and regional services linking small towns and cities. This commuting option is fast, reliable, affordable, convenient, and time-efficient. The average speed of 300km per hour beats the speed of any other form of land transportation. Train stations are readily available in major cities, and easy to locate, making them a go-to option for most tourists.
A Family Holiday Has Never Been Better!
The perfect family vacation does not necessarily require an out-of-this-world destination to make it special. Contrariwise, all that’s required is a choice location that appeals to everyone’s social needs, the right bucket list to guide you through the vacation, heads-on knowledge on what to expect, and more importantly, “each other.”
Undoubtedly, Italy makes all of these options available to tourists, with little or no associated risks. Therefore, when it comes to picking out the best holiday and travel destination for a family, Italy is the best bet.