Travel Destinations / Italy
Italian culture is heavily ‘family orientated’, immersed in arts, architecture, music and food. As the home of the Roman Empire, there’s a lot to uncover about the rich history of this remarkable country. Italians are often seen spending time at family gatherings as the value of family is placed in the highest regard.
More than 90% of people who reside in Italy are Italian, although, a range of diverse ethnicities inhabit in the country as well. Italy is easily accessible from other parts of the world via air, land and sea – European Union citizens can enter the country with their identity cards while all other foreigners require a passport.
Italian is the country’s official language, although accents and dialects vary from one region to another. A large number of local dialects are spoken in Italy. There are two regions in particular where a second official language is spoken - In Aosta Valley, French is spoken, while German is spoken in Trentino Alto Adige. Overall, there are a range of dialects spoken in the country, including
Mlilanese, Piedmontese, Venetian Sardinian, Neapolitan, Sicilian Friulian, Ligurian, and Calabrian.
It’s no surprise that Roman Catholicism is Italy’s most popular practiced religion as Vatican City is situated in the epicentre of Rome. About 90% percent of the entire population are Roman Catholic, while the remainder of the population are Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Christians of other denominations.
Italian cuisine may be the sole reason thousands of travellers flock to the country each year. Italy is renowned for its artistic cuisine. Cheese, pasta and wines are major ingredients of Italian meals, and are available in a variety of shapes, lengths and textures. While pastas and pizzas are known to the rest of the world as staple Italian cuisine, tastes and preferences vary, similarly to dialects. In the South of Italy for example, tomatoes, peppers and ricotta cheese are major ingredients in saucy stews.
HISTORIC SITES AND LANDMARKS
Travellers who are inspired by architecture usually flock to Italy as this is the home of the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the famous Sistine Chapel of the Vatican. Explore jewels of history at museums in Florence, Venice and Rome, or visit an authentic Opera house as opera is an art form native to Italy. Other must-see venues include:
• Vatican Museums
• Basilica di San Marco
• Palazzo Ducale
• Ruins of Pompeii
• Galleria Degli Uffizi
• Mt Etna
• Cinque Terre
If you came to shop, you’ve come to the right place. The world’s most famous fashion brands hail from Italy, namely Versace, Prada, Gucci and Armani. Shopping centres and department stores are generally open from 9h00 to 22h00, from Monday to Sunday, while boutiques may close at 19h00.
The currency is the Euro. One euro can be divided into 100 euro-cents. And overall, there are eight different coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 euro-cents) and seven notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros).
Credit card payments can easily be made via credit card in Italy as the system has been implemented for years. You will usually not the valid credit card icons on the front door of a department store. Credit cards payments require identification, so be sure to carry your I.D along with you.
NB: Travellers cheques in USD and Euros can be cashed in Italian banks.
There are various ways to travel to Italy, namely air, land, and sea. Once in Italy, a reliable transport system is the high-speed rail network which affords you easy access to various Italian cities within a matter of hours. Trains usually have Wi-Fi data access, online ticket purchase gateways, and catering services which are convenient for those city-to-city train rides.
Ensure that you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
Mid-April to the end of October are the best months to visit. During this time the temperature averages between 70 – 80? F at night. Towards July, August and September, when the weather is hot and humid, you can expect a flood of tourists roaming through the country. It gets colder in the evening, throughout the year so be sure to bring a jacket or jersey along with you for the evenings. The climate In the North and South are considerably different. While the Northern region experiences extremely cold winters and hot summers, central Italy temperatures are milder. In the south of Italy, spring and autumn is similar to summer temperatures and winters aren’t half as harsh as those experienced in the north.