Italy is a country of the hottest sun, tastiest food, merriest people, and the sweetest life – “dolce vita”, like Italians call it. And it looks like the whole world is involved – you can find spaghetti, tiramisu and pizza in any country on earth, bel canto is learned in all music academies and stylish boutiques of Italian designers can be found everywhere. So why not to go to this so famous country and not to try all that straight from the source – in Italy?
History. Italian history was violent at its all stages – it was torn and divided for many times in numerous wars and conflicts. But the country outstayed and nowadays became one of the main cultural and religious centers in the world. Roman Empire came after Etruscan ethnic group. The last created largest cities in far 8th century BC and left the richest culture as their historical trace. In 754 BC lateens founded the great city of Rome. With a time it conquered whole Middle, South Italy, Cecilia, Corsica and Sardinia. From that time goes glorious history of Rome Empire with its ups and downs and best times in the 2nd century AD. Modern Italy as a republic was officially promulgated in 1947.
Italy nowadays. Italy nowadays is a touristic center first of all and number of tourists in this warm and sunny country doesn’t depend on time of the year. Its territory is full of magnificent landscapes – wide line of Alpine mountains; several active volcanoes, such as Vesuviy, Etna, Stromboli, Vulcano; Italy’s coastline is extensive with longest golden sand beaches. Summertime in Italy is perfect for sunbathing and exploring azure sea. Soft climate contributes appearing and developing of numerous high-quality sea resorts and spa, enable to astonish any tourist. In wintertime one can attend one of wonderful Alpine ski-resorts. They are equipped at the state of the art level and their facilities conform to international high standards as these resorts were created in relatively recent past. Also modern Italy has closest connection with its past and at every turn you can find variety of incredible ancient landmarks, ruins and remains of things gone with the wind. And of course Italy nowadays is high-developed country in the context of economy and culture.
Food. Italian cuisine has a reputation of one of the best in the world. Each region of Italy is famous by its specialties, however representative for Italian cuisine are: spaghetti and lasagna, which contain various souses and toppings; risotto – cheese with ham, onions, mushrooms, shrimps and grated cheese; polenta – hardly boiled corn noodles. Usually they serve fried or stewed vegetables as a second course. For a dinner Italians prefer pizza of various kinds: from vegetarian with tomatoes and mozzarella to gourmet with sea-food. Don’t be surprised to see wine as a constant apanage of usual Italian meal. It is probably not suitable only for breakfast which consists of cappuccino and croissant.
Tips. It is not customary to tip in Italian restaurants or cafes, except when you like the service a lot. Then you could leave extra 1-2 EUR. In any case keep in mind that tips are already included in your bill. Paying a taxi-driver round up a sum, for instance if you owe 5.58 Eur – give 6. Tips for city guides are always welcome, especially if the excursion is free or the guide is volunteering. We recommend leaving not more than 20 EUR for half-day excursion.
Traveling. Apart from richest historical-cultural heritage of the country, ancient castles and just fairy enchanting atmosphere of the streets of old Italian towns, the country also seduces tourists with its tremendous nature landscapes at numerous natural resorts and national parks. There are 25 of them, occupying 5% of Italian territory.
Working time and Siesta. Time of Italian Siesta depends on the time of the year and of course of where exactly you are in Italy. Usually working time of shops and stores is from 8 am till 1 pm and from 3.30 pm till 8 pm. From 1 pm or from 2 pm till 3.30 pm most of shops and restaurants are not working. But this can differ individually so if you have a chance – just ask about working time at the place you want to visit. Big city malls and shopping centers are working on classical American schedule – all day long. It is worth mentioning that most of shops don’t work on Monday mornings, and open in the midday instead. As for museums, most of them are closed on Mondays.
Rent a car. For traveling in Italy by car the driver should know some traffic signs. For example, sign ZTL – “Zona Traffico Limitato” – is traffic restriction sign. Usually such zones are in historical spots of cities and on streets with crowds of foot-passengers. Cars with special permissions are allowed to drive on such streets. Very often you can notice cameras along the road – they control traffic flow and in the case of breaking rules – ticket is issued within half a year. Usually car rental companies take required sum from your credit card to pay off a debt. Be careful driving in Naples! This city has different rules; they are completely not what you have got used to, so maybe just hold back from needless risk?
Accommodation. Italy’s hotels are classified into five categories, classically by stars. The prices of individual rooms should be displayed in the lobby and in the room itself. Prices for different rooms often vary within a hotel, so if a room is too expensive be sure to ask if a cheaper one is available (you may be shown the most expensive room first). Watch out for supplements for breakfast, which may be charged even if you don’t take it, and in peak periods remember that hotels may insist that you take half- or full board.
Italy is a fairy country with potency undimmed by crowds of tourists coming all year long. Try a piece of delicious pie called “vocation to Italy” and you will definitely love to have more of it!