Breathe in a little bit of the old world charm of Italy and be transported to a world of fashionable women, mouthwatering cuisine, and breathtaking art. Said to be the cradle of Western civilization (along with Greece), this boot-shaped nation also boasts the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites across all seven continents. With Italy’s astounding beauty and enchanting culture, once you visit you won’t want to say arrivederci ever again; or at least you’ll want to toss a coin into Rome’s Trevi Fountain to ensure that you’ll be saying buon giorno to the city once again in the future.
To get the full Italian experience, don’t forget to drink a cup or two of caffè at a nearby restaurant, watch a game of the country’s favourite sport, calcio (soccer), savor the different flavours of gelato, and literally just stroll along the streets of Italy. If you still have time after that, then you may want to marvel at the Colosseum, take a gondola ride in Venice’s Grand Canal, or go church-hopping in both the country and in the Vatican.
- Location: Italy, Europe
- Size: 301,338 km2
- Capital: Rome
- Largest Cities: Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin, Palermo
- Climate: Expect warm summers from June to September, except when visiting the mountain regions. Winters can be either damp and cold (in the north) or somewhat milder (in the south). The best months to visit would be April to June, when the sun is shining but not scorching.
- Population: 60.8 million people
Literacy Rate: 98.9%
Government Type: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
Head of State: President
Land Borders: France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia to the north; whereas San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the country
- Currency: Euro
- Natural Resources: Coal, mercury, zinc, potash, marble, barite, asbestos, pumice, fluorspar, feldspar, pyrite (sulphur), natural gas and crude oil reserves, fish, arable land
- Main Agriculture: Fruits, vegetables, grapes, potatoes, sugar beets, soybeans, grain, olives; beef, dairy products; fish
- Main Industry: Tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics
- Electricity: 230 V AC, 50 Hz
- Time Zone: GMT+1, GMT+2
Country Tel. Code: + 39
- Visa/Passport: Australian passport holders are allowed to enter Italy (as part of the Schengen area) without a visa under certain circumstances. That said, an entry stamp is required when entering the Schengen area for the first time. The stamp marks the beginning of a 90-day period in which tourists are allowed to stay within the region.
- Airport: Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO), 35 kilometres away from the city centre, is the main gateway to Italy. Meanwhile, Milano Malpensa Airport (MXP) serves mainly low-cost and long-haul flights. It is located 40 kilometres northwest of central Milan.
- Departure Tax: No departure tax needs to be paid at the airport.
- Getting Around: Domestic flights are not cheap, but trains are considered a good option for exploring the country. Buses and trains are sensible alternatives when going to places without or far away from train service.
- Credit Cards: Credit cards are not as widely accepted in smaller towns, so it is best to carry some cash whenever travelling to these places.
- Drinking: The minimum drinking age is 16 in most places, although it is 18 in South Tyrol.
- Shopping: Shopping is definitely one of the things you’ll want to be doing in Italy. Ladies who have a thing for fashion will thoroughly enjoy Milan, the country’s fashion capital. The Via Montenapoleone is said to be the shopping place to be, although there are certainly many other upscale shopping streets in the city. Outlet shopping and designer boutiques are available as well. Other local goods to purchase include jewelry and accessory (practically everywhere in the country), glassware (Venice is famous for Murano glass), and wine.
- Tipping: Tipping is customary in restaurants, hotels, and other services and establishments. When a service charge is already included in the bill, however, no additional tip is necessary.