Italy, which has the official name of the Italian Republic, is a country in the southern part of Europe. The country shares borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the microstates of San Marino and Vatican City. Italy is the third most populated country in the European Union. The capital and largest city in Italy is Rome, and the official language is Italian. Over 90 percent of those living in Italy belong to the Italian ethnic group.
Italy has a diverse climate, which includes humid subtropical, continental and oceanic zones. The coastal areas of Italy typically present with mild winters and warm summers. Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world. Tourist spots include the ruins of the ancient world as well as the Amalfi Coast, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rome and Vatican City are also top spots.
Discover Italy destinations
We have made trips to Italy that have brought us closer to the beauty of the country.
We present our destinations in Italy here.
Travel information for Italy
In or close to the main Italian cities, there are large international airports served by many airlines. In addition, there are some smaller airports that offer mainly domestic routes. Some low-cost airlines also fly there.
Among the most important connections from German-speaking countries are the regular train services from Munich and Innsbruck. These run to Bolzano, Verona and Bologna. From Zurich, for example, there is a regular connection to Milan.
However, there are many other connections from the DACH region. For example, the night train connections from Munich or Vienna to Bologna, Florence and Rome are popular.
There are numerous long-distance bus companies that offer connections throughout the country.
You can get to Italy by ferry from Greece, Albania and Croatia. These call at Venice or Bari, for example.
There are also connections from Corsica to the Italian mainland and Sardinia. From Sicily, some North African port cities are served.
To get to Italy by car from the German-speaking countries, you have to cross the Alps. There are several routes, such as the San Bernardino route (A13) from eastern Switzerland and Vorarlberg or the Brenner motorway and the Reschen Pass.
Especially during holiday periods, long traffic jams can occur on these routes. Especially on the Gotthard motorway, you often need a lot of patience.
Entry requirements/ Visa
Italy is a member of the Schengen area. Travellers from member states require a passport or identity card on entry.
On the way in …
The train is a cheap and quite punctual means of transport in Italy. There are some high-speed trains that connect the metropolises on special routes. In addition, InterCity, EuroCity and InterCity Notte connections are used in long-distance traffic.
In regional transport you will find somewhat older trains, here the service between smaller cities is often somewhat less. Unfortunately, many routes have been closed in recent years and buses now connect these places.
Tickets can be bought online in advance or from ticket machines at the station.
The bus network in Italy connects almost all places. The prices are quite reasonable and the buses are sometimes more comfortable than the regional trains. In addition, they are quite punctual.
There are city buses, regional buses and national buses. City buses travel within cities and to surrounding incorporated towns. Regional buses run in regions and provinces. Here, the timetables and route network can often only be found on the provider’s website. Long-distance bus companies travel throughout the country.
Bus stops are not always located at central bus stations. Each provider has its own bus stops, which are often not easily recognisable. The timetables often give an approximate description of the location, but it is better to ask the locals for the “fermata dell’autobus”.
The Italian driving style is considered chaotic and it often seems that no rules exist. However, driving is generally done with great attention.
When navigating, you should not necessarily rely on the signs at the side of the road. They are often old, weathered and written so small that you can hardly finish reading them. Clusters of 15 or more signposts on one pole are not uncommon. Mostly only the big cities are signposted and the smaller ones are not mentioned.
Most Italian motorways are subject to tolls. In most cases, you take a ticket when you enter and pay when you leave the motorway. There are cashier’s booths with cash acceptance and machines for credit cards and cash. Cashless payment does not always work smoothly. It can happen that the amount is not debited, but you still receive a receipt. It is said to have happened that debt collection agencies have made additional demands years later. The ADAC therefore advises keeping receipts for a long time.
If you travel a lot on the motorway, you should get a Via Card to pay the tolls. These prepaid cards are available for 25, 50 or 75 euros and are only read at the blue lanes at the toll booths. Via-Cards are available at petrol stations, motorway service stations and in Switzerland at the TCS.
ATTENTION! The yellow lanes are reserved for the Telepass an automatic billing system.
Speeds in road traffic:
- in town: 50 km/h
- outside of towns: 90 km/h
- Motorway (blue sign): 110 km/h
- toll motorway (green sign): 130 km/h
Child seat in the car:
Compulsory since 2020 – In vehicles with Italian registration (regardless of the nationality of the driver) for children up to 4 years of age, only child seats with an alarm system are permitted. This is to prevent children from being “forgotten” in the car. Violations of this new provision will result in fines of 81 to 326 Euros.
There are some unwritten rules in Italian road traffic that you should know:
- Communication between drivers is often clarified by hand signals, flashing lights or horns.
- Italian drivers are generally less insistent on their rights and are more often willing to make concessions to others in favour of better traffic flow.
- When Italians drive very close to the centre line, they are in a hurry and appreciate it if you keep a little to the right.
- On narrow, unclear and winding country roads, Italians like to honk before entering a bend. If no one honks back, they assume the bend is clear and use the full width of the road. Foreigners have to get used to honking back immediately if they hear a horn behind a bend.
- If you want to merge into fast-moving traffic from a side street, roll into the lane courageously, seeking visual contact, and you will usually be let in.
Best time to travel
The main tourist season in Italy is the summer months from June to September. But spring and autumn also offer many beautiful destinations.
In August, many shops and restaurants in the cities may be closed.
In the Italian Alps and the Dolomites, the ski season usually lasts from December to April.
The official language is Italian.
In the Aosta Valley, French is also spoken locally and in South Tyrol there is a German-speaking majority. In Sardinia, a separate language, Sardinian, is spoken.
In the areas that are well developed for tourism, you can get by with English.
The euro (€) is the currency in Italy.
In Italy, tipping is rather uncommon in the restaurant business. The Italians have introduced the coperto (Ital., place setting). This is a fee that can be one to two euros, depending on the meal, and is automatically written on the bill.
A little tip: The amount of the coperto is noted on the menus. The fee is also due if you only have a drink at the table!
For taxi rides, rounding up the fare is welcome but not expected.
In the hotel, you leave about 1€ a night or 5€ a week on the staff’s pillow.
Larger supermarkets are open until at least 8pm on Saturday and sometimes Sunday mornings.
Normal shops and boutiques are closed from 1pm to 4pm or 5pm in central and southern Italy, especially in small towns. Occasionally this also applies to petrol stations.
In tourist resorts and seaside resorts, shops are usually open all day, especially in the high season from May to September.
EU citizens shopping in Italy must pay by credit card from a purchase value of €1000.00. According to a decree, payment with cash is only allowed up to € 999.99 in order to curb money laundering and tax evasion.
You must take the scontrino (receipt) with you to a distance of at least 500 m from the restaurant, bar or shop. If you cannot show the receipt in the event of an inspection by the tax police, you are liable to tax evasion under Italian law and may have to pay a fine.
Telephone / WLAN
Italy has a well-developed mobile phone network with 4 providers. EU citizens benefit from highly regulated roaming prices in Italy; those with an EU flat rate can even make calls “like at home”. Local SIM cards are available, also for holidaymakers, at the providers’ points of sale.
For Italy, travellers from Germany need a travel adapter.
Type C, F and L plugs are used in Italy. Type C and F are compatible with sockets in Germany – but the coverage is not 100%. In newer buildings, there are usually combination sockets that accept both variants and also Euro flat plugs. Schuko plugs do not fit into Type L sockets.