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Independent travel in Italy


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Independent travel in Italy


The most tempting country in Europe, Italy, captivates visitors with stunning cuisine, diverse architecture, marvelous landscapes and art. The country is so full and diverse it can overwhelm newbie tourists! Here you can combine everything at once: an excursion, beaches, budget vacations, a trip by rental car or a slow-moving train with panoramic views, visiting the Alps, swimming in mountain lakes. Everything you need to know to get the most out of your trip on your own is in one article.

City routes

Practice shows that one large city takes 3 days, based on this we form a route. Vacation 1 week = 2-3 cities, the last point of visit is a place with a beach, so that before returning to relax, take a swim and gain strength before the next vacation.

  • Vacation up to 5 days: visit 2 cities - 1 with a lot of attractions and a beach resort, some places combine both qualities (Naples, Genoa). A good beach resort for all 5 days will allow you to relax, restore the resource thanks to the beautiful nature, friendly people, delicious food (Rimini, Bari).
  • A vacation of 6-10 days will allow you to visit 2-3 places, combining the inspection of local beauty, a seaside resort. Possible route: Rome, Florence, Genoa.
  • A trip for 11-15 days may include more cities: Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, Salerno (a seaside resort near Naples) - a good route for those who want to see a lot at once, but it is more convenient to travel by car.
  • More than 20 days: Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo. The route from north to south allows you to see the peculiarities of life in all parts of Italy, visit museums, buildings belonging to different cultures, eras, swim, sunbathe, and leisurely rest.

Tips for beginners:

  • Get to know your new city thoroughly. Don't visit 10 cities in 2 weeks, the rush is tiresome.
  • Do not plan your trip in detail: mark the main points, and on the spot you will find out where you want to go, what to visit. Freedom and the element of surprise bring positive emotions.
  • Choose the type of transport to move around the country: by plane, you can quickly move from place to place, by train - to see amazing landscapes, by car - to get freedom of action. If you buy tickets in advance (at least 2 months in advance), you can save up to 70% of the cost.
  • Visit “non-tourist” places, get acquainted with the daily life of the locals - this will add zest to even a simple route.

A few more popular routes:

  • Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Como
  • Palermo, San Vito Lo Capo, Agrigento, Taormina
  • Naples, Ischia, Capri, Pompeii (Vesuvius)
  • Sanremo, Genoa, Pisa, Florence
  • Bari, Matera, Alberobello, Grote di Castellana
  • Amalfi, Ravello, Sorrento.

Accommodation in Italy

Accommodation in Italy is for every taste, of all categories, of any degree of proximity / distance from attractions. Choose a suitable option for Rumguru, Agoda, Air-BB-n-Bi or Booking, compare prices - from 50 € per night.

The country's hotels range from old-fashioned family-run pensions to elegant lakeside resorts with candlelit dining at the water's edge. There are mountain lodges with Michelin-starred restaurants, aristocratic townhouses with museum collections of art and antiques, rock-cut hotels on the Amalfi coast, Tuscan hilltop castles, old Sicilian wineries.

TOP-10 hotels in Italy:

  • Residenza Napoleone III, Rome, occupies an aristocratic mansion adorned with paintings by old masters, busts of Roman emperors, and antique heirlooms that have belonged to the Ruspoli family for generations. This is a warm family home serving a fresh, organic breakfast. Accommodation - from 675 €.
  • Palais Gritti, Venice, occupies a building built in 1475: it belonged to Andrea Gritti, the Doge of Venice. The hotel offers reconstructed rooms and authentic furnishings: hundreds of precious paintings, antique artifacts, a small (two double treatment rooms) but exquisite Acqua di Parma spa. The Club de Doge restaurant has one of the most beautiful dining rooms. Accommodation - from 608 €.
  • The Four Seasons Hotel Firen, Florence, is located between the 15th-century Palazzo della Gherardesca and a former 16th-century convent on the other side of an 11-acre park that is Florence's largest private garden. Paintings, antiques, antique Parisian decor create a traditional bourgeois atmosphere. Cost - from 963 €.
  • Mandarin Oriental, Milan, occupies four 18th century buildings that were formerly the bank's headquarters. Interiors in soft pastel colors recreate a Milanese residence from the early 20th century. with an open-plan fireplace, complemented by oriental elements. With black and white geometric mosaic patterns, Mandarin Bar is a trendy place for aperitif and cocktail. Cost - from 869 €.
  • The Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Como, built in the early 20th century, is decorated in an Art Nouveau style with sumptuous fabrics, antique furniture, antique paintings and prints. The rooms offer beautiful views of the lake or garden. La Terrazza's restaurant serves creative Italian cuisine, a fondue bar, and a wine bar L'Escale. Rooms - from 938 €.
  • Villa d'Este, Cernobbio - magnificent, traditional, calm, elegant. Wide corridors, stairs, sculptures, flower arrangements, a huge terrace that stretches along the lake. 152 rooms are located in the main building, the 19th century Royal Pavilion. They are furnished with antiques, paintings, vintage prints, silks, brocade, with marble bathrooms. The hotel offers a beauty salon, sports club, indoor swimming pool, tennis courts, sailing, water sports on the lake. Accommodation - from 585 €.
  • Hotel Belvedere, Lake Como, is located on a hillside amid magnificent multi-level gardens with a beautiful view of Lake Lecco. The rooms are located either inside the main building or in villas scattered throughout the garden, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal. The standard rooms are furnished with classic Italian furniture with modern amenities, some overlooking the garden. Small touches - wicker baskets with books placed by the pool - make this place special. Accommodation - from 154 €.
  • Lefay Resort & Spa, Lake Garda, is located on 27 acres of land on the hillside above Gargnano, a pretty town with orange trees. Rooms with walnut and olive wood floors, Italian furnishings, pink marble bathrooms, lake views. The award-winning spa includes indoor and outdoor heated salt water pools, an infinity pool, hammam, five saunas, a salt lake and 21 massage rooms. Accommodation - from 221 €.
  • Relais Borgo Santo Pietro, Tuscany, is like a collector's house with exquisite taste. Each room is unique and spacious. Antique décor meets high technology, with pre-loaded iPod's on arrival. The Meo Modo restaurant has received a Michelin star, and the Treehouse bar, located next to the pool, serves wood-fired pizza, salads, meat and grilled fish. The beautiful Borgo Spa is set in an entire Tuscan farmhouse in the garden. The cost is 942 €.
  • Hotel Fragsbu, Merano Dolomites, is housed in a historic hunting lodge from the 17th century. This is the smallest 5-star hotel in South Tyrol (20 suites in total). Alpine and Mediterranean styles, antique furniture, modern fittings, and Art Deco elements are harmoniously combined here. Run by the Ortner family, the hotel maintains a welcoming family atmosphere. Room - from 207 €.

The options closer to the outskirts offer savings: Italian cities are small, so it doesn't take long to move between areas. Good hotels at low prices are available with early booking, Venice is the most expensive place to stay.

Italian resorts offer apartments, flats, housing in a beautiful area that can accommodate up to 6 vacationers - it costs about 1000 € per week. The best time to book is January-February.

A villa located in Liguria or Tuscany will cost more than an apartment - 2000 € / week.

When checking in, check if there is a separate fee for using the air conditioner, and take a repellent - centipedes and mosquitoes are found here.

Italian food

Italian cuisine is the national brand of the country, there is a great variety of catering establishments:

  • Trattoria - family restaurants with a large selection of homemade dishes
  • Osteria - an emphasis on wine and snacks, a hearty menu is not always the case
  • Pizzeria - large selection of oven baked pizzas
  • Rosticheriya - canteens, buffet format (ready meals)
  • Prosciuttery - meat and sausage cuts, sandwiches, inexpensive wine
  • Ristorante - a restaurant with a beautiful interior and exquisite cuisine
  • Pasticheriya - pastry shop with cakes, pastries, homemade cakes, coffee
  • Gelateria is an ice cream parlor with a huge assortment, takeaway format.

Ristorante refers to expensive establishments, rosticheriy - to budget, they are located away from attractions in quiet streets.

Newbie tip: Take a look at where the locals eat - usually a place with delicious local food and fair prices. These bars and trattorias are located far from tourist sites, but can cut costs in half. They are distinguished by a simple interior, no signage. Lunch or dinner - 20-30 €.

Average prices in a cafe:

  • Snacks - 5-8 €
  • First courses - up to 10 €
  • Second courses - 15-20 €
  • Desserts - 3-5 €
  • Pizza - 7 €
  • Wine - from 6 €
  • Soft drinks - 2-3 €
  • Freshly squeezed juice - 4-5 €
  • Coffee - 1-4 €.

Products in stores (chain stores - "Carrefour", "Conad", "Kupa"):

  • Bread - 1 €
  • Sliced meat - 2 € / 100 g
  • Cheese - 1-2 € / 100 g.
  • Wine - 5-15 €
  • Limoncello - 6 €
  • Aperol - 11 €.

In Italy, “coperto” is used - a table fee, which is 1-3 euros per person and is automatically added to the bill. If you are not sitting at a table, but drinking coffee or eating at the bar, there will be no fee - you will get decent savings for the entire trip. Gratuities are automatically added to the invoice and are 15% of the amount.

Many cafes offer set meals - menu del giorno or menu turistico. For 20 € you get several dishes and sometimes a glass of wine. It is more profitable than ordering meals separately.

Street food: the usual pizza sold in pieces, focaccia with cheese, piadina (lavash envelope) with vegetables, meat or cheese, fried pieces of fish or seafood. There are more authentic proposals: olives stuffed with parmesan / meat, deep fried, balls of rice with meat / cheese in breadcrumbs (arancini), cannoli - sweet rolls with ricotta cream with chocolate, candied fruits, fruits.

Best to try street food at food festivals:

  • Ham Festival (September 6-15, Parma)
  • Pizzafest (13 September, Naples)
  • Cheese Festival (September 13-16, Bra)
  • Wine and Grape Festival (October 5, Marino)
  • Chocolate Festival (October 17-26, Perugia)
  • Slow Food Festival (October 23-27, Turin)
  • White Truffle Festival (all weekend in November, San Miniato).

If you rent an apartment or house, then you can save on cafes and cook at home. Products in the markets are farmed, organic, but more expensive, in supermarkets they are cheaper.

Food prices:

  • Kilogram of vegetables / fruits - 1-4 €
  • Cheese - 8-15 €
  • Meat - 5-13 €
  • Pasta - 1 € / pack
  • Olive oil - 4-5 € / bottle
  • Homemade milk - 1.5 € / liter, store milk - three times cheaper
  • Natural sausages - 1-3 € / 100 g.
  • Wine - from 2 €.

Top 10 Italian dishes

  • Pasta is the queen of Italian cuisine, each region has its own signature recipe. In Rome, order a serving of alla carbonara pasta made from eggs, pecorino cheese, guanchiale (a type of Italian jerky made from pork cheeks), black pepper.
  • Fresh, golden brown arancini - stuffed rice balls, fried in breadcrumbs. Fillings - stew, tomato sauce, mozzarella, peas. There are many regional variations of arancini with different fillings and different shapes.
  • It is believed that lasagna originated in Naples. It is prepared from layers of dough with cheese, minced meat, vegetables, various sauces - bechamel and / or tomato.
  • Osso buco alla Milanese (ossobuco) - tender veal drumsticks, slowly stewed in white wine, served with vegetables. To complete the dish, add a portion of aromatic gremolata, seasoning with lemon zest, garlic, parsley.
  • Prosciutto is an Italian favorite: jerky, served raw, cut into thin slices. The best and most expensive prosciutto is produced in the central and northern regions of Italy. Light, salty, airy, jerky served with pasta or wrapped around slices of cheese, sweet melons.
  • Ribollita is a thick vegetable soup with beans, served with toasted bread and parmesan. Traditionally considered food for the poor, ribollita was created by servants who prepared it from leftovers. From this name, which translates as "boiled twice."
  • Saltimbocca - thin slices of veal covered with salted ham and sage leaves. These ingredients, combined with a toothpick, are fried in a pan until the meat is tender. Chicken and lamb are also used to make saltimbocca.
  • Gelato is a long, creamy ice cream.
  • Torrone is a creamy dessert made from honey, egg whites, fried nuts, citrus peel. Torrone's thick slices are sold by cafes and pastry shops across the country.
  • The light, creamy tiramisu is popular with locals and travelers alike. Savoyardi cookies, coffee, eggs, sugar, cocoa, mascarpone cheese are used in the preparation of this sweet delicacy.

Transport

Rent a Car

  • Those wishing to rent a car will need an international driver's license and a credit card.
  • Optional - car insurance (city streets are narrow, tourists often scratch rental cars). Carefully read the paragraph with the insurance deductible: you will have to pay no more than this amount in case of an insured event - everything that exceeds it will be covered by the insurance. It is advisable to purchase full insurance, no deductible.
  • Car rental in the summer in an international car rental company - 20-150 €. Booking several months in advance will help you save 20-50% of the cost of the service. In winter, prices are reduced by 15-30%.
  • Better to book a small car - it is easier to maneuver through the narrow Italian streets, it is easier to find a parking space.
  • Roads of Italy - with excellent coverage, detailed signposts, an abundance of roadside eateries and hotels. Among them there are paid ones, the price is 5-7 € / 100km. Entering a paid site, you need to take a special coupon, and when leaving, pay with a credit card (blue sign) or "real" money (white sign).
  • Toll roads have a free alternative: a parallel road that winds through neighboring villages.
  • Fine for lack of international driving license - 300 €, for speeding - 40-3300 €, overtaking in the wrong place - 80-300 €, improper parking - up to 90 €, unfastened driver's or passenger's seat belts - 80-325 €, talking on the phone for by a wheel without special devices - up to 645 €.
  • The violation can be recorded on a video camera: the notification of the fine comes 1-6 months after leaving the country. If you don't pay for it, getting a Schengen visa will be more difficult.
  • The price of gasoline here is one of the highest in Europe: 1.4 € / liter.

Trains

  • Frecci (arrow) - high-speed comfortable trains of 3 types: Frecciarossa, Frecciabianca, Frecciargento. They reach speeds of 200-360 km / h and often follow without stops. The fastest among them is Frecciarossa, the slowest is Frecciabianca.
  • All trains have first and second class carriages, there are separate carriages for disabled people, restaurant cars.
  • Intercity - trains that travel slower, make many stops and connect more than two hundred cities in Italy. Their maximum speed is 200 km / h, the cars are also divided into classes according to their comfort.
  • Intercity Notte - night trains: a great option for those who do not want to spend daylight hours traveling. Carriages with seats allow sleeping on armchairs, there are compartment carriages (female, mixed).
  • Regionale is a local train, the least comfortable of all trains. Regionale Veloce drives faster and stops less frequently.
  • Italo trains, decorated with a running hare, are owned by a private company. They run between metropolitan areas and are not divided into classes: all carriages are equipped with comfortable chairs, TVs, sockets, free Wi-Fi. There are 3 categories of comfort: smart (vending machines with snacks, the ability to order food from the menu), prima (the chair is supplemented with a footrest, there is a personal table, fresh newspapers are distributed in the morning, food can be ordered), a relax carriage where loud conversations and communication by phone are prohibited.

There are different fares in Italy:

  • Basic (Base ticket) allows you to change the date and time of the trip an unlimited number of times up to the train departure within an hour after it leaves. The optimal choice for those who like to spontaneously change the route.
  • Economy (Economi) allows you to change the travel date once.
  • Super economy fare has the lowest price, but at the same time you cannot change the date or hour of departure, you cannot return the ticket.

Trains are often late, controllers run on them.

Air travel within the country

Domestic flights on low-cost airlines are cheap: one-way tickets are from 10-15 €. Airplanes of the budget airline Ryanair (Rome, Bari, Pisa, Milan, Genoa, Pescara, Turin, Palermo, etc.), Volotea, easyJet, Blu-express, Vueling fly between cities.

Gondola

The traditional local means of transportation are gondolas, which run along small canals.

  • The cost of the trip is 80 € / 30 min.
  • Accommodates 4-6 people. The cost can be shared with other tourists.

Italy landmarks

Italy is full of attractions: you can't visit everything in one trip, so choose the most interesting from the extensive list.

Rome, Vatican:

  • Popular sights in Rome - Colosseum, Roman Forum, St. Peter's Basilica, one of the most famous Christian churches in the world
  • Vatican museums present paintings, sculptures, rare exhibits like ancient Egyptian mummies. There is also the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo, rooms decorated by Raphael.
  • The Pantheon is a pagan temple of all the gods; in 609 it was consecrated as a Christian church. The Pantheon is famous for its dome with a round opening through which the sky is visible.

Milan:

  • Milan Cathedral, Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary - a large Gothic temple, built of white marble, about 3400 statues inside.
  • Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie with the fresco "The Last Supper" by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • La Scala Theater is a famous opera house, where Fyodor Chaliapin sang, Rudolf Nureyev danced.
  • The Museum of Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci offers to inspect steam locomotives, vintage cars, a submarine.

Pisa:

  • On the Knights Square, tourists see the Palace of the Knights with painted walls, the Church of the Order of the Knights of St. Stephen, trophies from battles with pirates are kept.
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the main attraction of the city. Climbing to the top - 18 €.
  • On the Square of Miracles, there is the Pisa Cathedral, the baptistery - a building for baptism, the Campo Santo cemetery, the Museum of Synopias, preparatory drawings for frescoes.

Florence:

  • Santa Maria del Fiore is a cathedral with a giant dome.
  • The Uffizi Gallery offers to see the paintings of Botticelli, Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Ponte Vecchio is an old covered bridge selling gold jewelry.
  • From Piazzale Michelangelo, there is a beautiful view of Florence.

Venice:

  • St. Mark's Square is the main square of the city with the cathedral of the same name.
  • The Doge's Palace is a former building of the Venetian rulers, a monument of Gothic architecture.
  • The Rialto Bridge is the first bridge built on the Grand Canal.

Prices for some of the attractions in Rome:

  • Colosseum - 12 € for adults, from 18 to 25 years old - 7,5 €. The price includes admission to the Roman Forum and Palatine.
  • Vatican Museum - 16 € for adults, students - 4 €, children 6-18 years old - 8 €.
  • Borghese Museum and Gallery - 11 € for adults.
  • National Gallery of Modern Art - 10 € for adults.
  • Spanish Steps - 1 €.

Travel cost, how to save

The cost of a trip to Italy consists of a number of components:

  • Round trip flight from Moscow, St. Petersburg to Rome - from 150 € / person.
  • Accommodation (inexpensive hotel) - 40 € / day.
  • Food (3 times a day) - 40 € / day
  • Attractions - 36 € (if you bought a Roma Pass to save money on the Colosseum and Vatican Museum)
  • Insurance - from 5 €.

How much will an independent trip to Italy for 5 days cost? 150 + 200 + 200 + 36 + 5 = 591 €. This is the minimum amount for living in one city - Rome.

If you are traveling for more than a week and intend to travel around the country by train, buy Carta Verde for 26 € - it gives a 15% discount on all railway routes, valid for a year. It is sold to young people under 26 and older people over 60. The Amicotreno card without age restrictions costs 50 €, discounts - 10-20% for Intercity, 50% for regional trips. Children under 4 years old have the right to travel for free without a separate seat, children from 4 to 12 years old will be given a 30% discount, families, companies from 6 people. - 20% discount.

On the Trenitalia website, study the Promotions tab: there are promotions and special offers. For example, 2 tickets for the price of one (but you cannot return promotional tickets).

When traveling on your own, visiting many attractions, actively using public transport, use discount cards for tourists that will help you save money. They are best used to visit the Colosseum and the Borghese Gallery, where the queues are longest, and with a tourist card you can bypass them and go through a special entrance.

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