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Holidays in Italy

Understanding Italy

Italy is largely a peninsula situated on the Mediterranean Sea, bordering France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia in the north The country, which is boot-shaped, is surrounded by the Ligurian Sea, the Sardinian Sea, and the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, the Sicilian and Ionian Sea in the South, and Adriatic Sea in the East Italian is the official language spoken by the majority of the population, but as you travel throughout the country, you will find there are several distinct Italian dialects corresponding to the region you are in Italy has a very diverse landscape, but can be primarily described as mountainous including the Alps and the Apennines mountain ranges that run through the vast majority of it Italy has two major islands as part of its country: Sardinia, which is an island off the west coast of Italy, and Sicily, which is at the southern tip the "toe" of the boot Italy has a population of around 60 million The capital is Rome

History

There have certainly been humans on the Italian peninsula for at least 200,000 years Prior to the Romans, the Etruscan Civilization lasted from prehistory to the founding of Rome The Etruscans flourished in the centre and north of what is now Italy, particularly in areas now represented by northern Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany Rome was dominated by the Etruscans until the Romans sacked the nearby Etruscan city of Veii in 396 BC In the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Greek colonies were established in Sicily and the southern part of the Italy and the Etruscan culture rapidly became influenced by that of Greece This is well illustrated at some excellent Etruscan museums; Etruscan burial sites are also well worth visiting

Ancient Rome was at first a small village founded around the 8th century BC In time, it grew into an empire covering the whole Mediterranean and as far north as Scotland Its steady decline began in the 2nd century AD, and the empire finally broke into two parts in 285 AD: the Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire in the East The western part, under attack from the Goths, finally collapsed, leaving the Italian peninsula divided After this, Rome passed into the so-called Dark Ages The city itself was sacked by Saracens in 846

In the 6th century AD, a Germanic tribe, the Lombards, arrived from the north; hence the present-day northern region of Lombardy The balance of power between them and other invaders such as the Byzantines, Arabs, and Muslim Saracens, with the Holy Roman Empire and the Papacy meant that it was not possible to unify Italy, although later arrivals such as the Carolingians and the Hohenstaufens managed to impose some control In the south, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, a result of unification of the Kingdom of Sicily with the Kingdom of Naples in 1442, had its capital in Naples In the north, Italy was a collection of small independent city states and kingdoms and would remain so until the 19th century People looked to strong men who could bring order to the cities and this is how dynasties such as the Medici in Florence developed In turn, these families became patrons of the arts, allowing Italy to become the birthplace of the Renaissance, with the emergence of men of genius such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo

From 1494 onwards, Italy suffered a series of invasions from the French and the Spanish The north became dominated by the Austrians

The Kingdom of Italy lasted from 1861 to 1946 Giuseppe Garibaldi led a drive for unification in southern Italy, while the north wanted to establish a united Italian state under its rule The northern kingdom successfully challenged the Austrians and established Turin as capital of the newly formed state In 1866, Victor Emmanuel II managed to annex Venice In 1870, shortly after France abandoned it, Italy's capital was moved to Rome

In October 1922, a small National Fascist Party led by Benito Mussolini attempted a coup with its "March on Rome", which resulted in the King forming an alliance with Mussolini A pact with Germany was concluded by Mussolini in 1936, and a second in 1938 During the Second World War, Italy was invaded by the Allies in June 1943, leading to the collapse of the fascist regime and the arrest, flight, eventual re-capture and death of Mussolini In September 1943, Italy surrendered However, fighting continued on its territory for the rest of the war, with the allies fighting those Italian fascists who did not surrender, as well as German forces

In 1946, King Umberto II, was forced to abdicate and Italy became a republic In the 1950s, Italy became a member of NATO and allied itself with the United States The Marshall Plan helped revive the Italian economy which, until the 1960s, enjoyed a period of sustained economic growth In 1957, Italy became a founding member of the European Economic Community In the 1950s and early-1960s, Italy experienced a period of rapid economic growth and industrial production, called "il boom", which saw the country's rise from a poor and weak nation, to a powerful one During this period, also, cities such as Rome returned to being popular tourist destinations, expressed in both American and Italian films such as "Roman Holiday" or "La Dolce Vita"

However, despite a productive and successful period which lasted until the mid-early 1960s, from the late 60s till the late 1980s, the country experienced an economic crisis There was a constant fear, both inside and outside Italy particularly in the USA, that the Communist Party, which regularly polled over 20% of the vote, would one day form a government and all sorts of dirty tricks were concocted to prevent this From 1992 to the present day, Italy has faced massive government debt and extensive corruption Scandals have involved all major parties, but especially the Christian Democrats and the Socialists, which were both dissolved The 1994 elections put media magnate Silvio Berlusconi into the Prime Minister's seat; He has twice been defeated, but he emerged triumphant again in the 2008 election

Despite Unification having lasted for close to 150 years, there remain significant divisions in Italy The northern part of the country is richer and more industrialized than the south and many northerners object to being effectively asked to subsidise southerners The Northern League political party pushes for greater autonomy for the north and for reduced fund transfers to the south On one thing the people of the north and the south can agree: none of them likes paying for the enormous bureaucracy that is based in Rome

Climate

The climate of Italy is that of typical Mediterranean countries Italy has hot, dry summers, with July being the hottest month of the year In the north, they experience cold winters often with snow, as compared to mild ones in the south Some regions in the south of Italy can experience no rainfall for the whole summer season The long mountain ranges in Italy impact the weather significantly, as you can experience very different weather going from town to town

Literature

Non-Guidebooks about Italy or by Italian writers

  • The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone — a biography of Michelangelo that also paints a lovely portrait of Tuscany and Rome
  • Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King — a compelling story of one of the greatest structural engineering achievements of the Renaissance The story of the building of the immense dome on top of the basilica in Florence, Italy
  • Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes — an account of a woman who buys and restores a holiday home in Cortona, Italy Full of local flavor and a true taste of Tuscany
  • The Sea and Sardinia by DH Lawrence — describes a brief excursion undertaken by Lawrence and Frieda, his wife aka Queen Bee, from Taormina in Sicily to the interior of Sardinia They visited Cagliari, Mandas, Sorgono, and Nuoro Despite the brevity of his visit, Lawrence distills an essence of the island and its people that is still recognisable today Also by DH Lawrence is Etruscan Places, recording his impressions of Cerveteri, Tarquinia, Vulci and Volterra
  • Italian neighbours and A season with Verona by Tim Parks Two portraits of nowdays life in Italy as seen by an English writer who decided to live just outside Verona
  • Winter Stars by Beatrice Lao — poems born between the Alps and the Tyrrhenian by the oriental poetess, 988979991X
  • The Travels of Marco Polo by Marco Polo — stories about China by the Venetian traveller

Talking in Italy

Please also see: Italian phrasebook

Not surprisingly, Italian is the language spoken natively by most Italians

You'll want a good phrasebook if you're going anywhere remote, although this may be less help in the smaller towns and villages, as many areas still speak local languages that you won't find in any phrasebooks Most younger Italians can speak Italian even in small towns and remote areas, however Unlike in France especially in Paris, Italians will be happy to hear you trying to speak Italian or even better, the majority language in rural areas where it's not Italian, and will try to understand you even if you are making many mistakes If you want your errors to be corrected to help you better learn the language, don't forget to ask before starting a conversation Italians will rarely correct you otherwise as they consider it very impolite They also appreciate your efforts to speak their language and won't make too much fuss about your mistakes

English is widely spoken on the well-travelled path, especially in touristic areas where it is widely spoken by sellers and tourist operators In the cities you can often speak English with younger people, aged between 14 and 35: almost everyone has had to take English in school since the 1980s At least the most basic phrases usually stick, and normally there's at least one person in a group with a decent command of English On the other hand, senior citizens rarely know English, but they'll try to help you anyway with gestures or similar words If you are going to speak in English it is polite to ask, whether the person you speaks English before starting a conversation Speaking English and, more than English, speaking French while taking for granted it will be understood can be considered very arrogant and impolite

In the northern part of Italy, German is more widely understood than you might think, especially near the Austrian and Swiss borders, particularly in Trentino-Alto Adige German: Bozen where the latter two are even the native language to a considerable population, though still very far from being universally understood These regions were historically part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of World War I

The Romance languages, Spanish, French and Portuguese, are not widely spoken but as they are similar to Italian Italians will recognize many words thus making yourself understood There is a small French-speaking minority in the Valle d'Aosta region

In the northern part of Italy there are small pockets of other Romance languages like Ladin, a Rhaeto-Romance language related to Switzerland's Romansh Friulano, another Rhaeto-Romance language, is still spoken by a small minority in the border province near Slovenia There are several small pockets of Greek-speaking communities in the southern regions of Calabria and Puglia and there are an estimated 100,000 Albanian speakers in Puglia, Calabria and Sicily—some of which have migrated in Middle Ages and thus speak rather medieval Arberesh language Italian and Slovene are official languages in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Slovene is commonly spoken in areas surrounding Trieste with many of the small villages being entirely Slovene-speaking

What to see in Italy

There is so much to see in Italy that it is difficult to know where to begin Virtually every small city has an interesting church or two, plus a couple of other things to see

  • Etruscan Italy If you have limited time and no potential to travel outside the main cities, then don't miss the amazing collection at the Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia in Rome Hiring a car gives access to the painted tombs and museum of Tarquinia or the enormous burial complex at Cerveteri and those are just the sites within easy reach of Rome
  • The Greek Influence Well-preserved Greek temples at Agrigento in the southwest of Sicily and at Paestum, just south of Naples, give a good understanding of the extent of Greek influence on Italy
  • Roman ruins From the south, in Sicily, to the north of the country Italy is full of reminders of the Roman empire In Taormina, Sicily check out the Roman theatre, with excellent views of Mt Etna on a clear day Also in Sicily, don't miss the well-preserved mosaics at Piazza Armerina Moving north to just south of Naples, you find Pompeii and Herculaneum, covered in lava by Mt Vesuvius and, as a result, amazingly well preserved To Rome and every street in the center seems to have a few pieces of inscribed Roman stone built into more recent buildings Don't miss the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Aqueducts, the Appian Way, and a dozen or so museums devoted to Roman ruins Further north, the Roman amphitheatre at Verona is definitely not to be missed
  • Christian Italy The Vatican is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church Although inside Rome it has the status of a separate state Don't miss St Peter's and the Vatican Museum Rome, itself, has over 900 churches; a large number of these are worth a quick visit Throughout Italy there is some truly amazing Christian architecture covering the Romanesque 700-1200; Gothic 1100-1450; Renaissance 1400-1600; and ornate Baroque 1600-1830 styles Although theft of artwork has been a problem, major city churches and cathedrals retain an enormous number of paintings and sculptures and others have been moved to city and Church museums Frescoes and mosaics are everywhere, and quite stunning Don't just look for churches: in rural areas there are some fascinating monasteries to be discovered When planning to visit churches, note that all but the largest are usually closed between 1230 and 1530
  • The Byzantine Cities The Byzantines controlled northern Italy until kicked out by the Lombards in 751 Venice is of course world famous and nearby Chioggia, also in the Lagoon, is a smaller version Ravenna's churches have some incredible mosaics Visiting Ravenna requires a bit of a detour, but it is well worth it
  • The RenaissanceStart with a visit to Piazza Michelangelo in Florence to admire the famous view Then set about exploring the many museums, both inside and outside Florence, that house Renaissance masterpieces The Renaissance, or Rebirth, Rinascimento in Italian lasted between 14th and 16th centuries and is generally believed to have begun in Florence The list of famous names is endless: in architecture Ghiberti the cathedral's bronze doors, Brunelleschi the dome, and Giotto the bell tower In literature: Dante, Petrarch and Machiavelli In painting and sculpture: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Masaccio and Boticelli
  • The Streets and squares You could visit Italy's cities, never go in a church, museum or Roman ruin, and still have a great time Just wander around, keeping your eyes open Apart from in the northern Po and Adige valleys most of Italy including the cities is hilly or mountainous, giving some great views Look up when walking around to see amazing roof gardens and classical bell towers In cities such as Rome, note the continued juxtaposition of expensive stores with small workplaces for artisans Search for interesting food shops and places to get a good ice cream gelato Above all, just enjoy the atmosphere


Monuments

  • UNESCO World Heritage

Islands

  • Sicily,
  • Sardinia,
  • Capri,
  • Ischia,
  • Elba,
  • Procida,
  • Aeolian Islands,
  • Tremiti,
  • Ustica,
  • Pantelleria,
  • Aegadi Islands,
  • Pelagie Islands
  • Dino Island

Museums

Every major city has a number of local museums, but some of them have national and international relevance

These are some of the most important permanent collections

  • Uffizi Museum 15 in Florence, is one of the greatest museums in the world and a must see Given the great number of visitors, advance ticket reservation is a good idea, to avoid hour-long queues
  • Brera art gallery 16 in Milan is a prestigious museum held in a fine 17th-century palace, which boasts several paintings, including notable ones from the Renaissance era
  • The Etruscan Academy Museum of the City of Cortona 17 in Cortona, Tuscany
  • Egyptian Museum 18 in Turin, holds the second-largest Egyptian collection in the world, after Egypt's Cairo Museum collection
  • The Aquarium 19 in Genoa, one of the largest and most beautiful in the world, is in the Porto Antico ancient port in an area completely renewed by architect Renzo Piano in 1992
  • Science and Technology Museum 20 in Milan, one of the largest in Europe, holds collections about boats, airplanes, trains, cars, motorcycles, radio and energy Recently has also acquired the Toti submarine, which is open to visitors
  • Roman Civilization Museum 21 in Rome, hold the world's largest collection about ancient Rome and a marvellous reproduction scale 1:250 of the entire Rome area in 325 AD, the age of Constantine the Great
  • National Cinema Museum 22 in Turin, located inside the wonderful Mole Antonelliana, historical building and symbol of the city
  • Automobile Museum 23 in Turin, one of the largest in the world, with a 170 car collection covering the entire history of automobiles
  • The Vatican Museum Not, strictly speaking, in Italy as the Vatican is a separate territory Visit the museum to see the Sistine Chapel, the rooms painted by Raphael, some amazing early maps and much, much more
  • The Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia, Rome Amazing collection of Etruscan art

What to do in Italy

The beaches

One of the great things about Italy is that its long thin shape means that when you get fed up with sightseeing you are but a relatively short distance from a beach But when you get there you might be rather confused, especially if you come from a country where beach access is free to all

In theory that is the case in Italy but as with a lot of things in this country the practice may be somewhat different to the law Many stretches of beach, particularly those close to urban areas, are let out to private concessions In the season they cover almost all the beach with rows and rows of sunbeds lettini and umbrellas ombrelloni In theory you should be able to pass through these establishments to get to the sea, and should be able to walk along the sea in front of them, but you may be prevented from doing so In places like Capri or the Amalfi coast you might be charged up to 10 euros even just to step on the beach or to swim in some caves! More affordable are the beaches in Calabria, most are free, you will only need to pay for the eventual equipment you want to rent

While renting lettini for the day is not particularly expensive the establishments can fill up very quickly There are some free beaches everywhere and these may be your best bet They are easily identifiable by the absence of regimented rows of lettini They can get very crowded: on a Saturday or Sunday in the summer you won’t find an empty stretch of beach anywhere Close to urban areas you will never be far from a fish restaurant on the beach or, at the very least, a bar On the beach, topless women are more or less accepted everywhere but nudity is limited to certain beaches These are unlikely to be announced as such, so you will have to be guided by what others are doing

Visit the vineyards

Italy is famous for its wine And its vineyards tend to be in the middle of some beautiful scenery Taking an organized tour is probably your best bet Day trips can usually be organized through your hotel if you are staying in a major wine area such as Chianti or through the local tourism office There are several companies offering longer tours that include meals and accommodation A simple web search for “Italian vineyard tours” or “wine tour Italy” will find them Note that these longer tours tend to emphasise good food, great wine and a high standard of accommodation and are thus expensive If you rent a car and want to organize your own trips, a helpful website is that of the Movimento Turismo del Vino 24 The Italian page has a link to itinerari which is not available in English Even if you don’t read Italian you can still find addresses and opening hours of some interesting wine producers Note that “su prenotazione” means By Appointment Only

Cycling tours

Several companies offer cycling tours of the Italian countryside They provide cycles, a guide, and transportation for your suitcase, and for you if it all gets a bit too tiring Tours vary to accommodate different interests Normally you change city and hotel every day If you like cycling this is an excellent way of seeing Italy off-the-beaten-track Search Google, etc for "Cycle Tours Italy" for companies

Sailing

Sailing is one of the best ways to see the Italian islands such as Sardinia and Sicily Most charter companies offer many options from bareboat to crewed and cabin charter, with all types of the boats

Buying stuff in Italy

Italy is part of the Eurozone, so the common currency of the European Union, the Euro €, is legal tender in Italy

Italy is quite an expensive country It has many luxury hotels and posh restaurants It may cost €4000 a day if a person self caters, stays in hostel, avoids drinking and doesn't visit too many museums However, staying in a comfortable hotel, eating out regularly and visiting lots of museums and galleries, may cost at least €150-200 a day Hiring a car may double expenses, so one should visit with sufficient funds

All the bills include the service charges, so tipping is not necessary, although it is widely customary in restaurants and in hotels Round up the bill to the nearest Euro 5 or limit the tip to 5% and everyone will be happy Tipping taxi drivers is not necessary, but a hotel porter may expect a little something And unless otherwise stated, prices are inclusive of IVA sales tax same as VAT, which is 20% for most goods, and 10% in restaurants and hotels On some products, such as books, IVA is 4% If you're a non-EU resident, you are entitled to a VAT refund on purchases of goods that will be exported out of the European Union Shops offering this scheme have a Tax Free sticker outside Be sure to ask for your tax-free voucher before leaving the store These goods have to be unused when you pass the customs checkpoint upon leaving the EU

If you plan to travel through countryside or rural regions you probably should not rely on your credit cards, in many small towns they're accepted only by a small number of shops and restaurants

Remember that in Italy even during the winter months it remains very common for shops, offices and banks to close for up to 3 hours during the afternoon often between 1230 and 1530 Banks, especially, have short hours with most only being open for about 5 hours a day

What to buy

Italy is a great place for all forms of shopping Most cities, villages and towns, are crammed to the brim with many different forms of shops, from glitzy boutiques and huge shopping malls, to tiny art galleries, small food stores, antique dealers and general newsagents

  • Italian fashion is renowned worldwide Many of the world's most famous international brands have their headquarters or were founded in Italy
Milan is Italy's fashion and design capital In the city one can find virtually every major brand in the world, not only Italian, but also French, English, American, Swedish and Spanish Your main place for the creme de la creme shopping is the Via Montenapoleone, but the Via della Spiga, Via Manzoni, Via Sant' Andrea and the Corso Vittorio Emanuele are equally luxurious, if not slightly less prominent, high-class shopping streets The Corso Buenos Aires is the place to go for mass-scale or outlet shopping And, the beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in the centre and Via Dante boast some designer boutiques, too Virtually every street in central Milan does boast at least some clothing stores of some kind
However, Rome and Florence, are too, serious fashion centres, and boast being the birthplace of some of the oldest fashion and jewelry houses in Italy When in Rome, the chic and beautiful Via dei Condotti, leading to the Spanish Steps, will be your primary point of shopping reference, with boutiques but subsidary streets such as Via dei Babuino, Via Borgognona, Via Frattina, Via del Corso and the Piazza di Spagna In Florence, Via de' Tornabuoni is the main high-fashion shopping street, and there you'll find loads of designer brands However, in both cities, you'll be able to find a plethora of chic boutiques, designer or not, scattered around the centre
  • Jewelry and accessory shops can be found in abundance in Italy There are loads of jewelry and accessory stores which hail from Italy Vicenza and Valenza are considered the country's jewelry capitals, which are also famous for their silverware and goldware shops All over Italy, notably Vicenza, Milan, Valenza, Rome, Naples, Florence and Venice, but also several other cities, you can find hundreds of different jewelry or silverware boutiques Apart from the famous ones, there are some great quirky and funky jewelry stores scattered around the country
  • Design and furniture is something Italy is proudly and justifiably famous for Excellent quality furniture stores can be found all over, but the real place to buy the best deals is Milan Milan contains amongst the top design rooms and emporia in the world For the newest design inventions, attend the Fiera di Milano in Rho, where the latest appliances are exhibited Many Italian cities have great antique furniture stores So, you can choose between cutting-edge, avant-garde furniture, or old world antiques to buy in this country, which are, by average, of good quality
  • Glassware is something which Venice makes uniquely but which is spread around the whole of the country In Venice is famously the capital of Murano not the island, or glassware made in different colours Here, you can get stunning goblets, crystal chandeliers, candlesticks and decorations made in stunning, multi-coloured blown glass, which can be designed in modern, funky arrangements, or the classical old style
  • Books can be found in bookshops in every small, medium sized or big city The main book and publishing companies/stores in Italy include Mondadori, Hoepli or Rizzoli Most big bookstores are found in Milan, Turin and nearby Monza, which are the capitals of Italy's publishing trade Turin was made World Book Capital in 2006, however cities such as Rome and more boast loads of book shops
  • Art shops can be found in many in Italy, notably the most artistic cities of Florence, Rome and Venice In Florence, the best place to go for buying art is the Oltrarno, where there are numerous ateliers selling replicas of famous paintings or similar things Usually, depending in what city you're in, you get replicas of notable works of art found there, but also, you can find rare art shops, sculpture shops, or funky, modern/old stores in several cities


How to buy

In a small-medium sized shop, it's standard to greet the staff as you enter, not when you approach the counter to pay A friendly 'Buongiorno' or 'Buonasera' warms the atmosphere When paying, the staff usually expect you to put coins down on the surface or dish provided, rather than placing money directly into their hands old money-handling etiquette to avoid messy coin droppings, and they will do the same when giving you your change il resto The advent of the euro has caused problems for the Italians Most lira transactions were in banknotes, and people are still adjusting to the fact that coins are now of significant denominations and in general use Don't be surprised to find the whole issue of change rather perplexing for cashiers, who may try to insist you give them complex combinations of coins and notes rather than simply changing your notes

Food and eating in Italy

Cuisine

Italian food inside of Italy is different than Italian in America or western Europe It is truly one of the most diverse in the world, and in any region, or even city and village you go, there are different specialities For instance, Northern Italian cuisine is based on hearty, potato and rice-rich meals, Central Italian cuisine is mainly on pastas, roasts and meat, and Southern Italian cuisine on vegetables, pizza, pasta and seafood However, Italian cuisine, contrary to popular belief, is not just based on pasta and tomato sauce - that's only a snippet of the nation's food, as, in some parts of Northern Italy, pasta isn't even used at all, and rice, potatoes, lentils, soups and similar meals are very common in some parts of the country Italian food is based upon a few simple ingredients and Italians often have very discriminating tastes that may seem strange to Americans and other visitors

For instance, a sandwich stand might sell 4 different types of ham sandwiches that in each case contain ham, mayonnaise, and cheese The only thing that may be different between the sandwiches is the type of ham or cheese used in them Rustichella and panzerotti are two examples of sandwiches well-liked by Italians and tourists alike Also, Italian sandwiches are quite different from the traditional Italian-American “hero”, “submarine”, or “hoagie” sandwich Rather than large sandwiches with a piling of meat, vegetables, and cheese, sandwiches in Italy are often quite small, very flat made even more so when they are quickly heated and pressed on a panini grill, and contain a few simple ingredients with rarely, if ever, lettuce Visitors often dislike the ubiquitous mayonnaise that Italians use for sandwiches The term panini may be somewhat confusing to travellers from Northern Europe where it has erroneously come to mean a flat, heated sandwich on a grill In Italy the term is equivalent to "bread rolls" plural which can be simple rolls or sometimes with basic filling However instead of a sandwich why not try piadinas which are a flat folded bread with filling, which are served warm

Americans will notice that Italian pasta is usually available with a myriad of sauces rather than simply tomato and alfredo Also, Italian pasta is often served with much less sauce than in America This is, in part, because pasta in a restaurant is usually regarded as the first course of a three- or four-course meal, not a meal in itself

Structure of a traditional meal: Usually Italian meals for working days are: small breakfast, one-dish lunch, one-dish dinner Coffee is welcomed at nearly every hour, especially around 10:00 and at the end of a meal At the weekends and in restaurants for other occasions, they typically consist of: antipasto marinated vegetables, seafood, etc, primo pasta or rice dish, secondo meat course often with a side-dish known as contorno, and dolce dessert

Like the language and culture, food in Italy differs region by region Pasta and olive oil are considered the characteristics of southern Italian food, while northern food focuses on rice and butteralthough today there are many many exceptions Local ingredients are also very important In warm Naples, citrus and other fresh fruit play a prominent role in both food and liquor, while in Venice fish is obviously an important traditional ingredient As a guideline, in the south cuisine is focused on pasta and dessert, while at north meat is king, but this rule can be very different depending on where you are

A note about breakfast in Italy: This is very light, often just a coffee with a pastry cappuccino e brioche or a piece of bread and fruit jam Unless you know for certain otherwise, you should not expect a large breakfast Cappuccino is a breakfast drink; ordering one after lunch or dinner is considered highly strange and considered a typical "tourist thing" A small espresso coffee is considered much more appropriate for digestion

Another enjoyable Italian breakfast item is cornetto pl cornetti: a croissant or light pastry often filled with cream or nutella

Lunch is seen as the most important part of the day, so much that Italians have one hour reserved for eating and another for napping All shops close down and resume after the two hour break period To compensate businesses stay open later Good luck trying to find a place open during the so-called "pausa pranzo" lunch break This may not apply to the city center of the biggest cities or to shopping centers

Dinner ie the evening meal is generally taken late In the summer, if you are in a restaurant before 8pm you are likely to be eating on your own, and it is quite normal to see families with young children still dining after 10pm This is partly from a practical consideration: when eating outdoors before nightfall there are more problems with insect interference

In Italy cuisine is considered a kind of art Great chefs as Gualtiero Marchesi or Gianfranco Vissani are seen as half-way between TV stars and magicians Italians are extremely proud of their culinary tradition and generally love food, and talking about it However, they are not so fond of common preconceptions, such as that Italian food is only pizza and spaghetti They also have a distaste for "bastardized" versions of their dishes that are popular elsewhere, and many Italians have a hard time believing that the average foreigner can get even a basic pasta dish "right"

You should consider that Italy's most famous dishes like pizza or spaghetti belong to southern regions, and eating in different areas can be an interesting opportunity to taste some less well known local specialty Even for something as simple as pizza there are significant regional variations That of Naples has a thick crust while that of Rome is thin

When dining out with Italians read the menu and remember that almost every restaurant has a typical dish and some towns have centuries-old traditions that you are invited to learn People will be most happy when you ask for local specialties and will gladly advise you

For a cheap meal you may like to track down an aperitivo bar somewhat similar to the concept of tapas which in the early evening about 17:00 serve a series of plates of nibbles, cheese, olives, meat, bruschetta and much more All this food is typically free to anyone who purchases a drink but it is intended to be a premeal snack

The tradition of Aperitivo is particulary felt in Milan There you can often make a dinner out of it

Specialties

Almost every city and region has its own specialities, a brief list of which may include:

  • Risotto - Aroborio rice that has been sautéed and cooked in a shallow pan with stock The result is a very creamy and hearty dish Meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, and cheeses are almost always added depending on the recipe and the locale Many restaurants, families, towns, and regions will have a signature risotto or at least style of risotto, in addition or in place of a signature pasta dish risotto alla Milanese is a famous Italian classic Risotto is a typical dish in Lombardy and Piedmont
  • Arancini - Balls of rice with tomato sauce, eggs, and cheese that are deep fried They are a southern Italian specialty, though are now quite common all over
  • Polenta - Yellow corn meal yellow grits that has been cooked with stock It is normally served either creamy, or allowed to set up and then cut into shapes and fried or roasted It is a very common dish in northern mountains restaurants, usually eaten with deer or boar meat
  • Gelato This is the Italian word for ice cream The non-fruit flavors are usually made only with milk Gelato made with water and without dairy ingredients is also known as sorbetto It's fresh as a sorbet, but tastier There are many flavors, including coffee, chocolate, fruit, and tiramisù When buying at a gelateria, you have the choice of having it served in a wafer cone or a tub, and typically you are expected to choose two flavours
  • Tiramisù Italian cake made with coffee, mascarpone, and ladyfingers sometimes rum with cocoa powder on the top The name means "pick-me-up"

Pizza

Pizza is a quick and convenient meal In most cities there are pizza shops that sell by the gram Look for a sign Pizza a taglio When ordering, simply point to the display or tell the attendant the type of pizza you would like eg pizza margherita, pizza con patate french fries, pizza al prosciutto ham, etc and how much "Vorrei due fette - two slices or due etti - two-tenths of a kilogram per favore" They will slice it, warm it in the oven, fold it in half, and wrap it in paper Other food shops also sell pizza by the slice Italians consider this a sort of second class pizza, chosen only when you cannot eat a "real" pizza in a specialized restaurant Pizzeria Getting your meal on the run can save money--many sandwich shops charge an additional fee if you want to sit to eat your meal Remember that in many parts of the country pizzas have a thinner base of bread and less cheese than those found outside Italy The most authentic, original pizzas is found in Naples - often containing quite a few ingredients

The traditional, round pizza is found in many restaurants and specialized pizza restaurants pizzerie It is rare to find a restaurant that serves pizza at lunchtime, however

Cheese and sausages

In Italy you can find nearly 200 kinds of cheese, including the famous Parmigiano Reggiano, and 300 types of sausages

If you want a real kick, then try to find one of the huge open markets, which are always open on Saturdays and usually during other days, except Sunday, as well You will find all types of cheese and meat on display

Restaurants and bars

Italian bars in the center of major cities charge more typically double if you drink and eat seated at a table rather than standing at the bar or taking your order to go The further away you are from the main streets the less this rule is applied When calling into a bar for a coffee or other drink you first go to the cash register and pay for what you want You then give the receipt to the barman, together with a token tip 5 or 10 cents for a coffee or two

Restaurants always used to charge a small coperto cover charge Some years ago attempts were made to outlaw the practice, with limited success The rule now seems to be that if you have bread a coperto can be charged but if you specifically say that you don't want bread then no coperto can be levied

Some restaurants now levy a service charge, but this is far from common In others a large tip is not expected The customary 15% of the United States may cause an Italian waiter to drop dead with a heart attack Round up to the nearest Euro 5 where the check is less than Euros 100 or limit the tip to 5% and everyone will be happy

The traditional meal can include in order antipasto starter of cold seafood, gratinated vegetables or ham and salami, primo first dish - pasta or rice dishes, secondo second dish - meat or fish dishes, served together with contorno mostly vegetables, cheeses/fruit, dessert, coffee, and spirits Upmarket restaurants usually refuse to make changes to proposed dishes exceptions warmly granted for babies or people on special diets Mid-range restaurants are usually more accommodating For example, a simple pasta with tomato sauce may not be on the menu but a restaurant will nearly always be willing to cook one for kids who turn their noses up at everything else on the menu

If you are in a large group say four or more then it is appreciated if you don't all order a totally different pasta While the sauces are pre-cooked the pasta is cooked fresh and it is difficult for the restaurant if one person wants spaghetti, another fettuccine, a third rigatoni, a fourth penne and a fifth farfalle butterfly shaped pasta If you attempt such an order you will invariably be told that you will have a long wait!

When pizza is ordered, it is served as a primo even if formally it is not considered as such, together with other primi If you order a pasta or pizza and your friend has a steak you will get your pasta dish, and probably when you've finished eating the steak will arrive If you want primo and secondo dishes to be brought at the same time you have to ask

Restaurants which propose diet food, very few, usually write it clearly in menus and even outside; others usually don't have any dietetic resources

Gastronomia

A Gastronomia is a kind of self-service restaurant normally you tell the staff what you want rather than serving yourself that also offers take-aways This can give a good opportunity to sample traditional Italian dishes at fairly low cost Note that these are not buffet restaurants You pay according to what you order

Drinking in Italy

Bars, like restaurants, are non-smoking

Italians enjoy going out during the evenings, so it's common to have a drink in a bar before dinner It is called Aperitivo Within the last couple years, started by Milan, a lot of bars have started offering fixed-price cocktails at aperitivo hours 18 - 21 with a free, and often a very good, buffet meal It's now widely considered stylish to have this kind of aperitivo called Happy Hour instead of a structured meal before going out to dance or whatever

While safe to drink, the tap water in some peninsular parts of Italy can be cloudy with a slight off taste Most Italians prefer bottled water, which is served in restaurants Make sure you let the waiter/waitress know you want regular water acqua rubinetto or else you could get water with either natural gas or with added carbonation frizzante

Rome, in particular, has exceptional pride in the quality of its water This goes right back to the building of aqueducts channeling pure mountain water to all the citizens of Rome during Roman times Don't waste plastic bottles You can refill your drinking containers and bottles at any of the constant running taps and fountains dotted around the city, safe in the knowledge that you are getting excellent quality cool spring water - try it!

Wine

Italian wine is exported all over the world, and names like Barolo, Brunello and Chianti are known everywhere In Italy wine is a substantial topic, a sort of test which can ensure either respect or lack of attention from an entire restaurant staff Doing your homework ensures that you will get better service, better wine and in the end may even pay less

DOC, DOCG, IGT?

The Denominazione di origine controllata certificate restricts above all the grape blend allowed for the wine, and in itself it is not yet a guarantee of quality The same applies to the stricter Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita These two denominations are indications of a traditional wine typical of the region, such as Chianti, and often a good partner for local food But some of the best Italian wines are labeled with the less strict Indicazione geografica tipica designation, often a sign of a more modern, "international" wine

So before reaching Italy, try to learn a little about the most important wines of the region you are planning to visit This will greatly increase you enjoyment Italian cuisine varies greatly from region to region sometimes also from town to town, and wine reflects this variety Italians have a long tradition of matching wines with dishes and often every dish has an appropriate wine The popular "color rule" red wines with meat dishes, white wines with fish can be happily broken when proposed by a sommelier or when you really know what you are doing: Italy has many strong white wines to serve with meat a Sicilian or Tuscan chardonnay, as well as delicate red wines for fish perhaps an Alto Adige pinot noir

Unlike in the UK, for example, the price mark-ups charged by restaurants for wines on their wine list are not usually excessive, giving you a chance to experiment In the big cities, there are also many wine bars, where you can taste different wines by the glass, at the same time as eating some delicious snacks Unlike in many other countries it is unusual for restaurants to serve wine by the glass

The vino della casa house wine can be an excellent drinking opportunity in small villages far from towns especially in Tuscany, where it could be what the patron would really personally drink or could even be the restaurant's own product It tends to be a safe choice in decent restaurants in cities as well Vino della casa may come bottled but in lower-priced restaurants it is still just as likely to be available in a carafe of one quarter, one half or one litre As a general rule, if the restaurant seems honest and not too geared for tourists, the house wine is usually not too bad That said, some house wines can be dreadful and give you a nasty head the next morning If it doesn't taste too good it probably won't do you much good, so send it back and order from the wine list

Italians are justly proud of their wines and foreign wines are rarely served, but many foreign grapes like cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay are increasingly being used

Beer

Although wine is a traditional everyday product, beer is drunk as well, particularly when going out for a pizza with friends In the last two decades there has also been an explosion of Irish Pubs in the big cities

Beer does not belong to the Italian tradition in the way that wine does: even if pubs serving beer are common they usually, but not always, offer little choice However, if you are looking for good beers you won't have a major problem, you will just have to look around a little bit more

Major Italian beers include Peroni and Moretti and these are usually the ones offered by cafes If you are serious about beer drinking, there are some, but not many, bars that specialise in serving a wide range of bottled beers see city articles for more details, as well as the Irish pubs and similar There is an increasing number of micro-breweries around the country They often are run by local beer enthusiasts turned brewers, running small breweries with a pub attached Their association is called Unionbirrai 25

In the Trieste region it is fare more common to drink Slovenian beers and the most popular brands are 'Union' and 'Zlatorag' Surprisingly it is often cheaper to buy Slovenian beer in Italy Trieste than in Slovenia itself

Other drinks

  • Limoncello A liquor made of alcohol, lemon peels, and sugar Limoncello can be considered a "moonshine" type of product although usually made with legally obtained alcohol as every Italian family, especially in the middle-south near Napoli and southern part of the country, has its own recipe for limoncello Because lemon trees adapt so well to the Mediterreanean climate, and they produce a large amount of fruit continually throughout their long fruit-bearing season, it is not unusual to find many villa's yards filled with lemon trees bending under the weight of their crop You can make a lot of lemonade, or better yet, brew your own limoncello It is mainly considered a dessert liquor, served after a heavy meal similar to amaretto, and used for different celebrations The taste can be compared to a very strong and slightly thick lemonade flavor with an alcohol tinge to it Best served chilled in the freezer in small glasses that have been in the freezer It is better sipped than treated as a shooter
  • Grappa is made by distilling grape skins after the juice has been squeezed from them for winemaking, so you could imagine how it might taste If you're going to drink it, then make sure you get a bottle having been distilled multiple times

Limoncello and grappa and other similar drinks are usually served after a meal as an aid to digestion If you are a good customer restaurants will offer a drink to you free of charge, and may even leave the bottle on your table for you to help yourself Beware that these are very strong drinks

Coffee

Bars in Italy offer an enormous number of possible permutations for a way of having a cup of coffee What you won’t get, however, is 100 different types of bean; nor will you find “gourmet” coffees If you like that kind of stuff, better take your own A bar will make coffee from a commercial blend of beans supplied by just one roaster There are many companies who supply roast beans and the brand used is usually prominently displayed both inside and outside of the bar

You can take you coffee as follows:

  • Caffè or Caffè Normale or Espresso This is the basic unit of coffee, normally consumed after a meal
  • Caffè ristretto This has the same amount of coffee, but less water, thus making it stronger
  • Caffè lungo This is the basic unit of coffee but additional water is allowed to go through the ground coffee beans in the machine
  • Caffè americano This has much more water and is served in a cappuccino cup It is more like an American breakfast coffee but the quantity is still far less than you would get in the States

So far so good But here the permutations begin For the same price as a normal coffee, you can ask for a dash of milk to be added to any of the above This is called macchiato Hence, caffè lungo macchiato or caffè americano macchiato But that dash of milk can be either hot caldo or cold freddo So you can ask, without the barman batting an eye, for a caffè lungo macchiato freddo or a caffè Americano macchiato caldo Any one of these options can also be had decaffeinated Ask for caffè decaffeinato The most popular brand is HAG and it is quite usual to ask for caffè HAG even if the bar does not use that particular brand

If you are really in need of a pick-me-up you can ask for a double dose of coffee, or a doppio You have to specify this when you pay at the cash register and it costs twice as much as a normal coffee All the above permutations still apply, although a caffè doppio ristretto may be a bit strange

Additionally, if you need a shot of alcohol, you can ask for a caffè corretto This usually involves adding grappa, brandy or sambuca; "corrected" being the Italian expression corresponding to "spiked" Normally it is only a plain coffee that is corrected but there is no reason why you should not correct any of the above combinations

Then there are coffee drinks with milk, as follows:

  • Cappuccino Needs no introduction If you don’t like the froth you can ask for cappuccino senza schiuma
  • Caffè latte Often served in a glass, this is a small amount of coffee with the cup/glass filled up with hot milk
  • Latte macchiato This is a glass of milk with a dash of coffee in the top The milk can be hot or cold

Finally, in the summer you can have caffè freddo, which is basically plain coffee with ice, "caffè freddo shakerato" shaked ice coffee or cappuccino freddo, which is a cold milky coffee without the froth

This list is by no means exhaustive With a vivid imagination and a desire to experiment you should be able to find many more permutations Enjoy!

Accommodation in Italy

In major cities and touristic areas you can find a good variety of accommodations, from world-class brand hotels to family-managed bed & breakfasts and room rentals, but hostels are really few Camping is a good way to save money and camping sites are usually well managed, but especially during summer, managers tend not to accept last-minute groups of young people given the high chance of problems that such groups of Italian guys tend to cause, so you'd better book in advance Farmstays are an increasingly popular way to experience Italy, particularly in rural areas of Tuscany, Piedmont, Umbria, Abruzzo, Sardinia and Apulia They provide a great combination of good and healthy food, wonderful sights and not-so-expensive prices If you prefer self-catering accommodations, it's quite simple to find them on the wonderful Amalfi Coast or the less commercial and more genuine Calabria coast

Hotel star ratings can only be taken as a broad indication of what you will get for your money There are many marvellous 2-star hotels that you will want to return to every year and many 5-star hotels that you will never want to set foot in again The star rating, as in all countries, is based on a bureaucratic assessment of the facilities provided and does not necessarily relate to comfort Often the only difference between a 3-star and 4-star hotel is that the latter offers all meals while the former only offers breakfast

Working in Italy

Work in Italy is not easy to find The unemployment rate is high compared to other major European countries Many young adults, especially females, are without a job Starting salaries in shops, offices, etc range from EURO 800 to EURO 1,400 a month There's a huge underground black market though, where you'll find many people working This doesn't mean working in some kind of obscure crime syndicate: most "black" workers can be found in small business such as bars, pubs and small shops, or as construction workers Although this kind of job is illegal but legal consequences are most on the employer they're probably the easier thing to find if you're looking for a temporary job

If you're thinking about establishing a small business be sure to get in contact with local Chamber of Commerce and an accountant and they will help you to sort out the mess of Italian laws

Cities in Italy

abano terme  abbiategrasso  acerra  aci castello  aci catena  acireale  acquaviva delle fonti  acqui terme  acri  adelfia  adrano  adria  afragola  agira  agliana  agrate brianza  agrigento  agropoli  alassio  alatri  alba  albano laziale  albenga  alberobello  albignasego  albino  alcamo  alfonsine  alghero  alpignano  altamura  altavilla vicentina  altopascio  alzano lombardo  amantea  amelia  anagni  ancona  andria  angri  anguillara sabazia  anzio  aosta  appiano  apricena  aprilia  aradeo  aragona  arco  arcola  arcore  ardea  arenzano  arese  arezzo  argenta  ariano irpino  ariccia  arluno  arona  artena  arzachena  arzano  arzignano  ascoli piceno  asola  assemini  assisi  asti  atessa  atri  atripalda  augusta  aulla  avellino  aversa  avezzano  avigliana  avigliano  avola  azzano decimo  bacoli  badia polesine  bagheria  bagnacavallo  bagnara calabra  bagno a ripoli  bagnolo mella  barberino di mugello  bareggio  barga  bari  barletta  baronissi  barrafranca  bassano del 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 monreale  monselice  monserrato  monsummano terme  montagnana  montale  montalto uffugo  montebelluna  montecchio maggiore  montecorvino rovella  monte di procida  montefiascone  montegranaro  montegrotto terme  montelupo fiorentino  montemarciano  montemurlo  monteprandone  montepulciano  monteroni di lecce  monterotondo  monte san giovanni campano  monte san pietro  montesarchio  montescaglioso  montesilvano  montespertoli  montevarchi  montichiari  montignoso  montorio al vomano  monza  morbegno  morrovalle  mortara  motta di livenza  mottola  muggia  muggio  mugnano di napoli  musile di piave  mussomeli  naples  nardo  narni  naro  nave  negrar  nembro  nerviano  nettuno  nichelino  nicosia  niscemi  nizza monferrato  noale  nocera inferiore  nocera superiore  noceto  noci  noicattaro  nola  nonantola  noto  nova milanese  novara  novate milanese  novellara  novi di modena  novi ligure  nuoro  occhiobello  oderzo  olbia  oleggio  olgiate comasco  olgiate olona  omegna  opera  orbassano  orbetello  oria  oristano  orta nova  ortona  orvieto  orzinuovi  osimo  ospitaletto  ostuni  ottaviano  ovada  ozieri  paceco  pachino  paderno dugnano  padova  paese  pagani  palagiano  palagonia  palazzolo acreide  palermo  palestrina  palma campania  palma di montechiaro  palmi  palo del colle  palombara sabina  paola  parabiago  parabita  parma  partanna  partinico  paterno  patti  paullo  pavia  pavullo nel frignano  pedara  pellezzano  penne  pergine valsugana  perugia  pesaro  pescantina  pescara  pescia  petilia policastro  piacenza  pianezza  piano di sorrento  pianoro  piazza armerina  piazzola sul brenta  pietra ligure  pietrasanta  pieve di soligo  pinerolo  pineto  pioltello  piombino  piossasco  piove di sacco  pisa  pisticci  pistoia  poggibonsi  poggiomarino  poirino  policoro  polignano a mare  polistena  pomezia  pompei  ponsacco  pontassieve  pontecagnano  pontecorvo  pontedera  ponte san pietro  pontinia  porcia  pordenone  portici  porto empedocle  portoferraio  portogruaro  portomaggiore  porto recanati  porto san giorgio  porto tolle  porto torres  potenza picena  potenza  pozzallo  pozzuoli  prato  preganziol  priolo gargallo  priverno  procida  pulsano  putignano  qualiano  quartucciu  quattro castella  quinto di treviso  racale  racalmuto  racconigi  raffadali  ragusa  ramacca  randazzo  rapallo  ravanusa  ravenna  recanati  recco  reggello  reggio di calabria  rende  rescaldina  rezzato  rho  ribera  riccione  riese  riesi  rieti  rimini  rionero in vulture  riposto  rivalta di torino  riva  rivarolo canavese  rivoli  rocca di papa  roccapiemonte  rocca priora  roccastrada  romano di lombardia  rome  roncade  ronchi dei legionari  rosarno  rosa  roseto degli abruzzi  rosignano marittimo  rosolini  rossano  rovato  rovereto  rovigo  rozzano  rubano  rubiera  ruffano  russi  rutigliano  ruvo di puglia  sabaudia  sacile  sala consilina  salemi  salerno  salice salentino  salo  salsomaggiore terme  saluzzo  salzano  samarate  san benedetto del tronto  san bonifacio  san cataldo  san cesareo  san dona di piave  san donato milanese  san felice sul panaro  san ferdinando di puglia  san gavino monreale  san gennaro vesuviano  san giorgio a cremano  san giorgio del sannio  san giorgio ionico  san giovanni in fiore  san giovanni in persiceto  san giovanni la punta  san giovanni lupatoto  san giovanni rotondo  san giovanni valdarno  san giuliano milanese  san giuliano terme  san giuseppe jato  san giuseppe vesuviano  san giustino  san gregorio di catania  san lazzaro di savena  san marco in lamis  san martino buon albergo  san martino di lupari  san marzano sul sarno  san mauro torinese  san michele al tagliamento  san miniato  sannicandro di bari  san nicola  san pancrazio salentino  san pietro in casale  san pietro vernotico  san prisco  san remo  san salvo  san sebastiano al vesuvio  sansepolcro  san severino marche  san severo  santa flavia  santa margherita ligure  santa maria a monte  santa maria a vico  santa maria capua vetere  santa maria di sala  santa marinella  santeramo in colle  santhia  santo stino di livenza  san vito al tagliamento  san vito dei normanni  sarezzo  sarno  saronno  sarzana  sassari  sasso marconi  sassuolo  sava  saviano  savigliano  savignano sul rubicone  savona  scafati  scalea  scandiano  scandicci  schio  sciacca  scicli  scordia  scorze  sedriano  segrate  selargius  selvazzano dentro  senago  senigallia  seravezza  seregno  seriate  serramanna  serravalle pistoiese  sessa aurunca  sesto calende  sesto fiorentino  sesto san giovanni  sestri levante  sestu  settimo torinese  seveso  sezze  siano  siderno  siena  signa  silea  silvi  sinalunga  siniscola  sinnai  solaro  soliera  solofra  sommacampagna  somma lombardo  somma vesuviana  sona  sondrio  sora  soresina  sorrento  sorso  sortino  soverato  spilamberto  spilimbergo  spinea  spoleto  spoltore  spresiano  squinzano  stezzano  stradella  subiaco  sulmona  surbo  susegana  suzzara  syracuse  taggia  taormina  taranto  tarquinia  taurianova  taurisano  tavagnacco  taviano  teano  tempio pausania  teramo  terlizzi  termini imerese  termoli  terni  terracina  terralba  terranuova bracciolini  terrasini  terzigno  tezze sul brenta  thiene  tirano  tivoli  todi  tolentino  tolmezzo  torre annunziata  torre del greco  torre santa susanna  torri di quartesolo  tortoli  tortona  tradate  trani  trapani  travagliato  trebaseleghe  trebisacce  trecate  treia  trentola-ducenta  trento  trepuzzi  treviglio  treviso  trezzano sul naviglio  trezzo  tricase  trieste  triggiano  trinitapoli  trofarello  troina  turin  turi  udine  ugento  umbertide  urbino  vaiano  valdagno  valdobbiadene  valeggio sul mincio  valenzano  valenza  valguarnera caropepe  valmadrera  valmontone  varazze  varedo  varese  vasto  vecchiano  vedelago  veglie  velletri  venafro  venaria reale  venice  venosa  ventimiglia  vercelli  veroli  verona  vetralla  viadana  viareggio  vibo valentia  vicenza  vico equense  vieste  vietri sul mare  vigevano  vignola  vigodarzere  vigonza  villabate  villacidro  villafranca di verona  villa literno  villaricca  villa san giovanni  villasanta  villorba  vimercate  vimodrone  vinci  virgilio  viterbo  vittoria  vittorio veneto  voghera  volpago del montello  volpiano  volterra  zagarolo  zevio  zogno  zola predosa  

What do you think about Italy?

How expensive is Italy?
(1 EUR = 1.09 USD)
Meal in inexpensive restaurant14.85 EUR
3-course meal in restaurant (for 2)46 EUR
McDonalds meal7.43 EUR
Local beer (0.5 draft)4.43 EUR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 3.89 EUR
Cappuccino1.45 EUR
Pepsi/Coke (0.33 bottle)2.2 EUR
Water (0.33 bottle)1.03 EUR
Milk (1l)1.21 EUR
Fresh bread (500g)1.46 EUR
White Rice (1kg)2.09 EUR
Eggs (12) 2.29 EUR
Local Cheese (1kg) 11.35 EUR
Chicken Breast (1kg) 8.71 EUR
Apples (1kg) 1.78 EUR
Oranges (1kg) 1.63 EUR
Tomato (1kg) 2 EUR
Potato (1kg) 1.31 EUR
Lettuce (1 head) 1.22 EUR
Water (1.5l)0.45 EUR
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 5.53 EUR
Domestic Beer (0.5 bottle)1.4 EUR
Foreign beer (0.33 bottle) 1.4 EUR
Cigarettes4.9 EUR
One way local bus ticket1.47 EUR
Monthly pass for bus38.54 EUR
Taxi start5.53 EUR
Taxi 1km1.46 EUR
Taxi 1hour waiting28.2 EUR
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.89 EUR
Utilities for a "normal" apartment178.23 EUR
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 16.25 EUR
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 562.17 EUR
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 483.29 EUR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 1082.81 EUR
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 662.67 EUR
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