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Dreaming of Italy? Or have you already booked your flights?
Here’s the thing…
I do a lot of research before any trip so I thought I would share my favorite resources with you.
On this page, you will find everything from inspiration to practical information for building your dream trip to Italy.
What's in this article
Planning a trip to Italy
Trip planning is all about the compromise between inspiration and what is practical. I find it very difficult to make these choices – do you? These days I focus on the activities and places that I think will be incredibly special and memorable.
This guide assumes you are an independent traveler who likes to research their own trips, itineraries, accommodation and tours.
Inspiration for your vacation in Italy
On the one hand, you don’t want to miss a famous city or region but there is also a lot to be said for relaxing into an area for a week or two and enjoying the local culture.
Favorite websites for Italy travel
- Browse through Italy Magazine for inspiration on destinations, art, culture and food
- There are more UNESCO world heritage sites in Italy than any other country. You could spend months exploring them all. A particular favorite was The Valley of the Temples in Sicily
- Traveling Italy is a wonderfully descriptive and visually stunning blog by Irish expat Orna O’Reilly
- If you dream of visiting the Cinque Terre and the Ligurian coast browse Cinque Terre Travel. Their site will transport you there in an instant
Maybe you want to explore a lesser-known region or choose an activity that will deepen your knowledge about Italian culture or history. This is my wish list of unforgettable and unique travel experiences in Italy.
Food in Italy
A trip to Italy would not be complete if you did not plan to try some of the world’s most amazing food.
- Maybe you want to try a dish from a particular region or town? Check out these Italian food facts for inspiration
- Lots of research has gone into our Rome food guide
- Food festivals are a fantastic way to discover regional cuisine in Italy. There are 1000s of festivals each year – read about our experience at a sagra in Como and discovering the slow food of Brescia in northern Italy
- We thoroughly enjoyed learning about and cooking Tuscan cuisine at a cooking class in Florence
- For an immersive experience discovering the food and wine traditions of the Lazio region visit Palazzo Tronconi 50km south of Rome. You will find excellent packages for staying, cooking and eating at the palazzo on Italian villa booking site Bookings For You
- I love Rome-based Elizabeth Minchilli’s wonderful blog where she shares seasonal recipes and her favorite restaurants. She also hosts food tours of Rome and the surrounding countryside
- Discover the origins (and do a whole lot of tasting) of Parmigiano Reggiano, Parma ham and balsamic vinegar with these highly recommended tours in the city of Parma
- Melbourne blogger Paola shares her food heritage, recipes, photography and travel experiences via her amazing blog Italy on My Mind
Apart from the gastronomy, this is what makes Italy special for me. From the art of the Renaissance, Michelangelo and Da Vinci, to the nuances of ordering a coffee, hand gestures and language there is a lot to learn about Italian culture.
- Art lovers should peruse Renaissance Art historian Alexandra’s blog – arttrav. This is an amazing resource with thoughtful insight into Italian art and culture. She has even created some itineraries for art lovers to follow. When we return to Tuscany I will pick up this guide to The Young Michelangelo in Florence
- History and culture go hand in hand – check out the amazing 2500-year-old Greek ruins near Agrigento in Sicily
- Learn some key phrases and perfect your accent. A little effort goes a long way with Italians. For a quick start to learning Italian listen to the Untold Italy podcast Italian phrases you need to know for your trip to Italy
- If you like self-paced learning try DuoLingo. This amazing free service helps you learn with activities and goal setting on its handy app
- Here’s a little ebook on how to order a coffee in Italy – yes, it’s part of the culture
- Italians are discerning with their fashion. Fit right in with Rick Zullo’s guide to achieving bella figura
- Did you know you can see an opera at the amphitheater in Verona – amazing!
- I’d love to join the research efforts at the Medici Archive Project in Florence
Accommodation in Italy
We are big fans of Booking.com and the Plum Guide and have had some wonderful experiences staying in short stay apartments. I like the flexibility of having an apartment or house, especially as we travel with young children. We find this accommodation is better value for money than most hotels.
- We loved our villa holiday in the Tuscan countryside and thoroughly recommend this style of travel. Italian villa specialists Bookings For You seek out special luxury villas across Italy
- Long before AirBnB and other holiday rental sites entered the market Cross Pollinate was curating a list of budget accommodation across Italy
- If you are planning to spend a little time in the countryside then you might like to try agriturismi or farm stays. You will not find all the conveniences of a five-star hotel but you will have a memorable experience discovering the warmth, hospitality and food of the Italian people
- If you prefer hotel accommodation my first points of call are Splendia and Mr & Mrs Smith for travelling as a couple or single travel, and Smith & Family for family travel
Transport in Italy
Having earned some white knuckle stripes driving the family through Genoa’s spaghetti junction earlier this year, a more gentle way of traveling beckons.
- For all things rail in Italy, read our in-depth guide on How to travel by train in Italy
- If you are keen to drive, check out How to drive in Italy
Specialty tours in Italy
Understanding the history and background behind the places you visit, always makes them feel more rich and alive. Here are some tours in Italy that look particularly interesting.
- Headed to Rome? Here are our favorite tours to help you make the most of your visit
- With a love of ‘slow, immersive travel’ and over 70 different short city walks, Take Walks/Walks of Italy deliver my kind of travel experience
- Led by archaeologists and historians, these week-long historical and food-focused tours look fascinating
- Get Your Guide has a great list of tours, attractions, and activities in Italy online and on their fantastic app. We used their service for this Venice market and food tour and loved it
Family travel in Italy
Italy is a great place to travel with kids as children are welcome almost everywhere you go. Our twins love the attention they get from the nonni (grandparents) of the towns and cities we have visited. They are the happy recipients of treats at cafes and you would be hard-pressed to find a child that isn’t tempted by pizza, pasta and gelato.
- How to create a family-friendly itinerary for Italy by family travel experts Ciao Bambino
- Child-focused city guides for Italy including best ways to explore museums, favorite playgrounds and more
- Explore Rome as a family with this wonderful guide from a local Roman mum
- Check out some fantastic family-friendly tours in Rome with Rome4Kids and Tikidoo
Our favorite trips in Italy
- Our 10-day highlights of Italy itinerary covering Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice
- Discover the beauty of Venice in her hidden details and unique food culture
- Walk in the steps of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan
- Explore the beautiful Tuscan city of Lucca
- Go off the beaten path near Lake Garda and discover the beautiful city of Brescia
- Stay in a unique cave dwelling in the impressive stone city of Matera – listen to our podcast on this unique city
- Only 24 hours in Rome? This article has you covered. For a little longer, check out our 3 day Rome itinerary
Lakes, mountains and countryside in Italy
- Lake Orta in Italy’s north is my idea of heaven – complete with a picture-perfect island in the middle of the quiet lake waters
- Glamorous Lake Como and its wonderful food festival
- Explore the northern Tuscan countryside near Lucca for a relaxing day out of the main tourist areas
Italy’s coast and beaches
- Discover the pretty towns of the Italian Riviera and our tips for visiting the coast of Liguria with kids
- Dreaming of the Cinque Terre? These itineraries will help you plan your visit and find the Best places to stay on the Cinque Terre
- Beautiful Sicily is one of our favorite places to visit in Italy – here are the highlights of Sicily you must not miss
- You will be absolutely captivated by Capri and the Amalfi Coast. Do not miss doing a boat tour of the isle of Capri
Packing for your Italy trip
We couldn’t find a great packing for Italy article so we created one ourselves.
From outfits and seasonal dressing to what you need on your carry-on – read out tips for packing for your Italian travels here.
For more general travel resources please visit our Travel and Trip Planning resources page.
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