Planning a trip to 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 favourite resources with you. On this page you will find everything from inspiration to practical information for building your dream trip to Italy.
This guide assumes you are an independent traveller who likes to research their own trips, itineraries, accommodation and tours.
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
Inspiration for your vacation in Italy
Where to begin? This is the hard part for me. Italy is so rich in history and culture, and home to incredible landscapes and fascinating cities.
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.
These sites will help you explore Italy from your desktop
✪ Browse through Italy Magazine for inspiration on destinations, art, culture and food.
✪ Travelling Italy is a wonderfully descriptive and visually stunning blog by Irish expat Orna O’Reilly
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
Planning your 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
✪ 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 favourite restaurants. She also hosts food tours of Rome and surrounding countryside and has a great series of apps to help you discover her favourite and often off the beaten track restaurants throughout Italy.
✪ 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 try this short course on Italian phrases and pronunciation You will be rolling the “r”s in arrivederci like a Roman in no time.
✪ 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 amphitheatre 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 AirBnB and Booking.com 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.
✪ 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
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 travelling beckons.
✪ For all things rail in Europe I head straight to The Man in Seat 61. This site leaves no stone unturned when it comes to understanding the Italian train system.
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
✪ With a love of ‘slow, immersive travel’ and over 70 different short city 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
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, favourite playgrounds and more
✪ Explore Rome as a family with this wonderful guide from a local Roman mum
Our favourite trips in Italy
✪ 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 beautiful city of Brescia
✪ Stay in a unique cave dwelling in the impressive stone city Matera
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
✪ Explore the northern Tuscan countryside near Lucca for a relaxing day out of the main tourist areas
Italy’s coast and beaches
✪ Beautiful Sicily is one of our favourite 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
For more general travel resources please visit our Travel and Trip Planning resources page
Note about the recommendations in this post:
These are the resources I personally use when planning a trip to Italy or information I have created. I hope you find them useful. I add to the list regularly so do let me know if you come across something worthy of sharing. Some of these links are affiliate links which means if you click on the link and make a purchase I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. For more information on our affiliates please refer to our disclosure page.
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