Top resources for planning a trip to Italy

Top resources for planning a trip to Italy

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Are you dreaming of a trip to Italy? Or have you already booked your flights? 

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I do a lot of research before any trip so I thought I would share my favourite resources with you Here 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.


I hope you enjoy these tips and find them useful in planning your dream trip to Italy.  May you visit bella Italia very soon!

Planning a trip to Italy

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Inspiration for your vacation in Italy

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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.

View of Isola San Giulio from Orta San Giulio

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.

✪ 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.

✪ There are more UNESCO world heritage sites in Italy than any other country. You could spend months exploring them all

✪ 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.

I always search Pinterest for travel inspiration. On my Italy board I pin all things related to travel in Italy – from the coast to the mountains, gastronomy, culture and more.

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Food in Italy

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penne carbonara

Planning your dream trip to Italy would not be complete if you did not plan to try some of the world’s most amazing food.

✪ 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 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.

✪ In Tuscany, Judy from Divina Cucina will have your taste buds tingling for Tuscan cuisine. She also offers cooking classes and tours of the region.

Related  The missing bite .. a discovery of tastes in 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.

Related  A feast! Savouring the authentic tastes of Venice

Spaghetti with red sauce and lobster at Osteria al Bacco Venice

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Italian culture

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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.

✪ 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 DuoLingo. This amazing free service will have you rolling the “r”s in arrivederci like a Roman in no time.

Da Vinci The Last Supper Milan

✪ 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

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Accommodation in Italy

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✪ 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.

✪ 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.

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✪ 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.

Related  How to find the best travel and holiday accommodation online

Plan an independent custom tour of Italy with accommodation, ideas and transport information

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Transport in Italy

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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.

✪ If you are keen to drive, check out these driving itineraries with options tailored for families, friends and couples

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Specialty tours in Italy

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Understanding the history and background behind the places you visit always makes them feel more rich and alive. Here are some tours 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

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

✪ We love the immersive experiences offered by Visit.org  that supports tours given by not for profits and local communities like this Old Milano Food tour

Venice - a must visit city on your custom Italy tour

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Family travel in Italy

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children looking fountain in lucca

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

Related  Italian Riviera with kids

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Our favourite trips in Italy

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Italian Cities

Lucca - a must visit Italian city on your independent tour of Italy

✪ Discover the beauty of Venice in her hidden details and unique Venetian food culture

✪ Walk in the steps of Leonardo da Vinci in Milan

✪ Explore the beautiful Tuscan city of Lucca

✪ Stay in a unique cave dwelling in the impressive stone city Matera

Lakes, mountains and countryside in Italy

park bench overlooking Lake Como in Bellagio

Lake Orta in Italy’s north is my idea of heaven

✪ Glamorous Lake Como and its wonderful food festival

✪ Explore the Tuscan countryside near Lucca

Italy’s coast and beaches

Camogli Italian Riviera

✪ Pretty towns of the Italian Riviera and travelling to the Riviera with kids


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. 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 mean 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.


 Italy travel - Planning a trip to Italy? Fantastic list of resources to help your build your dream Italy vacations

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3 Comments

  1. 19th July 2016 / 2:32 AM

    This is a great guide on what you need to know to plan your dream trip to Italy! I definitely want to give the Walks of Italy travel app a try!

    • 19th July 2016 / 9:06 AM

      Thanks Gina!

  2. 10th August 2016 / 5:27 PM

    Wow! What a fabulous resource. I’m bookmarking it for our next trip to Italy (which I hope is soon! We love Italy)

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