Top resources for planning a trip to Italy

Custom Italy tour - Grand Canal Venice

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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.

MORE: For a step-by-step guide to planning your trip to Italy click here.

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

Where to begin? This is the hard part for me. Italy is so rich in history and culture, and home to incredible landscapes, fascinating cities and the prettiest small towns and villages imaginable.

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.

Favorite websites for Italy travel

TIP: Search Pinterest for travel inspiration. On the Untold Italy board we pin all things related to travel in Italy – from the coast to the mountains, gastronomy, culture and more.

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.

READ: Our guide to the Best booking sites for travel to Italy.

Food in Italy

People enjoying Brescia con Gusto

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

Spaghetti with red sauce and lobster at Osteria al Bacco Venice

Italian culture

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

Da Vinci The Last Supper Milan

Accommodation in Italy

We are big fans of 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

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

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.

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.


Venice - a must visit city on your custom Italy tour

Family travel in Italy

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.

READ: Our guide to Italian Riviera with kids.

Our favorite trips in Italy

Italian Cities

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

Lakes, mountains and countryside in Italy

park bench overlooking Lake Como in Bellagio

  • 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

Camogli Italian Riviera

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.

Yes, you do need travel insurance for Italy! Click here to read more.

For more general travel resources please visit our Travel and Trip Planning resources page.

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