Where is it: Italy is in southern Europe, a peninsula extending into the central Mediterranean Sea, northeast of Tunisia.
Why do people go here: Food, fashion, and fun. And history, but that doesn’t begin with an ‘f’. Known for its fabulous cruisine and the wine that goes with it, Italy is a gastronomical delight. Like its cultural rival, France, Italy is known for its high-class fashion, with many designers calling Milan a home away from home. Italy also boasts some of the world’s most impressive ancient ruins in Rome and has one of the most romantic cities in classic Venice. Travelers can also head to the beaches during the day and the nightclubs at night without adding a lot of clothing, especially in Sicily.
What are the main entry points: Travelers often take the train down the Western Coast of Italy to Rome, or visit Milan via Switzerland. Flights into Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice are popular options and common places for people to start a European trip.
Currency used: Euro
Country Code for Phones: 39
Area codes for Major Cities: Milan 2, Rome 6, Venice 41, Florence 55
Religion: Predominately Roman Catholic with mature Protestant and Jewish communities and a growing Muslim immigrant community.
Population: 60 million
Ethnic Breakdown: Italian 94.2% Romanian 2.07%
Government: Parliamentary republic
Languages: Italian (official), German (parts of Trentino-Alto Adige region are predominantly German speaking), French (small French-speaking minority in Valle d’Aosta region), Slovene (Slovene-speaking minority in the Trieste-Gorizia area)
Major Cities: Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan
Attractions: Wine, Fashion, Food
Tourism Office locations and links: Ente Nazionale Italiano per il Turismo (ENIT) Via Parigi 11, 00185 Rome, Italy +39-6-488-991; FAX +39-6-481-9316 www.wonderful-italy.it; www.italiantourism.com
Off-the-Beaten-Path: Yes = Si, No = No, Please = Per Favore, Thank you = Grazie, Do you speak English? = Farlo parla gli Inglesi?
Health Issues: No vaccines are required to enter Italy. Health care is on par with the rest of Europe and the U.S.
Tips for Visiting
When to go: Italy, especially in the South, heats up during the summer months, as tourists flock to the country. During Ferragosto in August, many shops and restaurants close as Italian flee the blazing hot cities and seek refuge at the beach.
Common Phrases: Yes = Si, No = No, Please = Per favore, Thank you = Grazie, Do you speak English? = Lei parla degli Inglesi?
Specific Events/Holidays: Republic Day, 2 June (1946)
Getting Around: Italian trains are generally very full, but a popular way to get around the country. Eurail is valid in Italy.
Good to know: Men tend to be aggressive, or a little macho, in Italy
Cheapest airport to fly into: The cheapest airport to fly into Italy is the Leonardo Da Vinci International.
Need more information?: Check out the Italy travel guide for more on what to see, where to stay, and how to get there.