With little introduction required, Italy is a country that continues to leave an influential mark on our culture and cuisine.
Synonymous with good food, feast your eyes on its gastronomic delights of hearty pasta dishes, the comfort of freshly made pizza, its abundance of seafood and let's not forget Gelato, all washed down with world famous wines, beers and Italian coffee.
Its landscape is sure to leave a lasting impression, from the glistening waters of Lake Garda and Lake Como to the majestic and incredibly scenic Amalfi Coastline, with its rugged cliffs. Discover the rolling hills of Tuscany and its abundance of lemon groves and olive trees, set against a backdrop of hues as the sun sets on the landscape. Alternatively head to the snow capped peaks of The Alps for some winter sports or hiking.
Absorb yourself in Italy’s rich culture, in Ancient Rome you have the Vatican City, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, whilst south of the Amalfi Coast, lies the ancient city of Pompeii preserved from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and the UNESCO centre of Naples. Italy also encapsulates the vast Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where you will appreciate its countless coves and beaches or have fun exploring the architecture of the beautiful city of Cagliari.
Owing to its long peninsula and miles of rugged coastline, Italy enjoys a mixed Mediterranean climate, where summers are hot and dry, and winters are cool with snow blanketing the high mountains towards The Alps.
In the mountainous zone of North Italy, home to The Alps and famous Mount Blanc, an alpine climate awaits you. Winters are cold, with heavy snowfall blanketing the land, making it ideal for skiing, cross country skiing and ski touring. In the summer average temperatures can rise to 27°C during the day in July and August, ideal for alpine hikes and camping.
Both the east and west coast experience a typical Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters, the west coast is slightly wetter, enjoying much milder winters.
The central regions of Umbria and Tuscany enjoy extended hot summers, where temperatures tend to range from 28-35°C. Winters are short with snow falling between December and January, creating that scenic landscape as seen on postcards and screensavers.
The islands of Sicily and Sardinia, towards the South, both enjoy a considerably warmer climate having the highest number of sunshine hours than anywhere else in the country, even in the winter months you can enjoy 4-5 hours of sunshine a day, with temperatures rarely dropping below 10°C, and a staggering 11 hours of sunshine in summer.
Italy, a cultural treasure chest just waiting to be opened has many wonderful sites for you to explore. With so much to offer, below GoSingles share just a handful of our favourite things to see and do.
Take a step back in time to a city and Roman civilisation preserved in all its former glory before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Look inside the crater after summiting Vesuvius. Or discover the historic excavation sites at Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Heralded as an exceptional example of a Mediterranean landscape by UNESCO, its 50 kilometre stretch of coastline is not to be missed. Owing to its picturesque pastel-coloured fishing villages dotted across sheer cliffs and rugged landscape The Amalfi Coast is a popular holiday destination. Its tranquil coves and small beaches are perfect for relaxing on, whilst the regions abundance of fresh fish and local cuisine make it a gastronomic paradise.
Embodied in fascinating history, a city filled with icons of antiquity it's hard to know where to begin. However, the Colosseum and the Pantheon, the iconic Spanish Steps and the place all tourists must go to toss in their coin, the Trevi Fountain are not to be missed.
THE VATICAN CITY
The smallest state on earth, The Vatican City is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, home to the Pope and a wealth of iconic art and architecture. Housing ancient Roman sculptures, the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling.
Famed world over for its cuisine, be sure to sample the delights of handmade pasta’s, air spun pizzas, not to mention Gelato. Italians make the most out of fresh, simple seasonal produce, owing to their love of food, therefore everything that is put in front of you is of the highest quality.
Italy is a warm, welcoming nation, where family remains an extremely important value within Italian culture, family gatherings, events and celebrations are frequent and embedded within their culture.
It comes as no surprise that Italians have a great love affair with food, enjoying a meal with friends or family is the key ingredient of any Italian dish. Depending on the region, lunch starts between 12-1pm , and can last literally all day, with course after course, after course on offer.
Italians are extremely sociable, with their lifestyle revolving almost exclusively around entertaining, meeting friends and catching up with family. Throughout Italy, you will soon observe that all cities and towns are built around squares, called Piazze, here people come together and socialise during the day and well into the early hours of the evening.
Italians are the warmest of people, and often very touchy feel, so don’t be alarmed or get the wrong first impression.
Both men and women will often use physical contact during a conversation, this is purely a sign of warmth, the familiarity doesn’t mean anything. In Italy embracing and kissing on each cheek is also widely accepted as a form of greeting each other, with men also kissing other men on the cheek – two light air kisses is the most common form of greeting.
It is important that you make a good first impression, as you will initially be judged on your presentation, overall appearance and manners. Manners and respect go far in Italy, from wearing the correct attire whilst visiting religious churches and sites, to eating in restaurants with the correct table manners.
Tipping: Don’t feel obliged to tip in Italy, it isn’t expected, however as with most European countries if the level of service has been particularly good feel free to tip.
GREETINGS & LANGUAGE
If you’re looking to strike up a conversation whilst in Italy, here are a few handy phrases that will have you mixing with the locals in no time.