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Home » Blog » Destinations » All-in-one guide to Italy

All-in-one guide to Italy

Written by: Lydia Crispin | Travel Insurance Expert
Last updated: 14 May 2024 | Created: 14 July 2022
AllClear Travel Insurance for Italy

Italy attracted 5.11 million of us in 2019, and for a nation so steeped in history and culture it’s easy to see why. Add to this the stunning views, delicious, healthy food and the laid-back attitude on offer and it’s a recipe for a trip of a lifetime.

5 things to do.

Take in a festival or two

Italy offers dozens of festivals throughout the year .Perhaps the most famous is Carnevale which takes place at the end of January until mid February in Venice. The masquerade balls and candlelight boat parades are said to date back to the 12th century.

The festival of Infiorata takes place across Italy in June. Cities and towns all across the country are transformed by stunning petal mosaics. These designs can reach several hundred metres in length. The tradition started in Vatican city around 1625 and didn’t take long to spread.

Wherever you go in Italy, there are going to be festivals taking place, and they are worth a visit.

Share your secrets at the Whispering Gallery, Milan

Known locally as the Loggia Dei Mercanti, the Whispering Gallery hides a neat trick. Thanks to some ingenious architectural work, if you whisper while next to one of the internal columns, the sound will carry to the person beneath the opposite one. This has been used by everyone from spies and merchants, to star crossed lovers.

Once you’ve whispered your message, explore the rest of the mediaeval merchants square or stop by the nearby Biblioteca Ambrosiana and read the love letters of Lucrezia Borgia which date back to 1503.

Place your hand in the Mouth of Truth, Rome

Made famous by the classic 1953 film, Roman Holiday, the Bocca della Verità is actually something of a mystery. Noone seems to be sure why it was built, or who the face carved into the stone is supposed to be. Guesses about its use range from a manhole cover, to some fountain decoration. We know it dates from the 1st Century BCE, but it’s not until the mediaeval era that the stories about the Mouth of Truth begin.

The legend goes that anyone who places their hand within the stone mouth, and tells a lie, will have their hand devoured by the pagan face on the rock. It was even supposedly used as “proof” during mediaeval trials.

Pay a visit to the Sunken City of Baia

Baia was once a Roman city known for its hot springs. It was visited by Caesar and Nero, among others. These days it’s rather less visited, thanks mostly to the town being 6 metres underwater.

You can see the ruins of the town from glass bottom boats. Or take a tip and see them using either a snorkel, or SCUBA equipment.

Visit the longest occupied caves in the World, Matera

The hillside homes of Sassi di Matera used to be home to the town’s poorest citizens. These caves have been lived in since prehistoric times, and are still occupied today. A number of discoveries have been made since the 1950’s, including a 150,000-year-old hominid skeleton and a secret 9th century monastery.

Despite the fact that it’s made up of caves, Matera offers a number of boutique hotels and restaurants. There’s even a spa and a jazz club. All within the caves of Matera.

5 Best Beaches

Spiaggia di Sansone, Elba

If you are a keen snorkeller, this beach on the island of Elba may be the perfect beach for you. Crystal clear waters let you see the bountiful array of sea life clearly. Even if you don’t fancy taking a dip in the turquoise waters, the white pebble beach is surrounded by picturesque white cliffs, and makes a pleasant place to spend the day.

Positano, Campania

Set amidst the verdant forested cliffs, this beach offers iconic Italian beach living. The colourful houses make a wonderful backdrop for your holiday snaps. The waters are clean and cool, and the nearby Path of the Gods offers a beautiful hike if you want to stretch your legs.

Porto Cesareo, Puglia

This beach exudes a Caribbean feel, with warm weather through to late September, and clear, turquoise waters. Old stone towers, which once kept look out for pirates remain, giving you a unique view from the soft, sandy beach. The area is part of Italy’s largest protected marine areas, giving it an untouched feel in many places.

Atrani, Campania

Found on the famous Amalfi coast, Atrani offers you a classic coastal town experience. With soaring cliffs, warm, golden sands, and clear waters, it’s reminiscent of the area’s more famous towns, like Sorrento. But Atrani is quieter than most, so you can enjoy the town and beach without having to deal with such large crowds.

Cala Goloritzé, Sardinia

A UNESCO world heritage site since 1995, this small beach is one of Italy’s most famous. A breathtaking blue-green ocean laps at the soft ivory coloured sand. Limestone cliffs soar above this tiny but perfect slice of the Mediterranean coast.

5 Best Restaurants

La Sponda, Positano

For a romantic meal, you’d be hard pressed to beat La Sponda. With gorgeous views and excellent food, the restaurant is also lit by over 400 candles. The menu focuses on flighter foods with fresh ingredients. The seafood risotto is highly rated.

Bono Bottega Nostrana, Rome

While it’s rare for a sandwich bar to be featured on a list like this, Bono Bottega Nostrana earns its place. Fresh, seasonal ingredients, cured meat and delicious bread make these paninis extra special. And if you don’t fancy a sandwich, they also offer excellent pizzas and a great wine list.

Marea Seafood & Beverage, Milan

A combianon seafood restaurant and cocktail bar, Marea attracts plenty of chic diners. Effortlessly cool the menu a wide array for food and dinks. Their mini burger buns with crisp bacon, truffle shaving and sea scallops are a must-try.

La Stazione Del Pescatore, Tortoli

Street food is very popular these days, and if you’re strolling around Tortoli, stop by this food truck. While good out of a van may not sound likely to be delicious, this place does a tuna sandwich which will put any doubts to bed. Locals and tourists alike flock to La Stazione Del Pescatore.

L’Antica, Naples

It wouldn’t be a trip to Italy without having some authentic Italian pizza. While it has a limited menu and long queues, L’Antica has a reputation for making the best pizza in Naples. It was even featured in the film Eat Pray Love. Pizza is available by the box or the slice, and they even make margherita delicious and complex.

5 Top Tips

Pick up some Italian phrases

As with any country, it’s always a good idea to learn at least a few key phrases of the language. While many Italians speak good English, it’s always polite to try and say Ciao at the very least. If you already know a romance language, like French or Spanish, this should help you with your Italian.

North and South Italy vary greatly

Italy could almost be considered two countries. Northern Italy has a more modern, European feel to it. The South has a much more laid back, mediterranean vibe. There’s no wrong choice about which one you’d prefer to visit, but choose a destination according to the type of holiday you want.

Don’t overlook the Italian Islands

Something that is all too easy to do, is focus solely on the Italian mainland. While it is a beautiful place to explore, don’t dismiss the Italian islands. There are nearly 400 Italian islands to explore, such as Sardinia, Sicily and Elba. Each one offers a wonderful experience.

Drink from the fountains

Italy can get very hot in the Summer, and it’s worth bearing in mind that most Italian cities have water fountains in the streets. These are free and safe to drink from. So be sure to stop and keep yourself hydrated for free. You can also fill up any bottles you have there too.

Make sure you use official taxis

All legitimate taxis in Italy are white and have official markings. They’ll also have the standard fares printed on the doors. Be sure to use these taxis to avoid any expensive trips.

Italy is a wonderful country, with a lot to offer. When you go, make sure you have Travel Insurance for your trip.

Author notes

Written by Russell Wallace, Content Creator at AllClear
Edited by Letitia Smith, M.Sc. Content Manager at AllClear