Are you dreaming of road tripping through Italy, living like a local, discovering the most authentic places and experiencing real Italian culture? You can start picturing yourself in the typical Italian countryside or in a cute little winery surrounded by Italians enjoying their after-work drinks! With our Local’s Guide to Italy you are in the right hands. Italy hosts some of the most panoramic roads in the world: the beautiful Alps, breathtaking coastal routes or the picturesque Tuscan hills. We will take you around the country with us and spoil all our favourite itineraries and secret spots.
But first, let us introduce the place we are lucky enough to call home: ITALY.
Italy is the epicentre of Mediterranean food, culture and outstanding architecture. Here, art and life merge so effortlessly. Centre of the Roman Empire and birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy is a majestic open-air museum. Every corner reveals a piece of history and traditions date back thousands of years.
But Italy is also an extraordinary wonder of nature. Its geography offers incomparable landscape diversity. From the south’s clear blue waters and volcanic lands to the north’s snowy peaks and glaciers. Not to mention the romantic hills of Tuscany, the chilled Venetian Lagoon and the coastal mountains of the Amalfi Coast. Did you ever notice that the shape of Italy looks like a boot?
In a few words, there is no other place like Italy in the world. Beauty portrays every aspect of daily life, from stylish wardrobes and tasty espressos to fine wines and perfectly tanned skin. Italian philosophy goes back to the ancient Roman pleasures: superb wine and food, relaxed lifestyle and a unique social attitude. A dedication to living life well and enjoying the finer things.
Italy‘s 20 regions are more like 20 different micro-worlds. Each one of them has its own dialects, traditions, food, wines and architecture. Italy is a land where no two places are the same.
From the south’s cucina povera (peasant cooking), based on earthy and rustic ingredients. The centres world famous tagliatelle al ragù and Fiorentina steak (Will’s favourite!). To the north’s rich and sophisticated Milanese cuisine, including saffron risotto and cotoletta. Our secret? Strictly seasonal and fresh ingredients, combined with the right wine (not just a matter of taste or mood of the day, but a real science). Sparkling white to start, following with red or dry white for the main depending on the ingredients of your meal – red wine for meats, white wine for fish. Then finishing up with a digestive drink, the most famous are Limoncello, grappa and sweet dessert wines (my favourites, a gift from God). A tip: indulge in a glass of Passito or Vin Santo (literally Saint Wine) and experience a real Italian Tiramisù. If you find all this too confusing, don’t worry just ask the locals and they will point you in the right direction!
Italian art & architecture
Italy is home of seductive paintings, frescoes and great architecture. Da Vinci’s Last Supper, Michelangelo’s David and Sistine Chapel. Pompei, the Colosseum, but also lesser known sites like the beautiful ancient town of Matera. You just need to turn a corner to find a historical wonder. In fact, Italy has more Unesco World Heritage cultural sites than any other country on Earth. A country that should be on the bucket list of every culture lover.
Weather: Italy can be really cold in winter, especially in the northern regions and extremely hot in summer. High season runs from July to August, the hottest months, when temperatures can go up to 38°. August is Italians summer holiday, most of the shops are closed and beaches are packed. It’s certainly the best time of the year to spot some real Italian lifestyle, but certainly one of the busiest and most expensive too. Spring can be quite rainy, but also lush and green, a great season to plan a trip to the northern Italian lakes and to visit cities and museums. Autumn is a good season to enjoy warm weather (20° until October) and food/art festivals. Winter is really cold in the North (-5° to 10°) and mild in the South, a good time to visit the Alps and plan skiing holidays (temperatures can drop down to -20°).
Packing: Take some comfortable shoes, a lot to see means a lot to walk. Breeze characterise many parts of Italy, especially the coastline so make sure you bring a scarf with you or something warm even in summer. Leave your luggage half empty, it will be hard to resist some shopping.
Transportation: The best way to see Italy is by car, especially if you are planning to visit an entire region. Driving will give you more freedom to explore the area and the real side of the country. Trains are also a good way to move around Italy. Prices are not too expensive and the rides between cities are frequent and fast. Fast trains (FrecciaRossa, FrecciaArgento and Italo) connect Milan to Rome in about 3h. Although trains are less frequent and popular in the South. If you don’t have much time to move from place to place, check Ryanair‘s flights, they are pretty cheap!
Food to try: a good Napoletan Pizza, a typical dessert, icecream (2 flavours), a glass of sweet wine like Passito or Vin Santo, a cold meat & cheese board, an espresso coffee.