Information on Italy
Italy is situated in Europe and attached in the north
to the European mainland. To the north, the Alps separate
Italy from France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
Northern Italy: The Alpine regions, the Po Plain and
the Ligurian-Etruscan Appennines. Piedmont and Val
d’Aosta contain some of the highest mountains in Europe
and are good areas for winter sports. Many rivers
flow down from the mountains towards the Po Basin,
passing through the beautiful Italian Lake District
(Maggiore, Como, Garda). The Po Basin, which extends
as far south as the bare slopes of the Appennines,
is covered with gravel terraces and rich alluvial
soil and has long been one of Italy’s most prosperous
regions. To the east, where the River Po flows into
the Adriatic Sea, the plains are a little higher than
the river itself; artificial (and occasionally natural)
embankments prevent flooding. Central Italy: The northern
part of the Italian peninsula. Tuscany (Toscana) has
a diverse landscape with snow-capped mountains (the
Tuscan Appennines), lush countryside, hills and a
long sandy coastline with offshore islands. Le Marche,
lying between the Appennines and the Adriatic coast,
is a region of mountains, rivers and small fertile
The even more mountainous regioni (administrative
districts) of Abruzzo and Molise are bordered by Marche
to the north and Puglia to the south, and are separated
from the Tyrrhenian Sea and to the west by Lazio and
Campania. Umbria is known as the ‘green heart of Italy’,
hilly with broad plains, olive groves and pines. Further
south lies Rome, Italy’s capital and largest city.
Within its precincts is the Vatican City. Southern
Italy: Campania consists of flat coastal plains and
low mountains, stretching from Baia Domizia to the
Bay of Naples and along a rocky coast to the Calabria
border. Inland, the Appennines are lower, mellowing
into the rolling countryside around Sorrento. The
islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida in the Tyrrhenian
Sea are also part of Campania. The south is wilder
than the north, with mile upon mile of olive trees,
cool forests and rolling hills. Puglia, the ‘heel
of the boot’, is a landscape of volcanic hills and
isolated marshes. Calabria, the ‘toe’, is heavily
forested and thinly populated. The Calabrian hills
are home to bears and wolves.
Summer is hot, especially in the south. Spring and
autumn are mild with fine, sunny weather. Winter in
the south is much drier and warmer than in northern
and central areas. Mountain regions are colder with
heavy winter snowfalls.
Required clothing: Lightweight cottons and linens
are worn during the summer, except in the mountains.
Light- to mediumweights are worn in the south during
winter, while warmer clothes are worn elsewhere. Alpine
wear is advised for winter mountain resorts.
AIR: Italy’s national airline is Alitalia (AZ) (website:
www.alitalia.it). A great number of major international
airlines operate direct flights to various destinations
in Italy from the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe.
Owing to the number of flights available, ticket prices
vary greatly and there is a wide range of discount
fares and special tickets available. Further information
can be obtained from the airline or a travel agent.
Approximate flight times: From Rome to London is
2 hours 30 minutes, to Los Angeles is 15 hours 35
minutes, to New York is 9 hours 45 minutes, to Singapore
is 13 hours 55 minutes and to Sydney is 24 hours 50
International airports: Rome (FCO) (Fiumicino) (website:
www.adr.it), 26km (16 miles) southwest of the city
(travel time – 30-55 minutes). A new terminal B was
recently opened to cater primarily for flights to
other European destinations. Airport facilities include
outgoing duty-free shop, car hire, bank and 24-hour
bureau de change and 24-hour bar/restaurant. There
is a direct rail link to Termini Station in central
Rome and a bus service every 15 minutes. Taxis are
also available to the city.
Rome (CIA) (Ciampino) (website: www.adr.it), 32km
(15 miles) from the city (travel time – 60 minutes).
Airport facilities include a bank/bureau de change,
duty-free shop and souvenir shop and cafe. Buses are
available to the underground station Anagnina. Taxis
are also available.
Bologna (BLQ) (G Marconi) (website: www.bologna-airport.it),
6km (4 miles) northwest of the city (travel time –
20 minutes) has good airport facilities. Buses and
taxis are available to the city.
Florence (FLR) (Amerigo Vespucci) (website: www.safnet.it),
4km (2.4 miles) north of the city (travel time – 20
minutes) has banks, bureaux de change, left luggage,
bars and restaurants and duty-free facilities. Buses
and taxis are available to the city.
Genoa (GOA) (Cristoforo Colombo, Sestri) (website:
www.airport.genova.it), 6km (4 miles) west of the
city (travel time – 20 minutes) has duty-free facilities.
Buses are available to the city.
Milan (MXP) (Malpensa) (website: www.sea-aeroportimilano.it)
is 45km (29 miles) northwest of the city (travel time
– 30 minutes) and has duty-free facilities.
Milan (LIN) (Linate) (website: www.sea-aeroportimilano.it)
is 10km (6 miles) east of the city (travel time –
30 minutes). Airport facilities include outgoing duty-free
facilities, car hire, bank/bureau de change and bar/restaurant.
Taxis and buses are available to the city.
Bergamo (BGY) (Milano Orio al Serio) (website: www.milanoorio-airport.it)
is 45km (28 miles) east of Milan. Taxis and buses
are available to both Milan and Bergamo.
Naples (NAP) (Capodichino) (website: www.gesac.it)
is 7km (4.5 miles) north of the city (travel time
– 20-30 minutes) and has good airport facilities.
Buses and taxis operate to the city centre.
Pisa (PSA) (Galileo Galilei) (website: www.pisa-airport.com)
is 2km (1.5 miles) northeast of the city (travel time
– 10 minutes) and has duty-free facilities.
Palermo (PMO) (Punta Raisi) (website: www.gesap.it)
is 30km (19 miles) west of the city (travel time –
Turin (TRN) (Citta di Torino) (website: www.airport.turin.it)
is 16km (10 miles) northeast of the city (travel time
– 35 minutes). Airport facilities include bureaux
de change, left luggage, restaurants, bars and duty-free
shopping. Buses, trains and taxis all run to the city
Venice (VCE) (Marco Polo) (website: www.veniceairport.it)
is 10km (6 miles) northwest of the city (travel time
– 20 minutes) has good airport facilities. Buses and
taxi services run to Piazzale Roma and the railway
station. Water taxis operate to San Marco.
Note: People travelling to Florence can fly to Pisa
and then take the new train service directly from
Pisa Airport to Florence (travel time – 60 minutes).
The railway station in Pisa is practically inside
the airport. Rail services connect with arrivals and
departures of all international flights and major
Departure tax: None.
SEA: International sailings to Italy run from Albania,
Croatia, the Far East, France, Greece, Libya, Malta,
Portugal, South America, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and
West Africa. For details, contact shipping agents
direct. The quickest route from the UK is via France.
The following companies run regular cross-channel
ferries from the UK to France: Brittany Ferries from
Plymouth to Roscoff, from Portsmouth to St Malo and
Caen, and from Poole to Cherbourg; Condor Ferries
from Jersey, Guernsey, Poole, Portsmouth and Weymouth
to Cherbourg and St Malo; Hoverspeed from Dover to
Calais, and from Newhaven to Dieppe; SeaFrance from
Dover to Calais; P&O Stena Line from Dover to
Calais; and P&O Portsmouth from Portsmouth to
Cherbourg and Le Havre. These companies offer a variety
of promotional fares and inclusive holidays for short
breaks and shopping trips.
RAIL: Travelling from the UK, the quickest way is
to travel by Eurostar through the Channel Tunnel to
Paris (travel time – 3 hours) and, from there, to
Italy. For further information and reservations, contact:
Eurostar (tel: (0870) 6000 792 (travel agents) or
(08705) 186 186 (public; within the UK) or +44 (1233)
617 575 (public; outside the UK); website: www.eurostar.com);
or Rail Europe (tel: 08705 848 848). Travel agents
can obtain refunds for unused tickets from Eurostar
Trade Refunds, Second Floor, Kent House, 81 Station
Road, Ashford, Kent TN23 1PD. Complaints and comments
may be sent to Eurostar Customer Relations, Eurostar
House, Waterloo Station, London SE1 8SE. General enquiries
and information requests must be made by telephone.
Rail travellers not using the Channel Tunnel link
need to make some form of sea crossing, usually by
ferry or catamaran; for details on sea crossings see
also Sea above. The cost of the crossing is usually
included in the price of the rail ticket. For information
and reservations contact Rail Europe (tel: (08705)
848 848). The main rail connections from London (Victoria)
and Paris to Italy are: Artesia (Lyon, Milan, Paris,
Rome and Turin); and Simplon Express (Brigue, Domodossola,
Lausanne, Milan, Paris, Trieste and Venice).
ROAD: Travelling by car from the UK, the quickest
way is via Eurotunnel trains which carry all types
of vehicles through the channel tunnel (travel time
– 35 minutes). For further details, see also Travel
- International in the France section. For information
and reservations, contact Eurotunnel in the UK (tel:
(08705) 353 535; website: www.eurotunnel.com). Routes
from the UK to Italy run through France, Austria,
Switzerland and Slovenia and most routes use the tunnels
under the Alps and Apennines. Italian State Railways
run regular daily services called autotreni (trains
carrying cars), especially during the summer holiday
season. The main routes covered are: Milan–Genoa–Naples–Villa
San Giovanni; Bologna–Naples–Villa San Giovanni; Milan–Rome–Naples–Villa
San Giovanni; Turin–Bolzano–Bari; and Bologna–Catania.
These services operate from special railway stations
and are generally bookable at the departure station.
Owners must travel on the same train. The documents
required are the log-book, valid driving licence with
Italian translation, Green Card insurance and national
identity plate fixed to the rear of the vehicle. For
more information on routes, contact the Italian State
Tourist Board (see Contact Addresses section). For
more information on required documentation and traffic
regulations in Italy, see Travel – Internal section.
Coach: Eurolines run coach services from the UK to
the following destinations: Ancona, Bologna, Cattolica,
Florence, Genoa, L'Aquila, Mestre, Milan, Montecatini,
Naples, Padua, Parma, Pesaro, Pisa, Riccione, Rimini,
Rome, Siena, Teramo, Turin, Venice and Verona. For
information on timetables and fares, call Eurolines
in the UK (4 Cardiff Road, Luton, Bedfordshire, L41
1PP; tel: (08705) 143 219; fax: (01582) 400 694; website:
www.eurolines.com or www.gobycoach.com).
AIR: Alitalia (AZ) and other airlines run services
to all the major cities. There are over 30 airports.
For details, contact the airlines direct or ENIT,
the Italian State Tourist Office (see Contact Addresses
SEA: Italy’s principal ports are Ancona, Bari, Brindisi,
Cagliari, Catania, Civitavecchia, Genoa, La Spezia,
Livorno, Messina, Naples, Palermo, Pescara, Trieste
and Venice. A number of car and passenger ferries
operate throughout the year linking Italian ports.
Ferries: Regular boat and hydrofoil services run to
the islands of Capri, Elba, Giglio, Sardinia, Sicily
and the Aeolian Islands. There are also some links
along the coast.
RAIL: There are nearly 16,000km (9400 miles) of track
in the country, of which more than half is electrified.
The Italian State Railways (FS) (website: www.fs-on-line.com)
runs a nationwide network at very reasonable fares,
calculated on the distance travelled, and there are
a number of excellent reductions.
A new rail pass, the Trenitalia Pass, is now the only
pass available to people resident outside of Italy
(it supersedes the old Italy Flexicard, Railcard and
Kilometric ticket). This allows from 4 to 10 days
of unlimited travel within a 2-month period. Any train
in Italy can be used, although a small supplement
is payable on Eurostar Italia services. The pass also
entitles the holder to a discount on some Italy-Greece
ferry routes. Both first and second class passes are
available. Children aged from 4 to 11 pay half the
adult fare, and there is a reduced-rate Youth Pass
for travellers aged under 26.
For further information, contact Trenitalia (website:
www.trenitalia.com) or Railchoice (tel: (020) 8659
7300; fax: (020) 8659 7466; e-mail: email@example.com;
website: www.railchoice.co.uk); or Freedom Rail (tel:
(0870) 757 9898; fax: (01253) 595151; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
ROAD: There are more than 300,000km (185,500 miles)
of roads in Italy, including over 6000km (3700 miles)
of motorway (autostrada) which link all parts of the
country. Tolls are charged at varying distances and
scales, except for the Salerno–Reggio Calabria, Palermo–Catania
and Palermo–Mazara Del Vallo stretches which are toll-free.
Secondary roads are also excellent and require no
tolls. Road signs are international. Many petrol stations
are closed 1200-1500. Visitors are advised to check
locally about exact opening times. More information
on the Italian motorway network is available from
the Società Autostrade (website: www.autostrade.it).
Traffic regulations: Traffic drives on the right.
Speed limits are 50kph (30mph) in urban areas, 90/110kph
(55/65mph) on country roads, 130kph (80mph) on motorways.
Undipped headlights are prohibited in towns and cities,
but are compulsory when passing through tunnels. All
vehicles must carry a red warning triangle, available
at border posts. Note: Fines for speeding and other
driving offences are on-the-spot and particularly
heavy. Breakdown service: In case of breakdown on
any Italian road, dial 116 at the nearest telephone
box. Tell the operator where you are, your plate number
and type of car and the nearest Automobile Club of
Italy (ACI) office will be informed for immediate
Customs regulations: Visitors must carry their logbook,
which must either be in their name as owner or must
have the owner’s written permission to drive the vehicle.
Customs documents for the temporary importation of
motor vehicles (also aircraft and pleasure-boats)
have been abolished. Bus: Good coach services run
between towns and cities and there are also extensive
local buses, including good services on Sicily and
Sardinia. In more remote areas, buses will usually
connect with rail services. Taxi: Services are available
in and between all cities. Car hire: Self-drive hire
is available in most cities and resorts. Many international
and Italian firms operate this service with different
rates and conditions. With the larger firms, it is
possible to book from other countries through the
car hire companies, their agents or through the air
companies. Generally, small local firms offer cheaper
rates, but cars can only be booked locally. Many car
hire agencies have booths at the airport or information
in hotels. Avis has offices in Rome at 38 Via Sardegna
(tel: (06) 4282 4728; fax: (06) 4201 0282) or 1231
Via Tiburtina (tel: (06) 413 0812; fax: (06) 413 1414
or 413 1778). Hertz are located at Ciampino Airport
(tel: (06) 7934 0616; fax: (06) 7934 0095). Many special-rate
fly/drive deals are available for Italy.
Documentation: Visitors must either carry an international
Green Card for their car or motor vehicle (also for
boats) or other insurance. A UK driving licence and
EU pink format licences are valid in Italy but green-coloured
licences must be accompanied by an International Driving
Permit. Motorcycles no longer require customs documents,
but refer to the customs regulations above. A driving
licence or a motorcycle driving licence is required
for motorcycles over 49cc. Passengers are required
by law to wear seat belts.
URBAN: All the big towns and cities (Rome, Milan,
Naples, Turin, Genoa and Venice) have good public
transport networks. Underground: In Rome there are
two underground lines – Metropolitana A from Via Ottaviano
via Termini station to Via Anagnina and also connecting
with the new Ottaviano-San Pietro link; and Metropolitana
B, which runs between Termini Station, via Exhibition
City (EUR) (Via Laurentina) and then onwards to Rebibbia.
Both day and monthly passes are available. Line B
was expanded considerably at the beginning of the
1990s, when ten new stations were added to its network.
Line A has been expanded much more recently to include
five new stations via the Ottaviano-San Pietro connection.
Milan also has a three-line underground system, with
tickets usable on both underground and bus. Tram:
There is a 28km (17-mile) network consisting of eight
routes in Rome; Milan, Naples and Turin also have
tram services. Bus: Services operate in all main cities
and towns; in Rome, the network is extensive and complements
the underground and tram systems. The fare structure
is integrated between the various modes. Flat-fare
tickets and weekly passes can be bought in advance
from roadside or station machines or from tobacconists
(tabacchi). Information is available from the ATAC
booth in front of the Termini station. Trolleybuses
also run in a number of other towns. In larger cities,
fares are generally pre-purchased from machines or
tobacconists (tabacchi). Bus fares – generally at
a standard rate per run – can be bought in packets
of five or multiples and are fed into a stamping machine
on boarding the bus. Taxi: Available in all towns
and cities. Government-regulated taxis are either
white or yellow. Visitors should avoid taxis that
are not metered. In Rome, they are relatively expensive,
with extra charges for night service, luggage and
taxis called by telephone. All charges are listed
on a rate card displayed in the cab with an English
translation. Taxis can only be hailed at strategically
located stands or booked by telephone. A 10 per cent
tip is expected by taxi drivers and this is sometimes
added to the fare for foreigners.
City tours: Rome: Run by many travel agencies, these
tours allow first-time visitors to get a general impression
of the main sights and enable them to plan further
sightseeing. Information is available from the local
tourist office. Horse-drawn carriages are available
in Rome. Charges are high. Venice: Privately hired
boats and gondolas are available, as well as a public