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Overview:


Of all the countries in the world, there is none more magical than Italy. We have combed the cities and countryside of Italy, rejecting many, to offer our LIST OF ITALY HOTELS , Italy Inns, bed and breakfasts, agriturismos and resorts  as well as other Italy lodging choices. These Italy accomodations reflect what we consider to be the best in their respective classifications. Our slections range from  inexpensive farm stays to piggybank breaking luxury hotels in Italy. Each of our selections will provide a different experience of Italy travel.

One of the reasons Karen Brown is considered among the best travel guides is her in depth itineraries throughout a country or region. Once again, Karen has outdone herself producing 7 wonderful and exciting ITINERARIES throughout Italy. Each of the itineraries has been traveled as we describe them allowing the traveler to depend on their pacing and selection of sites to see and experience. 

Italy is truly a tourist’s paradise—a traveler’s dream destination. No one could be so blasé that within Italy’s narrow boot there would not be something to tantalize his fancy. For the archaeologist, there are some of the most fascinating and perfectly preserved ancient monuments existing today, just begging to be explored. For the gourmet, there is the finest food in the world. For the outdoors enthusiast, there are towering mountains to conquer and magnificent ski slopes to enjoy. For the lover of art, the museums are bursting with the genius of Italy’s sons such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. For the architect, Italy is a school of design—you are surrounded by the ancient buildings whose perfection still inspires the styles of today. For the history buff, Italy is a joy of wonders—her cities are veritable living museums. For the wine connoisseur, Italy produces an unbelievable selection of wine whose quality is unsurpassed. For the adventurer, Italy has intriguing medieval walled villages tucked away in every part of the country. For the beach buff, Italy’s coastline and lakes hold the promise of some of the most elegant resorts in the world. For the religious pilgrim, Italy is the cradle of the Christian faith and home of some to the world’s most famous saints. The miracle of Italy travel is that all these treasures come packaged in a gorgeous country of majestic mountains, misty lakes, idyllic islands, wonderful walled villages, and beautiful cities. In addition, the climate is ideal and the people warm and gracious. Italy is truly a perfect destination.

Airfare:


Karen Brown’s Guides have long recommended Auto Europe for their excellent car rental services. Their air travel division, Destination Europe, an airline broker working with major American and European carriers, offers deeply discounted coach- and business-class fares to over 200 European gateway cities. It also gives Karen Brown travelers an additional 5% discount off its already highly competitive prices (cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions). We recommend you click on Auto Europe under Travel Tools or make reservations by phone at (800) 835-1555. When phoning, be sure to use the Karen Brown ID number 99006187 to secure your discount.

Another option is to visit Flight Reservations under the blue Travel Tools tab on all of our web pages. Here, you will find a myriad of prices from different air carriers.

Europe now has several low-cost air carriers, the largest being Ryanair, offering excellent prices for air travel within Europe. If you are traveling long distances across Europe it might be advantageous to look into flying rather taking the train.

 


Transportation:


Readers frequently ask our advice on car rental companies. We always use Auto Europe―a car rental broker that works with the major car rental companies to find the lowest possible price. They also offer motor homes and chauffeur services. Auto Europe’s toll-free phone service, from every European country, connects you to their U.S.-based, 24-hour reservation center (ask for the Europe Phone Numbers Card to be mailed to you). Auto Europe offers our readers a 5% discount (cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions) and, occasionally, free upgrades. Be sure to use the Karen Brown ID number 99006187 to receive your discount and any special offers. You can make your own reservations online by clicking on Auto Europe under Travel Tools or by phone (800-223-5555).

DISTANCES: Distances are indicated in kilometers (one kilometer equals 0.621 mile). As you drive through the countryside, you will be astonished at how dramatically the scenery can change in just an hour’s drive.

DRIVER’S LICENSE: It is advisable to have an international driver's license which can be purchased for $10 in the USA at your local AAA office. A current license from your home country is valid for driving throughout Italy if you are on holiday and renting a car. However certain age limits apply. Please check on the age limit policy with the car rental company.

GASOLINE: Gas prices in Italy are the highest in Europe, and Americans often suspect a mistake when their first fill-up comes to between $55 and $100 (most of it in taxes). Most stations now accept Visa credit cards, and the ERG stations accept American Express. Besides the AGIP stations on the autostrada, which are almost always open, gas stations observe the same hours as merchants, closing in the afternoon from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm and in the evening at 7:30 pm. Be careful not to get caught running on empty in the afternoon! Many stations have a self-service pump that operates on off-hours (€ 10 or € 20 and € 50 bills, and sometimes credit cards are accepted).

ROADS: The Italian roads are nothing short of spectacular, including some of the finest highways in the world. In fact, the Italians are absolute geniuses when it comes to their engineering feats (which actually is not such a surprising fact when you consider what a fantastic road system the Romans built 2,000 years ago). Nothing seems to daunt the Italian engineers: you would think the mountains are made of clay instead of solid rock, the way the roads tunnel through them. Sometimes a roadway seems endlessly suspended in mid-air as it bridges a mountain crevasse. Names of roads in Italy are as follows: Autostrada: a large, fast (and most direct) two- or three-lane toll way, marked by green signs bearing an “A” followed by the autostrada number. (See “Toll Roads” below.) Superstrada: a one- or two-lane freeway between secondary cities marked by blue signs and given a number. Speed limit: 110 kph. Strada Statale: a small one-lane road marked with S.S. followed by the road number. Speed limit: 90 kph. Raccordo or Tangenziale: a ring road around main cities, connecting to an autostrada and city centers.

ROAD SIGNS: Before starting on the road prepare yourself by learning the international driving signs so that you can obey all the rules. There are several basic sign shapes: triangular signs warn that there is danger ahead; circular signs indicate compulsory rules and information; square signs give information concerning telephones, parking, camping, etc. Yellow signs are for tourists and indicate a site of historical or cultural interest, hotels, and restaurants. Black-and-yellow signs indicate private companies and industries.

TOLL ROADS: Italy has a network of super expressways that makes any spot in the country an easy destination by car. Once you are on the toll roads, you can go quickly from almost any area of Italy to another, but be forewarned—these toll roads are expensive. However, every cent is well spent when you consider the alternative of creeping along within a maze of trucks and buzzing motorcycles, taking forever to go only a few kilometers. Use the toll roads for the major distances you need to cover, and then choose the small roads when you wish to meander leisurely through the countryside. Toll roads are mystifying until you learn the system—even then it is confusing because just when you think you have the operation down pat, you find it varies slightly. This is the most common routine: first follow the green expressway signs toward the toll road. Sometimes these signs begin many kilometers from the expressway, so be patient and continue the game of follow-the-sign. Each entrance to the expressway handles traffic going in both directions. As you enter into the tollgate, there is usually a red button you push and a card pops out of a slot. After going through the toll station you choose the direction you want to go. As you leave the expressway, there is a toll station where your ticket is collected and you pay according to how many kilometers you traveled. (If you lose your card, you will have to pay the equivalent amount of the distance from the beginning of the autostrada to your exit.) Tolls on Italian autostrade are quite steep, ranging from $15 to $28 for a three-hour stretch, but offering the fastest and most direct way to travel between cities. A Viacard, or magnetic reusable card for tolls, is available in all “toll-way” gas stations for € 20–€ 50, or a MasterCard or Visa card can now be used in specified blue lanes (the lines for these automatic machines are always the shortest).

 


Currency:


Banking hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm and 3 to 4 pm, with some city banks now opening on Saturday mornings. Cash machines accepting U.S. bank cash cards and credit cards are widely distributed throughout Italy. An increasingly popular and convenient way to obtain foreign currency is simply to use your bankcard at an ATM machine. You pay a fixed fee for this but, depending on the amount you withdraw, it is usually less than the percentage-based fee charged to exchange currency or travelers’ checks. Be sure to check with your bank or credit card company about fees and necessary pin numbers prior to departure. Cambio signs outside and inside a bank indicate that it will exchange traveler’s checks or give you cash from certain credit cards. Also, privately run exchange offices are available in cities with more convenient hours and comparable rates. All pricing, including room rates, is quoted in euros, using the € symbol. The euro is now the official currency of most European Union countries, including Italy, having completely replaced national currencies as of February 2002.

Many establishments accept one or more credit cards. If possible, pay using your credit card as the exchange rate is usually quite favorable. Paying by credit card reduces the need to carry large sums of cash and thus reduces potential loss in the case of theft. Keep a record of your credit card numbers at home as well as with you separately from your cards in case of loss or theft. Also, it is a good idea to contact your card issuer and inform them of your travel plans.


Driving:


DISTANCES: Distances are indicated in kilometers (one kilometer equals 0.621 mile). As you drive through the countryside, you will be astonished at how dramatically the scenery can change in just an hour’s drive.

DRIVER’S LICENSE: It is advisable to have an international driver's license which can be purchased for $10 in the USA at your local AAA office. A current license from your home country is valid for driving throughout Italy if you are on holiday and renting a car. However certain age limits apply. Please check on the age limit policy with the car rental company.

GASOLINE: Gas prices in Italy are the highest in Europe, and Americans often suspect a mistake when their first fill-up comes to between $55 and $100 (most of it in taxes). Most stations now accept Visa credit cards, and the ERG stations accept American Express. Besides the AGIP stations on the autostrada, which are almost always open, gas stations observe the same hours as merchants, closing in the afternoon from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm and in the evening at 7:30 pm. Be careful not to get caught running on empty in the afternoon! Many stations have a self-service pump that operates on off-hours (€ 10 or € 20 and € 50 bills, and sometimes credit cards are accepted).

ROADS: The Italian roads are nothing short of spectacular, including some of the finest highways in the world. In fact, the Italians are absolute geniuses when it comes to their engineering feats (which actually is not such a surprising fact when you consider what a fantastic road system the Romans built 2,000 years ago). Nothing seems to daunt the Italian engineers: you would think the mountains are made of clay instead of solid rock, the way the roads tunnel through them. Sometimes a roadway seems endlessly suspended in mid-air as it bridges a mountain crevasse. Names of roads in Italy are as follows: Autostrada: a large, fast (and most direct) two- or three-lane toll way, marked by green signs bearing an “A” followed by the autostrada number. (See “Toll Roads” below.) Superstrada: a one- or two-lane freeway between secondary cities marked by blue signs and given a number. Speed limit: 110 kph. Strada Statale: a small one-lane road marked with S.S. followed by the road number. Speed limit: 90 kph. Raccordo or Tangenziale: a ring road around main cities, connecting to an autostrada and city centers.

ROAD SIGNS: Before starting on the road prepare yourself by learning the international driving signs so that you can obey all the rules. There are several basic sign shapes: triangular signs warn that there is danger ahead; circular signs indicate compulsory rules and information; square signs give information concerning telephones, parking, camping, etc. Yellow signs are for tourists and indicate a site of historical or cultural interest, hotels, and restaurants. Black-and-yellow signs indicate private companies and industries.

TOLL ROADS: Italy has a network of super expressways that makes any spot in the country an easy destination by car. Once you are on the toll roads, you can go quickly from almost any area of Italy to another, but be forewarned—these toll roads are expensive. However, every cent is well spent when you consider the alternative of creeping along within a maze of trucks and buzzing motorcycles, taking forever to go only a few kilometers. Use the toll roads for the major distances you need to cover, and then choose the small roads when you wish to meander leisurely through the countryside. Toll roads are mystifying until you learn the system—even then it is confusing because just when you think you have the operation down pat, you find it varies slightly. This is the most common routine: first follow the green expressway signs toward the toll road. Sometimes these signs begin many kilometers from the expressway, so be patient and continue the game of follow-the-sign. Each entrance to the expressway handles traffic going in both directions. As you enter into the tollgate, there is usually a red button you push and a card pops out of a slot. After going through the toll station you choose the direction you want to go. As you leave the expressway, there is a toll station where your ticket is collected and you pay according to how many kilometers you traveled. (If you lose your card, you will have to pay the equivalent amount of the distance from the beginning of the autostrada to your exit.) Tolls on Italian autostrade are quite steep, ranging from $15 to $28 for a three-hour stretch, but offering the fastest and most direct way to travel between cities. A Viacard, or magnetic reusable card for tolls, is available in all “toll-way” gas stations for € 20–€ 50, or a MasterCard or Visa card can now be used in specified blue lanes (the lines for these automatic machines are always the shortest).


Electricity:


If you are taking any electrical appliances made for use in the United States, you will need a transformer plus a two-pin adapter. A voltage of 220 AC current at 50 cycles per second is almost countrywide, though in remote areas you may encounter 120V. The voltage is often displayed on the socket. Even though we recommend that you purchase appliances with dual-voltage options whenever possible, it will still be necessary to have the appropriate socket adapter. Also, be especially careful with expensive equipment such as computers—verify with the manufacturer the adapter/converter capabilities and requirements.

Shopping:


Italy is definitely a shopper’s paradise. Not only are the stores brimming with tempting merchandise, but also their displays are beautiful, from the tiniest fruit market to the most chic boutique. Each region has its specialty. In Venice items made from blown glass and handmade laces are very popular. Milan is famous for its clothing and silk wear (gorgeous scarves, ties, and blouses). Florence is a paradise for leather goods (purses, shoes, wallets, gloves, suitcases) and also for gold jewelry (you can buy gold jewelry by weight). Rome is a fashion center—you can stroll the pedestrian shopping streets browsing in some of the world’s most elegant, sophisticated boutiques. You can buy the very latest designer creations and, of course, religious items are available, especially near St. Peter’s. Naples and the surrounding regions (Capri, Ravello, Positano) offer delightful coral jewelry and also a wonderful selection of ceramics. For purchases over € 155 an immediate cash refund of the tax amount is offered by the Italian government to non-residents of the EU. Goods must be purchased at an affiliated retail outlet with the “tax-free for tourists” sign. Ask for the store receipt plus the tax-free shopping receipt. At the airport go first to the customs office where they will examine the items purchased and stamp both receipts, and then to the “tax-free cash refund” point after passport control. U.S. customs allows U.S. residents to bring in $800-worth of foreign goods duty free, after which a straight 10% of the amount above $800 is levied. Two bottles of liquor are allowed. The import of fresh cheese or meat is strictly restricted unless it is vacuum-packed.

Tourism:


Italian Government Travel Offices (ENIT) can offer general information on various regions and their cultural attractions. They cannot offer specific information on restaurants and accommodations. If you have access to the Internet, visit the Italian Tourist Board’s websites: www.italiantourism.com or www.enit.it. Offices are located in:

Chicago: Italian Government Travel Office, 500 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 2240, Chicago, IL 60611 USA; email: enitch@italiantourism.com, tel: (312) 644-0996, fax: (312) 644-3019.

Los Angeles: Italian Government Travel Office, 12400 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Los Angeles, CA 90025, USA; email: enitla@italiantourism.com, tel: (310) 820-1898, fax: (310) 820-6357.

New York: Italian Government Travel Office, 630 5th Ave., Suite 1565, New York, NY 10111, USA; email: enitny@italiantourism.com, tel: (212) 245-4822, fax: (212) 586-9249.

Toronto: Italian Government Travel Office, 175 Bloor Street East, Suite 907, Toronto, Ontario M4W 3R8, Canada; email: enit.canada@on.aibn.com, tel: (416) 925-4882, fax: (416) 925-4799.

London: Italian State Tourist Office, 1 Princes Street, London WIB 2AY, England; email: italy@italiantourism.co.uk, tel: (020) 7408-1254, fax: (020) 7493-6695.

Sydney: Italian Government Travel Office, Level 4, 46 Market Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia; email: italia@italiantourism.com.au, tel: (61292) 621.666, fax: (61292) 621.677.

Rome: ENTE Nazionale Italiano per il Turismo (Italian Government Travel Office), Via Marghera, 2/6, Rome 00185, Italy; email: sedecentrale@cert.enit.it, tel: (06) 49711, fax: (06) 4463379.


Weather:


Italy is blessed with lovely weather. However, unless you are a ski enthusiast following the promise of what the majestic mountains have to offer in the winter, or must travel in summer due to school holidays, we highly recommend traveling in spring or fall. Travel at either of these times has two dramatic advantages: you miss the rush of the summer tourist season when all of Italy is packed and you are more likely to have beautiful weather. In spring the meadows are painted with wildflowers. In fall the forests are a riot of color and the vineyards are mellow in shades of red and gold. Although the mountains of Italy are delightfully cool in summer, the rest of the country can be very hot, especially in the cities. NOTE: Many hotels are not air conditioned. Those that are sometimes charge extra for it.

Itineraries:


In the itinerary section of this site you’ll be able to find an itinerary, or portion of an itinerary, that can be easily tailored to fit your exact time frame and suit your own particular interests. If your time is limited, you can certainly follow just a segment of an itinerary. In the itineraries we have not specified the number of nights at each destination, since to do so seemed much too confining. Some travelers like to see as much as possible in a short period of time. For others, just the thought of packing and unpacking each night makes them shudder in horror and they would never stop for less than three or four nights at any destination. A third type of tourist doesn’t like to travel at all—the destination is the focus and he uses this guide to find the perfect place from which he never wanders except for daytime excursions. So, use this guide as a reference to plan your personalized trip. Our advice is not to rush. Part of the joy of traveling is to settle in at a hotel that you like and use it as a hub from which to take side trips to explore the countryside. When you dash too quickly from place to place, you never have the opportunity to get to know the owners of the hotels and to become friends with other guests. Look at the maps in the front of this guide to find the places to stay in the areas where you want to travel. Read about each hotel in the Hotel Descriptions section of this book and decide which sound most suited to your taste and budget, then choose a base for each area you want to visit.

Provinces:


Italy is divided into Provinces, which appear in abbreviated form in addresses. Some of the provinces you are likely to see and their abbreviated codes are as follows:

AG Agrigento CS Cosenza MN Mantova RM Rome

AL Alessandria CT Catania MO Modena RN Rimini

AN Ancona CZ Catanzaro MS Massa RO Ravigo

AO Aosta EN Enna MT Matera SA Salerno

AP Ascoli Picino FE Ferrara NA Naples SI Siena

AR Arezzo FG Froggia NO Novara SO Sondrio

AT Asti FI Florence NU Nuoro SP La Spezia

AV Avellino FO Forli OR Oristano SR Siracusa

BA Bari GE Genova PA Palermo SV Savona

BG Bergamo GO Gorizia PC Piacunga TA Taranto

BL Belluno GR Grosseto PD Padova TE Teramo

BN Benevento IM Imperia PE Pescara TN Trento

BO Bologna IS Isermia PG Perugia TO Torino

BR Brindisi LA Latina PI Pisa TR Terni

BS Brescia LC Lecco PR Parma TS Trieste

BZ Bolzano LE Lecce PS Pesaro TV Treviso

CA Cagliari LI Livorno PT Pistoia VB Verbano

CB Campobasso LT Latino PV Pavia VC Vercelli

CE Caserta LU Lucca PZ Potenza VE Venice

CH Chieti MC Macerata RA Ravenna VI Vicenza

CO Como ME Messina RE Reggio Emilia VR Verona

CR Cremona MI Milan RI Rieti VT Viterbo


Food and Drink:


It is almost impossible to get a bad meal in Italy. Italians themselves love to eat and dining is a social occasion to be with family and friends. Restaurants are bustling not only with tourists, but also with the Italians who dawdle at the tables long after the meal is over, chatting and laughing with perhaps a glass of wine or a last cup of coffee. You soon get in the spirit of the game of deciding which kind of restaurant to choose for your next meal. The selection is immense, all the way from the simple family trattoria where mama is cooking in the kitchen to the most elegant of gourmet restaurants with world-renowned chefs. Whichever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. The Italians are artists when it comes to pasta, seen on every menu and prepared in endless, fascinating ways. Some restaurants offer a set-price tourist menu (menu turistico) that includes soup or pasta, a meat dish with vegetable, dessert, and mineral water or wine. A tip is usually included in the price, but it is customary to leave some small change. Wine, of course, is offered with every meal. You rarely see an Italian family eating without their bottle of wine on the table. Unless you are a true wine connoisseur, we suggest the regional wines and if you ask your waiter to assist you with the choice, you flatter him and discover many superb wines. Some of the most popular wines that you see on the Italian menus are: Chianti, a well-known wine produced in the Tuscany area south of Florence; Marsala, a golden sweet wine from Sicily (a favorite of Lord Nelson); Soave, a superb light white wine produced near Venice; Orvieto, a semi-sweet wine from the Umbria region near Assisi; and Est Est Est, a beautiful semi-sweet wine produced near Rome. The story that we heard about Est Est Est is lots of fun and perhaps even true. It seems that many years ago a wealthy nobleman was traveling south. Being a true gourmet both of food and drink, he sent his servant before him to pick out all the best places to eat and drink along the way. When the servant neared Rome he discovered such a divine wine that all he could relay back to his master was “Est, est, est,” meaning “Yes, yes, yes.” Today you will think the same about most of the wines you enjoy in Italy—the answer is still “Yes, yes, yes!”

Holidays:


It is very important to know Italian holidays because most museums, shops, and offices are closed. National holidays are listed below:

New Year’s Day (January 1)

Epiphany (January 6)

Easter (and the following Monday)

Liberation Day (April 25)

Labor Day (May 1)

Assumption Day (August 15)

All Saints’ Day (November 1)

Christmas (December 25)

Santo Stefano (December 26)

In addition to the national holidays, each town has its own special holiday to honor its patron saint. Some of the major ones are listed below:

Bologna–St. Petronio (October 4)

Florence–St. John the Baptist (June 24)

Milan–St. Ambrose (December 7)

Palermo–Santa Rosalia (July 15)

Rome–St. Peter & St. Paul (June 29)

Venice–St. Mark (April 25)

The Vatican Museums have their own schedule and are closed on Sundays (rather than on Mondays as is the case with all other National museums), except the last Sunday of each month when admission is free of charge.


Regions:


Italy is divided into 20 regions. A map and description of each region is found in the next section of this book, beginning on page 31. Below is a list of the regions and their capital cities.

REGION- CITY

Abruzzo- L’Aquila

Aosta Valley- Aosta

Apulia- Bari

Basilicata- Potenza

Calabria- Catanzaro

Campania- Naples

Emila-Romagna- Bologna

Friuli-Venezia Giulia- Trieste

Lazio- Rome

Liguria- Genova

Lombardy- Milan

Marches- Ancona

Molise- Campobasso

Piedmont- Torino

Sardinia- Cagliari

Sicily- Palermo

Trentino Alto Adige- Trento & Bolzano

Tuscany- Florence

Umbria- Perugia

Veneto- Venice


Security:


The Italians are wonderful hosts. It seems every Italian has a brother or cousin in the United States, and so the warmth of camaraderie is further enhanced. In spite of the overall graciousness of the Italians, there are instances where cars are stolen or purses snatched, but this happens all over the world. Just be cautious. Watch your purse. Don’t let your wallet stand out like a red light in your back pocket. Lock your valuables in the hotel safe. Don’t leave valuables temptingly exposed in your car. Never set down luggage in train stations or airports, even for a minute. In other words, use common sense. NOTE: Whenever you travel to any country, it is wise to make a photocopy of the pages of your passport showing your picture, passport number, date, and where issued. With this photocopy in hand it is much easier to get a replacement passport.

Telephones:


The Italian phone company (TELECOM) has been an object of ridicule, a source of frustration, and a subject of heated conversation since its inception. Although more modern systems are being installed, it remains one of the most archaic and costly communication systems in the developed world. Telephone numbers can have from four to eight digits, so don’t be afraid of missing numbers. Cellular phones have saved the day (Italians wouldn’t be caught dead without at least one) and are recognized by three-digit area codes beginning with 3.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All calls to Italy need to include the “0” in the area code, whether calling from abroad, within Italy, or even within the same city, whereas cell phone numbers have dropped the “0” in all cases.

Dial 113 for emergencies of all kinds—24-hour service nationwide with an English-speaking person available.

Dial 116 for Automobile Club for urgent breakdown assistance on the road.

Dial 118 for Ambulance service.

Remember that no warning is given when the time you’ve paid for in a public phone is about to expire (the line just goes dead), so put in plenty of change or a phone card.

There are several types of phones (in various stages of modernization) in Italy:

Regular rotary phones in bars, restaurants, and many bed and breakfasts, which you can use a scatti, meaning you can pay the proprietor after the call is completed.

Bright-orange pay phones, as above with attached apparatus permitting insertion of a scheda telefonica, reusable magnetic cards worth € 5–€ 25, or now more rarely coins.

NOTE: Due to the ongoing modernization process of telephone lines, phone numbers are constantly being changed, making it sometimes very difficult to contact hotels (many times they are not listed under the property’s name). A recording (in Italian) plays for only two months indicating the new number. If you are calling from the United States and your Italian is not up to par, we suggest you ask the overseas operator to contact the Italian operator for translation and assistance.

CALLING HOME: Calling overseas is very expensive from Italy. In addition, hotels usually add a hefty surcharge to telephone calls charged to your room. The best bet is to use one of the many available international telephone cards. With these you can make a local call within Italy and be connected with your home operator. Ask your local telephone company what access number to use.

CELL PHONES: Before leaving home check with your carrier to see if your phone will operate overseas and, if so, do you need a specific plan for operation. Or, you might look into renting a cell phone during your stay.


Tipping:


Hotels: Service charges are normally included in four- and five-star hotels only. It is customary to leave a token tip for staff.

Restaurants: If a service charge is included, it will be indicated on the bill, otherwise 10–15% is standard tipping procedure.

Taxis: 10%.


Transportation:


BOATS: Italy has gorgeous islands dotting her shorelines, a glorious string of lakes gracing her mountains to the north, and romantic canals in Venice. Luckily for the tourist, the country’s boat system is excellent. All of Italy’s islands are linked to the mainland by a wonderful maritime network. The many outlying islands sometimes have overnight ferries that offer sleeping accommodations and facilities for cars. The closer islands usually offer a choice—the hydrofoil that zips quickly across the water or the regular ferry that is slower. Italy also offers you an enchanting selection of lakes. One of the true highlights of traveling in Italy is to explore these wondrous lakes by hopping on one of the nostalgic ferry boats that glide romantically between little villages clustered along the shorelines. Again, there is usually a choice of either the hydrofoil that darts between the hamlets, or the ferry that glides leisurely across the water and usually offers beverage and food service on board. The boat schedules are posted at each pier, or you can request a timetable from the Italian tourist office. NOTE: These little boats are punctual, to the minute. Be right at the pier with your ticket in hand so you can jump on board during the brief interlude that the boat stops at the shore. If at all possible, try to squeeze in at least one boat excursion—it is a treat you will long remember.

TRAINS: Italy has an excellent network of trains. The major express trains are usually a quick, reliable way to whip between the major cities. In contrast, the local trains stop at every little town, take much longer, and are frequently delayed. Each train station is well organized. There is almost always an information desk where someone speaks English who will answer any questions and advise you as to the best schedule. There is another counter where you purchase your tickets. Still a third counter is where seat reservations are made. We strongly recommend purchasing your train tickets in advance: it is quite time-consuming to stand in two lines at each train station, only to find—particularly in summer—that the train you want is already sold out. You can purchase open tickets in the United States. However, it is almost impossible to purchase seat reservations in advance (except for major European routes). Go ahead and buy the open tickets, and then you can either purchase your seat reservations locally, or else pay the concierge at your hotel to handle this transaction for you. Seat reservations cannot be made just before getting on the train—it is best to make them as far in advance as possible. NOTE: Your ticket must be stamped with the time and date before you board the train; otherwise, you will be issued a € 20 fine. Tickets are stamped at small and not very obvious yellow machines near the exits to the tracks. The Eurailpass, which allows travel for varying periods of time on most trains throughout Europe, is valid in Italy. However, if you are going to travel exclusively in Italy, buy instead an Italian Rail Pass. These bargain passes which must be purchased outside of Italy include the Tourist Pass and the Flexi Pass. The Tourist Pass is available for unlimited travel for a period of 8, 15, 21, or 30 consecutive days. The Flexi Pass allows you to choose the number of days you want to travel within a month. You can buy the Flexi Pass for 4 days, 8 days, or 12 days of travel. All of the Italian passes can be bought for either first- or second-class travel. NOTE: In the summer when rail traffic is very heavy, unless you make dining car reservations in advance, you might not be able to have the fun of eating your meal en route. If you have not made these reservations, as soon as you board the train, stroll down to the dining car and ask to reserve a table. If you plan to travel by train throughout Europe, you can research schedules and fares and purchase tickets and passes online. Click on Rail Europe under Travel Tools to check on rates and to make rail reservations.

TRANSFERS INTO CITIES: Travelers from abroad normally arrive by plane in Milan, Florence, Rome, or Venice and often pick up their rental car at the airport. However, if your first destination is the city and you plan on picking up your car after your stay, approximate transfer rates are as follows:

MILAN:

From Malpensa to city by taxi (70 min) € 80, From Malpensa to Cadorna station by train (every 30 min) € 12, From Malpensa to central station by bus (every 20 min) € 5, From Linate to city by taxi (20 min) € 40, From Linate to city by bus (every 20 min) € 6

ROME:

From Da Vinci to city by train (every 30 min) € 12, From Da Vinci to city by taxi (45 min) € 50,

FLORENCE:

From airport to city by taxi (30 min) € 40

VENICE:

From airport to city by waterbus (1 hour) € 12, From airport to city by private waterbus €80, From stationto city by waterbus (15min) € 6, From station to city by private waterbus € 75

 


Icons Description Summary:


Position the cursor over the icon on the bottom of the accomodations pages and the resulting text will tell what the icon symbol represents.

Air ConditioningAir conditioning in rooms,

Beach Nearby Beach nearby,

Breakfast IncludedBreakfast included in room rate,

Children Welcome Children welcome,

Cooking ClassesCooking classes offered,

Credit Cards WelcomeCredit cards accepted,

Direct Dial PhonesDirect-dial telephone in room,

Dogs by Request Dogs by special request,

ElevatorElevator,

Exercise RoomExercise room,

Refrigerator in Rooms Mini-refrigerator in rooms,

Some Non-Smoking RoomsSome non-smoking rooms,

Parking Available Parking available,

RestaurantRestaurant,

Spa Spa,

Swimming PoolSwimming pool,

Tennis CourtsTennis,

TVs in RoomsTelevision with English channels,

Wedding Facilities Wedding facilities,

Wheelchair FriendlyWheelchair friendly,

Golf Course NearbyGolf course nearby,

Hiking Trails NearbyHiking trails nearby,

Horseback Riding Nearby Horseback riding nearby,

Skiing Nearby Skiing nearby,

Water Sports Nearby Water sports nearby,

Wineries Nearby Wineries nearby.


What to Wear:


During the day informal wear is most appropriate, including comfortable slacks for women. In the evening, if you are at a sidewalk café or a simple pizzeria, women do not need to dress up nor men to wear coats and ties. However, Italy does have some elegant restaurants where a dress and coat and tie are definitely the proper attire. A basic principle is to dress as you would in any city at home. There are perhaps a few special situations: the churches are still very conservative—shorts are definitely inappropriate, as are low-cut dresses. Some of the cathedrals still insist that women have their arms covered. It is rare that a scarf on the head is required, but to wear one is a respectful gesture. If you have an audience with the Pope, then the dress code is even more conservative. The layered effect is ideal. Italy’s climate runs the gamut from usually cool in the mountains to frequently very hot in the south. The most efficient wardrobe is one where light blouses and shirts can be reinforced by layers of sweaters that can be added or peeled off as the day demands.