Italy’s climate changes with the region. Summers in northern Italy are warm and sometimes rainy. It’s humid in central Italy and hot and dry in the south. Winters are cold, damp and foggy in the north, near-freezing in the centre of the country and mild in the south. Temperatures on the coast are the same regardless of their location. The mountain areas have a much bigger difference between summer and winter and snow can start falling as early as mid-September.
Getting around Italy
Trains are extensive, throughout Italy. The north is better connected with all types of transport (trains and low-cost airlines) than the south.
Most Italian cities’ historic centres are best covered on foot. When walking around Venice, allow extra time for getting lost — it’s bound to happen. For all cities, bring comfortable and sturdy walking shoes as there are lots of cobblestones. Public transportation is the best way to travel in a city. Rome and Milan have underground trains, buses, and trams, and Florence and Bologna have buses. Venetian public transportation is water buses and ferries.
Taxis are available in most cities in Italy, and water taxis in Venice. Either call for one or get one at a taxi stand. In Bologna, the network of one-way streets is so convoluted that taking a cab can be very expensive.
Mopeds are popular in Rome and Florence. Bicycling is difficult in Florence, but possible.
Ferry service between the mainland and the islands is good and regular but slow.
Italy insider information
- In Emilia-Romagna alone there are more than 40 products that have received the Denomination of Protected Origin from the European Union. DOP protection means they cannot be produced anywhere else in the world. They include cheeses (Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano), meats (Pancetta Piacentina, Prosciutto di Modena) olive oils (Olio Extra Vergine di oliva di Brisighella) and balsamic vinegar (DOP Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia).
- Positano has two beaches. Spiaggia Grande, in the centre of the town is the main one. Spiaggia del Fornillo is quieter. It's a five-minute walk from the main beach, past the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni. The beach is quieter with some beachfront bars and restaurants.
- Buying a Courmayeur ski pass allows you to ski or snowboard in Aosta Valley ski resorts such as Breuil-Cervinia, Etroubles, Pila or Saint-Rhémy-en-Bosses.
- A stroll to the Ponte Vecchio in Florence is a tourist must-do. Add a walk along the River Arno at dusk. The views down the river, to the other bridges, are beautiful.
- In Milan, the fashion gods - Gucci, Armani and Moschino - can be worshipped at the quadrilatero della moda. The quadrilatero is made up of via Montenapoleone, via della Spiga, Sant’Andrea and via Manzoni. Fashion houses include Roberto Cavalli, Armani and Versace. For shopping where a platinum credit card may not be as necessary, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is an enormous shopping arcade lined with cafés and restaurants as well as tempting shops.
- Try to ensure that your trip to Italy coincide with La Notte Bianca in Rome. The "white night" takes place in September and it's a wonderful chance to spy behind normally closed doors such as the Palazzo Farnese, home of the French Embassy, or the Cinecittà studios, where many famous films have been made.