Dreamworthy Destinations

 Italy 

A visit to Italy is a lesson in living well. Land of la dolce vita (the sweet life), Italy is one of the world's best-loved destinations. Whether you crave culture, gastronomy, cutting-edge design, sybaritic pleasures or simply the art of il dolce far niente—the sweet doing nothing—this is a country for lovers of all that is good in life. 

 

Known as "The Eternal City," Rome is a supreme palimpsest. The ruins of pagan temples have become the foundations of Christian churches, ancient theaters have been made into medieval family fortresses, and Corinthian columns support new walls. The ages are layered, one atop the other, but the flow of Roman life is ever forward, with respect for its glorious past. 

 

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence combines unequaled beauty with centuries of history in a heady mix. Visitors' first glimpse of the Duomo is likely to take their breath away. 

 

Venice, Italy, is romance: a bridge arching over a canal, a gondola gliding by, the moon reflecting off the water. Venice is history: the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace), Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal, great art and great museums. Venice is modern: the headline names and paparazzi of the Venice Film Festival, the buzzing excitement of Carnival in the 10 days before Lent begins. 

Best Time to Go

Italy’s Mediterranean climate makes it a year-round destination with thrilling activities for every season. Generally, the best months to visit Italy are from April to June and September to October when the weather is comfortably warm. July and August can be hot and muggy, and most Italians go on holiday in August, closing many shops and restaurants. The best time to drive the Amalfi Coast is May to mid-June and mid-September to mid-October, when there are fewer cars on the road. Take a sweater for evenings year-round. 

Weather

It's best to visit Italy mid-April to mid-June or mid-September to the end of October, when the days are usually in the 70-80s F (20-32 C), with nights in the 50-60s F (10-20 C). July, August and the first half of September are generally quite hot (high 90s F {34-37 C}), humid and very crowded with tourists. 

 

The winters in the north are chilly—50s F (10-15 C) or colder in the day and much colder at night (often below freezing). In the south, winters are milder, but you'll still find it too cool to lie on the beach or too drizzly to tour happily. 

Transportation

  • Air - Rome's international airport (FCO), called both Leonardo da Vinci and Fiumicino, located 20 mi/32 km southwest of town. (The Leonardo Express Airport Train is a half-hourly train service that links the airport to Stazione Termini, the main train station in town, making it convenient to make connections to other Italian cities.) Rome's second airport is Ciampino (CIA), 9 mi/15 km southeast of the city. Milan's Malpensa Airport (MXP) lies 30 mi/48 km north of the city center and is primarily used for intercontinental flights; Linate (LIN), the other Milan airport, is only 6 mi/10 km from the center and offers both domestic and international flights. Florence residents use two airports: Amerigo Vespucci, (FLR), which is 6 mi/10 km north of the city, and Galileo Galilei (PSA), which is 7 mi/12 km south of Pisa. Several airlines connect major cities in Italy with frequent flights. 

  • Ferries - link the Italian mainland with many of its islands and several other Mediterranean countries, running much more often during the summer months, particularly July and August, and run less frequently, or not at all, in the winter. 

  • Rail System – Excellent rail systems connect most cities and ticket prices are very reasonable. The fastest and most accommodating trains are the FS Eurostar trains, you’ll want to book a first-class ticket (the price difference is small and the benefits are worth it).

  • Rental Car – For return visitors wanting to get out of the big cities and into the countryside, a rental car is the way to go. Become aware of Italian driving laws. For first-time visitors who are used to traveling or driving in foreign countries, we recommend taking an escorted tour or having a driver.

  • Taxi – Fares often increase on the weekends, holidays, after 6 PM Monday – Friday, and if you have luggage, ask before to getting in. Also, you’ll want to ask if there is a working meter and if it is being used.

Language

Italian

Things to Do & See

Rome
  • The ancient Forums, Palatino Hill, Foro di Traiano, Piazza del Campidoglio and Colosseo (the Colosseum) 

  • Basilica di San Pietro

  • The fountains of Piazza Navona

  • The Spanish Steps

  • The Pantheon

  • Trevi Fountain 

  • Circo Massimo 

  • The catacombs and monuments along the ancient Appian Way 

  • Piazza del Popolo and the Pincio Gardens above it

  • Castel Sant'Angelo 

  • Museums—The Musei Vaticani and the Sistine Chapel; sculptures, frescoes and the Tabularium of the Musei Capitolini; phenomenal art at the Museo e Galleria Borghese; the privately owned Galleria Doria Pamphili; the unique paintings in Palazzo Barberini; the modern works at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea; the Etruscan treasures at the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia; history's layers at the Museo Nazionale Romano—Crypta Balbi. 

Florence
  • The Duomo (The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore) and its dome

  • Battistero di San Giovanni (the Baptistery) and its intricate doors

  • Palazzo Pitti

  • Ponte Vecchio

  • Basilica di San Miniato al Monte with the splendid view from the Piazzale Michelangelo

  • The tomb sculptures by Michelangelo at the Cappelle Medicee

  • The view of downtown from the rooftop of The Continentale hotel 

  • Museums—David and Michelangelo's other sculptures at the Galleria dell'Accademia; the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (with the original door panels of the Baptistery); the Museo Nazionale del Bargello (with works by Cellini, Donatello and Michelangelo); the Uffizi Gallery; the Galleria Palatina and Royal Apartments in the Pitti Palace. 

Venice
  • Basilica di San Marco

  • Piazza San Marco

  • The Grand Canal by boat or gondola

  • The islands of Burano, Murano and Torcello 

  • The Lido in fair weather

  • Museums—Gallerie dell'Accademia; Museo Correr; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection; the Doge's Palace; Museo Ebraico; Palazzo Fortuny. 

Memorable Meals

Athens

​Linguine with lobster sauce followed by baked turbot at Ristorante da Vincenzo; sliced, aged beef with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese at Da Tullio; cacio e pepe at Flavio al Velavevodetto; brusque service and celebrities in the spartan Pizzeria Panattoni "Ai Marmi"; nouvelle cuisine at L'Antico Arco, atop the Gianicolo Hill; wandering the ancient streets with slices from any pizzeria al taglio (takeaway); a picnic from the gourmet deli Volpetti.

Florence

A massive, rare bistecca alla fiorentina at Il Latini; fritto del convento (Florentine chicken and vegetables lightly fried) at the superb Il Francescano in the shadow of Santa Croce's convent; any of the restaurants on Piazza Santo Spirito. 

 
Venice

Ca' d'Oro alla Vedova for cicheti and baked mussels; risotto alla Torcellana at Locanda Cipriani; bigoli in salsa (spaghetti with anchovy and onion sauce, a Venetian specialty) at Trattoria Gatto Nero; fried razor clams at Vini da Gigio. 

Walks

Rome
  • A leisurely walk from the top of the Spanish Steps to the Pincio Gardens at dusk

  • A daytime walk through the outdoor market at Campo dei Fiori 

  • An excursion from the Trevi Fountain to the Pantheon before or after dinner

  • A nighttime trek to view the Colosseum and the ruins of the Forums beautifully illuminated

  • A midnight adventure through the medieval streets of Trastevere

  • A stroll in the picturesque open spaces of Villa Borghese and Villa Pamphili

Florence
  • A leisurely stroll along the terraced paths of Boboli Gardens

  • Walking through Cascine Park and its enormous Tuesday market

  • A sunset stroll from Piazzale Michelangelo to Ponte Vecchio

  • Exploring the Piazza Duomo pedestrian zone 

Venice
  • Crossing the Rialto Bridge

  • Getting lost in Sestiere di San Marco

  • Wandering down Via Garibaldi

Especially for Kids

Rome
  • The Bioparco zoo in Villa Borghese and its Children's Farm

  • The Explora—Il Museo dei Bambini di Roma children's museum

  • Climb the dome of Basilica di San Pietro

  • Stick your hand in La Bocca della Verita (the Mouth of Truth) at Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin

  • Search for animals and other hidden pictures on fountains and monuments

  • Train to become a gladiator by attending "gladiator school" 

  • Indulge in gelato and pizza

Florence
  • The Museo Stibbert and its park

  • The Gozzoli fresco in the Cappella dei Magi in Palazzo Medici-Riccardi

  • The Duomo's bell tower and dome

  • Galileo's telescope in the Museo Galileo 

Venice
  • Dressing up for Carnival and parading around town

  • Traghetto rides

  • Exploring the prisons and armory of the Palazzo Ducale (Doge's Palace)