Some general information
on Italy

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Benvenuto! Welcome!

Here you can find some general information on Italy, such as weather in Italy, when to visit Italy, where to go, some places in Italy, Italian art, Italian food and wine, and accommodation in Italy.

Then read each region or municipality (comune) description page to have more detailed information.

Weather in Italy

As with many other things in Italy, weather too varies a lot from place to place. Winter in the north can be very cold, especially on the mountains, while from the centre toward the south it becomes more and more temperate. In some winter days the temperature can be below 0° in the north and 18° in Sicily (in many houses they don't even have central heating, although it can be chilly on some days)!

Usually summer is hot all over the country, a bit more in the south. There is also difference between the coastal areas and inner areas, that are always colder. So if you don’t like very hot temperature I’d advise you to visit Italy avoiding the months of July and August, especially in the south, or take with you sunglasses, a fan, a straw hat.

In summer, because of the heat, in many places in the south the shops open early in the morning (even at 7 am), then close at around 12 and open again around 5 or 6 pm to close at 9 pm. In the hottest hours of the afternoon you may not see anyone around in the streets: everybody is either at the beach or at home, with all the blinds shut!

When to visit Italy

Any time is good, it depends on what you want to do. However, I think it's useful for you to know that because of school and work holidays, most Italians do their holidays during Christmas, Easter and especially in August and July. Therefore, you are sure to find all tourist resorts and most famous places very crowded. So, I’d advise you to avoid these times of the year, and visit Italy during off-peak times. You'll find lower prices, less or no queues, the personnel is more relaxed and can serve you better.

After all, if you like winter sports you can ski also from January to March, when there is more snow and daylight, or even do “summer skiing” on glaciers up to 3850 metres. Or if you prefer cities, countryside and seaside, they are less hot in spring and late summer/autumn.

Actually, the best thing to do is to visit Italy many times, even the same place, each time in a different season! Again, you have many choices!

Where to go in Italy

You’ll be spoiled for choice: from perennial glaciers and pine trees to nearly tropical beaches and palm trees, from skiing resorts to sunbathing and sailing.

If you like big busy places and crowds, you can go to the big cities; if you prefer a complete relax far from the modern world, you could choose a little village up on a mountain or a hill or a tiny island.

Places in Italy

Sure you've heard about Rome and the Coliseum, Florence and Ponte Vecchio, Venice and its gondolas, Pisa and the leaning tower, Naples and the ancient city of Pompeii with mount Vesuvius.

But what about the white snowy mountains, baroque Catania in Sicily and its black sand beaches of lava stone, Lecce in Puglia and its white baroque buildings, Arbatax in Sardinia and its red porphyry stone cliffs, the pink of flamingos, Umbria, the green heart of Italy or the uncountable tones of blue of all the sea that surrounds it?

Italian Art

Or you like art and history? Then you can choose your favourite style: prehistoric, ancient Greek, Roman, Arab, Gothic, renaissance, mosaics, baroque, what else? Much more!… There is a wealth of art in religious buildings, like churches, monasteries, convents, even in very small places. 

Italian Food and Wine

This is another favourite conversation topic about Italy, and each region has its own specialties, some have become world famous and take their name from their place of origin. So you have Genoa pesto (pasta sauce made of basil), pasta bolognese (with mince meat sauce), risotto milanese (rice with saffron), stufato piemontese (Piedmont stewed meat), pizza napoletana (neapolitan pizza), bistecca fiorentina (florentine steak), parmigiano reggiano (parmesan cheese from Reggio Emilia), cassata siciliana (sicilian cake made of ricotta cheese), Gorgonzola cheese, just to name some.

This not to mention wines! Many wines too take their name from their production area, so you can have bubbly Asti spumante (the Italian equivalent of champagne), Chianti, Frascati, Marsala, Orvieto wines and there are even "religious" wines, the sweet Vin Santo (Holy wine) and Lachrima Christi (Tears of Christ) and many wines with saint's names such as Sant'Anna, Sant'Antimo, San Colombano, San Gimignano, Santa Margherita and there is even a wine with my name, Monica, in Sardinia.
Vini d’Italia

Accommodation in Italy

From big tourist villages and luxury hotels to privately rented homes or agritourism and campings, here again, a lot of variety for all tastes and pockets.

Big tourist villages and luxury hotels are good for you if you visit cities or like to have all done for you and be in a modern environment, with a lot of people, entertainment, disco, swimming pool, sauna etc. Many have also facilities for congresses and business meetings.

On the contrary, if you prefer to stay more like at your home, with your own kitchen and things, you may want to rent a house, either through an agency or privately.

Then there is camping, more for those who like maybe a radical change, to go from the modernity of everyday's life to simplicity and to be more in contact with wild nature. There are everywhere, from mountains to lake and seaside places.

Agritourism is a form of accommodation that is becoming more and more popular in Italy. It means living in a farm or former farm, more or less converted to accommodate tourists. They tend to be small, in the countryside and can offer you a view on local people's real life. In some of them you can see animals, do horse-riding, see how they make cheese and other things, taste their local food products and even help them with their works. I like this form of tourism, because it's also a way for farmers or people living in very small places to remain there if they want so, and increase their business in a nature-friendly way, instead of being forced to go away to find a job, as happened, leaving many places half or completed deserted.

Whatever you prefer, the local tourist office (Ufficio del turismo or Pro loco as it is called in smaller places) can send you depliants or names lists of people to contact. You'll find tourist information office details in each comune's page.

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I really hope you find this website and the calendar useful to learn more about Italy, its patron saints, its places and traditions and that it can help you organise your holiday or business stay in Italy.

Go from Information on Italy to the Catholic Saints Calendar