Italy Italy
¤ Introduction ¤ Why Italy? ¤ Sample Programs
¤ Geography ¤ History & Culture ¤ Recreation & Sports ¤ General Information¤ Request for Proposal

Highlights of Italy
¤ Roma ¤ Venice (Venezia) ¤ Florence (Firenze)
¤ Tuscany - Chianti¤ Other Areas of Tuscany
¤ Sicily (Sicilia)¤ Veneto ¤ Five Lands (Cinque Terre) ¤ Trentino ¤ AMALFI COAST (COSTIERA AMALFITANA)
¤

Introduction

European civilization and culture were born in Italy. Here you find the enchanted ruins of the biggest empire of the past. The magnificence that Caesar and Augustus built still stands to be admired by all generations.

Italy's legacy includes its immense heritage of inspired artists, who through 3,000 years helped shape and define Western civilization. These artists changed Italian cities into virtually astonishing outdoor museums that leave each visitor with an everlasting impression. Some of the artists defining this legacy are Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Botticelli, and Leonardo Da Vinci.

Old traditions reside side-by-side with Italy's cutting edge trends and fashions. This blending is highly visible in cities like Rome, Venice, Florence, and in the lifestyle of their inhabitants. Folkloric traditions have not been replaced with modern brand named shops, instead they exist together. In fact, world famous boutiques are often discovered next door to small traditional handicraft shops. And, world famous boutiques are next door to small traditional handicraft shops.

The beautiful and varied Italian landscape offers a large number of attractions and activities. Visitors can enjoy swimming in the warm Mediterranean Sea, surrounded by pinewoods, cliffs and old fishing villages. Other options include trekking on the breathtaking slopes of the Alps or sailing on the many lakes of Italy. For those who are less energetic another idea is to enjoy a relaxing drive along the Chianti wine route to sample some of the famous wines of Italy.

Italian cuisine is renowned all over the world for its freshness and the flavor of its ingredients. The cooking styles of each region vary greatly and are tied to their cultural heritage. Food can be savored with the rich selection of Italian wines, which are some of the world's finest wines. Discovering Italian food and wine is like discovering Italy; you can gorge yourself on the country's beauty, art, architecture and culinary delights.



Italy Map

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Why take an incentive group to Italy?

  • The great città de'arte (cities of art) which includes Rome, Florence and Venice, all intrinsically different.
  • A wealth of art that leaves even the hardiest art lovers and sightseers gasping for air.
  • The Italian cuisine, which is actually many regional cuisines. Each fresh and the quality first-rate.
  • The many festivals which play a significant role in Italian life.
  • The landscape from the icy walls of the Alps to the splendid beaches of Sicily.
  • There is something for everyone - skiing, island hopping, exploring emerald waters or immersing oneself in the splendor of Italy's past.
  • Italy is the Belpaese, the Beautiful County

Sample program ideas can be very creative

  • An exclusive afternoon tea on the beach at Positano, on the Amalfi Coast after a treasure hunt in Ravello and Maiori with personalized Smart cars (2 pax per team). Smart Cars are the ecological 2 seat cars made by Daimler-Chrysler.
  • After a 4x4 drive on the slopes of the Etna Volcano, a private wine and cheese tasting experience in the heart of Sicily followed by a gourmet feast on a Taormina terrace.
  • A private fashion show in a famous atelier in Rome's Via Condotti or in Milan's Via Montenapoleone.
  • A breakfast with a flute of prosecco (the Italian spumante) after a scenic ride on a balloon flying over the Garda lake and the Franciacorta vineyards.
  • A sailing regatta between the volcanic Aeolian islands in Sicily or around the wonderful island of Capri followed by a seafood barbeque feast and a lively beach party.

Geography

Geography Italy's boot shape makes it one of the most recognizable countries in the world. The island of Sicily looks like a football at the toe of the boot. Sardinia is to the west of the mainland. The country is bounded by four seas; the Adriatic, the Lonian, the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian. Coastal areas vary from the cliffs of Liguria to the generally flat, low-lying Adriatic coast. More than 75% of Italy is mountainous with the Alps forming a broad arc across the north. The landscape is riddled with anomalies. Of these, the most famous are the active volcanoes of Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli.

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History & Culture

Italy's long coastlines and central position in the Mediterranean have made it the focus of migration and invasion repeatedly throughout its history. It also made an ideal launch pad for the creation of one of the world's greatest empires, Ancient Rome. Over the centuries, Italy, which from the fall of the Roman Empire until the formation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 remained a fragmented collection of often squabbling states and city-states. Italy today continues to appear fractured, much as it has been for centuries. Yet the country propsers, overcoming circumstance and political incoherence in the same inspired and ultimately triumphant manner it has for much if its checkered past.

Because Italians have only lived as one nation for a little over 100 years, the lack of unity has contributed to the preservation of local dialects and cultures. An Italian is first and foremost a Sicilian or Tuscan, or even Roman before an Italian. However when confronted with a foreigner, Italians reveal a natural pride difficult to detect in the relationships they have with each other.


Veneto

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Highlights of Italy

Cities of Art (Città d'arte):

  • Rome (Roma)

"Rome wasn't built in a day",

"All roads lead to Rome",

"The eternal city";

these are several attempts to describe in a few words the majesty of this capital, which is impossible.

Rome


From the monumental Spanish Steps, a gathering place for visitors and locals, to a narrow medieval street, a Roman forum or a baroque church, Rome offers the visitor a chance to walk inside three thousand years of Italian history. The ancient Romans left a heritage that is visible in the architectural beauty of monuments such as the Coliseum, the Arch of Triumph, the Pantheon, and the Palatine's ruins. Two thousand years ago with one million inhabitants, the governing body of Rome created the law code that still influences modern nations.


Rome

Rome is also the capital of Christianity. Michelangelo designed St. Peter's Cathedral, the biggest and most important church in the world. There are also thousands of other churches belonging to Italy's artistic periods, such as the Romanesque, the Renaissance and the Baroque.

Rome

Many artists worked for the Vatican or for the noble Roman families, leaving in the city an enormous number of museums and aristocratic "palazzi" (palaces) as well as churches full of masterpieces from artists such as Michelangelo, Bernini, Raphael, Caravaggio and Borromini. The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum have one of the most overwhelming collections of art in the world.

The beauty of Rome is also:

  • Stopping in a square to enjoy coffee.
  • Getting lost in small streets in the historic or Trastevere districts.
  • Relaxing in a park on a hill.
  • Enjoying a sunset from an ancient bridge across the Tiber.

Rome

There are many other activities not to miss in Rome. If you are interested in shopping, close to Piazza di Spagna and Via del Corso, you will find the most prestigious boutiques. If you like food, the Roman cuisine still has the typical flavor of its tradition. For those who like going out after dinner, Roma offers a nightlife that will give you many fun-filled nights attending concerts or visiting a wide array of bars and clubs.

  • Venice (Venezia)

Venice is one of the world's most unique cities. This unique city is built on 117 small islands and has 150 canals and 409 bridges. Venice is the place where two infinities meet each other, the sea and the sky.

Venice (Venezia)

Venice (Venezia)

In the sixth century AD, barbaric invasions forced people from the land to move to the marshy islands of the Venetian lagoon in order to protect themselves. Since then the Venetians have built a community based on maritime commerce, which reached all over the world making Venice the most important port in the Mediterranean Sea for centuries. These trading activities (Venice was one of the Maritime Republics) brought the City a prosperity and richness of culture that is still visible. The impressive artistic heritage is a testimony to the power that Venice had to attract the best artists, putting this City among the most important cultural centers in Europe. Masterpieces of Tiziano, Tintoretto, Donatello, Carpaccio and Veronese are still visible in many locations. These locations include the Palazzo Ducale, the former doge's (chief magistrate) residence, S. Maria Gloriosa dei Frari Church, S. Maria della Salute Church and the Madonna dell'Orto Church, palaces like the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and in museums including the Gallerie dell'Accademia.

A pearl of ancient beauty, Venice for its structure and atmosphere is considered a city without rivals anywhere in the world. It is impossible to visit it without being enchanted by the majesty of its old buildings, which reflect their colored facades in the canals. For an authentic Venice experience, let your instinct guide you through the "calli" and "campielli" (network of streets) in order to discover at random another Venice. This one is made of bacari (typical little bars, frequented by Venetians), which offer you cicchetti (snacks made of fish or meat). These snacks are excellent when accompanied by spritz (a lightly alcoholic aperitif) or an ombra of wine (the name, meaning shadow comes from the old habit of meeting in the shade of a bell-tower to drink a glass of wine).

Venice (Venezia)


As you explore Venice you will discover many magical views from Piazza San Marco to the quiet Ghetto, or from a gondola on the Canal Grande, with the Rialto Bridge on the foreground. You will be transformed for a day into a Canaletto (local resident) ready to experience the emotions evoked by Venice. At any time of the year Venice will be the same, yet different, new yet ancient.

For hundreds of years the Venice Carnival has fascinated its visitors with its rites and myths and wide array of themes. The Venice Biennale is one of the oldest cultural organizations. It was set up in 1895 and in that year organized the first Art Exhibition. The Biennale then became an autonomous body, and today is an interdisciplinary Foundation concerned with architecture, visual arts, cinema, dance, music, and the theatre. The Venice Biennale organizes the International Art Exhibition, the International Architecture Exhibition, the Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica, and international Festivals of performing arts (dance, music, and theatre).

Redentore's Day, one of the oldest of Venetian festivals, is celebrated every year during the third weekend in July. This festival is a rite, which has been repeated for 400 years, and is the best loved and most deeply felt by the Venetians. Hundreds of boats gather in St. Mark's Basin to await and admire the midnight fireworks. On the first Sunday in September the historic Regatta is celebrated with various races using special types of boats. The rowing races are preceded by a magnificent historical procession consisting of splendid, elaborately carved boats full of hundreds of people in gorgeous brocade costumes.


  • Florence (Firenze)

Florence, the beautiful and ancient Italian City of Florentae, is situated not far from the Apennines Mountains, in a fertile and flourishing plain. It is divided in half by the Arno River and surrounded by pleasant hills dotted with villas and castles. Founded by the Romans in the first century BC, Florence began its rebirth after the decadence of the barbaric ages, in the Carolingian period. It reached its highest pinnacles of civilization between the 11th and 15th centuries, as a free City, balancing the authority of the Emperors with that of the Popes, overcoming the unfortunate internal dispute between two factions, the pro-papal Guelfs and the pro-imperial Ghibellines. In the 15th century the City came under the rule of the Medici family, who later became the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. This in fact was the period when the City was at the height of its glory in the arts, culture, politics, and economic power. The House of Lorraine succeeded the Grand Duchy of the Medicis in the 18th century, when in 1860 Tuscany became part of the Kingdom of Italy with Florence as the capital from 1865 to 1871. In the 20th century the City once more took up its role as an important centre for culture and the arts.

Florence (Firenze)During the Italian Renaissance Florence became a living museum because of its renaissance palaces and squares. Many squares, such as Piazza della Signoria, exhibit famous statues and fountains. Florence is also a city of incomparable indoor pleasures. Its chapels, galleries and museums are an inexhaustible treasure, capturing the complex, often elusive spirit of the Renaissance more fully than any other place in the country. The most famous museum in Florence is the Uffizi, which houses works by Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Titian and Rubens. Other great art museums include the Pitti Palace, Galleria dell'Accademia, and Palazzo Vecchio. Florence is also home to some of the biggest churches in Italy, including the famous Duomo of Florence, San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce.

Ponte Vecchio is the oldest bridge, which crosses the Arno at its widest point. It dates back to Roman times and has often been re-built. After the flooding of 1333 the bridge was reconstructed with a double row of shops. In 1565 the east-facing Vasariano Corridor (an enclosed walkway) above the shops was built and additional shops added in the seventeenth century giving the bridge its current structure.

            Florence (Firenze)

You can reach Piazzale Michelangelo and the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte on foot by taking the spectacular route that architect Giuseppe Poggi created between 1865 and 1871, when Florence was the capital city of the Kingdom of Italy. The walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo starts at Porta a San Niccolò (Piazza Poggi), where a tower of defense dating back to 1324 is still intact. The first part of the route leads to Piazzale Michelangelo, and then on to the Church San Miniato, which is situated in the centre of a courtyard.

From the Piazzale you see one of the most famous and magnificent city views in the world. All of Florence at a glance, from Forte Belvedere to Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio, Duomo, Uffizi, Palazzo della Signoria and the Museo Nazional del Bargello. On the other side of Florence, you can see the hills to the north and the tall bell-tower of the Cathedral which stands in the midst of the town of Fiesole.

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Areas of Italy

Tuscany - Chianti

chiantiChianti is a vast geographic area at the center of the Tuscan region between Siena and Florence. Its hills are famous for its incomparable scenic beauty. The orderly cultivation of vines and olive trees, and the golden expanse of grain is an example of the harmonious union between the environment and human activity. The fascination of this territory lies in the perfect blending between the soft forms of slopes and the thousand nuances of colors and hilly woods. Scattered throughout Chianti are ancient castles, secular parishes, pleasant villas and large farms and vineyards. The traditions of these communities mix well with the modern production of wines, olives and olive oil.

Chianti has been a wine-producing area for a long time. There is evidence of viticulture activity during the Etruscan period in 500 BC. The main viticulture zones are the hills of Chianti in the center of the region, Mugello in the North, Val di Chiana in the South and the shore. All wines from Tuscany are famous not only in Italy but also in many countries. Chianti was one of the first wines to be exported abroad beginning in 1700.

The Chianti area is divided in two parts, the Chianti Fiorentino and the Chianti Senese. There are many interesting villages on the Via Chiantigiana Road. Impruneta is famous not only for the production of wine and olive of oil, but also for its terracotta. Volpaia is home to the Commenda di S. Eusofrino, a fine example of Renaissance culture, built in the 11th century utilizing a Romanesque style. The area around Greve in Chianti has many castles that are rich in history like Panzano, Lamole and Uzzano. Radda, also in Chianti is the headquarters of the Consorzio del Chianti Gallo Nero. Nearby is Castellina a medieval village with many structures from this period intact. Additional medieval structures can be found in the surrounding countryside, which today are mainly holiday homes. A friendly hospitality and the lore of agriculture define the Tuscan style, which attract visitors from all over the world. About 302 farms are "agriturismo" establishments. This term refers to a restaurant in a restored farm complex with rooms available for rent.

Other Areas of Tuscany

The Val d'Orcia (Valley of the Orcia River) stretches from the hills south of Siena to Monte Amiata. The intriguing and distinctive semi-desert landscape of Crete breaks up the enchanting green landscape of this part of Tuscany. The features of Crete are harsh and wild due to sun-drilled clay hills.

"Parco artistico, naturale e culturale della Val d'Orcia", aims at the preservation of the extraordinary artistic heritage of five boroughs; Castiglion d'Orcia, Montalcino, San Quirico d'Orcia, Radicofani and Pienza. Pienza, a small town near Siena, is a rare example of a Renaissance town and is sometimes referred to as the "utopian city". The pecorino (sheep's cheese) of Pienza is one of the best in Italy. Castiglione d'Orcia, a small village on the slopes of Monte Amiata, has an interesting history. Just outside the village is Rocca d'Orcia, a medieval village, which lies on top the ruins of the Rocca di Tintinnano. For centuries farmers made wine in the Montalcino' area.

About forty kilometers (25 miles) south-east of Siena towards Grosseto, in an isolated valley, lies the medieval Cistercian Abbey, although it is now desecrated and partly in ruins. About a ten minute walk up the hill of Montesiepi there is a small, circular chapel where one of the most fascinating and mysterious relics of the entire region of Tuscany is kept, the sword in the stone of Saint Galgano.

Going through the Sienese landscape, between Montalcino and the Orcia River is the Benedictine Abbey of Sant'Antimo. High cypresses and centuries-old olive trees surround the Abbey, which is in an area still quite uncontaminated. In and around the Abbey are preserved memories of other times and different life rhythms.

Sicily (Sicilia)

SicilySicily is the very essence of Italy, partly due to its history. This beautiful island has been a Phoenician settlement, a Greek colony, a Roman province, an Arab emirate, a Norman kingdom and a Spanish region. These different cultures have left in Sicily a heritage and a blend of Mediterranean traditions that is not comparable to any other place in Europe. Traveling in Sicily means getting in touch with the Baroque architecture of Palermo's churches and the legacy of the Spanish culture in Noto. It means walking in the Greek cities of Siracusa, Selinunte and Agrigento, watching a theatre piece in the Roman amphitheatre of picturesque Taormina and exploring the Norman castles.

Nature has provided the world famous island of Sicily with wonderful beaches in front of small volcanic islands, orange and lemon orchards as well as hills covered with vineyards and olive groves. The most astonishing masterpiece of nature in the region is, without any doubt Etna, the biggest active volcano in Europe, which still dominates the area with its majesty and strength.

SicilyThe cultural layers of Sicilian history are visible in its cuisine, especially in its many pastries and desserts, influenced by the Arabs and the monastic orders. For example, the best known traditional products are the cassata, a special ice cream made with ricotta and candies, the cannolo, a pastry filled with fresh ricotta, bitter chocolate and candies and the pasta di mandorle, an almond dough that is the base for several cakes.

SicilyWine is also a tradition that makes Sicily a cradle of Italian flavor. Dessert wines like Marsala, Passito di Pantelleria and Moscato, are a specialty of this island and are exported all over the world. Red wines like Nero D'Avola and white wines like Grecanico and Insolia are not to be missed for a complete experience of Sicilian vineyard products.

Veneto

VenetoVeneto is a region that offers not only a rich artistic heritage and wonderful romantic cities like Venezia, but also the opportunity for tasting some of the best Italian wines. This area produces 1/5 of Italian wine. The variety produced is the natural consequence of the environment: the exposure to sunlight and the soil in the calcareous hills account for the full-body wine from this area whereas the alpine valleys give a more fruity taste to the grapes.

VenetoIn Verona it is enjoyable to explore the old city with many symbols of a grand Roman past - castles, medieval buildings, monuments around Piazza Brà, Piazza Delle Erbe and Piazza Dei Signori. In the alleys and palaces exists the romantic and fascinating atmosphere of the two Shakespearean lovers, Romeo and Juliet, making Verona the town of lovers. Also in the old Roman and Gothic district are numerous churches worth visiting, the Cathedral, San Giorgio in Braida, San Zeno, and Sant'Anastasia. The Arena, the third largest Roman amphitheatre in existence is now Verona's opera house. Here one can be entertained by the best opera has to offer, as well as, by contemporary artists.

Five Lands (Cinque Terre)

Cinque TerreFive tiny seafront villages stretch eighteen kilometers along a sheer coastline. Until recently these villages were all but inaccessible by road and unknown to visitors, and now they are linked by railways. The surrounding countryside is a jumble of footpaths going to terraced hills with vineyards, lemon orchards and chestnut woods.

This land has been recently declared by UNESCO 'Humanity's World Heritage', because of its well preserved landscape as the structure of this land was not conducive to excessive housing development. Farmers of the area had an important role in the creation of the Cinque Terre landscape. Thousands of miles of dry-stone walls were built to create terraces to make it easier to cultivate the land. Cinque Terre means "five lands", and in the past meant "village". Monterosso, Manarola, Riomaggiore, Vernazza and Corniglia, the five villages, were founded when the farmers living on the hills, moved to the sea to avoid the danger of Saracens' attacks. At the mouth of the rivers they built villages with small ports.

              Cinque Terre

Coming from the south the first two villages are Riomaggiore and Manarola perched on the rocks with colorful houses overlooking the sea. They are linked to each other by the beautiful "Via dell'amore" (Love Path), a path cut in the rocks of a steep cliff.

The next village is Corniglia, the only one not by the sea but on a hill surrounded by vineyards that produce a delicious blend of wine. Going on to the north, there are beautiful romantic tiny beaches between the high cliffs leading to Vernazza. This is the only village that offers a safe port, sheltered by a rocky cape. The last village is Monterosso, the only one that has a wide beach washed by the crystal water of the gulf.

Trentino

TrentinoIn the heart of the Alps, Trentino is a region that links Northern Europe to the Mediterranean area. The most impressive mountains of the world, the Dolomites, surround an area of more than 300 lakes connected by a network of valleys, each one with his peculiar heritage of tradition and history. Trentino has almost 1000 square kilometers of nature parks that make this region the ideal place for those who love nature and wish to spend a holiday.

For a sports enthusiast, this is the place to be as the sports activities are almost unlimited. They include: mountaineering, free climbing, cycling, mountain biking, hiking, trekking, exploring caves, golf, archery, adventure trails, sailing, surfing, swimming, diving, canoe and kayak rafting, fishing, paragliding, hang gliding, parachuting, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, sledding - dog trekking, tobogganing, broomball, ice curling, hockey, ice skating, and ice climbing.

TrentinoThe terrain of Trentino makes all of these sporting activities possible. From skiing in August on a 3000 meter high eternal glacier to the Mediterranean climate of the Garda Lake, which is an ideal place for surf and sail lovers. Trentino is like an open-air gym. Combine this unique gym with the most efficient resorts and modern infrastructures, and you have a region that hosts the best national and international events where you can be a spectator of hundreds of winter sport competitions. Yet, the most beautiful show in Trentino is the "enrosadira", when the peaks of the Dolomites become fiery red as they are struck by the warm light of each sunset.

If you prefer more relaxing activities, consider one of the high quality spa resorts. Since Roman times people have been enjoying the high-altitude streams and lakes in additional to the hydrothermal springs of the area. The calmness of the surroundings, freshness of the mountain air, the sun, and the climate make the spas in Trentino ideal places to relax and search for wellness while in harmony with nature.

The old traditions and culture still exist in the villages throughout the valleys of Trentino. Traveling through these valleys one will encounter folklore fairs with local music, handcraft works and regional food. In the medieval historic districts of cities like Trento and Bolzano, traditional markets with handcrafts are held at Christmas time. At these markets you can taste the specialties of the region: vin brulé (hot wine), salted meat and ham, strangolapreti (local pasta with bread, eggs, spinaches and spices), several kinds of soups, game, strudel, local cheeses, the best wines and grappa. Due to the different microclimates of Trentino several varieties of grapes are cultivated.

AMALFI COAST (COSTIERA AMALFITANA)

COSTIERA AMALFITANAThe Costiera Amalfitana is the peninsula between the Bay of Napoli and the Bay of Salerno. The union of sea and mountains, which extends to an altitude of 1425 meters (4,275 feet), characterizes the area. There is a series of small bays and creeks, many which can only be reached by the sea, like the beautiful cave of Smeraldo at Conca dei Marini and the Furore fiord. The coastline is very steep with breathtaking cliffs that drop to crystal-clear blue waters. Due to the configuration of land, some areas are completely untouched by man, like the natural reserve of Vallone di Porto, close to Positano.

Watching the Costiera from the sea is an impressive experience with its huge rocks, monumental cliffs, white beaches, terraced hills with olive and lemon orchards, vineyards, small fishermen's villages perched on the rocks, old watchtowers, and mill and iron-foundries. The Costiera Amalfitana has been the summer residence of rich Roman families and a favorite stop for "Grand Tour" travelers. The natural beauty of the Costiera is comparable only to the splendor of its historic and artistic heritage.

        COSTIERA AMALFITANA

A glorious past is visible in the monuments of Amalfi, an ancient Repubblica Marinara (Maritime Republic). It was one of the biggest and most powerful ports in the Mediterranean Sea in the 10th and 11th centuries. The Cathedral (Duomo,) the Arsenali della Repubblica and the Museo della Carta are from Amalfi ancient glorious past.

Nearby villages of interest include Strani with its 10th century Church of S. Salvatore dei Bireto where the Dogi (doges) of Amalfi were crowned. The village of Ravello has a Duomo dating back to the 12th century and two famous villas; Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, each have huge gardens that face the sea. Minori has an arsenal built at the time of the Republic of Amalfi and the ruins of a roman villa of the first century AC. Vietri village is world famous for its ceramics and sweeping views of the coastline.



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Recreation & Sports

 
  • Walking (Italy is a walker's paradise)
  • Skiing
  • Windsurfing
  • Sailing
  • Hang gliding
  • Balloning
  • Swimming
Trentino

Spectator Sports

Recreation
  • Motor Racing
  • Football
  • Rugby
  • Cycling
  • Skiing

Leisure

  • Festivals
  • Shopping
  • Museums & Art Galleries
  • Opera
  • Theatre
  • Jazz
  • Island Tours
  • View Italian art & archecture through the ages
 

General Information


Statistics about Italy

  • According to data provided to SITE by the International Conference Research, Inc., Italy is considered the #1 top international incentive destination.
  • Third most visited country from all over the world (source: Lonely Planet).
  • Business Week magazine research ranks Italy the 4th most visited destination overall in the world.
  • According to the US Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, Italy is constantly ranked #6 amid the destinations visited by US resident travelers.
  • According to Conde Naste Traveler, the Italian cities of Rome, Venice and Florence are among the top 5 most visited European cities by the US travelers.
  • Three direct flights per day from the biggest US airports.

Accommodations

There is often no difference between a pensione and an albergo (hotel), some hotels use both titles. A pensione will generally be of one to three star quality, while an albergo can be awarded up to five stars.

Business Hours

Banks: 08:35 / 13:35 & 15:00 / 16:00 Mon-Fri
Offices: 09:00 / 17:00 Mon-Fri, incl. lunch break
Shops 09:00 / 13:00 & 15:30 / 19:30

Business/Social Hints

Many public offices close at 13:45 hours. The street level of a building is called ground floor.

Appointments must be made in advance, punctuality is important. For business meetings men should wear a suit and a tie, women a two-piece suit or equivalent. It is advisable to avoid sleeveless t-shirts, shorts and mini-skirts when visiting churches. It is customary to shake hands on meeting and taking leave. Business cards to indicate academic/professional titles and are exchanged after introduction. Business is conducted in Italian, many executives speak English and French.

In conversation, people normally stand relatively close together. People often use gestures when speaking.

Smoking is prohibited in many public buildings and on transport. Also, one should request permission before smoking in offices, cars and restaurants.

Climate

Italy can be divided into three climatic regions:

  • Alpine, Po Valley and Northern plain
  • Peninsular region
  • Islands

The Italian side of the Alps has more rainfall than the Swiss and Austrian side and the lower slopes are warmer in both summer and winter. The wettest time is between seasons and thunderstorms are most frequent in spring and autumn. The Po Valley and northern plain has well distributed rainfall throughout the year. Summers are hot and winters surprisingly cold with frequent fog, frost and snow. Peninsular Italy and the climate of the islands differ between the coastland and the interior. During winter the higher areas are cold, wet and often snowy. The coastal areas are mild. Summers are usually hot and dry and changeable weather is common during autumn, winter and spring.

Clothing:

Lightweight clothing is worn in summer, except in mountains. In winter, light or medium weight clothing in the south with warmer clothing required elsewhere. Alpine wear is advised for winter mountain resorts.

Weather in Rome

  Temp. °C   Temp. °F   Humidity %   Rain
  a/x Min Max Min am pm (mm)
January 1/0 3 50 37 85 68 71
February 1/3 4 55 39 86 64 62
March 1/6 6 60 42 83 56 57
April 2/0 9 68 48 83 54 50
May 2/3 13 73 55 74 54 46
June 2/8 16 82 60 74 48 37
July 3/0 20 86 68 70 42 15
August 3/1 19 87 66 73 43 29
September 2/7 16 80 60 83 50 63
October 2/3 12 73 53 86 59 100
November 1/7 8 62 46 87 66 128
December 1/3 5 55 41 85 70 93

Communications

Italy's postal system is unreliable. Urgent mail can be sent by CAI Post, the Italian post office's courier service. Several international couriers operate in Italy: DHL, Federal Express, and UPS. Public pay phones are liberally scattered about the country. Most accept only telephone cards, and there are some that accept credit cards. Italy has one of the highet levels of mobile phone penetration in Europe, and there are several companies through which you can get a temporary or prepaid account if you already own a GSM dual or tri-band cellular phone. Faxes can be sent from post offices, copy centers and some Telecom public phones. There are cybercafes throughout Italy. You may also find public Internet access in post offices, libraries and hotels.

Electricity

220V, 50Hz. Some older buildings may still use 125V.

Food & Beverage

WineItalian cuisine is renowned all over the world for the freshness and flavor of its ingredients. Regional specialties abound as a result of the cultural heritage of each region. Hundreds of different pizzas and types of pasta are served up and down the country in a variety of sauces that has no apparent end. Another specialty is found in the Piedmont area truffles, which embody unique flavors. Italy has consistently good frozen desserts. Wine is an essential accompaniment to any meal. Fine wines are produced throughout Italy and the style of wine varies from region to region. Please sample the local wine during your travels. The most common Italian beers are crisp and light Pilsener-style lagers.

Government

In 1948 a new constitution made Italy a parliamentary republic. Since unification in 1861, Italy had been ruled under a statute of constitutional monarchy that, as the years passed, took on an increasingly parliamentary tone. The seat of national government is in Rome.

Health and Safety

Please see Travel Advice Contacts below for more information.

Holidays

Jan 1 New Year's Day
January 6 Epiphany Day
Varies Good Friday
Varies Easter Monday
April 25 Liberation Day
May 1 Labor Day
June 2 National Day
Aug 15 Assumption
Nov 1 All Saints Day
Dec 8 Immaculate Conception
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 Boxing Day

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Language

Italian. Many Italians speak some English.

Money

€ Euro (1 EUR = 100 cents) Notes: EUR 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500
Coins: EUR 1, 2
Cents 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50
Credit cards, traveler's checks and Eurocheques are widely accepted

Nightlife

While Italian bars do serve alcohol, as well as soft drinks, sandwiches and pastries, what they are really about is coffee. The Italian version of an Irish pub has taken off in a big way. These are places where you can select from a wide range of international beers. Discos and clubs are usually large venues with a dance floor and the music ranges from mainstream Top 40 to hip-hop. There is also an assortment of smaller clubs and bars that have live music. Be aware that the word "nightclub" means something far seedier to Italians.

Passports & Visas

Where a visa is not required, passports must be valid when returning from Italy. Where a visa is required, passports must be valid for 3 months beyond validity of the visa. Visas are not required for a stay up to 90 days by citizens of Canada, United States, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Health and Safety

Please see Travel Advice Contacts below for more information.

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Major Events in Italy

AgrigentoALMOND BLOSSOM FESTIVAL
First half of February
Folk festival of song, dance, costumes, fireworks
ArezzoGIOSTRA del SARACINO (Joust of the Saracen)
First Sunday in September
Tilting contest of the 13th century with knights in armor
AssisiCALENDIMAGGIO (Celebration of Holy Week)
Easter Week
Celebration of spring according to rites dating back to medieval times
Ascoli-PicenoTORNEO della QUINTANA (Joust of the Quintana)
First Sunday in August
Historical pageant with people in 15th century costumes
AstiPALIO - San Secondo
May 2
A 700-year-old ceremony with procession in 13th century costumes. Flag Throwing Contest.Third Sunday in SeptemberAncient festival with 800 costumed participants
 
FirenzeSCOPPIO DEL CARRO (Explosion of the Cart)
Easter Sunday
A pyramid of fireworks in the Cathedral Square is set off by a mechanical dove driven from the Altar during High Mass.CALCIO FIORENTINO (Soccer Match)June 24 to 28Revival of a 16th century football match in medieval costumes.June 24thFireworks display from the terraced gardens overlooking the city
FolignoGIOSTRA della QUINTANA (Joust of the Quintana)
Second Sunday in September
Revival of a 17th century joust with 600 knights in costume, historical procession
GenovaPALIO MARINARO dei RIONI
June 29th
Rowing race in ancient dress
GenzanoINFIORATA (Flower festival)
June 21
Corpus DominiA religious procession along the streets carpeted with flowers in magnificent designs.
GubbioFESTA dei CERI (Race of the Candles)
May 15
A procession in local costume in which tall shrines are carried to the church on the top of Mount Ingino.
PALIO dei BALESTRIERI (The Palio of the Archers)
Last Sunday in May
Medieval crossbow contest between Gubbio and Sansepolcro with medieval costumes and arms.
La SpeziaPALIO del GOLFO
First Sunday of August
Rowing contest
Marostica(Vicenza)PARTITA a SCACCHI con PERSONAGGI VIVENTI(Living Chess Game)
Second weekend of September in even-numbered years
Chess game is played in the town square by living pawns in period costume.
NapoliFESTIVAL of San GENNARO
September 19
A religious ceremony honoring the patron saint of the city
PalermoFEAST of Santa ROSALIA
July 10 to 15
Procession, bands, fireworks in honor of the patron saint of the city
Piana degli AlbanesiCELEBRATION of the EPIPHANY from the BYZANTINE RITE
January 6
PisaGIOCO del PONTE (Battle of the Bridge)
First Sunday in June
Medieval parade and contestREGATTA of the GREAT MARITIME REPUBLICSThe friendly contest and historic regatta in which each of the former maritime republics (Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice) race for a price
RomaEPIPHANY FAIR at PIAZZA NAVONA
January 5th
A fair of toys, sweets and others presents takes place in the open air among the beautiful Bernini fountainsFESTA DE' NOANTRIJuly 19th to 26thFolklore of old Rome in Trastevere, including colorful procession for the Vergine del Carmine, folk dances and songs, carnival floats and fireworks
SansepolcroPALIO dei BALESTRIERI (The Contest of the Archers)
Last Sunday in May
Medieval crossbow contest between Gubbio and Sansepolcro with medieval costumes and arms.
SienaPALIO - in Siena
July 2nd and August 16th
Procession and horserace.
Participants are members of ancient city districts, competing for the banner (Palio). Colorful medieval pageantry.
VeneziaCARNIVAL in VENICE
February/March
Celebrations in costumes and masks, entertainment in streets and squares. Music, mimes and fireworks.IL REDENTORE (Redeemer's Day)Third Sunday in JulyProcession of gondolas commemorating the end of the epidemic of 1575HISTORICAL REGATTAFirst Sunday in SeptemberTraditional competition between two-oar racing gondolas and procession of ceremonial boats.
ViareggioCARNEVALE (Carnival)
February/March
Highlight of the Carnival festivities is the procession of spectacular and colorful floats
MAJOR MUSIC FESTIVALS
FirenzeMaggio Musicale Fiorentino
May and June
Teatro Comunale
 
Ravello (Salerno)Ravello Classical Music Festival
June
- SeptemberSocietà dei Concerti di Ravello
RavennaRavenna Festival
June
- JulyTeatro Alighieri
SienaMUSICAL WEEKS
August
Academia Musicale Chigiana
SpoletoSpoleto Festival June - July
Associazione Festival dei Due Mondi
Torre del Lago PucciniFestival Pucciniano AugustTorre del Lago Puccini
Umbria
Umbria Jazz July
VeronaArena di Verona
June to end of August
ViterboBaroque Music Festival
August
Palazzo Santoro
CataniaMusic and drama performances at the Greek-Roman Theatre
- from June to September
Monreale & PalermoSacred Music Festival
- October and November
Roma- Concerts in the Basilica of Massenzio
- July to August
- Winter season concerts of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
- Winter season concerts of the Accademia Filarmonica
Romana
Taormina (Messina)Music and drama festival
- July and August

Time

GMT +1 (from end of March to end of October GMT +2)

Tipping

A service charge is normally added to the bill and gratuities are not necessary but it is customary to leave a min. EUR 0.50 or around 10%.
Taxis round up their fares and so gratuities are not necessary.

Topography

75% of Italy is mountainous with the Alps stretching from the Gulf of Genoa to the Adriatic Sea north of Trieste. The highest Alpine peak is Mont Blanc, 4,807 meters, on the border with France. The highest mountain in Italy is Mont Rosa, 4,633 meters. Italy's longest river, the Po, stretches 650 km. There are three active volcanoes, Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli, all linked to the residual movement of the tectonic plates that formed the Apennines Mountain range.

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Travel into Italy and within the Country

Several airlines fly direct to Italy, landing at either Rome or Milan airports. These include Alitalia, Lufthansa, Air France, TWA and Delta airlines. Alitalia has direct flights from Toronto and Montreal, Canada. Flights from Australia and New Zealand to Europe generally go via South-East Asian capitals.

Travel within Italy

There is domestic air travel by Alitalia to numerous airports in Italy. You can reach almost any destination in Italy by train or car. Travelling by train is simple and generally efficient. Roads in Italy are generally good throughout the country and there is an excellent network of motorways. Driving is on the right side and an international driving permit is required.

Travel Advice Contacts (Information on health issues, safety, visas, etc.)

These websites are provided as basic guidelines. Please refer to the State Department of your home country for more details and current information.

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