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EMILIA-ROMAGNA

This region extends south of the Po as far as the crest of the Apennines and along the Adriatic coast as far as Cattolica.
The Via Emilia, a road originally built by the Romans between 191 and 187 B.C., marks almost exactly the boundary between plain and hills. The south-east of the region (with the provinces of Forlì-Cesena, Rimini and Ravenna, small parts of the provinces of Bologna and Ferrara and the Republic of San Marino) is known as Romagna, a name that marks the contrast in the early Middle Ages between the Roman-Byzantine lands and those controlled by the Lombards.
In tourism, the beaches of the Adriatic Riviera predominate over the cities of art - Ravenna, Modena and Faenza, as well as Bologna (the regional capital), Rimini, Parma, Ferrara - and over mountain resorts and spas.
CALABRIA

Forming the southern tip of the peninsula, this region itself forms a peninsula between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas. The narrow plains covers less than a tenth of its territory; the rest is mountainous. To the east rises the wild plateau of the Sila (Monte Botte Donato 1928 m), which continues, beyond the isthmus between the Gulfs of Sant'Eufemia and Squillace, with the chain of the Serre (1000-1400 m) and Aspromonte (Montalto 1955 m), the last mountain of the Italian peninsula.
Tourism has grown recently, above all along the coast, fostered by the extensive improvements to communications, such as the autostrada that traverses the region from north to south via Castrovìllari and Cosenza to Reggio di Calabria, the road known as the Strade dei Due Mari and the Sila highway.

FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA

This is the extreme north-east stretch of Italy, between the course of the rivers Tagliamento and Livenza, to the west, and the Isonzo to the east. It actually stretches beyond the Isonzo into the province of Gorizia and the coast of the Gulf of Trieste (the remnant of the old Venezia Giulia which was much larger before World War II) with Muggia and a strip of the Carso.
The staple of tourism lies in the beach resorts of the Adriatic, followed by the regional capital Trieste and mountain resorts.

SICILY / SICILIA

Sicily, sometimes called Trinacria - from its Greek name, meaning "three-cornered" - is the biggest island in the Mediterranean and the largest region of Italy. It lies in the middle of the Mediterranean, separated from the southernmost tip of the peninsula by the narrow Strait of Messina. It is essentially hilly and mountainous.
The cities of the 18th-century Grand Tour, such as Taormina, Siracusa, Agrigento and Palermo have been joined by newer resorts for tourists attracted by the sunshine, the sea, the vegetation on the north and east coast and the Aeolian Islands. Of great interest are also Erice, Messina, Monreale, Noto, Piazza Armerina, Segesta and Selinunte.

LAKE GARDA

To quote a 17th-century author: "delightful gardens, full of lemon trees, orange trees, and cedars, lush and flowering throughout the year, offer an exceedingly agreeable view, amidst laurel and myrtle, in a temperate and fragrant climate". He was describing the microclimate of Italy's largest lake, a slice of the Mediterranean amidst the Alps: the cypress became common here under Venetian administration, the grapevine dates back to remotest times, the olive tree may have been introduced by the Etruscans, but the Austrians developed it as a business. The mulberry has long vanished. Citrus trees were first grown by Franciscan brothers under Venetian rule; there are ruins of ancient winter greenhouses on the terraced slopes. Under Austrian rule, many towns without roads were served by a steamer called the "Archduke Ranieri"; on the Lombard side, a coastal road was not built until 1931.
This route runs through a varied succession of landscapes: steep slopes and villas below, then even steeper rocks; the breathtaking view from the highlands of Tremosine, overlooking Monte Baldo; the colors of Venetian architecture, venerable little ports along the east shore; vast views, more like an arm of the sea than a lake, lie beyond Punta di S. Vigilio. Last comes Sirmione, frequented and described by Catullus: "Paene insularum, Sirmio, insularumque ocelle", the "delight of peninsulas and islands".

From Salò you follow the Lombard shore of Lake Garda, on the SS 45 bis road, or Gardesana Occidentale. Once you have passed through Gargnano, you will take the road that climbs up to the highland of Tremosine, and then drops back down to Limone sul Garda. From here, again along the shore, you proceed to Riva del Garda and Torbole, at the lake's northern tip. The route then runs the length of the eastern, Venetian shore on the SS 249 road, as far as Peschiera del Garda. Then you take the SS 11 road west, turning right at the fork for Sirmione and its peninsula, the final point along the route. Throughout this route traffic will be heavy, especially during the summer months.NAPLES / NAPOLI

Naples served as a center of attraction in much the same way that Paris did for France or Madrid for Spain, a role that Rome has only recently played for the Italian peninsula.
In one of the loveliest natural settings in Europe, celebrated throughout history for its plethora of panoramic views, its mild climate, luminous sea and gentle breezes, Naples is endowed with a superb heritage of monuments and art collections, at the center of an archeological zone that extends from Cumae to Pompeii, an attraction that draws visitors from all over the world.
"Grand, luminous, and noble city", as one of its most illustrious sons, Giambattista Vico, once called it. Vico, the great historical philosopher, was an example of the cultural and philosophical rigor that has always been the other face of unassuming Neapolitan humanism, immortalized by such actors as Salvatore Di Giacomo and Eduardo De Filippo.

Italy stretches from the Alps, on its northern borders with Switzerland and Austria, down a thin peninsula to the Mediterranean in the south. Few countries can compete with Italy for its sheer wealth of art and architecture, not to mention music, literature, the culinary arts, fashion, and contemporary design. Ancient Roman ruins—the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the buried Roman city of Pompeii—and the Greek temples in Paestum and Sicily, stand in stark contrast to the beautiful lagoon-city of Venice and the renaissance works of art in Florence and Tuscany. The country's landscape varies dramatically, from the alpine heights of the Dolomites and the Italian lakes in the north, to the olive groves and vineyards of the Tuscan and Umbrian countryside. The Italian peninsula is ever popular for its bathing beaches, and more rugged beauty is to be found in the south, and on the island of Sicily.

Italy was the seat of the Roman Empire two thousand years ago, ruling most of the known world from Rome. From the end of the 2nd century AD the capital city became the seat of the popes, and the most powerful centre of the Roman Catholic Church. From the 9th century, Venice grew rich from trade in spices and precious stones from the East, becoming one of the greatest maritime powers of all time. Italy's economic and cultural Golden Age came in the 15th and early 16th centuries, with the production of consumer goods on a grand scale, and generous patronage of the arts. The country has weathered much political turbulence over the centuries, and it was not until 1860 that the practical politics of Mazzini and Cavour, and the heroic deeds of Garibaldi, finally unified the country. After a long period of political and financial uncertainty in the mid-20th century, Italy is now enjoying a period of optimism. Milan, the country's industrial and commercial centre, is flourishing, and tourism is a sound source of revenue.

Throughout Italy, beautiful churches, palaces, paintings, and sculpture testify to the artistic importance of the Italian Renaissance. This “rebirth” of classical art, which had its origins in Florence, produced some of the finest and most celebrated artists in the world, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Donatello, and Botticelli. The Roman poet Virgil wrote the Aeneid around 30 BC, while Dante Alighieri's masterpiece The Divine Comedy, written in the 1300s, helped the Italian language to become the most prominent literary form in Europe. Librettist Lorenzo da Ponte helped Mozart marry Italian literature with music in the form of opera. Italy has produced a number of outstanding musical composers, from Scarlatti and Vivaldi in the early 18th century to the great 19th-century creators of opera, Rossini and Verdi. Creativity is still strong in modern Italy: many great fashion designers, such as Armani, Moschino, Versace, and Valentino, have kept Italy's profile high, while Italian film studios have produced some excellent films over the past 40 years, notably under the direction of Visconti, Pasolini, Fellini, and Bertolucci.

Venice
Venice (Venezia), a city of pedestrians and water traffic, is so richly adorned that many visits are needed to fully explore it. Most popular are the Basilica of San Marco, mausoleum of Venice's patron saint, the Doges' Palace, and the Accademia, which any student of Venetian art should not miss. Of the other city museums, the Ca' Rezzonico (18th-century art), the Correr Museum, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (20th-century art) are the most important. Venice's other outstanding sites are her smaller churches: Gothic Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Santi Giovanni e Paolo, the Gesuati, San Zaccaria, and the Redentore, with their paintings, tombs, sculpture and treasuries, are also museums. Beyond the city, there are the islands (Murano, Burano, and Torcello) where the pace of life is slower.

Florence
Florence (Firenze), cradle of the Renaissance, is renowned for its wealth of art and architecture. Most sights lie north of the River Arno—including the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, Giotto's tower, and the baptistery, with its magnificent bronze doors. Another cluster of sites is formed by the Bargello Museum with its stunning collection of renaissance sculpture, the medieval Palazzo Vecchio, and the statue-adorned church of Orsanmichele. Not far away, are the church of San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapels, housing Michelangelo's heroic sculptures of Day, Night, Dawn and Dusk. Further artistic riches are to be found in the church of Santa Maria Novella. Be sure to visit both the Accademia Gallery (which contains Michelangelo's David) and the Museo di San Marco (for Fra Angelico's frescoes). The Pitti Palace on the south bank of the river, across the medieval shop-lined Ponte Vecchio, houses yet more of the artistic wealth of the Medici family.

Rome
Rome (Roma), the capital of Italy, is known as the Eternal City because of its great antiquity. For centuries it was the most powerful city in Europe, capital first of the mighty Roman Empire, then of the Roman Catholic Church, which ruled Rome until the Vatican City was created as a separate sovereign state in 1929.
Rome's compact and historic centre is full of ancient landmarks, such as the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, and the Colosseum. Early Christianity contributed Rome's mosaic-filled churches—among them Santa Maria Maggiore and San Pietro in Vincoli—and its catacombs. The patronage of renaissance popes gave the city its fountains (including the famous Trevi Fountain), its statues, and its art-filled museums, such as the Borghese Gallery, while the people of Rome, vivacious and cosmopolitan, give the city, with its stylish shops and restaurants, its lively modern-day character.

Entry Requirements
Citizens of the European Union (EU) Schengen area countries, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican City can enter Italy with a valid national identity card. Citizens of other EU countries, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia , Turkey and Vatican City need a valid passport but not a visa. Other nationals should consult the Italian embassy or consulate in their country of residence for details of any visa requirements.

Emergency Phone Numbers
Ambulance, fire brigade, and police: 113
Police: 112
Emergency breakdown services: 116
Fire brigade: 115
Alternative pan-European emergency number for all services: 112

Time Zones
Central European Time (GMT plus one hour). Clocks are put forward one hour from the last Sunday in March to the Saturday before the end of October.

Driving
Vehicle documents
Check with your motor vehicle insurance company regarding any documents you will need and whether additional insurance is required. If you are a citizen of the European Union, you will need an Italian translation of your driving licence, unless you possess a UK licence. If you belong to a country outside the European Union, you will need an International Driving Permit. Motoring organisations in your country of residence can advise. Drivers must carry a red warning triangle in the car, as its use is obligatory in the event of a breakdown.

Rules Of The Road
Always carry your full valid driving licence (or International Driving Permit, if necessary), vehicle registration and insurance documents, and national identity card or passport with you at all times.
Traffic drives on the right in Italy. The driver and front-seat passengers must wear seat belts, as should rear-seat passengers, if the car has them fitted. Children under 12 must travel in the rear seat unless a child-restraint system is fitted in the front. The maximum amount of alcohol allowed in the bloodstream when driving is 80 mg per 100 ml (8g/l).

Roads, Tolls And Speed Limits
The quality of roads varies, but autostrade (motorways marked with the prefix “A”) are mostly toll roads and are well maintained. National roads are prefixed with the letters “SS” and provincial roads (strade provinciali) with “sp”. Speed limits on the autostrade are 130 kilometres per hour (81 miles per hour) for cars, and 100 kilometres per hour (62 miles per hour) for camper vans. The speed limit for cars on secondary roads is 90 kilometres per hour (56 miles per hour); 110 kilometres per hour (70 miles per hour) on dual carriageways, and 50 kilometres per hour (31 miles per hour) in built-up areas.The maximum level of alcohol permitted in the bloodstream when driving is 0.8 grams per litre (80mg/ml).

Driving Tips
Driving is one of the best ways to get about the Italian countryside. Roads are generally good and well signposted. However, long journeys can be expensive, both because of the motorway tolls and the relatively high price of petrol. Always carry some loose change to pay for tolls.

Assistance
Emergency (SOS) phones are located on autostrade every 2 kilometres (1.2 miles). For assistance, telephone 116 or the ACI on (06) 49981.

Electrical Devices
The electrical current in Italy is 220 volts AC. Generally, round two-pin plugs are used, although you may also find round, three-pin plugs in use. An adapter is essential for UK and Irish appliances.


Salò, with a handsome historical center, lies in an inlet, amidst green hills: the beauty of the site is the reason for its renown. Gardone Riviera: a lovely lakefront promenade embellishes this exclusive resort; also worthy of attention is the remarkable Vittoriale, home of the early-20th-century poet Gabriele D'Annunzio. Maderno lies on the delta of the river Toscolano, with the Romanesque church of S. Andrea. Pieve, center of the township of Tremosine, has a remarkable overlook; to reach it you must take a detour up a twisting mountain road, into the gorge of the Brasa River. Limone sul Garda, set amidst abandoned olive, cedar, and lemon groves, has lovely homes in the old center, at the end of the lakefront promenade. Riva del Garda: this little town is a perfect combination of Alpine, Tridentine, and Venetian flavors (for a few brief decades, in the 15th century, it was ruled by Venice). Torbole has an enchanting lakefront. "Marmitte dei Giganti", notable geological formations, line the road to Nago and from Nago to Arco. Malcesine: the most remarkable features of this old town are the Palazzo dei Capitani del Lago and the Castello; you can also take a cableway up to Tratto Spino (1780 m), on the crest of Monte Baldo, with a twofold vista of Lake Garda and the Adige valley. Torri del Benaco: a Scaliger castle dominates this lovely little village. Punta di S. Vigilio, among olive and cypress trees, deserves its reputation as the most romantic place on the lake. Garda: again, an enchanting lakefront, lined with fine old houses. Bardolino lies amidst vineyards whose grapes are used to produce the wine of the same name; in the town, visit the Romanesque church of S. Severo and the little church of S. Zeno, surrounded by small quaint houses. Lazise has a nearly intact ring of medieval walls. In the lovely panorama of the broad basin of the southern lake, note the enchanting - though often overcrowded - setting of the marina. Peschiera del Garda was a Venetian outpost fortress, the stronghold of the Austrian Quadrilateral: the town's military function can be seen in the fortifications that surround the markedly Venetian center, where the Mincio River flows into Lake Garda. Sirmione: the spectacular medieval walls of the Rocca Scaligera, the remarkably twisting streets of the "borgo", and the fine views of the lake are all well known, printed on too many postcards, perhaps, but still eminently enjoyable. The celebrated, so-called Grottoes of Catullus are actually the ruins of the largest existing ancient Roman villa from imperial times in northern Italy.

 

Before you go get covered for all events

Currency Exchange
American Express, Visa, Access/MasterCard, and Diners Club are accepted in Italy. Eurocheques, accompanied by a valid Eurocheque card, and travellers cheques are also accepted. You will need your identity card or passport when cashing either. Not all shops and restaurants accept credit cards, so it is worth checking in advance. Travellers cheques are the safest way to carry cash, and you should buy these in your own country before departure. In general, banks offer a better rate of exchange than hotels and airports. Banking hours are usually 08.30 to 13.00 on weekdays. Some branches reopen from 14.30 to 15.30 (or 15.00 to 16.00).
Tipping
At restaurants, the service charge is included in the bill, although an additional small tip is usually expected. It is common to tip hotel staff, porters, taxi drivers, tour guides, lavatory attendants, and hairdressers. L1,000 is regarded as the minimum
Public Holidays
1 January: New Year’s Day
6 January: Epiphany
Easter Sunday
Easter Monday
25 April: Liberation Day
1 May: Labour Day
15 August: Assumption
1 November: All Saints’ Day
8 December: Immaculate Conception
25/26 December: Christmas
Travellers With Disabilities
In general, Italy is not well adapted to the needs of travellers with disabilities, but attitudes are, by and large, helpful. Wheelchair access is not very common, except in large museums and galleries. Check in advance what special facilities are available at your destination. Italian State Railways (FS) have reception centres that provide assistance to travellers with disabilities. A pamphlet on their services and facilities is available at FS information points. Other organisations that can provide information and/or assistance are Associazione Italiana per l’Assistenza agli Spastici (AIAS), via Cipro 4/H, 00136 Rome, tel: +39 6 3973 1829 and +39 6 3973 1704; and AIAS Milano, via San Barnaba 29, 20122 Milano, tel: +39 2 5501 7564, fax: +39 2 5501 4870. The association CO. IN. provides special tourist and access information (for Rome only), to travellers with disabilities. They are located at via E. Giglioi 54/A, 00169 Rome, tel/fax: +39 6 2326 7504/5. In Venice contact Informa Handicap, Via Catalani 9/A, 30171 Metre, Venezia, tel: +39 41 976 435, fax: +39 41 974 457.
Transport
Metro, buses and trams
Main bus stations are usually found near the town’s train station, and tickets can be bought in the station or in Main bus stations are usually found near the town's train station, and tickets can be bought in the station or in tabacchi (newsagents). Once on board-ascend at the rear, alight at the front-passengers must validate their tickets in the machines provided. Urban buses are frequent, comprehensive, and inexpensive (usually about L1,500). Tickets must be purchased at tabacchi, news-stands, or at bus-stop kiosks before entering the bus.
In Venice, tickets for the city's water buses must be purchased in advance at tabacchi or landing stages. They cost more if bought on board. Tickets must be validated in the machine on board. Discount one-day or three-day tourist tickets are available. Twenty-four-hour passes can be purchased for the vaporetti (large water buses). Fees for gondola trips should be negotiated beforehand. Metros operate in Milan, Rome, and Naples. Tickets must be purchased in advance at tabacchi or news-stands in most cities.
Ferries
Ferries depart from Genoa, Civitavecchia, and Naples for Sicily, and Sardinia. There are also ferries from Naples, Pozzuoli, Salerno, and Sorrento for the islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida, and hydrofoils and ferries between Anzio and Ponza and the Pontine islands. The Aeolian islands are best reached by ferry and hydrofoil from Messina, Milazzo, Palermo, Reggio di Calabria, Naples, and Capri, while the Egadi Islands and Pantelleria can be reached from Trapani, Ustica from Palermo, Linosa, and Lampedusa from Porto Empedocle. From Manfredonia, Vieste, Vasto, Ortona, Rodi Garganico, and Termoli, there are boats to the Tremiti islands. To Elba, boats leave from Piombino and Livorno. There is a choice of routes across Lakes Maggiore, Como, Garda, and Iseo.

THE AMALFI COASTLINE

The coastline faces south here, overlooking sea and bright sunshine. The Monti Lattari plunge sharply down, a rocky bastion broken only by harsh deep valleys, with citrus and olive groves and vegetable gardens on rocky terraces, held up by small, rocky walls created by the back-breaking labor of generations; elsewhere, all you can see is Mediterranean underbrush and stones.
The houses all cluster around the mouths of the deep valleys: the steep slopes determine the architectural style, which stacks volume, stairways, and roofs, crisscrossed by intricate lanes, refreshingly shady after the inexorable sunlight that is reflected by the sea and the whitewashed walls. For the entire 10th century and much of the 11th century, Amalfi grew quickly and extensively, taking Pisa's place in Mediterranean trade - later ceding its primacy to Genoa. Amalfi had trading colonies in Naples, Messina, Palermo, in the ports of Puglia, and, outside of Italy, in Durazzo, Tunis, Tripoli, Alexandria, Acre, Antioch, and of course, in the great metropolis of this time, Constantinople.
Along with wealth, Amalfi took from the Byzantines and the Muslims a cultural influence that can be seen in the art. The little state of Amalfi, the first of Italy's "maritime republics", included the stretch of coastline from Positano to Cetara, with the islands of Li Galli and Capri; inland, it stretched to Tramonti and, over the crest of the Monti Lattari, it included Gragnano and Lettere. The end came late in the 11th century, as the Normans pushed north, allying themselves with the Pisan fleet in order to rid themselves of the pushy maritime merchants of Amalfi. The sun still shines down on the coastline, the sea breezes still brush the aromatic maquis, and in the little cloister bedecked with intertwined arches the palm trees still cast their shade over the "Paradiso".