Country guide Italy

Italy is a nation revered for its exquisite cuisine, culture and intellectual contributions to life on earth - pulling in millions of visitors and people looking to relocate each year.

Sights and Attractions

Italy's streets are brimming with history, from stunning remnants of the Roman Empire like the Colosseum and Pantheon to the ancient prehistoric cave-dwellings of Sassi di Matera. It's a nation revered for its exquisite cuisine, culture and intellectual contributions to life on earth - pulling in millions of visitors each year.

The nation is also proudly home to 51 UNESCO World Heritage sites illustrating Italy's efforts at preserving its rich heritage. With an array of important cultural and historical landmarks like the ancient city of Pompeii and the leaning tower of Pisa waiting to be explored, history buffs will certainly feel right at home - but there's so much more to this country than its incredible history.

From the iconic architecture to the beautiful beaches, each city has something unique to offer. Get lost exploring the back streets of Venice, visit Vatican City, an entirely separate state and immerse yourself in the Catholic culture, or watch as Grotta Azzurra, a sea cave in the island of Capri, fully illuminates into a brilliant blue hue as you travel through it.

Restaurants and Cafes

With western favourites such as pizza and pasta celebrated worldwide, Italian cuisine is, perhaps, one of the world's most beloved. A number of other notable culinary delights include hearty stews, breads, wines, coffee and a variety of indulgent desserts. However, each town, village or region has its own local delicacy to sample. Veneto, for example, is particularly known for its risotto; Lombardy for cassoeula (a combination of cooked pork and cabbage).

The best place to enjoy such cuisine is with locals in quaint, rustic eateries - although there is no shortage of Michelin-starred restaurants to sample more refined, and costly, renditions of Italian fare.

If you prefer a light snack, street vendors offer a number of popular foods like zeppole (deep-fried dough balls), or porchetta (spit roasted pork either served on its own or in between bread), which can be savoured as you casually wander through the streets.

Shopping

Whether it's luxury fashion or artisan crafts, Italy is a haven for curious shoppers. In fact, Italy is known to be one of the most stylish countries in the world. A majority of clothing produced here is celebrated worldwide for its impeccable style and quality, and cities like Milan, Rome and Florence are revered as fashion capitals.

In other regions, other goods are popular. Venice is famed for its stunning Murano glass, whereas Como is well-known for its lavish silk. You can even catch a glimpse of the skilled artisans at work. In Venice you can ogle at accomplished craftsmen creating glass baubles and in Sicily, you can watch in awe as they build beautiful ceramics.

If you prefer to get a real taste of Italian culture, outdoor markets offer a great range of craft wares, roman antiques and the chance to purchase fresh produce and regional delicacies. Notable markets include the Santo Spirito Market in Florence, the Testaccio Market in Rome, and the Porta Palazzo Market in Turin. If you're serious about your produce, then a visit to one of these esteemed venues is a must!

Travel

Since Italy is home to around 61 million people and it is one the world's top tourist destinations, the travel infrastructure is more than accommodating.

All the major cities have excellent bus, train, tram and metro networks in place - so getting around the country is a breeze. Travelling by rail or bus is by far the most popular choice and provides commuters with the chance to observe the kaleidoscope of extraordinary vistas on offer.

Once you've mastered Italy's daunting road etiquette, driving is another convenient option. However, as in the UK, driving can often be quite challenging and stressful in major town centres and can be much calmer and aesthetically pleasing in the rugged countryside.

When you need to connect with other parts of the world, there are a number of international airports across the country such as Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa ready to transport you. Cheap flights back to the UK are not hard to find - but booking in advance is always recommended.

Currency zone

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