- Greetings Greet people in shops, restaurants and bars with a ‘buongiorno’ (good morning) or ‘buonasera’ (good evening); kiss both cheeks and say ‘come stai’ (how are you) to friends.
- Asking for help Say ‘mi scusi’ (excuse me) to attract attention; use ‘permesso’ (permission) to pass someone in a crowded space.
- Dress Cover shoulders, torso and thighs when visiting churches and dress smartly when eating out.
- At the table Eat pasta with a fork, not a spoon; it’s OK to eat pizza with your hands.
- Gifts If invited to someone’s home, traditional gifts are a tray of dolci (sweets) from a pasticceria (pastry shop), a bottle of wine or flowers.
Italy offers an extensive network of internal flights. Airport taxes are included in the price of your ticket.
Italy’s flag carrier, Alitalia, flies domestically, serving cities across the Italian mainland and on Sicily and Sardinia. Several low-cost airlines also operate in the country. Air Italy Olbia-based airline operating domestic and international flights.
easyJet operates domestic flights to cities across the country, including Milan, Naples, Bari, Palermo, Olbia. Ryanair operates domestic routes to mainland airports, as well as to/from Sardinia and Sicily.
Volotea operates international and domestic flights to Italian destinations.
Cycling is very popular in northern Italy, less so in the south.
Bikes can be wheeled onto regional trains displaying the bicycle logo. Simply purchase a separate bicycle ticket (supplemento bici), valid for 24 hours (€3.50). Certain international trains also allow transport of assembled bicycles for €12, paid on board.
Bikes are sometimes free to transport on ferries. On some routes, you might have to pay a small supplement.
Craft Navi (large ferries) sail to Sicily and Sardinia, while traghetti (smaller ferries) and aliscafi (hydrofoils) serve the smaller islands. Most ferries carry vehicles; hydrofoils do not.
Timetables and tickets Comprehensive website Direct Ferries (www.directferries.co.uk) allows you to search routes, compare prices and book tickets for Italian ferry routes.
Buses are particularly useful in mountainous territories and remote inland areas where there’s little rail infrastructure.
Routes Bus companies provide everything from meandering local routes to fast, reliable intercity connections.
Car & Motorcycle
A car in Italy only really becomes useful if you want to get away from the main cities and take to the countryside.
All EU driving licences are valid in Italy. Travellers from other countries should obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) through their national automobile association.
A licence is required to ride a scooter – a car licence will do for bikes up to 125cc; for anything over 125cc you’ll need a motorcycle licence.
It’s obligatory to wear seat belts (front and rear), to drive with your headlights on outside built-up areas, and to carry a warning triangle and fluorescent waistcoat in case of breakdown.
Wearing a helmet is compulsory on all two-wheeled vehicles.
Italy has an extensive network of roads. Most are in good condition but a lack of maintenance in some areas means that you should be prepared for potholes and bumpy surfaces, particularly on smaller, secondary roads.
Bus & Metro
Extensive metropolitane (metros) exist in Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin, with smaller metros in Genoa and Catania. The Minimetrò in Perugia connects the train station with the city centre.
Trains in Italy are convenient and relatively cheap compared with other European countries. The better train categories are fast and comfortable.
Eurail & Interrail Passes
Generally speaking, you’ll need to cover a lot of ground to make a rail pass worthwhile. Before buying, consider where you intend to travel and compare the price of a rail pass to the cost of individual tickets – get prices on the Trenitalia website (www.trenitalia.com).
InterRail (www.interrail.eu) passes, available online and at most major stations and student-travel outlets, are for people who have been a resident in Europe for more than six months.