Though the Roman Empire fell in 476 AD, Italy has remained a major influence worldwide on everything including food, wine, art, fashion, and religion. Travelers visiting Italy in search of their personal "dolce vita" have 20 regions from which to choose. An Italy vacation can include exploring major cities such as Rome, Florence, Milan, or Venice, or meandering through the tiny hill towns and vineyards of Tuscany and Umbria. Beachgoers visit the Amalfi Coast along the Mediterranean and the Italian Riviera on the Tyrrhenian Sea in the popular summertime months, while experienced skiers and trekkers head to the Italian Alps year-round. Visiting Italy can require a good deal of preliminary research, particularly to narrow down destinations and activities. One of the most comprehensive resources on the Web is the Italian Government Tourist Board, which offers in-depth information by region, as well as information and travel tips about Italy in general, including practical topics such as accommodations, money, shoe- and clothing-size comparisons, and laundry services. You can indulge your less pragmatic side on ItalianCulture.net. The website features many pages of Italian art, design, opera, language, fashion, cuisine, and of course, wine. Rick Steves, guidebook author and PBS favorite, is a great resource for first-hand information from a lifelong Italy lover and budget traveler. Steves' Best Destinations: Italy section is a treasure trove of articles about Italy, with helpful itineraries and walking tours, as well as articles on everything Italian, such as sports, festivals, liquor, and food. The online version of Frommer's Italy guidebook has lots of information about dining, accommodations, and attractions around Italy, and has individual pages for each region and many cities. Fodors' website has rather extensive "mini-guides" for 10 destinations, including Florence, Rome, and Venice, but also the Amalfi Coast, the Riviera, and Sicily. If you want information on specific destinations, you'll likely have better luck researching each city or region on its own rather than the country as a whole. For city-specific travel tips, the best place to start is the official tourist office for each city, like those for Florence, Rome, and Venice.
A few more sites for information
- Dream of Italy: Devoted Italophile Kathy McCabe updates her Italy blog daily, and offers a newsletter full of insider's tips on shopping, food, and travel with subscriptions starting at $79 per year.
- WineCountry.net: Features information about Italy's wine regions and news and articles about Italian wine.
- Trenitalia: The website for Italy's rail system has information about fares and timetables, as well as an online booking system.