When to Visit
The best time of the year to visit Italy is during the months of April, May, June, September and October. The weather is generally pleasant throughout the country and the cities and beaches are not crowded with visitors. June and September are the best months for beach holidays, especially in the south. The months of July and August should be avoided if possible, due to the high temperatures, crowds and increasing prices. Be sure to book all flights, ferries, train tickets and hotels well in advance during these two months.
Visitors entering Italy must be in possession of a valid national passport. Citizens of other European countries need only a national identity card. In case of loss or theft, report to the embassy or consulate as well as the local police as soon as possible.
Entry visas are required by Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, and U.S. citizens (if their intended stay exceeds three months). Apply to the Italian Consulate (visa issued same day: delay if submitted by mail). US citizens should obtain the booklet Safe Trip Abroad ($1), which provides useful information on visa requirements, customs regulations, medical care etc. for international travelers. It can be ordered by phone 202-512-1800 or on-line www.access.gpo.gov
Directly from the States.
Romes Fiumicino and the newly remodeled Malpensa airport in Milan are Italys two major airports. Together they are the only airports in Italy that accept flights from outside the European community. If you are planning to travel non-stop from the U.S. to Italy, plan on landing in one of these two airports (the same holds true for return trips).
Most of the major US international airlines schedule regular direct flights to Italy. TWA, Delta and Continental airlines are all reputable companies that fly to Italy on a regular basis.
Alitalia Airline, Italys national airline, has regular service between Rome/Milan and major U.S./Canadian cities: New York/Newark, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, Montreal and Toronto. If you are traveling from another US airport expect to stop in one of these cities before moving on to Rome or Milan.
Arriving in Italy via another European city (e.g. London, Paris etc.) allows travelers to land in one of the other major Italian airports. Many international and other independent airlines operate services to Rome and to the major provincial airports (Milan, Turin, Verona, Genoa, Bologna, Pisa, Naples; Florence often requires a change in Milan, although there are direct trains from Pisa airport to the center of Florence, about 1 hour travel time). There are transfer buses to city terminals and railway stations.
The European rail system is excellent! Train service to major Italian cities is available from all surrounding European countries via high-speed passenger trains, most of which offer overnight accommodations. See Italvista.coms travel agent network for a travel agency that can provide you with more information on services outside of Italy.
Roads from France into Italy, with the exception of the Menton/Ventimiglia (Riviera) coast road, are dependent on Alpine passes and tunnels. The main roads go through the Montgenevre pass near Briancon, the Frejus tunnel and Mont-Cenis pass near Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass near Bourg-Saint-Maurice and the Mont Blanc tunnel near Chamonix.
Via Switzerland, three main routes are possible - through the tunnel or pass at Grand-Saint-Bernard, through the Simplon Pass, through the St. Gottard pass at Via Ticino and Lugano to the Lakes in Lombardia. Those planning to drive through Switzerland should remember the added expense of the Swiss road tax. This is charged instead of tolls, to all motor vehicles and trailers with a maximum weight of 3.5 tons, on the highways (the tax is paid in advance by purchasing a "vignette" at the border crossings, post offices, gas stations, and garages for 40 Swiss francs).
For those driving down through Germany and Austria, make use of the Brenner Pass, which is south of Innsbruck.
Most of the tunnels and passes charge a toll, factor the price into your travel budget.
Regular bus services are operated from all major European cities to Rome and to other large provincial Italian towns. Details and bookings can be done through a travel agency, or tickets can be purchased directly from the bus terminal.
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