Italy

Farm house  The Coloseum 

Why Italy?                                                                       Click here to view video

The Belpaese (Beautiful Country) is one of the single greatest repositories of sensorial pleasures on earth. From art to food, from stunning and varied countryside to flamboyant fashion, Italy has it all. This is the country that brought us Slow Food, devoted to the promotion of fresh products and fine traditional, cooking. What started as a local protest against fast food has become a worldwide movement.

With 44 sites, Italy has more Unesco World Heritage sites than any other country on earth. Its great città d’arte (cities of art), like Rome, Venice and Florence, have been attracting visitors for centuries, and with good reason. At times, it seems like the country rests on its artistic laurels. This is not entirely true. Milan, the country’s financial hub, has created one of Europe’s biggest and most modern trade fairs and is planning a major residential development, the CityLife complex, in the heart of the city. Venice is possibly the city that has, in appearance, changed least down the decades but it has recently opened a sleek new bridge over the Grand Canal and a spectacular contemporary art space at the Punta della Dogana. Alongside Italy’s art treasures, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy in the countryside. You can ski in the Alps, hike the Dolomites or dive off Sardinia’s golden coast. Adrenalin junkies can catch fireworks on Sicily’s volatile volcanoes. But as much as all of this, a trip to Italy is about lapping up the lifestyle. It’s about idling over a coffee at a streetside cafe or lingering over a long lunch in the hot Mediterranean sun.


  • When should I travel?
Italy is a great destination to visit year round, particularly if taking a city-break, though for the warmest and most reliable weather April to June is the prime tourist season. Most Italians take their holiday in July and August so prices, and crowds, can soar during these months. If you’re keen to avoid the main scrum of peak season but still banking on mild weather, late September to October’s a good choice.

  • Is it safe to travel and are there places to avoid?
Most visits to Italy are trouble-free but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners. There continues to be isolated cases of domestic terrorism in Italy by extreme left wing and seccessionist groups which are aimed primarily at official Italian targets.  Visitors should be alert to the dangers of car and street crimes in cities. There continues to be non-violent volcanic activity on the island of Stromboli. Italy is in an earthquake zone. Visitors to ski resorts should take advice on weather and avalanche conditions before they travel and should make themselves aware of local skiing laws and regulations throughout their visit.

  • What money should I take?
Italy trades in the Euro (EUR). Diners Club, MasterCard, American Express and Visa are widely accepted. Traveller's cheques are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.

  • What language will they understand?
Italian is the official language. Dialects are spoken in different regions. German is spoken in the South Tyrol region (bordering Austria). French is spoken in all the border areas from the Riviera to the area north of Milan (border with France and Switzerland). English, French and German are also spoken in the biggest cities and in tourism and business circles.

  • How about my health?
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. Tap water is generally safe to drink. Bottled water is available.

  • Public Holidays

2012

January 01 New Year's Day
January 06 Epiphany
April 09 Easter Monday
April 25 Liberation Day
May 01 Labour Day
June 02 Anniversary of the Republic
August 15 Assumption
November 01 All Saints' Day
December 08 Immaculate Conception
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 St Stephen's Day

2013
January 01 New Year's Day
January 06 Epiphany
April 01 Easter Monday
April 25 Liberation Day
May 01 Labour Day
June 02 Republic Day
August 15 Assumption
November 01 All Saints' Day
December 08 Immaculate Conception
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 St Stephen's Day

  • Do I need a visa?
South African passport holders require a visa for Italy.

  • Will I need any innoculations before I depart?
No innoculations are required.