Lonely Planet guide to Italy

Published: 09 August 2007

Europe's kinky over-the-knee boot has it all: popes, painters, polenta, paramours, poets, political puerility and potentates.

Its dreamy light and sumptuous landscapes seem made for romance, and its three millennia of history, culture and cuisine seduces just about everyone.

You can visit Roman ruins, gawk at Renaissance art, stay in tiny medieval hill towns, go skiing in the Alps, explore the canals of Venice and gaze at beautiful churches.

Naturally you can also indulge in the pleasures of la dolce vita: good food, good wine and improving your wardrobe.

When To Go:

Italy is at its best in spring (April-May) and autumn (October-November). During these seasons, the scenery is beautiful, the temperatures are pleasant and there are relatively few crowds. Try to avoid August, as this is the time that most Italians take their vacations, and many shops and businesses are closed as a result.

Italy - Fast Facts

  • Full Name: Italian Republic
  • Capital City: Rome
  • Area: 301,230 sq km / 116,305 sq miles
  • Population: 57,300,000
  • Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1 (+2 in summer) (Central European Time)
  • Daylight Saving Start: last Sunday in March
  • Daylight Saving End: last Sunday in October
  • Languages: Italian (official), a Latin language related to French, Spanish,
  • Portuguese and Romanian. Standard Italian and numerous dialects are spoken. French (other), German (other), Slovenian (other), Albanian (other)
    Religion: 84% Roman Catholic, 6% Jewish, Muslim and Protestant
  • Currency: Euro (€)
  • Electricity: 220V 50Hz
  • Electric Plug Details: European plug with two circular metal pins
  • Country Dialing Code: 39