The art, the architecture, the history, the food—a trip to Italy is a winner in all categories. No matter what interests drive your travel plans, this multi-dimensional country has something for every traveler.
This was a trip of a lifetime. I am still thinking about all the many things we experienced and wondering how we did it and had so much fun. It was so special because our guide, Mary, added so much information about the places we went. We learned about all the local specialties for food, crafts, etc
The tour was wonderful. Our tour director Vicky was absolutely perfect. She made sure all of us had a delightful trip. Our hotels were ideally located with excellent service. The tours of each city were informative and at a pace all of us could enjoy.
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Your tour package includes handpicked hotels, breakfast daily and other select meals, comfortable transportation, an expert Tour Director, guided sightseeing, and more.
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Your local Tour Director will meet you and your group on the first day, and be your go-to for the best sites, flavors, and stories of the region.
Travel tips for Italy trips
When to visit Italy
While summer is often the most common time to visit, it's also the hottest and most crowded, so we recommend taking one of our guided tours of Italy in the off-season. Spring and fall offer the most pleasant temperatures for sightseeing. You'll also enjoy smaller crowds, great prices, and seasonal extras like spring flowers and fall festivals.
Rural areas in Italy's beloved wine country are particularly beautiful in the fall when the year's harvest is taking place, usually in October and November. On one of our escorted tours of Italy during this time, you'll find some of the country's most flavorful produce like truffles, chestnuts, grapes, mushrooms, and eggplant. It's a wonderful time to shop local markets, visit vineyards, and get a feel for daily life during this flavorful season.
If you're looking to visit Rome or other parts of Southern Italy, winter is also a lovely time to plan a trip, when the crowds are much smaller at the main attractions like the Colosseum and the Vatican and the temperatures are cool yet still comfortable for exploring. If this sounds right for you, check out our Rome: The City Experience or Sicily: A Cultural Journey.
Where to go in Italy
One of the best parts about Italy is the diversity within its borders—from the rugged, Alpine beauty of Northern Italy to the laid-back countrysides of Tuscany and Umbria, to the cultural capitals of Rome and Florence, to the colorful beaches of the Italian Riviera and the Mediterranean Coast. It's hard to choose where to go, but luckily many of our Italy tour packages cover a few different distinct areas, like Venice, Florence & Rome and Florence, Tuscany & the Italian Riviera.
Our tours of Italy span the spectrum and sometimes it's best to start with your interests. If it's your first time to Italy or Europe, you may want to begin with the most iconic cities of Rome, Florence, and Venice, where you'll walk through the Colosseum and other historic sites of the Roman Empire, soak in the art and architecture of the birthplace of the Renaissance, and navigate through Venice's beautiful network of canals.
If you're a foodie, our culinary-themed Italy vacation packages are perfect for you, such as our small group tours, Food & Wine: Flavors of Tuscany & Umbria and Food & Wine: Northern Italy & the Italian Riviera. History buffs are often drawn to tours of Italy that include Rome or Pompeii, while those who are all about sunshine and nature love itineraries that include Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast. Art and architecture aficionados should consider a trip that includes Florence (for the Renaissance masterpieces), Milan and Siena (for their showstopping cathedrals), and Alberobello and Venice (for Alberobello's traditional stone huts and Venice's blown glass).
With so many options to choose from, here are a few of our top picks for the best places to visit during our tours of Italy:
St. Mark’s Square and Basilica in Venice
The Florence Duomo
Dining tips for Italy
Pull up a seat to any table in Italy and you’re guaranteed to be greeted by the same thing: a dish made with equal parts local ingredients and love. Here, a homemade meal is synonymous with a warm welcome, and time-honored cooking traditions allow seasonal flavors to shine.
In general, as you travel from north to south, the cuisine and flavors get lighter. In Northern Italy where there are more pastures and livestock, you'll find flavorful meats, rich pastas, and bold wines. In Southern Italy, you'll feel the influence of the Mediterranean in dishes that feature lots of fish, vegetables, citrus, and olives.
While there are no easy clear-cut winners, here's where you'll find some of the best Italian dishes you may be dreaming about:
Olive oil—it's a toss-up between Tuscany, where you'll find delicious peppery olive oil and Puglia, the country’s olive oil capital
Pizza—Naples, known as the place to get a classic pie, serves up a version that's pure and simple with just tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil
Seafood—Liguria, a region better known as the Italian Riviera, is known for all kinds of fresh-from-the-sea specialties, in particular anchovies, mussels, and a mixed seafood stew called ciuppin
Pesto—Another favorite from the Italian Riviera, this vibrant sauce is often served on pasta alongside seafood or fresh veggies, like zucchini
Tagliatelle bolognese—Bologna unsurprisingly is the birthplace of this all-time favorite dish, where recipes have been passed down from generation to generation
Arancini—Sicily is the home of these fried rice-and-cheese balls, but you can find them throughout most of Southern Italy filled with a variety of delicious stuffings
Like much of Europe, there are a few things you actually need to ask for if or when you'd like them during restaurant meals: tap water (the assumption is that you'll want bottled water), ice cubes for soft drinks, and your bill when you're done.
Another etiquette tip to keep in mind on Italy tours is that cappuccinos and other milky coffee drinks are considered morning drinks. Italians don't drink them after 11am—but of course, cafes and restaurants do serve the delicious, frothy beverages any time of day (just mostly to visitors).
Packing tips for Italy
When getting ready to go on a tour of Italy, check your specific destination's weather forecast, since temperatures range quite a bit from north to south and from the coasts inland. No matter where you go, you'll be walking around a lot, so we recommend comfortable layers that you can adjust easily, as well as good walking shoes.
You'll also want to order some euros from your bank before you go, or use your debit card at an ATM once you arrive to stock up on euros for your adventure.
Once you've reserved one of our Italy tour packages, we'll send you detailed information about what to bring with you. Don't forget to download the Go Ahead Tour Companion app before you take off, so you’ll have all the info you need about your trip right in your pocket.