World Mosquito Day: how to avoid a mosquito bite
By Katie Shaw
23 August 2018
World Mosquito Day, observed annually on August 20th each year, is a commemoration and celebration of the groundbreaking scientific discovery in 1897.Read more
The Award Winning Leader in Escorted Worldwide Rail Holidays
From the restful beauty of Lake Como on a summer's day to the colourful costumes and excited buzz of Venice's winter carnival, Italy is a destination for all seasons and all visitors
The land of the Romans and the Renaissance, of food and fashion and of myths and Michelangelo, Italy is an enigmatic mix of fascinating history and culture. As the centre of one of the first true centres of human civilisation in the world, Rome makes for a historical safari of ancient proportions. At its heart sits the majestic Colosseum, the largest amphitheatre in the world and an incredible reminder of the power of the Roman Empire. A short distance away is the smallest sovereign state in the world and the religious hub for the Catholic church, the magisterial Vatican City. Deep within the tangled web of alleys and walkways that make up Rome lies the babble of the Trevi Fountain, featured in the classic romantic film, 'Three Coins in the Fountain'.
Experience the very essence of Italy as we discover stylish Milan, the Eternal City of Rome, the tiny yet powerful Vatican City, graceful Renaissance Florence, the labyrinthine port of grand Venice, and iconic Pisa with its unmistakable Leaning Tower, with comfortable rail travel and 4-Star hotels throughout.… see more
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Discover the true colours of this acclaimed region on a tour of the highlights of Tuscany. Ochre and terracotta hill towns linked by winding white roads, interspersed with fields of poppies and sunflowers contrast with the magnificent architecture of the great Renaissance cities.… see more
Picturesque, peaceful and perfectly placed for our visits to Verona and Venice, the lakeside town of Desenzano forms the ideal base for a wonderful holiday with a delightful setting on the shores of tranquil Lake Garda - one of Italy's best-loved lakes.… see more
Known as the 'Pearl of the Lake', picture-perfect Sirmione is perched on a peninsula on the southern shore of Lake Garda. On this exceptional tour we visit Mantova, the Sigurtá Gardens, and iconic Venice, for a guided tour of this incredible 'Floating City.'… see more
Soak up the sights of Tuscany, on a charming rail holiday in the heart of the Italian countryside. Sample fine wines, explore Renaissance Florence, see the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and discover Leonardo da Vinci's picturesque birthplace.… see more
Alluring Lake Como has been attracting visitors to its beautiful shores for more than 200 years. On our spectacular tour based around the lake, we take in pretty Italian towns, lake steamers, mountain scenery and historic mansions. We also enjoy an enthralling journey into Switzerland on the Bernina Express, a stunning railway line with UNESCO protection.… see more
Italy enjoys an exceptional rail network, with rail still a popular method of travel for thousands of Italians daily. Routes run up and down the country and rail offers the perfect way to experience the wonderful Italian countryside, from the rolling vineyards of Tuscany to the cliffs of the southern coast.
A selection of heritage trains also still operates in Italy. One notable example is the Centovalli railway which trawls through the trees, alongside the lakes and over the mountains of northern Italy. The railway's name means 'One Hundred Valleys', which is taken from the many valleys that the line crosses and passes through on its route.
Italy's cuisine needs little introduction; most travellers will be familiar with classic Italian creations such as pizza, spaghetti Bolognese, salami and minestrone soup. As with other countries, however, Italy's food varies greatly between regions which have different traditions and styles of cookery. In general terms, Italian cuisine stems from the simple combination of fresh and flavoursome produce to create colourful dishes that preserve the identity of individual ingredients yet harmonise flavours perfectly. Pasta, polenta and risotto rice are staples of Italian cuisine and to these a variety of meats, fish, vegetables, herbs and sauces can be added to create simple yet utterly delicious meals. These can be accompanied by Italy's famous and excellent wines which include the white Pinot Grigiot, and the red Chianti.
Thanks to a Mediterranean climate, Italy largely enjoys hot, sunny summers and mild, wet winters where snowfall is relatively rare, with the exception of mountainous regions such as the Italian Alps and the Dolomites. Inland summer temperatures usually average between 82 and 91°F, whilst sea breezes lower the temperature slightly along Italy's coasts. Early autumn brings brief thunderstorms but temperatures remain warm and rainfall is short-lived. As such, waterproof clothing is not required and can be kept to a minimum.
Italian is the original Romantic language, with its roots in the Latin, which preceded it as the language of Italy. Nowadays, Italian is fast-paced, expressive and fascinating to listen to. Helpful Italian expressions include 'buongiorno' meaning 'good morning', 'buona sera' meaning 'good afternoon' and 'grazie mille' which means 'thank you very much'. 'Buongiorno' is pronounced 'bwon- jor-noh', 'buonasera' is pronounced 'bwon-ah-ser-a' and 'grazie mille' is 'graz-ee-eh mee-lay'.
Many festival days have their origins in the Catholic faith. One example is the Epiphany which is celebrated on the 6th of January, intended as a day for the birth of Jesus Christ. This day marks the end of the Christmas season and in many ways has similar festivities to Christmas, including children receiving presents from the Befana, a magical old lady. A particular event to watch out for is the Venice Carnival.
This incredible carnival of masks and beautiful costumes happens just before Lent, and features parades and festivities across the city. In restaurants across Italy, a service charge is normally added to the bill which then goes to the staff. A small tip of €2 or €3 is always appreciated, however.
Italian people are open, passionate and talkative. The city population can tend to be more temperamental and reserved while the country people are often more friendly and welcoming.
Helping you plan your holiday to Italy