Italy Tours - Customized Private Excursions

Experience Italy on the tour of a lifetime. Our expert in-country team will take you on a private, tailored trip filled with culturally immersive moments, stunning one-of-kind properties, and memories that you’ll treasure forever.

Alexei Cohen - Italy Expert

Alexei is the longtime writer of the Moon Italy series and has lived in Rome for over a decade. He’ll be your on-the-ground expert throughout your journey.

Alexei Cohen

Italy Tour Information

At Journey Beyond Travel, we get lots of questions about Italy. We keep this list updated so you understand how we run our tours. We are different from other tour operators and pride ourselves on dedicated staff with deep knowledge of Italy. Find out how you can customize your tour for a bespoke experience tailored to your travel needs. Read through these common questions and decide if we are the best tour operator for you.

Send us an email if you have any questions.

What kind of tours do you organize?

Journey Beyond Travel organizes private, customized tours for travelers from all over the world. We design each tour from scratch with you in mind. The result is a personalized journey that meets your travel requirements, preferences, and style. Our trips are flexible and tailored specifically to your interests. We ensure your experience balances independent exploration with engaging guided visits of extraordinary sites. That means you get to explore on your own and have a dedicated driver and/or expert guide on hand to reveal remarkable destinations throughout Italy.

What kind of transportation do you use on your trips?

Italy has a modern and efficient high speed rail network that makes moving up and down the peninsula between major cities fast, easy and convenient. We use two train operators, both of which provide multiple levels of comfort and service depending on your preferences. Our team of private certified drivers will accompany you within towns, cities and on day-long excursions. We also arrange car and bicycle rentals for travellers who want to discover the joys of Italian trails and roads. Our favorite form of transportation however is walking, and you’ll do a lot of that with our expert guides.

In addition, we offer baggage transfers, private airport transfer, and helpful summaries for getting around Italy.

When is the best time to visit Italy?

It’s always a good time to visit Italy but late spring and early fall are ideal. Not only are there fewer visitors, but temperatures are pleasant, daylight is long, and precipitation is low. Hotels charge midseason rates and locals go about their age-old routines. Autumn is also harvest time, when culinary festivals are in full swing, and freshly picked grapes and olives are transformed into wine and oil. Summer sees a dramatic increase in arrivals, with July and August the apex of the tourist season. Christmas and New Year festivities attract a wave of visitors, as does Carnevale (February/March), which every Italian city celebrates in its own way.

What is the weather like?

Weather still follows a predictable pattern and seasons are relatively well defined in Italy. Temperatures, however, vary from north to south, and it can be 10 or more degrees warmer in Rome than in Venice. The fact most Italians hang their clothes out to dry says a lot about the climate. Summers are hot and dry, and skies remain blue throughout the year. Winters are mild except for January and February. Heavy rains arrive in November when torrential storms can disrupt traffic, flood streets and close subways.

Will my cell phone work and how much will it cost?

Your smartphone will work in Italy if it uses the GSM system, which is the European standard. All iPhones, Samsung Galaxies, and Google Nexus devices function, although rates vary between operators. Voice calls to the United States can range from $1.79 (Verizon) to $0.20 (T-Mobile) per minute depending on your plan. Most companies offer international bundles that include a certain amount of text messaging, data transfer, and voice traffic. If you don’t want any unexpected bills, compare offers and choose one that meets your communication needs. You can also purchase a SIM card in Italy at any mobile shop and use it in your phone. Wind3TimIliad, and Vodafone are the main operators, with stores throughout Italy.

Should I purchase trip insurance?

In the world of modern travel, it’s a good idea to have travel insurance. We suggest you purchase cancellation, interruption, and medical insurance that will cover you in the case of an emergency. Once you’ve booked your journey, we’ll send you a list of insurance providers our clients recommend.

Do I need a visa to enter Italy?

Travelers from the United States and Canada do not need a visa to enter Italy for visits of 90 days or less. All that’s required is a passport valid at least three months after your scheduled departure date.

Should I exchange money before arriving?

The days of exchanging currency are numbered. ATM machines are ubiquitous in Italy and found at most bank branches. They all accept foreign debit and credit cards, and exchange rates are set daily. Before leaving you may want to ask your bank or credit card company about fees. Most have an international processing charge that can be a fixed amount or a percentage of total withdrawal. Italian banks also charge fees for cardholders from other banks. ATMs provide instructions in multiple languages and the maximum daily withdrawal is €500.

Where can I learn more about Italy?

There’s no shortage of information about Italy. You can check out Italy’s official website or our blog to get the lowdown. Our country director writes the Moon Rome, Florence and Venice guidebook as well as Florence and Beyond and Venice and Beyond guides. These are great resources. You can also check out Wikipedia for plenty of useful facts and history. Wiki Travel is another reliable resource along with UNESCO sights. Understanding the difference between group travel and private, customized travel in Italy is highly recommended. Feel free to contact us for any details as it may be worth the extra expenditure to have a highly personalized experience tailored to your travel needs.

Some of our Favorite Italy Tours

We’ve got some great Italy tours we’ve developed over the years. These are some of our favorites. And, while many tour operators have similar routes, it’s really the inner-workings and attention to detail that truly matter and make our Italy tours stand out.

Classic Italy

Explore 3 remarkable cities that have left an indelible mark on civilization. This exhilarating urban adventure stimulates all the senses and delves deep into Italian culture.

Eclectic Italy

Immerse yourself in the iconic charms of Tuscany and the Cinque Terre. Discover legendary medieval hill towns, rolling vineyards, Renaissance masterpieces and pristine coastal landscapes.

Italy Rediscovered

Discover the lesser known pleasures of Italy. Experience a mix of history, nature, and culture at every stage of this journey through the stunning towns and monuments of southern Italy.

Testimonials

We love creating exceptional experiences and exceeding expectations. It’s how we get our kicks but don’t take our word for it, read what people who travel with us have to say.

JBT got to know us and tailored our trip according to our interests. The experience in Italy was wonderful – everyday was an adventure accompanied by knowledgeable and convivial guides. We came away with a better understanding of Italian culture and cuisine, and made new friends!”

Barb & Tom, USA

“We would thoroughly recommend Journey Beyond Travel to any of our family or friends who are considering a tour to Morocco. Through the attention to detail, passion and professionalism displayed by their knowledgeable team, we had a wonderful experience!”

Diana & Margaret, Australia

Journey Beyond Travel is an exceptional company that has a deep passion for the people and experiences throughout Morocco. They have friendly, competent, intelligent guides and drivers. I strongly recommend their Morocco tours for anyone bringing their family!”

Shumon & Family, India

Italy Essentials

You may already know a lot about Italy but there’s always something new to discover. Italy is infinite in that way and learning more is a great way to prepare for your journey. If you want to raise your Italy IQ and get to grips with practicalities this is the place to start.

Introduction to Italy

Imagine the world without Italy. No pizza, no month of August, and no Mona Lisa. It’s hard to conceive. Fortunately, travelers don’t have to. Italy is the fifth most-visited country in the world and one of the most fascinating and stimulating places to visit. The numbers are impressive: 3,100 years of written language, a dozen golden ages, more than 100,000 historic monuments, and 58 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Dig deep into Italy’s many layers and you’ll unearth a land that has influenced everything from the alphabet to the Hollywood Western. Seeing it all is impossible but it’s hard to resist trying. For such a relatively small country, Italy has a tremendous range of landscapes, dialects, and dishes.

Spectacular countryside surrounds the vibrant Italian cities where Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque were born. Wildflowers bloom in spring along Alpine valleys and Sicilian ridges, while dark-green olive groves stretch into the Puglian horizon. The sea gleams invitingly along an endless coast and wraps itself around steaming volcanic islands and remote archipelagos.

Italy’s culinary specialties are just as diverse as its landscapes — and just as worth savoring. Homogenization hasn’t yet conquered Italy and thankfully each region has at least one pasta shape to call its own. Flavors change from hillside to hillside and wine is varied with vines in every corner of the country. A decent sommelier could identify his location from the aroma alone.

Italy is overflowing with artistic and architectural heritage as well. Italia artists and architects broke the mold. This is where cement came of age and the arch revolutionized entrances. No two duomos are alike, no two frescoes contain the same shades, and no two sculptures portray the same emotion.

Light strikes Italy the way Michelangelo painted. Every hour, pastel houses and marble facades change color. The granite, lime, and tufa stone used in one hill town is never identical to the next. The Greek temples in Paestum are a different shade of ivory than those standing in Agrigento. Whether you’ve come to Italy for the food, the art, the architecture, or on a whim, all of your senses will be stimulated. There’s no shortage of beautiful things to see, and the ingenuity of it all will never fail to astound.

Country Facts

OFFICIAL NAME: Italy (Italia)
CAPITAL CITY: Rome (Roma)
GOVERNMENT: Parliamentary Republic
PRIME MINISTER: Giorgia Meloni
GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION: Southern Europe
GEOGRAPHY: Mountains, Hill, Coast, Forests, Plains, Valleys
BODIES OF WATER: Mediterranean Sea, Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, Tyrrhenian Sea, Ligurian Sea
POPULATION: ~ 58 million
AREA: 301, 230 km2
COASTLINE:
LANGUAGES: Italian, German, French, Ladino
ETHNICITY: Mixed
RELIGION: Christian (84.4%); No Religion (11.6%); Muslim (1%); Other (3%)
LITERACY RATE: 99.94% Unemployment Rate: 78%
CURRENCY: Euro
ANNUAL PER CAPITA GNP: $36,812
ARABLE LAND: 6,831,00 hectares
IRRIGATED ARABLE LAND: 23.1%
FORESTS: 32.3%
AGRICULTURE: Wheat, barley, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, citrus fruits, apples, olives; livestock
NATURAL RESOURCES: Metals, minerals, sea
INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, transportation, energy, manufacturing, technology, services, tourism
NUMBER OF TOURISTS: 64.5 million (2019)
LARGEST CITIES: Rome (2.8 million); Milan (1.3 million) ; Naples (1 million)
TIME ZONE: CEST
TELEPHONE COUNTRY CODE: +39
CLIMATE: Coast: mild & humid; South + Inland: hot & dry; Mountains: cold & snowy Average Winter Temp: 0°C/32°F; Average Summer Temp: 25°C/77°F
HOTTEST CITY: Messina (Sicily)
COLDEST CITY: Bolzano (Alto Adige)
BEST TIMES TO VISIT: April-May and September-October;
ITALIAN PEOPLE: Social, friendly, creative, dynamic, genuine

Geography

Italy is roughly the size of Colorado but has enough geologic diversity to fill a continent. The long, boot-shaped peninsula was formed millions of years ago in the Cenozoic Era when tectonic plates underneath Europe and Africa slowly collided and transformed the earth’s surface. Over the last million years, alternating warm and glacial periods shaped the terrain and formed mountain ranges, valleys, lakes, and rivers. A journey down the length of the country reveals Alpine peaks, active volcanoes, hot springs, and near desert like settings.

It’s a mountainous and hilly land, and less than a quarter of its total surface is perfectly flat. The Alps lie imposingly to the north and form a natural border with France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia. The Po River starts on the north-western peaks and winds its way east along wide plains that form the country’s breadbasket. The Apennine Mountain range runs southward down the peninsula. They’re rarely out of sight in
central Italy and have helped and hindered human activity. Today it’s still faster to travel north to south than east to west.

The sea is never far away in Italy. Before tunnels were blasted through mountains and highways built, goods were moved by water. The Mediterranean surrounds most of the country and provides its characteristic shape. There are 4,722 miles (7,600 kilometers) of coastline that vary from Dover-like cliffs to sandy beaches where Italians spend their summers. Sicily and Sardinia are the two largest Italian islands, but there are hundreds more dotted around the coast, and some of the most famous lie in the lagoon surrounding Venice.

Money & Shopping

The euro replaced the lire and has been Italy’s currency since 2000. Banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €200, and €500 (which is currently being phased out). Bills are different colors and sizes to facilitate recognition. Coins are available in €0.01, €0.02, €0.05, €0.10, €0.20, €0.50, €1, and €2; these also vary in color, shape, texture, and size. The euro is used in 19 nations across Europe, and each country decorates and mints its own coins.

Fluctuation between the dollar and euro can have a major impact on expenditures. Over the last several years the exchange rates have favored U.S. travelers but the currencies are now close to parity. There are several options for obtaining euros. You can exchange at your local bank before departure, use private exchange agencies located in airports and near major monuments, or simply use ATM machines in Italy. Shops are required to accept debit and credit cards so it’s possible to do without hard cash.

Most family-owned shops are dedicated to one thing and one thing only. That can be a single product like shoes, hats, books, clothing, or furniture, or materials like leather, ceramics, paper, or glass. The majority of businesses are small but department and flagship stores exist and attract as many tourists as locals, who prefer to shop in malls and outlets on the outskirts of cities. Luxury boutiques are concentrated around major monuments like Piazza di Spagna and Piazza San Marco in Rome. Although you’re unlikely to find a discarded Giacometti in Italian flea markets, collectors with patience will be rewarded. There’s a great variety to rummage through at antiques and flea markets which are held regularly.

Italians entering a shop (or bar) greet assistants with buongiorno or buonasera (good morning/good afternoon). Most shop owners and employees are not overbearing and welcome browsing. They’re happy to leave shoppers alone; however, they are professional and helpful once you demonstrate interest in an item and will happily find your size or explain how something is made. When leaving a store say grazie (thank you) or arrivederci (goodbye) regardless of whether you’ve made a purchase or not.

Communication & Health

Getting online is easy in Italy. Rome, Venice, and Florence all have Wi-Fi networks that make it simple to stay connected throughout a journey. Access is free; however, registration is required and there are time and traffic limits. Both Trenitalia and Italo train operators provide onboard Wi-Fi, as do most Italian airports and hotels.

Your smartphone will work in Italy if it uses the GSM system, which is the mobile standard in Europe. All iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, and Google Nexus devices function, although rates vary widely between operators. The cost of voice calls to the United States varies. Most companies offer international bundles that include a certain amount of text messaging, data transfer, and voice traffic. If you don’t want any unexpected bills, compare offers and choose one that meets your needs.

You can also purchase a SIM card in Italy at any mobile shop and use it in your phone. Wind3 (www.windtre.it), Tim (www.tim.it), Iliad (www.iliad.it), and Vodafone (www.vodafone.it) are the most common operators, with stores in all three cities and at airports. This option will require a passport or photo ID and may take a little longer, but it can be the cheapest and most useful if you plan on making many domestic and international calls.

If your phone doesn’t use GSM you can rent or buy one in Italy. Rentals are available at the airport but are expensive. New phones are a cheaper option and available from the European telecom operators mentioned above. A basic flip phone can cost as little as €29 and be purchased with prepaid minutes. ID is required and some operators have special deals for foreign travelers. You can save on telephone charges altogether if you have access to Wi-Fi. Many hotels and bars have hot spots, and using Facetime, Skype, or other VOIP apps is free.

Francobolli (stamps) for standard-size postcards and letters can be purchased at tabacchi shops. Larger parcels will require a trip to the post office. Poste Italiane (tel. 800/160-000; www.poste.it) offices are yellow, and larger branches are usually open weekdays 8:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 8:15am-12:30pm. Grab a numbered ticket at the entrance and prepare for a short wait. A postcard to the United States costs €0.85 if it doesn’t exceed 20 grams and remains within standard dimensions. The cost of sending letters and other goods varies according to weight; such items can be sent posta prioritaria (express) for a couple euros extra. Mailboxes are red and have slots for international and local mail. Travel time varies and it can take weeks for a postcard to reach its destination.

Italian medical and emergency services are modern and ranked second in the world by the World Health Organization. First aid can be performed by all public hospitals, and urgent treatment is entirely free of charge. A symbolic copayment is often required for non-life-threatening treatment but does not exceed €30. The emergency medical service number is 118. If you can’t wait, go directly to the pronto soccorso (emergency room) located in most hospitals.

Pharmacies are recognizable by their green neon signs and are very common in city centers. Many operate nonstop hours and remain open during lunch. If a pharmacy is closed, you can always find a list of the closest open ones posted in the window. Pharmacists can be very helpful in Italy and provide advice and non-prescription medicine for treating minor ailments. You’ll also find practical items such as toothbrushes, sunscreen, and baby food along with automated prophylactic vending machines out front. Pharmacies are also the best place to go for masks and hand sanitizer.

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