Short guide to having fun in Italy
by Jacob Fiennes
The best time to go to Italy could well be, well, anytime. In reality the best time is between April and June as the flood of school holidays hasnt yet hit the roads, the countryside is at its fullest bloom and the weather isnt uncomfortably hot yet.
When deciding at which time of the year to go to Italy it may be worth scheduling around a couple of festivals as they are invariably spectacular occasions.
Here is a shortlist of the best on offer: Festa dei Ceri, Umbria in May Il Palio, Siena in July and August Carnevale, Venice in February Festa di San Gennaro, Naples in December I Candelieri, Sardinia in August Palio delle Quattro Antiche Repubbliche Marinare, Venice / Pisa / Amalfe / Genoa in May / June Processione dei Serpari, Abruzzo in May Sa Sartiglia, Sardinia in February Umbria Jazz, Perugia in July
In August prices tend to skyrocket across the country along with the weather, so is best avoided. However, that is not true of the whole of the country. In a country such as Italy the weather is incredibly diverse, ranging from stifling heat in the low-lands of Florence to the snow-capped chills of the Alps and the Dolomites.
Overall you can expect long hot summers the further south you are, with Sicily and Sardinia enjoying the best of all, where sea swimming is possible right into mid October.
Italy is a fairly expensive country with accommodation being the single most costly aspect of a trip. You may find cheaper accommodation out of the city centres and in surrounding satellite towns. Expect to pay around 12 to 20 euros for a youth hostel, 25 to 45 euros for a basic pensione or small hotel, and around 70 to 120 euros for a mid-range hotel.
Eating out is an incredible experience throughout Italy. As any Italian will tell you, there really is no such thing as Italian food, as each region tends to be known for its particular specialities. Budget for around 20 to 35 euros for a great full-course meal with a house wine on average.
The delectable Cucina Italiana is never far away in Italy. If youre a bit of a gastronomic connoiseur then id recommend touring around the Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna and Umbria regions for the quintessential food tour.
Shop for Italian delights to take home in the Mercato delle Erbe in Bologna, then head off to nearby Modena for a bottle of perhaps the worlds finest balsamic vinegar.
Next pick up a delicious antipasto in the most well-known food town of Parma - see Parma ham and Parmesan cheese.
For you first dish perhaps Umbria for some umbricelli (pasta served with shaved truffles). If you can try to get your hands on the ever-elusive tartufo nero or black truffle from Norcia.
For the next course perhaps a taste of the infamous bistecca alla fiorentina from Florence or head to Perugia for a porchetta, an Umbrian speciality of suckling pig stuffed with its own liver plus a handful of wild fennel and rosemary.
What to drink with these delights? Head to the Chianti region for a rocking red, or Orvieto for a succulent and sharp white.
Round off this tour with dessert in Siena in the form of a slice of panforte, a hard flatcake of candied fruits and nuts, or perhaps cantucci e vin santo (yes you guessed it - a biscuit doused in sweet white wine), a Tuscan speciality.
Getting around Italy is relatively easy and cheap, although car hire prices are on the rise. If you decide to take a train the regionale (local stopping trains) are much cheaper than the diretto (fast intercity and eurostar trains) and in my opinion are far more rewarding as you get to see more and take photos along the way.
It youre in search of good reading to help in capturing the spirit of Italy then id recommend picking up a copy of Il Gattopardo by GT di Lampedusa, The Aeneid by Virgil, La Storia by Elsa Morate or perhaps Grazia Deledda's Canne al Vento.
About the Author
Jacob Fiennes is an enthusiastic traveller and photographer with a passion for discovery. He is a founder and regular contributor to the hugely popular worldwide hotel reservations site TravelBX.com. Visit the site for your next hotel room reservation, flight ticket, tailored holiday package and much more. >> www.travelbx.com