Interrail in Italy: the ultimate country guide
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Italy is a country whose unparalleled cultural and architectural richness draws so many tourists, but also a country that charms visitors with irresistible food, high-end fashion, art, music, all against the backdrop of the diverse scenery and gorgeous landscape.
The home to Dante, Michaelangelo, Da Vinci and Boccaccio and the cradle of the Western civilization, Italy is full of spectacular sights at every corner. This extraordinary country is a place where you can see some of the most iconic sites in the world – the Colosseum, the leaning Tower of Pisa and the Trevi Fountain, to name but a few. With the capital city of the former Roman Empire, the art capital of the world – Florence, the Vatican City, and Romeo and Juliet’s balcony in Verona, Italy truly is the centre of the world, as it had once been considered.
From the canals of Venice to the Tuscan wine lands to the cobblestone streets of Rome to the Arno river running through Florence, ‘la bella Italia’ is full of places to fall in love with. Some of the most popular Italian foods, such as pizza, pasta, espresso, and gelato reflect the lightness of living in Italy and its ‘bella vita’.
The top 5 cities to visit in Italy
Considered the centre of the world for centuries, Rome is one of the most historical, cultured and romantic destinations in the world. It is a city where you can soak in centuries of history and culture and enjoy the excellent Italian food. Visit the spectacular Colosseum, the 2000-year-old Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the palace, and climb up on Palatine Hill to discover the remains of the grand Roman Empire.
When in Rome (do as the Romans do 😉), toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain. A great way to discover Rome and its charms, is a Rome food and pizza making tour that takes you through a market, a local bakery, a traditional pizzeria and ends with a traditional Italian coffee. Rome is also home to the Catholic Church, the Vatican and the Pope, so make sure to see the St Peter’s Square and the art-filled Vatican Museums.
With renaissance architecture, art galleries, white buildings topped with red roofs and ancient streets, Dante’s hometown is one of our favourite spots in Italy. The city is also a great starting point for Tuscan winery and food tours, as well as a university town that boasts a great nightlife. At The Uffizi museum, you can find the world’s most important collection of Renaissance art. The Statue of David, here, is one of the most impressive sculptures in the world – you can see a replica in the square outside. One of Florence’s most popular sites is the striking Duomo (the cathedral), a huge Gothic construction from 1296. You really can’t miss it!
The Renaissance Boboli Gardens with ancient marble statues and the citrus trees scent that completely flood your senses are also worth checking out. Stroll across Ponte Vecchio, a unique bridge filled with little shops that is one of the oldest in Florence and possibly the most recognisable bridge in Italy. Florence is also known for its delicious food and little independent restaurants that are dotted all across the city, and of course – Tuscan wines.
The romantic and charming Venice is a location where there are sights and stories literally everywhere you go. Whether it is strolling down alleyways, eating authentic gelato while window shopping for Italian leather handbags or visiting the major spots like the Basilica di and the Piazza San Marco, the Rialto Bridge, Doge’s Palace, or the Ponte dei Sospiri, Venice will captivate your heart. Glide down the Grand Canal, by gondola or vaporetto (water bus), tour the grand Palazzo Ducale, gaze at the Venetian architecture amid the 400 bridges and 150 canals in this magical little city. Stroll around in Venice during the evening for a quieter experience, away from cruise ship day trippers and bar hop around Venice eating lots of small plates, or “bacaro” along the way!
Naples, famous for being the birthplace of pizza, is a gritty and chaotic, yet beautiful-and-authentic-in-its-own-way kind of city. You get a real sense of Italian culture here and it feels lived-in.
It is home to great historical treasures like the Duomo and Villa Comunale, a Unesco-recognised historic core, Greco-Roman artefacts in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, and has a really incredible and fascinating underground city tour. Naples’ proximity to Pompeii, Capri, Mount Vesuvius and Sorrento also makes it a good starting point for exploring the region. In the shadow of the ever present volcano Mount Vesuvius, travel back in time with a visit to the ancient city of Pompeii. Besides pizza, make sure to try the famous Napoli pastries, pasta, and Naples street food.
Milan is famous as Italy’s fashion capital and home to the grand Gothic Duomo cathedral, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper inside Santa Maria della Grazie church and world-class opera at La Scala. The works by Raphael, Mantegna, and Rembrandt can be seen at Pinacoteca di Brera, one of the main art galleries in Milan. Fashion lovers will delight in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
Milan is fast paced, modern and a city for work, not play, as the locals say. Lacking the touristy charm, it still offers great bars and restaurants, but it is a city that resembles Switzerland and its work ethic more than your typical Italian town. Head to Navigli for some canal-side drinks and don’t leave Milan without getting Aperitivo.
A short train ride away, meet the spectacular Lake Maggiore with its beautiful palaces and extravagant gardens, or visit the glamorous Lake Como with its sumptuous villas amid the snowy-mountains-meets-azure-water scenery.
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Which Interrail pass do I need to travel around Italy?
Interrail Global Pass
Interrail Italy Pass
Do I need to make train seat reservations in Italy?
For most high-speed trains in Italy you’ll need a seat reservation. Reservations are not included in your Interrail Pass.
It’s also possible to travel without reservations, by travelling with regional trains.
Where to stay in Italy
The Yellow - Rome
Hostel Mancini - Naples
Madama Hostel and Bistrot - Milan
Events in Italy
The Palio di Siena
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Renowned all over the world for its stunning architecture, incredible food and rich culture, Italy serves as the perfect destination for first-time or experienced interrailers