Horseback riding in Italy

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Equestrian tours in Italy

Italy Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide


Stylish, cultured, good-humoured and volatile - Italy, with its golden light, stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has inspired poets and painters for centuries. Perhaps more than any other country, it has influenced the course of European development, particularly in culture and political thought.

Today, besides the renowned cities of Venice, Florence, Siena and Naples, each with its own unique identity and architecture, Italy features romantic medieval hill towns, such as San Gimignano in Tuscany, and unspoilt fishing villages, like Positano on the Amalfi coast. Operatic productions are staged in Verona's ancient amphitheatre, while the influence of Federico Fellini is celebrated in Turin's museum of cinema.

Throughout the country visitors can find vineyards and cellars to taste fine regional wines, workshops where crafts are produced by hand, and friendly trattoria where simple but superb dishes are served.

The most important early settlers were the enigmatic Etruscans, but by the third century BC their culture had been displaced by the mighty city state of Rome.

At its greatest extent, the Roman Empire stretched from Egypt to England and for several centuries conferred on its inhabitants the benefits of the Pax Romana: culture, law, relative peace and comparative prosperity. This sophisticated society left a rich architectural legacy - Rome is still dominated by buildings like the mighty Colosseum.

In the 15th century, Italy was at the heart of the Renaissance, an extraordinary flowering of art and culture. It produced artists such as Fra Angelico, Raphael, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, whose works take pride of place in Italy's galleries.

Italy combines art, history and contemporary fashion with stunning natural landscapes: the turquoise waters of Sardinia's Costa Smeralda offer one of Europe's most beautiful stretches of sand, sea and sunshine, while the snow-covered slopes of the Dolomite mountains are a haven for winter sports enthusiasts.



Passport Required?









Other EU


Visa Required?









Other EU


Return Ticket Required?









Other EU




required by all nationals listed in the chart above except (1) EU nationals holding a passport or national ID card which is valid for the duration of stay.

If travelling from one border-free Schengen country to another however, EU nationals are not required to show a passport or national ID card. It is still recommended that you travel with your passport or ID card to prove your identity if necessary though. Note that Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the UK are not part of the Schengen area, so a passport or ID card is required if travelling to/from these countries.

EU nationals are not required to possess a return ticket or show sufficient funds.

Passport Note

There are no formalities required to enter the Vatican City, but entry will always be via Rome, and you must therefore comply with Italian regulations. 

There is free access only to certain areas of the Vatican City; these include St Peter's Church, St Peter's Square, the Vatican Museum and the Vatican Gardens. Special permission is required to visit areas other than those mentioned.

There are no border formalities in San Marino, provided you comply with Italian regulations. 


Not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above for the following durations:
(a) nationals of EU countries for an unlimited period;
(b) nationals of Australia, Canada and the USA for stays of up to 90 days.

Note: Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements (see Contact Addresses).




Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.

Currency Exchange

Traveller's cheques, cheques and foreign money can be changed at banks, railway stations and airports and very often at major hotels (generally at a less convenient rate). Many UK banks offer differing exchange rates depending on the denominations of currency being bought or sold. Check with banks for details and current rates.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

Diners Club, MasterCard, American Express and Visa are widely accepted.

Traveller's Cheques

Traveller's cheques are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.

Currency Restrictions

Restrictions apply.

Banking Hours

These vary from city to city but, in general, Mon-Fri 0830-1330 and 1500-1600.

Exchange Rate Indicators


June 1









Special Precautions



Hepatitis A










Yellow Fever


Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

Food and Drink

Tap water is generally safe to drink. Bottled water is available. The inscription ‘Acqua Non Potabile' means water is not drinkable. Milk is generally pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are safe to eat.

Health Care

 good standard of health care is available throughout Italy, although public hospitals tend to be better in the north than the south. Pharmacists sell over-the-counter medication and can advise on minor illnesses. They can also point you in the direction of more specialised help, if required. They keep the same hours as other shops, although some remain open at night on a rotation basis for emergency purposes. A list of those is usually on display in pharmacy windows. 

For European visitors who are taken ill or have an accident, free or reduced-cost treatment is available - in most cases on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). These should be obtained before leaving for Italy. The EHIC gives access to state-provided medical treatment. Travellers from other countries should find out if they are covered by other reciprocal arrangements. Australia, for example, has such an agreement as long as long as citizens carry their Medicare card. In most larger cities, English-speaking doctors or a translator service is usually available. Most dentists are private.

Dial 118 for an ambulance in an emergency. For emergency treatment, go to the pronto soccorso (casualty) section of the nearest public hospital, where you can also get emergency dental treatment.

Other Risks

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends vaccinations for measles, mumps, rubella, polio and hepatitis B.

Getting There

Getting There by Air

The national airline is Alitalia (AZ) (website:

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Rome is 2 hours 50 minutes, and from New York is 9 hours 45 minutes.

Main Airports

Rome (FCO) (Fiumicino) (website: is 32km (20 miles) southwest of the city (journey time - 30 to 55 minutes). To/from the airport: There is a direct rail link to Termini Station in central Rome and a bus service to the city centre and to Ciampino airport. Taxis are also available to the city. Facilities: Outgoing duty-free shop, car hire, ATMs, bank and bureau de change and bar/restaurants.

Rome (CIA) (Ciampino) (website: is 15km (9 miles) from the city (journey time - 30 to 40 minutes). To/from the airport: Buses are available to the underground station Anagnina and to the city centre. Taxis are also available. Facilities: Bank/bureau de change, car hire, duty-free and souvenir shop and cafe.

Pisa (PSA) (Galileo Galilei) (website: is 1.6km (1 mile) north of Pisa (journey time - 10 minutes). To/from the airport: Trains and buses run from Pisa airport to the centre of Florence (journey time - 1 hour). Rail services connect with arrivals and departures of all international flights and major domestic services. Facilities: Bank/bureau de change, car hire, shops and cafe.

Milan (MXP) (Malpensa) (website: is 45km (29 miles) northwest of the city (journey time - 30 minutes). To/from the airport: The Malapensa Express train connects terminal one with the centre of Milan (journey time - 40 minutes). A free shuttle bus connects the airport terminals. Taxis are available. Facilities: Duty-free shops, banks/bureaux de change, business centre, left luggage.

Departure Tax


Getting There by Water

Main ports: Ancona (website:, Brindisi (website:, Naples (website: and Venice (website:

Main ferry operators: Superfast Ferries (website:, SNAV (website:, Ustica Lines (website: and Navigazione Libera del Golfo (website: The main international routes are from Greece and Croatia. There are also links from Tunisia to Sicily. Cruise ships call at ports such as Genoa.

Getting There by Rail

Trenitalia runs regular services covering national and international routes (tel: 892 020 from local land lines or (199) 166 177 from mobiles or land lines; website: The Artesia Service is the fastest railway link between France and Italy.

Rail Passes

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 30 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for a 22 day or one month period, or five days in 10 days or 10 days in 22 days across all countries. The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Travellers under 26 years receive a reduction. Children's tickets are reduced by about 50%. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Discounts are offered on some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (website:

offers unlimited first-class train travel in 20 European countries. Tickets are valid for 15 days, 21 days, one month, two months or three months. The Eurailpass Saver ticket offers discounts for two or more people travelling together. The Eurailpass Youth ticket is available to those aged under 26. The Eurail One Country Pass allows travel for one month in one of 17 single countries. The Eurail Selectpass is valid in three, four or five bordering countries and allows five, six, eight or 10 travel days (or 15 for five countries) in a two-month period. The Eurail Regional Pass allows 3 to 10 travel days in a two-month period in one of 25 country combinations. Available from The Eurail Group (website:

Getting There by Road

Routes to Italy run through Austria, France, Slovenia and Switzerland and most routes use the tunnels under the Alps and Apennines. Trenitalia runs regular daily services called auto al seguito (trains carrying cars), especially during the summer holiday season, covering national and international routes. These services operate from special railway stations and are generally bookable at the departure station. Owners must travel on the same train.

The documents required are the log-book, valid driving licence with Italian translation, passport, Green Card insurance and national identity plate fixed to the rear of the vehicle. For more information on routes, contact the Italian State Tourist Board (see Contact Addresses).

Eurolines (tel: 0870 514 3219 or 0871 781 881, in the UK; website: runs regular coach services from the UK to Italy. Passes: Travellers can book a 15- or 30-day pass. Available from Eurolines (website:



Summer temperatures in the south are far hotter than in the north – especially in the mountain regions which have heavy winter snowfalls. The north is the wettest area, while the wettest months are October to December.

Required Clothing

Lightweight clothes are worn during the summer, except in the mountains. Winter demands light- to mediumweights in the south, but warmer clothes elsewhere. Alpine wear is advised for winter mountain resorts.



Italian Embassy in the UK

14 Three Kings Yard, London W1K 4EH, UK
Tel: (020) 7312 2200.
Political enquiries only.

Italian Consulate General in the UK

38 Eaton Place, London SW1X 8AN, UK
Visa section: 136 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 9SA, UK
Tel: (020) 7235 9371 or 7823 6519 (visa section) or 09065 540 707 in the UK (appointment booking; calls cost £1 per minute).
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1200.

Italian State Tourist Board (ENIT) in the UK

1 Princes Street, London W1B 2AY, UK
Tel: (020) 7408 1254.
Website: or

Embassy of the Italian Republic in the USA

3000 Whitehaven Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 612 4400.
Opening times: Mon-Fri 1000-1230 (visas by appointment only).

Italian Government Tourist Board (ENIT) in the USA

630 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1965, New York, NY 10111, USA
Tel: (212) 245 5618


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