Ask any Italian and they will almost certainly tell you that Italy is the most beautiful country in the world. They may not be far wrong. However, the charm and allure of Italy may help to veil some of its numerous practical problems. Getting information is rarely straightforward; public offices and banks are nearly always crippled by long lines and bureaucracy, and the postal service is renowned for its inefficiency. This section, together with some forward planning and a little patience, should help you cope with some of Italy’s idiosyncrasies.
When To Visit
The northern part of Italy is generally more temperate than the south, which has a Mediterranean climate. From June to September the weather is hot throughout the country and, in peak summer, also humid. Seaside resorts tend to get very busy. Spring and fall are ideal for visiting cities as temperatures are milder, making sightseeing much more comfortable, although you should be prepared for the odd downpour. Italy’s towns and historic sites are extremely popular attractions and it is worth considering this when planning your trip. Most sights are open all year, except on some public holidays, and most close one day a week. Rome, Florence, and Venice are all crowded from spring to October and it is advisable to book a hotel well in advance. In August the cities are generally slightly less busy, abandoned by their inhabitants for the summer holidays. In February, Venice triples its population during Carnevale and at Easter, Rome is overrun by pilgrims and tourists. Winter can be bitterly cold, especially in the north, and December to March is the time of year for skiing in the high altitude resorts of the Italian Alps.