We have just returned from the Food and Wine of Sicily and Southern Italy. It was absolutely amazing. We have been on several of the food and wine tours and while they are all excellent, this one was the best yet! Every winery we visited was interesting and welcoming. The wine did not disappoint..
I had a wonderful time on EF go ahead tours with Katia our tour guide! We went to Venice, Florence and Rome. Duomo in Florence the largest dome in the world, I rode on a gondola with a singer and accordion player. They made my dream trip so special!! I highly recommend EF go ahead tours!!
This tour was fantastic and eye opening for me on a personal level. This was my first time traveling alone, and my first time in Europe and in a tour group setting. The tour group was so wonderful, warm, welcoming, and kind to me and everyone else. The tour was very fun and so worthwhile.
This was our 12th trip with GoAhead but none for almost 2 years. It felt so good to be traveling again! The best part is that I don't think we missed seeing anything that we would have seen pre-Covid. Hiking in the Dolomites was a highlight as was the hike in Cinque Terre.
This was a trip of a lifetime. I am still thinking about all the many things we experienced and wondering how we did it and had so much fun. It was so special because our guide, Mary, added so much information about the places we went. We learned about all the local specialties for food, crafts, etc
Great tour to learn more about Italian food, wine, and culture. Loved the scenic Tuscan and Umbrian countryside. Our tour director Linda was excellent during our tour making a great experience!
10/09/21 by 11th-time traveler Jeffrey
The tour of Tuscany and Umbria was just perfect. The pace of the tour was just right. Also, for those traveling, with COVID stipulations in place, our guide (Giorgio) made this most smooth and provided proper information. This tour is a great way to truly experience all that is Italy!
One of the best parts about Italy is the diversity within its borders—from the rugged, Alpine beauty of Northern Italy to the laid-back countryside of Tuscany and Umbria, to the cultural capitals of Rome and Florence, to the colorful beaches of the Italian Riviera and the Mediterranean Coast. It’s hard to choose where to go, but, luckily, many of our Italy tour packages cover a few different distinct areas, like Venice, Florence, and Rome, and Florence, Tuscany, and the Italian Riviera.
Our guided tours of Italy span the spectrum, and sometimes it’s best to start with your interests.
Rome, Florence, or Venice: If it’s your first time in Italy, you may want to begin with the iconic cities of Rome, Florence, and Venice, where you’ll walk through the Colosseum and other historic sites of the Roman Empire, soak in the art and architecture of the birthplace of the Renaissance, and navigate Venice’s beautiful network of canals.
Rome or Pompeii. If you’re a history buff, Italy tours that include Rome or Pompeii are the best place to start.
Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast. For those who are all about sunshine and nature, you’ll love itineraries that include Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast.
Florence, Milan, Sienna, Alberobello, or Venice. Consider a trip that includes Florence (for the Renaissance masterpieces), Milan and Siena (for their showstopping cathedrals), and Alberobello and Venice (for Alberobello’s traditional stone huts and Venice’s blown glass).
While summer is often the most common time to visit, it’s also the hottest and most crowded, so we recommend taking one of our guided trips to Italy in the off-season. Spring and fall offer the most pleasant temperatures for sightseeing. You’ll also enjoy smaller crowds, great prices, and seasonal extras, like spring flowers and fall festivals.
Rural areas in Italy’s beloved wine country are particularly beautiful in the fall, when the year’s harvest occurs, usually in October and November. On one of our escorted tours of Italy during this time, you’ll find some of the country’s most flavorful produce, like truffles, chestnuts, grapes, mushrooms, and eggplant. It’s a wonderful time to shop local markets, visit vineyards, and get a feel for daily life during this flavorful season.
If you’re looking to visit Rome or other parts of Southern Italy, winter is also a great time to plan a trip, when the crowds are much smaller at the main attractions like the Colosseum and the Vatican, and the temperatures are cool yet still comfortable for exploring. If this sounds right for you, check out our Rome: The City Experience or Sicily: A Cultural Journey tour.
In a country bursting with must-see attractions, it would be easier to ask, “Where not to go?” But here’s a short list of the most compelling places to visit in Italy:
The Colosseum. This marvel of ancient Roman engineering is over 1,900 years old, and a visit inside its 157-foot walls is like flipping back the pages of history.
The Pantheon. Remarkable for its size and design, the Pantheon has survived in its original form and is the best-preserved ancient Roman monument.
The Duomo. This legendary Florence cathedral was the world’s largest when it opened in 1436. The Duomo is famous for its Renaissance masterworks and its massive octagonal dome.
The Roman Forum. Once the setting of parades, elections, and trials, the ruins of the Forum give a glimpse of everyday life in ancient Rome.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Even though its famous lean began during its construction, this medieval bell tower was considered an engineering marvel of its time.
St. Mark’s Basilica. One of the world’s most iconic travel destinations, St. Mark’s Basilica was Venice’s religious heart centuries ago. A visit to the basilica and the square it’s located in is an absolute must.
Vatican City. Steeped in tradition, history, and even a bit of mystery, Vatican City—the seat of the Catholic Church—is the most-visited spot in Rome. The tiny city-state is home to the breathtaking St. Peter’s Basilica, world-renowned museums, manicured gardens, and the Sistine Chapel.
Pompeii. Experience history preserved. The Roman city of Pompeii was famously covered in ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. The deep layer of ash preserved structures and objects frozen in time.
What are the most popular activities to do in Italy?
In a country with a rich history and culture, there are many popular activities to experience on our trips to Italy. Some of the most popular activities include:
Visiting historical sites. Italy is home to countless historical sites, such as the Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the ancient city of Pompeii.
Exploring the countryside. Italy’s beautiful countryside, with rolling hills, vineyards, and olive groves, makes it a pleasure to discover.
Enjoying the food. Famous for its delicious dishes, Italy will please your palate from Piedmont to Sicily. Wine and food-tasting excursions on our trips allow you to sample the best of Italian food and wine. Check out our food lover’s guide to Italy for six of the top culinary moments to experience in Italy.
Visiting museums and galleries. You don’t need to be a history buff or art lover to enjoy the magnificent art and rich history that Italy is steeped in. From the papal treasures of the Vatican Museums to the masterworks of the Uffizi Gallery, Italy is home to some of the world’s most incredible art and historical collections. Check out our Art Lover’s Guide to Italy and our History Lover’s Guide to Italy.
Shopping. Italy is also a shopper’s paradise, with everything from designer clothes to handmade souvenirs. If you love luxury brands, specialty boutiques, or great deals from street vendors, you’ll find it all on our tours to Italy.
Enjoying outdoor activities. No need to spend all your time sightseeing. Outdoor activities, like hiking, cycling, and skiing, are also popular, depending on the season.
Relaxing on the beach. Italy has long coastlines with beautiful beaches to relax on.
What are some unique experiences to have on your tours to Italy?
With its millennia-spanning history, mouthwatering regional cuisine, and countless artistic treasures, it’s no wonder Italy consistently ranks at the top of travelers’ wish lists. The country offers so much ancient history and delicious food and is home to countless artistic treasures. Italy offers experiences you can’t have anywhere else. Some activities you can experience on our Italy tours include:
We recommend you spend at least six days in Italy. While our most popular Italy tours run nine days or more, you can enjoy a shorter trip if you limit your tour to one or two cities in the same region.
Italy has a Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot summers. However, the weather can vary greatly depending on the region and time of year, so checking the forecast before traveling on any of our Italy tour packages is essential.
Pull up a seat at any table in Italy and you’re guaranteed to be greeted by the same thing: a dish made with equal parts local ingredients and love. In Italy, a homemade meal is synonymous with a warm welcome, and time-honored cooking traditions allow seasonal flavors to shine.
In general, as you travel from north to south, the cuisine and flavors get lighter. In Northern Italy, where there are more pastures and livestock, you’ll find flavorful meats, rich pastas, and bold wines. In Southern Italy, you’ll feel the influence of the Mediterranean in dishes that feature lots of fish, vegetables, citrus, and olives.
Here are some of the best Italian dishes:
Pizza. Naples, the place to get a classic pie, serves up a pure and simple version with just tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil.
Seafood. Liguria, a region better known as the Italian Riviera, is known for all kinds of fresh-from-the-sea specialties, particularly anchovies, mussels, and a mixed seafood stew called ciuppin.
Pesto. Another favorite from the Italian Riviera, this vibrant sauce is often served on pasta alongside seafood or fresh veggies, like zucchini.
Tagliatelle Bolognese. Bologna, where recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, is the birthplace of this all-time favorite dish. It features wide noodles topped with a sauce of ground meat.
Olive oil. When it comes to the places where you’ll find the best olive oil, it’s a toss-up between Tuscany, where you’ll find delicious peppery olive oil, and Puglia, the country’s olive oil capital.
Arancini. Sicily is the home of these fried rice-and-cheese balls, but you can find them throughout most of Southern Italy, filled with a variety of delicious stuffings.
Italian is the most widely spoken language in Italy. However, English is widely used in popular areas. That said, knowing some key phrases is always useful. It will help you find your way around and show locals that you’re interested in learning about their culture.
What are some cultural customs and etiquette to be aware of in Italy?
Punctuality. Italians value punctuality, so arriving on time for appointments and meetings is important.
Greeting people. Greeting people with a handshake or kiss on the cheek is customary.
Dining out. Eating in Italy is an art form. It’s considered rude to ask for substitutions or not to finish your meal. And when it comes to spaghetti, roll it on a fork. Don’t eat spaghetti with a spoon or use a knife to cut it. And don’t order an espresso with your meal. Save the coffee until after you’re finished eating.
Remove your hat. It’s a well-established tradition in Italy to remove your hat when you enter a church. The same goes for entering restaurants and cafes.
Leave your shorts in your suitcase. Few Italians wear shorts in the city. Dressing well is important, especially in the cities.
We recommend packing light for your trip to Italy. One suitcase and one carry-on per person is a good guideline to follow; you should feel comfortable managing your baggage at the airport. After you’ve booked one of our Italy tour packages, we’ll give you information about how to prepare for your particular trip and even share a packing list in our mobile app.
Sun protection. For all our trips, especially during the summer months in Italy, we recommend bringing sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect your face and the back of your neck from the sun.
Layers. For tours of Italy, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a light jacket or rainwear.
Comfortable walking shoes. Since you’ll be exploring new destinations with local guides, a comfortable pair of walking shoes is essential to have with you. Italy is famous for its fashionable footwear, but it’s also known for its cobblestone streets and steps. So, while you may be tempted to dress as fashionably as the locals, we recommend erring on the side of comfort to save yourself from blisters.
Dressier attire. You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.
Full-coverage layers for religious sites. It is preferable not to visit churches, temples, or other religious sites with bare legs or shoulders, and staff at these sites may deny entrance on this basis.
A travel adaptor. A plug adaptor is one of the most essential things to buy before going to Italy. Italy uses three plug types: C, F, and L. Type C plugs have two round pins, type F have two round pins with clips on the top and bottom, and type L have three round pins in a row. Most hotel rooms have a mixture of type F (used throughout Europe) and L (Italy only), but know that you can use a type F in a type C outlet and type C in a type L outlet (that’s a lot to remember, we know). As long as you have one of these power adapters, you’ll be absolutely fine.
A small day bag. Many churches and museums will not allow you to bring in large backpacks for security purposes—you’ll need to check them at the door. However, you can wear a small day bag on your front, like a cross-body travel bag or stylish mini backpack.
An RFID money belt or wallet. Italy’s city streets can get busy, and like in any country with many tourists, you’ll want to be wary of pickpockets. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) can protect your credit card info from electronic theft, and a money belt will conceal your cash without ruining your outfit.
A portable charger. As you float along Venice’s canals, take in the Renaissance mastery of Florence, or walk along ancient streets in Rome, you’ll snap many gorgeous photos of Italy. That means you’ll need a phone battery that can keep up. Pack a small portable charger, and you won’t have to worry!
A reusable water bottle. This isn’t just one of our eco-friendly travel essentials. It’ll also save you money. Italy’s tap water is safe to drink, and you can fill your bottle with fresh, cold water at Roman aqueducts built thousands of years ago—so it’s an authentic experience, too. Just try not to ask bar or restaurant staff to refill it for you, as this isn’t common practice in Italy.