WOOCS 2.1.6

Italy

The Antipodean travel company serving world travellers since 1983

Italy is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and for good reason. Odyssey tours of Italy focus both on the must-see sites and the less explored areas, across both rural and urban landscapes. If you’re interested in discovering more about Italy’s history, culture, architecture, food, wine, or landscape, the best way is to see it all for yourself.

Crafted for the mature World traveller

Tours of Italy

Giacomo Puccini is considered one of the greatest composers of Italian opera. His works include Tosca, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly and Turandot. For Odyssey this Italy Puccini festival small group tour is a pleasure to offer.

20 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

Italy is the most Mediterranean of nations and as mature and aged as many of its red wines. In terms of being a nation, it is even younger than New Zealand. This is often hard to believe, bearing in mind that Italy gave rise to Europe’s first global empire, which endured for approximately 2,000 years. The new constantly brushes with the old and in doing so generates sparks that makes any sojourn in Italy a deeply textured experience.

26 days
Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

Roam the villages of the northern Dolomites, home to more than 40 glaciers.

13 days
Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

Taken as a whole, Italian Civilization (which includes, of course, the splendid inheritance of Ancient Rome) is absolutely foundational to Western culture.  Music, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Literature, Philosophy, Law and Politics all derive from Italy or were adapted and transformed through the medium of Italy.

18 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

Explore Renaissance Italy on this small group tour though an examination of five significant city states. Florence, Urbino, Ferrara, Mantua and Milan were all dominated by families determined to increase the status of their city through art and architecture. Spend time coming to know the men and women who helped create the cities, as well as the magnificent legacy they left behind.

21 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

This program examines some of the classic gardens of Italy and France that reflect changing fashions and garden designs throughout the ages. We will examine, discuss, compare and contrast the cultural and temporal similarities and diversities between the gardens of Italy and France and the historical influences on their design.

25 days
Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

The stunning Lakes Region of Italy has attracted the world’s rich and famous. Our program begins in the cosmopolitan city of Milan and ventures to two of the region’s lakes – Garda and Maggiore. Here we discover a wealth of natural beauty, castles, serene waters, snow-capped mountains and breathtaking scenery as we journey through Alto Adige, Fruili, Emilia Romagna and Liguria.

22 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

Our tour begins in the cosmopolitan city of Milan and ventures to 2 of the region’s lakes – Garda and Maggiore. Our tour uncovers a wealth of natural beauty, castles, serene waters, snow-capped mountains, and breathtaking scenery.

13 days
Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate
Island of Sicily
Guaranteed

For centuries Malta, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica held the key to the Mediterranean. Malta secured the Mediterranean for Britain and made it the world’s major maritime power. Possession of Sicily brought similar benefits to Rome, as did Corsica for France. However today the inhabitants retain their way of life for us to explore. Our program compares and contrasts the geography, history, culture and peoples of these 4 islands.

25 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate
Island of Sicily
Guaranteed

For centuries Malta &  Sicily, held the key to the Mediterranean. Malta secured the Mediterranean for Britain and made it the world’s major maritime power. Possession of Sicily brought similar benefits to Rome. However, today the inhabitants retain their way of life for us to explore. Our program compares and contrasts the geography, history, culture and peoples of these two islands.

13 days
Europe

Odyssey Traveller’s Via di Francesco (or the Way of St. Francis) small group walking tour links together places directly associated with the life and sacred travels of St. Francis of Assisi. This 18-day tour traverses Italy from Florence to Rome, with important stops in Assisi where St. Francis was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone to a wealthy family in 1182 and where he died at the age of 44 in 1226.

18 days
Europe
Level 3 - Moderate to Challenging

On this small group tour of Italy and Malta we trace the life of Caravaggio, exploring the artistic works he left behind and the tumultuous life he led. We follow him from his birthplace in Milan to Rome, Malta, Sicily and Naples. In Rome Caravaggio established his name as a brilliant though controversial painter until, accused of murder, he was forced to flee south. In each place he lived Caravaggio left behind a rich legacy of art for us to admire.

20 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

Rome, the world’s first superpower, lasted for almost a thousand years, leaving in its wake its amphitheatres, temples, viaducts, aqueducts, roads and forums. In this journey we thread our way through the Rome of the Kings, the Consuls, and the Emperors, then through the Italy of the Renaissance, Michelangelo, the Medici, and the Borgia. In the south, we visit the cosmopolitan city of Naples as well as Pompeii and the island retreat of Capri.

22 days
Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

Our tour features the best of the Italian countryside as well as the great cities and icons of Italy. We will see the Renaissance cities of Florence, Pisa, and Lucca as well as the Umbrian medieval cities of Perugia.

11 days
Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

Our tour features the best of the Italian countryside as well as the great cities and icons of Italy. We will see the Renaissance cities of Florence, Pisa, and Lucca as well as the Umbrian medieval cities of Perugia.

22 days
Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

Our program, as well as featuring the rugged countryside of Southern Italy, also encompasses learning about the many civilisations that have shaped the nature and persona of this land. As we explore the diversity of Southern Italy we learn about the influence of the early Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, Angevins and Aragonese while we search for evidence of their colonisation.

22 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

A Journey that commences in Rome before Christmas, takes in 12 places along it’s journey to Athens. Enjoy this off season tour avoiding the summer crowds to the key galleries and Museums of Mediterranean Europe as the history unfolds before you in a mild climate as you travel through the key countries of the Mediterranean.

27 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

Rome is arguably the most fascinating city in Italy, the capital city, once the center of a vast, ancient empire and still today a cultural focus within Europe. This small group program spends 14 days exploring, just Rome.

15 days
Europe
Level 1 - Introductory to Moderate

Getting around

Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Italy has a centralised and impressively extensive rail network that is more affordable than most European rail networks, and is usually the best way to travel from city to city. You can travel between nearly all major cities by train. All up, the Italian Railway System has nearly 20,000km of rail.

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

Tour Guides

Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography, environment, & weather

Perhaps the most famously shaped country in the world, Italy takes the form of a boot kicking Sicily out into the ocean. It borders Switzerland, France, Austria, and Slovenia and is extroardinarily mountainous, the Alps forming its northern boundary. Italy is divided into twenty regions and has a population of around 61 million.

In terms of weather, the climate can vary wildly but it is usually very mild in areas such as Rome, Florence and Tuscany. However, it can get cold at night, especially in the winter, and certain areas can become extremely dry and hot during the summer. And, of course, if you’re planning on heading to the mountains, you’ll need to pack for snow.

World Heritage sites

Italy has an impressive 48 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can view the official list of the sites here (http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/IT). While every single site has something of value, here are a few highlights:

  • The historic centres of several towns are listed as World Heritage Sits, including those of Florence, Rome, Naples, Urbino, and Siena.
  • The Church and Dominican Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which includes Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”.
  • The Piazza del Duomo in Pisa, a Piazza that contains four cultural monuments including the famous leaning tower.
  • The Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany.

Festivals & events

Italy is the cultural centre of many artistic and industrial fields, and thus there are plenty of events to look out for across the country and throughout the year. Here are a few that are worth marking on your calendar:

  • The Venice Biennale is one of the world’s most spectacular art exhibitions. It was founded in 1895, and takes place every two years.
  • Milan Fashion Week is held in September/October and February/March each year; it is among the most popular and influential fashion shows in the world.
  • Carnevale, a pre-Lent festival, is popular throughout Italy, but its most famous celebration is the Venice Carnevale, during which revellers wear elaborate masks.
  • If you’re even vaguely interested in sports, try not to miss an Italian football match. The atmosphere is extraordinary and the spectacle is unforgettable.

Reading list

  • The Land Where Lemons Grow: The Story of Italy and its Citrus Fruit, by Helena Attlee
  • The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici by Christopher Hibbert
  • SPQR by Mary Beard
  • The Popes: A History by John Julius Norwich
  • The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, its Regions and their Peoplesby David Gilmour

Eating & Drinking

Traditionally, Italians enjoy a small breakfast, a single-dish lunch, and a single-dish dinner. Breakfast is often simply a pastry and a cappuccino; drinking a cappuccino later in the day, rather than an espresso, is seen as strange. In smaller towns, shops often close down for around an hour for lunch, which is regarded as the most important meal of the day. Dinner is generally eaten after 8pm.

When eating in Italian bars in city centres, you will likely be charged significantly more if you are seated outside instead of standing at the bar, or ordering takeaway. This is due to establishments being taxed heavily for placing seating outside. Often, when ordering drinks or coffee, you order at the cash register, then take your receipt to the bar staff or barista who will serve you. Tips of a euro or two are generally appreciated.

Here’s a tip: If you are in a large group ordering pastas, try to order the same kind (say, spaghetti or penne), as the pasta itself is often cooked fresh, meaning ordering a variety of pastas can slow down service and frustrate the kitchen.

Health & safety

Smarttraveller.gov provides the latest advice on travelling to Italy. While Italy is largely a safe country for tourists, you will often see signs warning of pickpockets in areas popular with tourists, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times.

Electrical supply

Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Plugs in Italy have two round pins, so make sure to pick up the right adaptor before your trip.

See All

Tour Reviews

It was a marvellous tour. I was privileged, as we all were, to see so many things of beauty, and so much history, in your very capable hands. Thank you for passing on some of your knowledge, and for your ready assistance. Thank you also for the photos and the list of guides; I'd been trying to remember the name of that rather good, but unusual fellow we met in Siena. No doubt because of his enthusiasm - and eccentricity - I remember Siena so well. (BH - Heritage Italy)
Participant Sep -15
Apart from just touching base and saying hi, I wanted to thank you for such a wonderful trip. Fourth time in Italy for me but the chance to get a little off the beaten track was really special... not to mention I got so much more insight into Italy than I had before. (KG Heritage Italy)
Participant Sep -15
One of my most pleasurable holidays, and one I must repeat, as it was not long enough. We were most fortunate in having our marvellous tour leader.
B F
• Thank you so much for being a wonderful leader for the Heritage Italy tour. It was so interesting and has left me with lots of things to think about and follow up in my reading. I found I had an old book giving the history of Greek science, i.e. the thinking of the Greeks in the early BC time. An interesting addition to our visit to Paestum and Cumae. The whole experience was marvellous and I have to thank you again for your kindness and consideration and the generous amount of time you gave to us all. I really appreciated that. (MB - Heritage Italy)
Participant May -15
Thank you so much for being a wonderful leader for the Heritage Italy tour. It was so interesting and has left me with lots of things to think about and follow up in my reading. I found I had an old book giving the history of Greek science, i.e. the thinking of the Greeks in the early BC time. An interesting addition to our visit to Paestum and Cumae. The whole experience was marvellous and I have to thank you again for your kindness and consideration and the generous amount of time you gave to us all. I really appreciated that. (MB - Heritage Italy)
Participant Sep -15
Apart from just touching base and saying hi, I wanted to thank you for such a wonderful trip. Fourth time in Italy for me but the chance to get a little off the beaten track was really special... not to mention I got so much more insight into Italy than I had before. (KG Heritage Italy)
Participant Sep -15
• It was a marvellous tour. I was privileged, as we all were, to see so many things of beauty, and so much history, in your very capable hands. Thank you for passing on some of your knowledge, and for your ready assistance. Thank you also for the photos and the list of guides; I'd been trying to remember the name of that rather good, but unusual fellow we met in Siena. No doubt because of his enthusiasm - and eccentricity - I remember Siena so well. (BH - Heritage Italy)
Participant May -15

FAQs

Responsible Travel Tips For Italy

  1.  Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, The more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
  2. Carry a card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
  3. Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
  4. When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out!
  5. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
  6. Before departing on your trip, contact your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious.
  7. Check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.Before departing, make sure you have a number of euros in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.

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