Italy in detail

Flights & getting there

A plethora of airlines link Italy with the rest of the world. In Europe, competition between low-cost carriers has led to a significant reduction in the cost of flying from other European countries. Alternatively, there are excellent rail and bus connections, especially to destinations in northern Italy, while car and passenger ferries serve Italian ports from across the Mediterranean.

Flights, cars and tours can be booked online at lonelyplanet.com/bookings.

Air

Airports & Airlines

Italy's main intercontinental airports are Rome's Fiumicino Airport, officially known as Leonardo da Vinci, and Milan's Aeroporto Malpensa. Both are served by nonstop flights from around the world. Venice's Marco Polo Airport is also served by a handful of intercontinental flights.

Dozens of international airlines compete with the country's national carrier, Alitalia, rated a three-star airline by UK aviation research company Skytrax. If you're flying from Africa or Oceania, you'll generally need to change planes at least once en route to Italy.

Cross-European flights serve plenty of other Italian cities. Europe's leading national carriers include Alitalia, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa and KLM.

Low-cost carriers, led by Ryanair and easyJet, fly from a growing number of European cities to more than two dozen Italian destinations, typically landing in smaller airports such as Rome's Ciampino Airport.

Departure Tax

Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.

Land

There are plenty of options for entering Italy by train, bus or private vehicle.

Border Crossings

Aside from the coastal roads linking Italy with France and Slovenia, border crossings into Italy mostly involve tunnels through the Alps (open year-round) or mountain passes (seasonally closed and requiring snow chains).

The list below outlines the major points of entry.

Austria From Innsbruck to Bolzano via A22/E45 (Brenner Pass); Villach to Tarvisio via A23/E55.

France From Nice to Ventimiglia via A10/E80; Modane to Turin via A32/E70 (Fréjus Tunnel); Chamonix to Courmayeur via A5/E25 (Mont Blanc Tunnel).

Slovenia From Sežana to Trieste via SR58/E70.

Switzerland From Martigny to Aosta via SS27/E27 (Grand St Bernard Tunnel); Lugano to Como via A9/E35.

Bus

Buses are the cheapest overland option to Italy but services are less frequent, less comfortable and significantly slower than the train.

Eurolines A consortium of coach companies with offices throughout Europe. Italy-bound buses run to Milan, Rome, Bologna, Venice and other Italian cities.

FlixBus German-owned company offering both international and inter-regional routes. Direct international routes to Italy include: Milan from Paris, Lyon, Nice, Zurich, Geneva, Basel and Munich; Venice from Ljubljana, Vienna, Budapest, Zurich, Lyon and Paris. The InterFlix bus pass (€99) allows travel on five FlixBus European routes in a three-month period.

Car & Motorcycle

From Continental Europe

  • Every vehicle travelling across an international border should display the nationality plate of its country of registration.
  • Always carry the vehicle's registration certificate and evidence of third-party insurance. If driving an EU-registered vehicle, your home country insurance is sufficient. Ask your insurer for a European Accident Statement (EAS) form, which can simplify matters in the event of an accident. The form can also be downloaded from http://cartraveldocs.com/european-accident-statement.
  • A European breakdown assistance policy is a good investment and can be obtained through Italy's national automobile association, the Automobile Club d'Italia.
  • Italy's scenic roads are tailor-made for motorcycle touring, and motorcyclists swarm into the country every summer. With a motorcycle you can often enter restricted-traffic areas in cities. Crash helmets and a motorcycle licence are compulsory.

From the UK

You can take your car to Italy, via France, by ferry or the Eurotunnel Shuttle rail service (www.eurotunnel.com). The latter runs up to four times per hour between Folkestone and Calais (35 minutes) at peak times.

For breakdown assistance, both the AA (www.theaa.com) and the RAC (www.rac.co.uk) offer comprehensive packages covering Italy.

Train

Regular trains on two western lines connect Italy with France (one along the coast and the other from Turin into the French Alps). Trains from Milan head north into Switzerland and on towards the Benelux countries. Further east, two main lines head for the main cities in Central and Eastern Europe. Those crossing the Brenner Pass go to Innsbruck, Stuttgart and Munich. Those crossing at Tarvisio proceed to Vienna, Salzburg and Prague. The main international train line to Slovenia crosses near Trieste.

Depending on distances covered, rail can be highly competitive with air travel. Those travelling from neighbouring countries to northern Italy will find it's frequently more comfortable, less expensive and only marginally more time-consuming than flying.

Those travelling longer distances (say, from London, Spain, northern Germany or Eastern Europe) will generally find flying cheaper and quicker. Bear in mind, however, that the train is a much greener way to go – a trip by rail can contribute up to 10 times fewer carbon dioxide emissions per person than the same trip by air.

Useful resources include Oui-sncf (https://en.oui.sncf/en), an online booking service run by France's national rail operator, and Deutsche Bahn (www.deutschebahn.com/en), the website of Germany's national rail company.

From Continental Europe

  • The comprehensive European Rail Timetable (UK£19.99, digital version UK£13.99), updated regularly, is available for purchase at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu, as well as at a handful of bookshops in the UK and continental Europe (see the website for details).
  • Reservations on international trains to/from Italy are always advisable, and sometimes compulsory.
  • Some international services include transport for private cars.
  • Consider taking long journeys overnight, as the supplemental fare for a sleeper will often cost less than an Italian hotel.

From the UK

  • Trains to Italy from the UK involve a change in France.
  • The high-velocity Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) connects London with Paris, Lyon, Avignon and Marseille. Direct trains to Italy then run from Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Alternatively, you can get a train ticket that includes crossing the Channel by ferry.
  • For fare information and ticket bookings, check out Loco 2 (www.loco2.com), a clear and easy-to-use booking site.

Sea

Multiple ferry companies connect Italy with ports across the Mediterranean. Some routes only operate in summer, when ticket prices also rise. Fares for vehicles depend on the size of the vehicle.

The helpful website www.directferries.co.uk allows you to search routes and compare prices between international ferry companies. Another useful resource for Italy–Greece ferries is www.ferries.gr.

International ferry companies that serve Italy:

Adria Ferries Runs ferries from Trieste, Ancona and Bari to Durrës (Albania).

Anek Lines Runs ferries from Venice, Ancona and Bari to Greece.

GNV Services from Genoa, Civitavecchia and Naples to Sicily and Sardinia. International routes include Palermo (Sicily) to Tunis, Genoa to Barcelona, Tunis and Tangier, Civitavecchia to Tunis, and Bari to Durrës.

Grimaldi Lines International routes include Venice, Ancona and Brindisi to Corfu, Igoumenitsa and Patras (Greece); Civitavecchia to Barcelona (Spain) and Tunis (Tunisia); Savona to Barcelona and Tangier (Morocco); Salerno and Palermo to Tunis; Catania and Salerno to Malta.

Jadrolinija Runs ferries from Ancona to Zadar, Split and Stari Grad (Croatia). It also sails from Bari to Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Bar (Montenegro).

Minoan Lines Runs ferries from Venice and Ancona to Corfu, Igoumenitsa and Patras (Greece).

Moby Lines International routes include Genoa, Livorno, Piombino and Santa Teresa di Gallura (Sardinia) to Corsica.

Montenegro Lines Operates ferries from Bari to Bar (Montenegro) and Dubrovnik (Croatia).

SNAV Runs ferries from Ancona to Croatia (Split).

Superfast Sails from Ancona, Bari and Venice to Corfu, Igoumenitsa and Patras (Greece).

Venezia Lines

Ventouris

Virtu Ferries

International Ferry Routes from Italy

Destination CountryDestination Port(s)Italian Port(s)Company
AlbaniaDurrësBariVentouris, GNV
DurrësBari, Ancona, TriesteAdria Ferries
CroatiaDubrovnikBariJadrolinija, Montenegro Lines
SplitAnconaSNAV
Split, Zadar, Stari GradAnconaJadrolinija
Umag, Poreč, Rovinj, PulaVeniceVenezia Lines
France (Corsica)BastiaLivorno, Genoa, PiombinoMoby Lines
BonifacioSanta Teresa di GalluraMoby Lines
GreeceCorfu, Igoumenitsa, PatrasBariSuperfast, Anek Lines
Corfu, Igoumenitsa, Zakynthos, CephaloniaBariVentouris
Igoumenitsa, PatrasBrindisiGrimaldi Lines
Igoumenitsa, PatrasAnconaSuperfast, Anek Lines, Grimaldi Lines, Minoan Lines
Igoumenitsa, PatrasVeniceSuperfast, Anek Lines, Grimaldi Lines, Minoan Lines
MaltaVallettaPozzalloVirtu Ferries
MontenegroBarBariMontenegro Lines, Jadrolinija
MoroccoTangierGenoaGNV
TangierSavonaGrimaldi Lines
SloveniaPiranVeniceVenezia Lines
SpainBarcelonaGenoaGNV
BarcelonaCivitavecchia, Savona, Porto TorresGrimaldi Lines
TunisiaTunisGenoa, Civitaveccchia, PalermoGNV
TunisCivitavecchia, Palermo, SalernoGrimaldi Lines