Located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula. It has been the home of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later was the birthplace of the universities and of the movement of the Renaissance, that began in Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy's capital Rome was for centuries the center of Western civilization, spawned by the Baroque movement and seating the Catholic Church. Italy possessed a colonial empire from the second half of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Today, Italy is a democratic republic, a developed country, and a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). On January 1, 2007, Italy began a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
United in 1861 it has significantly contributed to the cultural and social development of the entire Mediterranean area. Important cultures and civilizations have existed there since prehistoric times. Culturally and linguistically, the origins of Italian history can be traced back to 9th century BC, when earliest accounts date the presence of Italic tribes in modern central Italy. Linguistically they are divided into Oscans , Umbrians, and Latins. Later the Latin culture became dominant, as Rome emerged a dominant city around 350 BC. Other pre-Roman civilizations include Magna Graecia in Southern Italy and the earlier Etruscan civilization, which flourished between 900 and 100 BC in the Center North. After the Roman Republic and Empire that dominated this part of the world for many centuries, came an Italy whose people would make immeasurable contributions to the development of European philosophy, science, and art during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Parts of Italy were annexed to the Austrian empire, the Spanish empire and Napoleon's empire, while the Vatican maintained control over the central part of it, before the Peninsula was eventually liberated and unified amidst much struggle in the 19th and 20th centuries.
In 1957, Italy became a founding member of the European Economic Community and the European Union in 1993. In the 1970s and 1980’s the country experienced a hard economic crisis and the Years of Lead, a period characterized by widespread social conflicts and terrorist acts carried out by extra-parliamentary movements. The Years of Lead culminated with the assassination of the Christian Democracy leader Aldo Moro in 1978, that led to the end of a historic compromise between the DC and the Communist Party. In the 1980s, for the first time since 1945, two governments were led by non-Christian Democrat Premiers: a republican (Giovanni Spadolini) and a socialist (Bettino Craxi); the DC remained however the main force supporting the government. The Socialist party (PSI), led by Bettino Craxi, became more and more critical of the communists and of the Soviet Union; Craxi himself pushed in favor of US president Ronald Reagan's positioning of Pershing missiles in Italy, a move the communists hotly contested.
From 1992 to 1997, Italy faced significant challenges as voters (disenchanted with past political paralysis, massive government debt, extensive corruption, and organized crime's considerable influence collectively called Tangentopoli after being uncovered by Mani pulite - "Clean hands") demanded political, economic, and ethical reforms. The scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: between 1992 and 1994 the DC underwent a severe crisis and was dissolved, splitting up into several pieces while the PSI (and the other governing minor parties) completely dissolved. The 1994 elections put media magnate Silvio Berlusconi into the Prime Minister's seat. However he was forced to step down in December when Lega Nord withdrew its support. In April 1996, national elections led to the victory of a centre-left coalition under the leadership of Romano Prodi. Prodi's first government became the third-longest to stay in power before he narrowly lost a vote of confidence, by three votes, in October 1998. A new government was formed by Massimo D'Alema, but in April 2000 he resigned. In 2001, the centre-right formed government and Silvio Berlusconi were able to remain in power for a complete five- year mandate, but with two different governments. The first one (2001–2005) became the longest government in post-war Italy. Italy participated in the US-led military coalition in Iraq. The elections in 2006 won by centre-left, allowed Prodi to form his second government but in early 2008, he resigned because of the collapse of his coalition. In the ensuing new early elections in April 2008, Silvio Berlusconi convincingly won to form a government for the third time.
WHAT TO SEE - ROME
The eternal city, Rome's history as a city spans over two and a half thousand years, as one of the founding cities of Western Civilization. UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, lists the historic center of Rome. Rome's most famous citizen was no doubt Julius Caesar. In the year, 49 BC Caesar crossed the small river between his province and Italy, called the river Rubicon, and conquered Rome itself, which he then ruled as a dictator. His military campaigns also took him to Egypt where he met the famous Cleopatra. Infamously murdered, his life ended in the senate in Rome.
Today, Rome is a modern, cosmopolitan city, and the third most-visited tourist destination in the European Union. Due to its influence in politics, media, the arts and culture, Rome is described as a global city.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome - cite_note-6#cite_note-6
•See the symbols of ancient Rome like the Coliseum (70–80 AD), the largest amphitheatre ever built in the Roman Empire. The Coliseum or Flavian Amphitheater began by Vespasian, inaugurated by Titus in 80 A.D. and completed by Domitian. Its monumental size and grandeur as well as its practical and efficient organization for producing spectacles and controlling the large crowds make it one of the great architectural monuments achieved by the ancient Romans.
•The amphitheater is a vast elliptical, with tiers of seating for 80,000 spectators around a central elliptical arena. Below the wooden arena floor, there was a complex set of rooms and passageways for wild animals and other provisions for staging the spectacles. Eighty walls radiate from the arena and support vaults for passageways, stairways and the tiers of seats. At the outer edge, circumferential arcades link each level and the stairways between levels.
•The construction utilized a careful combination of types: concrete for the foundations, travertine for the piers and arcades, tufa infill between piers for the walls of the lower two levels, and brick-faced concrete used for the upper levels and for most of the vaults.
•The Roman Forum situated between Piazza Venezia and the Coliseum is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Three thousand years ago, this valley between Campidoglio and the Quirinal, submerged in marshland, was to become the future social and political centre of one of the greatest empires of ancient times. By an incredible invention of engineering commissioned by the last two Etruscan kings, the so-called Cloaca Maxima, a canal that is still in function today, allowed for the drainage of the land. The area soon began to develop and already at the end of the 7th century BC, it was home to many markets and a hive of social activity.
•The Circus Maximus (Latin for greatest circus) is an ancient hippodrome and mass entertainment venue located in Rome. Situated in the valley between the Aventine and Palatine hills, it was the first and largest circus in ancient Rome. The site is now a public park and retains little evidence of its former use.
•The Basilica of Saint Peter, officially known in Italian as the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano and commonly known as St. Peter's Basilica, is located within the Vatican City. It occupies a "unique position" as one of the holiest sites, and known as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". In Catholic Tradition, it is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, was the first Bishop of Antioch, and later first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. While St. Peter's is the most famous of Rome's many churches, it is not the first in rank, an honor held by the Pope's cathedral church, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Catholic tradition holds that Saint Peter's tomb is below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes, starting with the first one are buried there.
•Sistine Chapel is the best-known chapel in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope in the Vatican City. Its fame rests on its architecture, evocative of Solomon's Temple of the Old Testament and on its decoration which has been frescoed throughout by the greatest Renaissance artists including Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and Sandro Botticelli. Under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted 12,000 square feet of the chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. He resented the commission, and believed his work only served the Pope's need for grandeur. Today the ceiling is believed to be Michelangelo's crowning achievement. The Sistine Chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored the old Cappella Magna between 1477 and 1480. During this period a team of painters included Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli ,and Domenico Ghirlandaio created a series of frescoed panels depicting the life of Moses and the life of Christ, offset by papal portraits above and trompe l’oeil drapery below, completed in 1482. On August 15, 1483, Sixtus IV consecrated the first mass in honor to Our Lady of the Assumption. Since the time of Sixtus IV, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it is the site of the Papal conclave; a ceremony in which a new Pope is selected.
It is the capital city of the Italian region of Campania, and the province of Naples. The city is over 2,800 years old and known for its rich history, art, culture and gastronomy.
•Along the promenade, you will find Castel dell’Ovo, first settled by the ancient Greeks who found the city of Partenope, the tiny island of Megaride, which is home to the city's oldest castle. Many believe the name, Castel dell'Ovo, is due to its unusual shape (ovo meaning "egg"); however, others maintain that the name is linked to a medieval legend.
•San Carlo Opera House, is the oldest continuously active in Europe. The second in excellence only to la Scala Opera House in Milan, named after Bourbon Charles III of Naples (Carlo III in Italian). The theatre was inaugurated on November 4, 1737, the king's name day, with a performance of Domenico Sarro's Achille in Sciro, an opera based on the play by the famous poet, who went by the name of Metastasio. Sarro also conducted the orchestra in two ballets as intermezzi, created by Grossatesta. At the time, it was the largest opera house in the world, seating 3,300. Another Neapolitan musical artist who had an impact on the world stage is opera singer Enrico Caruso, one of the most famous and respected tenors of all time.
•Town Hall and Angevin Castle, between the harbor and Toledo Street (which ends near Piazza Plebiscito) is the city centre and the heart of Naples, full of offices, shops, and monuments. There find the Angevin castle, built at the end of 13th century by Charles I of Anjou. Named Castelnuovo (Newcastle) in order to distinguish it from the elder Castel dell'Ovo (Egg Castle), but the name replaced shortly thereafter in the common language by the popular appellative of "Maschio Angioino" (Angevin Stronghold).
The most prominent forms of architecture in Naples are from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. The historic centre of Naples is typically the most fruitful for architecture and listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A striking feature of Naples is that it has 448 historical churches, making it one of the most Catholic cities in the world.
•See Pompeii, first occupied in the 8th century BC. The Etruscans soon dominated the region and Pompeii throughout the 5th and 6th centuries BC. Afterwards the Saminites turned Pompeii into a Greek town. Their reign ended when the Romans took control of Pompeii around 200 BC. The Romans retained control over Pompeii until the end, a fateful day in 79 AD when Mt. Vesuvius unleashed its fury on the 20,000 inhabitants of this thriving Roman city. Though Mt. Vesuvius had once been a very active volcano, it had remained dormant for as long as humans could remember. Since no legacy of destruction was passed down from their ancestors, the people living near the mountain did not realize there was any potential for danger. The first warning sign came in February A.D. 62. About midday, a "long, muffled roar" shook the town; the earth began to tremble, and buildings collapsed. People rushed out of the town and away from the falling buildings, only to fall prey to deep chasms that ripped open the countryside without warning. The towns nearby reservoir broke, adding floods to the chaotic scene. Though it was destructive, the first earthquake lasted for only a moment, an hour later; however, the area was seized by another tremor. The quakes continued to occur at unpredictable intervals, inflicting alternate moods of hysteria and hope, until nightfall. Finally, one morning in August 79 A. D. the volcano burst open sending a rain of ash and rock through the surrounding countryside. The mud seeped down the sides of Vesuvius, swallowing nearby farms, orchards and villas. Some people of Pompeii attempted to flee the area; others perhaps chose to wait until the streets were clear of the panicked masses; still others sealed themselves up in rooms, supposing that the ashes and poisonous gasses would not harm them there. Who could not escape in time to avoid disaster, were killed by falling buildings, overcome by the mephitic gas, or simply buried by the rapidly falling ash. Their bodies were quickly covered by the volcano’s mineral deposits, which covered Pompeii in a layer more than 30 feet thick. Excavations did not occur until the eighteenth century when a peasant digging a well rediscovered Herculaneum. During an excavation that began on March 23, 1748, Pompeii was founded. From that date on, excavations at Pompeii have continued sporadically. Portions of the site remain uncovered, excavation, and research teams are still attempting to reveal this mysterious city's secrets.
Located in northern Italy, Venice is known for its canals, architectural wonders and works of art. The city stretches across 117 small islands along the Adriatic Sea. Capital of the Veneto region there are approximately 270,098 people in the surrounding areas. In the 10th century the Veneti people inhabited the region and was the capital of the Venetian Republic. Venice was known as the “La Dominante”, Serenissima, Queen of the the Adriatic, City of Water, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges”, “ The Floating City” and “City of Canals”.
The capital of the region of Tuscany, Florence sits on the River Arno and is known to be the birthplace of the Renaissance. A turbulent political history included periods of rule by the powerful Medici family, religious and republican revolution. From 1865 to 1870 the city was also the capital of the recently established Kingdom of Italy. The historic center of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year. It was declared a World Heritage Site UNESCO in 1982. Due to Florence's artistic and architectural heritage, it is thought to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city has art galleries, and is known as one of the world’s leading fashion capitals.
Europe's Renaissance period began in Italy during the 14th and 15th centuries. Literary achievements such as the poetry of Petrarch, Tasso, and Ariosto and the prose of Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and Castiglione exerted a tremendous and lasting influence on the subsequent development of Western civilization, as did the painting, sculpture, and architecture contributed by giants such as da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, and Michelangelo. The musical influence of Italian composers Monteverdi, Palestrina, and Vivaldi proved epochal; in the 19th century, Italian romantic opera flourished under composers Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Giacomo Puccini. Contemporary Italian artists, writers, filmmakers, architects, composers, and designers contribute significantly to Western culture.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Italian(s).
Population (July 2007 est.): 58.15 million.
Annual growth rate (2007 est.): 0.01%.
Ethnic groups: Primarily Italian, but there are small groups of German-, French-, Slovene-, and Albanian-Italians. Religion: Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in the country, although the Catholic Church is no longer officially the state religion. 87.8% of Italians identified as Roman Catholic, only about one-third of these described themselves as active members (36.8%).Language: Italian
Italy has been a democratic republic since June 2, 1946, when the monarchy was abolished by popular referendum. The constitution was promulgated on January 1, 1948.
Natural resources: Fish and natural gas. Agriculture: wheat, rice, grapes, olives, citrus fruits, potatoes, sugar beets, and soybeans beef, dairy products. Industry: -tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics.
For any concerns, please consult with your physician before travel. Immunization is not required to enter the country. Before departure please verify with your medical insurance company if overseas coverage is included. Always pack your medication in your carry on, not in your checked luggage. For all health requirements and recommendations travelers should check with a local Department of Health clinic or U.S Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For further information please refer to: http://www.cdc.gov/ .
Public hospitals, though generally free of charge for emergency services, sometimes do not maintain the same standards as hospitals in the United States, so travelers are encouraged to obtain insurance that would cover a stay in a private Italian hospital or clinic. It is almost impossible to obtain an itemized hospital bill from public hospitals, as required by many U.S. insurance companies, because the Italian National Health Service charges one inclusive rate (care services, bed and board).
PASSPORT & VISA REQUIREMENTS
A valid passport is required for entry into Spain, Malta, Italy and France. It must be valid for at least 6months beyond the intended stay. USA / Canadian citizens holding a ticket as proof of onward or return travel do not require a visa for stays up to 90 days. Please always check with your local consulate for additional information.
Central European Time zone, Central European Standard Time (CET) is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. To check for your time zone please check http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock
CALLING TO ITALY FROM THE USA/CANADA
DIAL 011 + Country Code 39, area code and phone number
Area code for is Rome 06, or Naples 081.
Calling from Italy to the US: 001, area code and phone number
The unit of currency in Italy is the Euro. Please check The World’s Favorite Currency Site at: www.xe.com/ucc for your current exchange rate.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Europe. Visa is the most common followed by MasterCard.
Traveler’s Checks are the safest means of carrying money. They are accepted at most hotels and restaurants, usually with a small commission charge.
ELECTRIC CURRENT INFORMATION
Electricity in Italy is 220V, 50Hz, round two-pin plugs and screw-type fittings are in use. Please remember your adapter and converters.
Dress in Europe is “casual”. Jeans and Scarves are very common. Essentials include comfortable shoes, sweater, clothes you can layer, an all-weather coat, bathing suit, a brimmed hat, cotton pants, jeans, shirts, and skirts. Always have an umbrella. You may want to carry a small supply of detergent for hand laundry. Most religious sites do not allow shorts or sleeveless shirts. It is recommended that you leave all valuables at home. Money belts and fanny packs make you stick out as a tourist; we suggest a purse, leather tote bag or backpack.
When visiting the Vatican City, St. Peter's Basilica, do not wear shorts, tops with plunging necklines or bear arms. The guards will not let you in if you do not meet these requirements.
Shops are open from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM and 3:30 PM to 7:30 PM. Prices are reasonable and the quality of goods is usually high. Shop for dresses, shoes, gloves, silk ties, shirts; lacework, jewelry, leather goods, ceramics, alabaster, and woodwork, straw, embroidery, glass, and crystal ware. Italians are very personable people and shop owners are becoming more and more open to haggling over prices. The city’s most exclusive and high-end boutiques reside within a stone's throw of the famous Spanish Steps. Via Del Corso is a focal point of any Italy shopping tour, and contains a number of chic boutiques as well as plenty for the budget conscious. Rome also has the widest selection of neighborhood markets, where you can casually peruse everything from fresh fruit to hand-crafted goods.
Italy, like most other European countries, imposes a value added tax (VAT or IVA) on most goods and services purchased in the country. This tax is normally included or built into the price of most goods and services. The general rate of tax is about 16% to 20% of the sale price. Every non-EU citizen is entitled to a reimbursement of the VAT (IVA) tax when they purchased personal goods for more than Euro 180 in a single shop at once. If a store has a "Euro Tax Free" signs on its window or door this means that the store participates in the "Tax Free Italy" program. When making a purchase at such a store, present your passport at the cash register and ask the store clerk to issue you a "Tax Free Shopping cheque" together with a receipt for the goods. The store will charge you tax at the time of sale. However, the Tax Free Shopping cheque will indicate the amount of VAT (refund that you are eligible to subsequently
Between 10 – 15% is fine in restaurants, if the service charge has not already been added to the bill. Tips are at your discretion and the amount given should reflect your satisfaction with the service.
Following is a suggested guideline for your hosts; Local Guide: $ 5.00- $10.00 per person per day, Escort $3.00 per day, Transfer personnel: $ 2.00 per person per transfer, Local driver: $ 2.00 per person per day.
FOOD AND WATER
Tap water is generally safe to drink. However we always suggest that you drink bottled water. The inscription “Acqua Non Potabile” means water is not drinkable. Milk is pasteurized and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit, and vegetables are considered safe to eat.
Eating a leisurely Italian meal is one of the pleasures of traveling in Italy! Each region, and sometimes even a city, will have regional specialties that they are very proud of. Enhance your experience by telling your waiter that you want to try the specialties.
Traditional Roman cooking is made up of simple, meager ingredients, that follow the seasons and which are therefore extremely fresh. It is simple, with strong flavors, overflowing with dressings and anything but low-calorie. A typical Roman menu begins with the essential bruschetta “ammazzavampiri” and maybe a wonderful mozzarella in carrozza. The large pasta course that follows could be Spaghetti alla carbonara, bucatini all'amatriciana, bucatini cacio e pepe or gnocchi alla romana. For the main course choose between coda alla vaccinara, saltimbocca alla romana, costolette d'abbacchio. For side dishes, don’t miss the chance to try artichokes “alla giudia”, a typical way of cooking artichokes from Jewish-Roman traditional cooking.
If you still have room try a couple of maritozzi, or freshen up with a lovely "grattachecca", the typical Roman crushed-ice drink. Wines are named after grape varieties, village or area of origin. The most widespread is the Chianti group of vineyards in Tuscany. Roman wines include Albano and Frascati (whites); Barolo in Valle d'Aosta; Valpolicella in Veneto; Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio (whites); Cabernet and Pinot Nero (reds) in Friuli-Venezia; and Chianti, Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello in Tuscany.
You may bring the following into Italy: personal effects, one video camera or two still cameras with ten rolls of film each, portable radio, tape recorder, 1 laptop PC per person free of duty, provided they show signs of use. 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars, or 250 grams of tobacco, as well as two bottles of wine or one bottle of liquor is permitted.
Upon your return, United States residents must declare all articles acquired abroad and in their possession when they return to the U.S. This includes items purchased in "duty-free" shops. The standard exemption is $600 - $800, which may include one liter of alcohol (if you are at least 21), 100 cigars and 200 cigarettes.
The baggage allowance on your international flight is two pieces of luggage, each weighing 50 pounds or less. The baggage limit on domestic flights is one piece at 50 pounds per person (plus a carry-on bag, weighing no more than 18 pounds, not to exceed 45inches length, width, and height added together). Carry on Baggage Rules: Passengers may carry through security checkpoints travel-size toiletries (3 ounces or less) that fit comfortable in a single, quart size, clear plastic, zip-top bag. Larger amounts of prescription liquid medications baby formula, and diabetic glucose treatments must be declared at the checkpoint for additional screening. Equally important is the size and structure of the bags. Soft luggage (canvas, fabric or duffel bags) are ideal. We recommended that you only take 1 piece of luggage and a carry-on. We highly recommend that you always check with your carrier for updated rules and regulations.
We strongly recommend the purchase of travel insurance as additional security in the case of cancellation or interruption of travel plans, lost or damaged luggage, travel delays, illness, or accident. Keep all boarding passes, ticket copies and receipts for expenses paid during your trip if it later becomes necessary to file a claim. You may obtain travel insurance through Travel Guard Purchase Protection Plan (www.TravelGuard.com). Please complete the applicable form and mail it back to LTT and we will apply for the insurance in your name or you may choose to apply for the insurance online, in which case, you will be asked for your Travel Agents ID # 00552160, which identifies your booking with LTT.
RECOMMENDED PACKING LIST
•Small backpack to take while exploring •A small flashlight •Adapter plugs and converters •Packaged wet tissues (“Wash & Dry”, “Wet Ones”) •A small calculator for estimating cost while shopping •Plenty of film or tape for your camera, extra batteries or rechargeable ones •Good quality sunglasses-preferably polarized •Sun hat •Good walking shoes •Jacket or sweater for cooler mornings or evenings •Light rain gear •If you wear contact lenses, we recommend that you bring along a pair of glasses •Personal toiletries •Moisturizing cream & suntan lotion •Tickets, passports, money, etc. •Waterproof bags/cover for your cameras •Small Italian/English dictionary •Medical Insurance Card •Medicine