A country that offers metropolitan cities full of historic monuments as well as relaxing coastal getaways, vineyards, snowy mountains and some of the worlds best cuisine is hard to come by. Italy has something for everyone. Every region offers a different taste of the Bella Vita. When in the South you will find a pristine coastline dotted with fishing villages and the home of the very first pizza in Napoli. In the North you will find world class skiing and the hustle and bustle of cities like Milano, the fashion capital. In the center of the country you will find the rolling hills and farm villas of Toscana. Each area has it’s own specialty cuisine and dialect.
Follow the Gap Map itinerary link found on the main Europe page. To reach Italy you will catch the overnight ferry from Dubrovnik, Croatia to Bari on Italys East coast. See here for ticket prices and timetables. It should cost around 45 Euro for the ferry. Of course you can also check the price comparison with flying from Dubrovnik to Napoli but often in peak season it will be cheaper to catch the ferry to Bari.
Scroll down to see more info on each of Italy’s cities.
This city is just a place to pass through. It’s the best point of entry into Italy when coming from Croatia on the Gap Map itinerary because you can easily begin heading South. For the details on getting to Bari visit the departures section on the Dubrovnik page. Bari is also the cheapest port when considering the cost of your onward train ticket. Take the train straight from Bari to Napoli once you arrive. You can book tickets at the station and view time tables in advanced at trenitalia.com it should cost around 20 Euro. For more info on booking trains in Italy see Italy Tips and Tricks.
If you’re after a bite to eat in Bari after your long ferry ride visit El Pedro. A self-service canteen/restaurant. Take a tray and choose from a huge variety of pasta at a ridiculously cheap €3 per portion. Also find sides of veg, desserts, salads and more.
Via Piccinni, 152, Bari
The home of the cheesy treat that’s loved world wide, the genius locals of Napoli are said to have invented the pizza. This city is unlike any other in Italy. Details
3. Amalfi Coast
Tiny towns nestled among the sea side cliffs of the Amalfi Coast are tourist hot spots over the summer months. Positano and Amalfi are consistent favourites for their picturesque laneways, restaurants and beaches. Lemon trees fill the streets and inspire the regions cuisine. Boutique stores sell limoncello liquor and citrus perfumes to take home.
Sorrento or Positano are the best places to base yourself while visiting the Amalfi Coast. Sorrento is the first stop on the coastline making it easily accessible.
On the other hand, if you’re ready for an extra leg of the trip, catch a bus from the Circumsuviana train station at Sorrento to Positano.
From Sorrento to Positano by bus is about 1 hour.
On this small Island just off the western coast of Italy you are more likely to find Roman tourists on holiday than foreigners. This hidden gem is a quieter Island compared to some of the others in Italy making it the perfect place to wind down and relax. There are several ports just off the coast of Rome where boats depart to Ponza. The best option is usually from Terracina where there is the a slow ferry . This will cost you less than the faster boats operating out of other ports. Tickets should be around 10euro. Details
Italy’s famous capital is big, busy and as touristy as it gets. Between the Colosseum, The Vatican and Trevi Fountain, just to name a few, there are enough sites to keep you busy for days. Hordes of people from all over the globe come to tour Rome all year round.
But there is more to Rome than just the tourist pit stops.
Book a train ticket to Rome from any of the ports when returning from Ponza. Anzio, Formia and Terracina are all well linked to Rome with trenitalia.com
See more Rome details
Florence is a popular city for many tourists on the hunt for shopping, leather markets, Tuscan food and wine, and of course the beautiful Ponte Vecchio bridge. Sit on one of the many bridges and see the yellow and orange houses dotted along the river as water flows below you. The city is filled with art galleries and cultural monuments including the original statue of David by Michelangelo.
To get from Rome to Florence you can catch a direct train. Be sure to always check the prices for the slow trains in comparison to the fast trains (Frecce).
7. Cinque Terre
Waves of tourists wash up on these shores every summer to see the Cinque Terre meaning Five Lands. Discover the five colourful towns teetering on a cliff edge on the Ligurian coast. These charming fishing villages are an outdoorsy Gap Mappers play ground with opportunities to hike, swim and explore. For the adventurous travellers there is a walking trail that leads between the 5 towns. While hiking up and down hills and along the cliff edge you will discover stunning ocean views and get plenty of exercise. Lovers leave padlocks attached to fences along the trail in the hope of locking in their love forever by tossing the key into the ocean. The trail can be completed in one day but it is hard to see enough of each town in that time. If you want to go back and make individual visits to each town you can catch the small local train in between them.
To get here catch the train from Florence to La Spezia for about 2hrs, cost around 15 Euro. From La Spezia get a bus to the suggested hostel. Details
If you have decided to take a different route and end up in Italy during the chillier months there are plenty of cities that are unbearably hot and located too far from the coast during summer but are beautiful and festive during winter. Find yourself enjoying a traditional Bolognaise in Bologna, visiting Christmas markets in Tuscany and reading love poems at Romeo and Juliet’s balcony in Verona. See Italian Winter destinations.