Italy is one of the most popular European destinations for visitors from the U.S. A mix of fantastic culture, delicious gastronomy, beautiful natural sights, ancient ruins, a thriving nightlife and thousands of miles of coastline and pristine beaches all culminate to create the ultimate vacation experience. Here, you will also find some of the world’s most popular cities such as Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence and Naples. Pay a visit to one of the top museums featuring art from history’s most famous artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli and da Vinci and stroll along the historical footsteps of powerful past rulers. When you’ve had enough of the urban experience, venture out to the Italian countryside from the snow capped Italian Alps in the north, the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside or the turquoise waters of the rocky southern beaches.
FLY TO ITALY
Fly to Italy with SAS via Oslo, Copenhagen or Storkholm (depending on route) from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. With daily departures from multiple locations, you can easily find a departure to suit your travel plans. Book early to save on airfare and when you choose SAS, enjoy a 24-hour right of revocation on your flight tickets and online check-in 22 hours prior to departure. Passengers on intercontinental flights can enjoy food and drinks on board. In addition, Wi-Fi is available for a small fee. We look forward to welcoming you on board!
If you are travelling with children under 2 years (without own seat) they fly either free of charge or with a 90% discount on the flight portion of the ticket price, depending on the destination. Children from 2-11 years get a 25% discount. The discounts do not apply to taxes and fees.
EXPERIENCE ITALY WITH THE WHOLE FAMILY
A visit to Italy far surpasses the romantic ideals of an Italian vacation. Whether you’re traveling as a family with children or a single couple, the smell of marinara wafting from the many restaurants, the buzz of Vespa’s whizzing by, groups of locals sitting at corner cafes sipping on fresh cappuccinos and little Italian grandmothers on their way to the market are sites you can be sure to see. Each of the 20 different states features their own dialect, traditional dishes, customs and architecture. The choices are endless from north to south and you’ll be sure to fall in love before your Italian vacation has come to an end.
HISTORY OF ITALY
Italian history goes back thousands of years to the founding of ancient Rome more than 2,500 years ago. According to a myth, two twin brothers Romulus and Remus were raised by a she-wolf and are credited with the founding of ancient Rome. The first Roman republic was set up around 500 B.C. and over the following 200 years Rome conquered a significant portion of the Italian mainland. From there, the empire began its overseas conquests, and when the Roman Empire was at its peak, it spread across most of Europe as well as large parts of North Africa. The official language of the Roman Empire, Latin, has had a significant impact on the development of modern day European culture and linguistics. Even today, you can still find art and monuments from ancient Rome all throughout Italy.
THE VATICAN – AN INDEPENDENT CITY IN ROME
Within the heart of Rome you’ll find the core of the Catholic Church, the home of the Pope and many other historic religious sites. The Vatican is the world's smallest individual state, with approximately 800 inhabitants. Here you can find fantastic architecture and art such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum, in addition to a number of quaint little cafes and restaurants selling authentic Italian cuisine.
PIAZZA SAN PIETRO AND THE CHURCH
A must-see on a visit to Rome is St. Peter's Basilica, one of the world's most impressive churches. The architecture is intricately decorated with marble and numerous frescoes cover the massive walls of the huge cathedral. In addition, the enormous church features a dome nearly 400 feet above the ground and has the capacity to fit more than 60,000 people. Outside, you are greeted with the vast expanse of the Piazza San Pietro, a huge square bordered with statues of saints carved in marble. Just next to the Piazza, you’ll find the Vatican Museum, housing much of the most valuable and impressive religious art collected throughout the centuries. Inside is one of the world’s most famous paintings, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel—the iconic fresco picturing God's hand passing life to Adam covering the entire ceiling.
FASHION AND ROMANCE IN NORTHEN ITALY
A visit to northern Italy is sure to be a delight. Whether you’re looking for natural sights, unique urban spaces, wholesome traditional dishes or fashion inspiration, there’s something for everyone! Northern Italy’s beautiful lakes—such as Lake Como and Lake Maggiore—are home to a number of upscale resorts set against the impressive backdrop of the Italian Alps. The city of Verona—made famous as the setting for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet—boasts a beautiful amphitheater where open-air opera performances are a regular experience.
Venice, one of Italy’s most unique destinations, is a romantic floating city built on 118 islands and the only 'pedestrian city' in the world. Bologna is a charming and relatively unspoiled Italian pearl enticing with authentic Italian culture and delicious food, in addition to being home to the world's oldest university dating back to the 11th Century. And one can’t forget the famous northern city of Milan, a fashion capital of the world and a must-see for fashionistas.
COMBINE CULTURE AND SUNNY HOLIDAY
Southern Italy boasts a collection of stunning traditional cities, delicious inexpensive food, a warm, welcoming climate and an extensive coastline of pristine clear turquoise waters. The Italian Riviera, The Adriatic Coast, the Mediterranean Sea, the Amalfi Coast, the bathing lakes or the islands in the Napoli Bay all offer great opportunities to combine grand cultural adventures with a relaxing sunny holiday.
Pay a visit to one of the largest southern cities, Naples, and taste traditional pizza in its birthplace. Here, there are countless restaurants preparing pizzas by the authentic Vera Pizza standards that are a step above any pie you’ve ever had before. Naples is also broken down into two main city sections: the old and the new. In the old section of the city, you’ll find tightly winding cobblestone streets, lively market vendors, Vespas zooming by and, of course, plenty of authentic and delicious pizza restaurants. In the new part of the city, located along the harbor, there are more upscale restaurants that are typically more expensive but offer beautiful views of the sea and Mt. Vesuvius in the background. For a day trip from Naples, visit the ancient town of Pompeii, which was buried under many feet of thick volcano ash almost 2,000 years ago and still remains relatively intact today.
THE FAMOUS ITALIAN CUISINE
Italy represents the essence of South-European passion, with long, late lunches, family style meals, delicious coffee and a relaxed, laid back attitude. Italian cuisine is world famous, and although it was brought to the U.S. by immigrants many years ago, some say the only way to get the full experience of Italian cuisine is to go to the country itself.
Cafe with patina in Rome
The capital city of Rome is famous for many sidewalk cafes serving authentic Italian espresso with the perfect amount of 'crema', creating the ultimate coffee unique to Italy. Enjoy your coffee with crispy biscotti for the complete experience. The Antico Caffé Greco is, the oldest cafe in Rome and a protected landmark since 1953. In the past, it served as a special meeting point for some of the world’s most famous artists such as Goethe, Keats, Casanova and Danish H.C. Andersen. Still to this day, the previous couch of famed Danish writer H.C. Andersen, taken from his apartment across the street, still sits in the back room of the illustrious café.
Harry’s Bar in Venice
Right in the heart of Italy’s city on water you’ll find the legendary Harry's Bar. Previously, the Venetian bar was the residence of artists such as the world famous American writer Ernest Hemingway. A visit to Harry’s means you must try its famous Bellini’s– a refreshing cocktail made of sparkling wine and peach puree. Though it’s popular all year long, the bar is particularly busy during the city's annual film festival, attracting Hollywood A-Listers, directors and hopeful rising stars mingling over delicious cocktails.
VACATION IN ITALY: PLACES YOU MUST VISIT
Northern Italy – Italian Alps and beautiful cities
Northern Italy is the most populated area of Italy, home to the major cities in Italy such as Venice, Milan, Bologna and Turin. In Venice and Bologna, you’ll find a romantic, classical charm while Milan and Turin burst with energy and modern life. In this region, you’ll also find fabulous options for natural exploration such as the many lakes, or the Italian Alps. One of the top scenic areas here is Cinque Terre, a dramatic collection of coastal cities built into the cliffs that have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. You can visit the region on foot or by rail, as cars were banned over a decade ago.
Central Italy – Rome, Florence and Tuscany
Central Italy boasts stunning natural landscapes, such as Tuscany, and bustling, beautiful, ancient cities such as Rome or Florence.
Rome is one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations and the birthplace of the Roman Empire. It’s impossible to walk anywhere in the city without taking in sites of ancient ruins in various states of preservation or renovation. A highlight is the infamous Coliseum, an ancient Roman amphitheater, which was used to entertain the masses for hundreds of years. In addition, you’ll find sights such as the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain—all must-sees on a trip to Rome.
Florence is often considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and is an absolute treasury of art and architecture. During the European Renaissance, the city was an epicenter of art and culture. Royalty and the wealthy elite from all over Europe flocked to the shops of skillful goldsmiths on the Ponte Vecchio—the old bridge crossing the Arno River. Pay a visit to the beautiful cathedral Duomo di Firenze and take in the panoramic view of the city from the Piazzale Michelangelo.
Southern Italy – Pompeji and Naples
A highlight of a visit to southern Italy is a trip to Pompeii, the ancient Roman city buried in ash in 79 A.D. Once a wealthy Roman settlement just outside of Naples, the town and its approximately 20,000 inhabitants exemplified traditional Roman culture and life. In the year 79, the adjacent volcano, Mt. Vesuvius, erupted and buried the city in ash and lava, killing around 2,000 people.
This covered the entire village, which remained hidden for thousands of years until it was discovered in the year 1748. Since then, excavation has been a slow and careful process and many of the artifacts are displayed in Naples at the Museo Nazionale. Today, you can visit the ancient village, where the foundations of the many buildings remain intact as they did thousands of years ago. There are a number of homes, wall paintings, intricate floor tiles and even a stunning amphitheater.