Italy is the ultimate travel destination for wine lovers, and here you will find practical information on getting to the wine country. We highlight the airports closest to the different Italian wine regions like Chianti, Barolo (Piedmont), Brunello (Montalcino), Bolgheri (Maremma) and Prosecco; and provide information on credit cards, money, voltage, opening hours for restaurants and shops; advice on buying wine in Italy; and general Italian facts and geography.
There are over 100 airports in Italy, between the peninsula, and Italy’s many islands such as Sicily and Sardinia. The busiest international airports are Milan’s Malpensa airport and Rome’s Fiumicino airport. Here are the closest airports to the Italian wine country.
Naples has a small, international airport and is about an hour from top vineyards.
Pisa and Florence both have small international airports, with flights arriving in from the UK, France and around Europe. Each are about one hour from the wineries of Chianti.
Bergamo is where one of “Milan’s” airports is located and is in easy access to the bubbly wineries of Franciacorta, less than an hour. The region is about 1 hour and 30 minutes from downtown Milan.
The closest airport is Turin, which is about 45 minutes from the Langhe. Milan has three airports, all under 2 1/2 hours by car to the wine country.
Montalcino is about half way between Florence and Rome, both of which have airports and are 2 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes by car.
Verona has a small airport with carriers arriving from the UK and Europe. The airport is a thirty minute drive to the wineries. Venice has a larger international airport and is about an hour and a half.
We highly suggest you purchase full travel insurance and cancellation insurance to protect you from unexpected situations such as flight cancellations, medical complications, lost luggage, and any other possible eventuality.
The currency in Italy is the Euro. Check with your bank for currency exchange information as rates fluctuate. A handy web tool for currency exchange: www.x-rates.com/calculator.html. Banks in Italy are open Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and closed all day Saturday, Sunday, and national holidays. In Italy, when paying by credit card, passport/ photo ID is often required. Travellers cheques are rarely accepted and not recommended at all. AMEX is less widely accepted than Visa and Mastercard (only in some top hotels and Michelin starred restaurants). The easiest way to get money while in Italy is at the ATM machines.
Make sure your passports are up to date and in good condition. Bring other photo ID besides your passport. Photocopy/scan your passports, tickets, etc and bring with you, keeping them in a separate location from the originals. Also leave a copy with someone at home and/or email them to yourself to have an electronic copy.
We suggest that you bring a copy of all your credit card company’s contact details (American Express, Visa, Mastercard) in case of credit card theft, blockage, etc. Notify your credit card companies that you will be travelling to Italy, so they do not block your card once you start making charges.
Remember that the voltage and plugs are different in Italy (electric current in Italy is 220 volts and the plug is two circular pins), so if you want to bring electronic equipment you will need to bring both a voltage adapter and a plug adapter.
BUYING WINE IN ITALY
Shipping wine abroad and taking wine with you on board the airplanes have both become increasingly more difficulty over the last few years, with stricter airport rules and more paperwork and import restrictions. As such, we usually suggest that clients ask the wineries for the local distributor’s details while visiting. Most of the wineries we work with sell their wine in the major markets (USA/ UK/etc) and we can tell you where to purchase the wines in your area. If you decide you do want to ship wine from Italy, the main shipping companies are UPS and DHL. If you would like to carry wine back, bring a small wine suitcase and be sure to pack and pad it with plenty of bubble wrap before checking it in.
ITALIAN TIMETABLE FOR MEALS
Lunch hours in restaurants are earlier in the north of Italy, starting around 12:30 p.m. Average lunchtime is 1p.m. Dinner- few restaurants open before 8 p.m. and most diners head for their dinner around 8/9 p.m., later the further south you go. After dinner most Italians have a “Passegiatta”, a digestive walk. Italian squares are the center of city and neighborhood life and you will always find people congregating in the many piazzas, where you can usually get a coffee, ice cream or glass of wine.
Opening times for shops – traditional shops tend to open around 9 a.m., close from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and then stay open until 7 p.m., depending on the part of town. In tourist areas, shops have longer hours. Sundays and Mondays are the days that many museums, shops and restaurants close.
Facts and figures
- Official name REPUBBLICA ITALIANA
- Area 301,260 square kilometers; 125,470 square kilometers of which are mountains
- Regions 20 regions, five with special autonomy status
- Capital Rome
- Major cities Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna and Naples
- Major Rivers Tiber, Po, Arno
- Major mountain ranges The Italian Alps, The Apennines
- Countries bordering Italy Austria, Switzerland, France, and Slovenia.
- Major industries Fashion houses, luxury motor vehicles, food and wine
- Major Ports and harbors Genova, Livorno, Venice, Ancona, Sorrento, Salerno, Naples, Bari, Reggio Calabria, Messina, Siracusa (Syracuse), Palermo
- Time Zone GMT/UTC plus 1 hour in winter, or two hours in summer (from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in September).
- Population About 57 million inhabitants. Italy has the third largest population in Europe with the grand majority living in the northern regions.
- Official language Italian. Also German (parts of the Trentino-Alto Adige region are mainly German speaking); French (there is a small French speaking minority in Valle d’Aosta region) and Slovene in the Friuli area.
- Religion 84% Roman Catholic; 16% other including Jewish, Muslim, and Protestant.
- Government A parliamentary republic; the head of state is the president.