Getting to Italy
AirportsMost tourists come to Italy through Milan Malpensa (MXP) or Rome Fiumicino (FCO). Venice (VCE), Turin (TRN), Bologna (BLQ), Naples (NAP), and Palermo (PMO) are other possible entry points. European budget airlines use less convenient airports like Bergamo Orio al Serio (BGY) for Milan or Treviso (TFS) for Venice, but there are public transport and private shuttle options to ease the inconvenience.
AirlinesAlitalia is the official Italian airline, offering numerous flights from the U.S. and from within Europe. Other European carriers include British Airways, KLM, Swiss, and Lufthansa. American carriers include Delta, Continental, and American Airlines. Budget (aka "no frills") airlines like Ryanair, Easyjet, and Tuifly connect Italy’s major cities and fly to other European countries. Luggage allowance on such flights is minimal and hefty surcharges apply for excess luggage. Also, don't expect luggage transfers to your connecting flight.
Flight Times8 hours nonstop from New York to Rome or Milan; about 15 hours from Los Angeles to Rome (including one stop); about 9 hours nonstop from Chicago to Rome.
Train TravelThe Italian railway network (www.trenitalia.it; website available in English) spans about 10,000 miles, with new high-speed lines in operation including a Rome-Milan route that can take less than three hours. The high-speed trains (called TAV, or treno alta velocita’) are expensive, but other rail transport is fairly cheap with the fastest trains operating between the major cities and tourist destinations. Regional trains can be slow and cater mostly to commuters. Connections with Southern France run along the Genoa-Ventimiglia-Nice coastline, while Lyon and Paris are reached through the Frejus tunnel via Turin-Bardonecchia-Modane. The lines from Switzerland run through the Sempione Pass tunnel and across the Ticino Canton, crossing the border at Chiasso towards Milan. The Brennero and Tarvisio lines link Italy to Austria and from there to Central and Eastern Europe. If you plan to travel extensively by train, you may want to consider purchasing a continent-wide Eurail pass (www.eurail.com). Keep in mind that Eurail passes cannot be purchased in Europe; they must be mailed to a U.S. address, so it’s best to book several months in advance of your trip.
CruisesSardinia and Sicily are Italy's two major islands. They can be reached by ferries departing from Civitavecchia north of Rome (to Sardinia) and Villa San Giovanni near Reggio Calabria (to Sicily). Popular ferry routes operate to Greece from Brindisi, to Croatia from Venice, to Corsica from Livorno and Genoa, and to Malta from Pozzallo and Licata in Sicily. The main ports of call for Mediterranean cruises are Savona, Genoa, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples, Messina, Palermo, and Venice. Besides well-known Costa Crociere (www.costacruise.com), other major Italian-flavored cruise operators are MSC Cruises (www.msccruisesusa.com), and Louis Cruise Lines (www.louiscruises.com) for the mass market, and Silversea Cruises (www.silversea.com) for luxury travelers.
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On an open-seating flight, head for the back of the airplane. If the flight's not full, it'll likely be emptier back there.
Karen Dion Freelance Editor
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