Highlights of the cultural calendar include many traditional regional festivals, interspersed with international arts, music and sports events. Major events include:
Moveable (40 days before Easter: 4 March 2014; 17 February 2015) - Carnevale, countrywide. Hotel reservations for the major carnivals in Venice and Viareggio are often snapped up a year in advance. Oristano and Mamoiada on Sardinia and Acireale on Sicily are among the most colourful regional celebrations, the former two combining religious and pagan rituals, while festivities in Venice start two weeks early.
Early June - Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics, Pisa. Boat races on the Arno pitting the home city against Genoa, Venice and Amalfi.
Mid-June to mid-August - Festival de Caracalla, Rome. Opera, ballet and classical concerts amid the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla.
Mid-June to early September - Verona Opera, Arena di Verona. Summer season of operatic works in the city's spectacular 1st-century amphitheatre.
2 July - Festa della Madonna Bruna, Matera. Centuries-old feast and procession in honour of the city's patron brown virgin.
2 July and 16 August - Il Palio di Siena. The famous horse race around the Piazza del Campo takes place in two stages in which the 17 contrade (local neighbourhoods) compete. There are other events in the days leading up to each race (from 29 June and 13 August).
5 to 7 July - L'Ardia di San Costantino, Sedilo. Less well known than the Siena Palio, Sardinia's monumental horse race celebrates St Constantine's victory over Maxentious at the Mulvian Bridge in 312, where the saint is reported to have been inspired by a flaming cross.
July - Umbria Jazz. Eleven days of open-air concerts by international artists.
July and August - Torre del Lago Puccini Festival, Tuscany. An outdoor amphitheatre beside the lake is the setting for the Puccini programme, with other concerts and ballets around the town.
July and August - Macerata Opera Festival. Outdoor opera programme in the magnificent Sferisterio Arena, celebrating its 50th season in 2014.
First Sunday in August: La Quintana jousting festival, Ascoli Piceno. After a medieval parade, crowds flock to the grandstands around the jousting field to watch six local champions compete.
Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.
Passports must be valid for the duration of your stay. No additional validity is required.
The lira was replaced by the euro in 2002. Notes and coins from any country in the eurozone are legal tender. Notes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500, and coins in €1 and €2 and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents.
ATMs can be found in all cities, large towns and island resorts, and international withdrawals are straightforward via an English-language interface.
Cash and EFTPOS
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants, shops, bus and train stations and travel agencies.
As in other countries, major cities and central locations have a higher cost of living than suburban or rural areas. As a rule of thumb southern Italy is less expensive than the north, especially for food. Expect to pay 3-4€ for a panini from a street vendor; while restaurant bills can be anything from around 20€ for two courses at a mid-range restaurant.