This page has links to Italy resources that we think are useful. Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that Italy Beyond the Obvious will earn some fees if you click on our link and make a purchase.
These are truly things that we own, have purchased, have booked, and recommend to and purchase for Italy Beyond the Obvious clients on a regular basis.
Driving Maps of Italy
All maps are not created equal! I love the Touring Club Italia maps because they are thin but have a plastic laminate on them, meaning they don’t rip when folded over and over again. If you will be driving in the countryside, you need a GPS, but you also need a paper map. If you are driving only in one region – for example Tuscany – just buy the map for that region. But if you’re driving in more than one region, buy a road atlas.
Regional Maps we recommend:
City Maps of Italy
I like having a paper map of a city with me because I can mark it up before I go. I mark my hotel, restaurants, guide meeting points, and any shops I want to visit. For many Italian cities, I like the Streetwise series, EXCEPT for Venice.
Here are city maps of Italy that we recommend:
Italian Language books
Any book you bring with you to Italy must be light. After all, it’s paper, and that’s heavy, and you’ll be bringing a smartphone, right? But smartphone batteries can die, so a backup plan is good. These are worth it:
Children’s Books about Italy
Taking the kids to Italy and want to get them excited about their trip? Start here.
Italy Hiking Guidebooks
If you’re looking for English route instructions of a detailed hike in Italy, and don’t want to hire a local guide, the Sunflower books are the way to go! In addition to walks and hikes, this series also has car tours of these areas.
Useful Italy eBooks and apps
- If you download just ONE app before heading to Italy, make it this one: With WordLens, you point your smartphone’s camera at any printed word for instant translation. Use it for menus, street signs… any written word. It’s amazing. WordLens
- Italy Explained: Gelato. This inexpensive ebook is a great guide to Italian gelato, worth it!
- Uffizi Gallery Guide. Written by a Ph.D in Art History who has lived in Florence for more than a decade.
- Italy Explained: Italian trains. Everything you need to know!
- Eating & Drinking in Rome. Written by Katie Parla who also has a fabulous Rome food app that you can use offline: Katie Parla’s Rome
Travel Accessories for Italy
- You need an adapter plug. Here’s a good one. This will allow you to plug in your own computer, cell phone, or blow dryer into an Italian plug, because the shape and size of the wall sockets are different. BUT, beware: Italy uses 220 volts and the US uses 110 volts so unless your device is okay with 220v, don’t plug it in! It will make a loud popping sound and die forever. Cell phones are okay. Computers are okay. Blow dryers must have a 220v setting otherwise don’t use them. Same with flatirons and electric shavers.
- External Battery. Since international cell phone plans are now very competitive, you don’t need to stress about using data while abroad (as long as you sign up in advance for one of the plans!). I find the limitation is my battery. I am out and about, and I can’t rely on finding a plug to recharge my phone. I travel with an external battery to recharge on the go. I’m sure there are many great ones but I use the Jackery battery pack, which can charge my Samsung Galaxy smartphone twice until I need to recharge the battery itself.
- GPS. You can use your phone to navigate if you get a good international data plan and you bring a car charger. Or, you can rent a GPS device from the local car rental when you pick up the car (but this isn’t a reliable method), or if you rent your car from AutoEurope, you can rent a GPS from them. Or, you can purchase your own GPS device — with European maps — and bring it with you. This Garmin Nuvi 2599 LMT GPS is the one we use.
- Duffel Bag. I put one of these in my luggage and use it for laundry when I’m in Italy. That frees up room in my suitcase for the shoes and gifts that I inevitably buy! It does mean checking an additional bag on the way home, but it’s worth it.
Some of our Favorite Luxury Hotels in Italy
- The Amalfi Coast. The Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello and the San Pietro di Positano are two of the best hotels in Italy. With its stunning views and amazing food, we book variations of our 4-day Amalfi Coast itinerary on a regular basis.
- Venice. The Cipriani is one of the best hotels in Venice but for me, luxury in Venice is at the Londra Palace Hotel. Not only is Venice a great city for international flights, it’s like a fairy tale town – albeit one that needs to be a little bit organized in order to avoid the omnipresent crowds of tourists.
- Lake Como. With iconic lake views and a backdrop of the Alps – not to mention home to George Clooney – Lake Como is a fantastic spot for a luxury Italy vacation. Rent a private villa, or book the five-star Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio.
- The Italian Riviera. Stay on the Portofino peninsula at the Grand Hotel Miramare, visit the lovely fishing village of Camogli, daytrip to the Cinque Terre, and eat pesto. Or, if you’d like to see and be seen, head to the town where Italian VIPs spend their summers, Forte dei Marmi. For a five-star experience, stay at the Grand Hotel Imperiale.
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