Culture Discovery Vacations Blog

25 Tips For Traveling In Italy

With all the experience the CDV staff has collected from living and working in Italy, we thought it would be nice to share some of the things we have learned that make visiting Italy, that much easier on you. Most of these things, like the pickpocketing related tips, were learned the hard way (RIP to my iPhone 5), but some of them were wise words passed down from Italians, to make getting around in Italy a breeze.

25tipsfortravelingintialyhor

  1. When visiting major sites, like the Vatican in Rome or the David in Florence, the lines can get brutally long, sometimes you’ll have to wait up to 3 hours just to get into these museums. Buy tickets for visiting major sites ahead of time to skip the long lines of tourists that didn’t know better.
    1. http://www.wheninrometours.com has great tickets for Rome that let you skip the line, not to mention fantastic tour guides.
  2. Use the high speed train as much as possible
    1. trenitalia.com or www.italo.com offer cheap high speed trains around Italy that can get you from Rome to Naples or Rome to Florence in under an hour.
  3. Skip restaurants that have a person standing outside trying to reel you in or that have pictures of the food on the menu.
    1. These are places that are built especially for tourists and usually use the lowest quality ingredients and serve the lowest quality food.
  4. Call your bank and let them know where you are traveling before you leave the country. (One I learned the hard way)
    1. This will eliminate the embarrassing and annoying moment when your card gets declined because Wells Fargo thinks your card has been compromised.
  5. Order Euros from you bank at home before leaving instead of stopping at kiosks in big cities.
    1. The kiosks always give you the worst rate, you are much better off ordering Euros before your trip,
    2. Alternative – using an ATM or in Italian a “bancomat” to withdraw money is 1,000,000X easier and cheaper than those conversion kiosks, thats your best bet for a good exchange rate once you’re already in Italy.
  6. Carry a photocopy of your passport and leave the orginal in the safe in your room
    1. It is always a good idea to keep a copy of your passport with you during your travels, incase you find yourself in some trouble, but taking the original is just too risky.
  7. Wear comfortable shoes (One I learned the hard way)
    1.  I don’t care how comfortable you think those flip flops are . Invest in some supportive shoes. Either walking shoes or sandals with a strap around your ankle. Something like Teva’s or Chacos are great for traveling.
  8. Get your phone unlocked and get an Italian SIM card,
    1. Skip the international plan at you local carrier, its expensive and seldom works. If you have an iPhone that is out of contract, just contact your carrier and they can unlock it for you. This will save you TONS of money.
  9. Leave your good jewelry at home
    1. Pickpockets are really sneaky and really good, wearing your good jewelry is just like wearing a sign that says “I’m rich, rob me first”
  10. Don’t expect your bread to be served with olive oil and vinegar.
    1. In Italy, the bread is used for scooping up leftover pasta sauce, not dipping in olive oil before your meal (this is considered rude, don’t be that tourist)
  11. Pack as light as possible
    1. Cobblestone streets are like a luggage nightmare. Some streets are restricted and taxis will have to let you off a few blocks from hotels. Some hotels wont have an elevator, and you’ll have to lug the bags up the stairs.
  12. Don’t allow anybody to help you do anything at a train station (One I learned the hard way)
    1. Unless they are wearing an official uniform, STAY AWAY. This is a scam! They will try and seem helpful when you are buying your tickets, or trying to get your luggage off the train, but they want your money, and they will probably try to rob you in the process.
  13. Don’t put your feet up on the seats in the train (One I learned the hard way)
    1. This really pisses off the train attendants.
  14. Always close your purse and don’t keep your phone or wallet in your pocket. (One I learned the hard way)
    1. A purse with a zipper to close it is the safest, because it’s the hardest to open for pickpockets.
  15. Don’t order a cappuccino after noon.
    1. Italians love coffee, but milk after noon is hard on your digestive system, cappuccinos are for the breakfast. After noon, order an espresso by ordering “un caffe”
  16. Bring something to cover your knees and shoulders
    1. Most churches require these body parts covered to enter, don’t miss out because you really love that tank top.
  17. Get your train ticket validated before getting on the train (I often forget this one, and get fined)
    1. There are green and white machines throughout the train stations that you need to insert your ticket into for it to be valid.
  18. You can drink the water at the public drinking fountains.
    1. “Potabile” means you can drink it. “Non Potabile” means you cannot.
  19. Feel like a local and enjoy an aperitivo.
    1. Go to a bar, sit down and order a Spritz. It comes with some snacks and it’s a very yummy mixture of Aperol and Prosecco.
  20. Hold your wine glass by the stem, not the cup.
  21. Seriously don’t trust anybody… (One I learned the hard way)
    1. …in the big cities. I don’t care how much you have traveled, nobody is too experienced to not get pick pocketed. It’s happened to all of us, and we don’t want it to happen to you. Watch your belongings and ignore anyone trying to ask you to sign a petition, to purchase a silly toy, anyone who bumps into you, offers to help you, or asks you for money.
  22. Greet Italians by kissing them on the cheek
    1. Left side first, right side second. Remember the order to avoid kissing people on the lips – unless that’s what you’re going for 😉
  23. Try to speak Italian, the locals are very patient and they admire any effort.
  24. Don’t worry about tipping in restaurants
    1. It’s already included in the meal, its called a “Coperto” and you will find it on the bill, waiters in Italy make normal wages.
  25. Do tip your tour guide
    1. How much is at your discretion, but if they did a good job, make sure you thank them with a tip.

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2 thoughts on “25 Tips For Traveling In Italy

  1. di

    just want to say thank you ever so much for all the info tips for Italy. we are going in September to Italy for 3 weeks, our first time. this info has helped us so much, and to beware. thanks di

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