As a local, I regularly get asked for travel tips for Italy. There are certain things that first time visitors need to know before visiting, to make sure their trip runs smooth and that they fully enjoy it; and there are others that will help even returnees make the most of it.
Italy is the most beautiful country in the world. And although this definitely is my opinion, judging by the many accolades that Italy constantly receives and by the number of tourists that visit it every year (to which you should add the number of those that wish to visit but for a number of reasons can’t), you will see that this is very much a true statement.
It’s incredible how a relatively small country really has something for everyone – beautiful cities; archeological sites; art; countryside, mountains and beaches; unique wildlife; the best food in the world; fabulous wines and much more. A lifetime is hardly enough to get to know it all.
Yet, chances are you don’t have a lifetime to spend in Italy, but only a few weeks. Hence it is important that you learn a few things about it and that you get enough travel tips for Italy that will certainly be useful. You can be sure to trust them – after all, who better knows other than a local?
67 Very Useful Travel Tips For Italy
Rely on travel blogs
Travel blogs are a great source of travel tips for Italy. They are written by people who have traveled around the country widely, and a lot of times they are actually written by locals (like yours truly here). They are written in a way that is easy to understand and research and you will get information that is reliable, up to date, and quite importantly it will be all in the same place (so you don’t have to bounce back and forth to find the information you need).
And local tips
Although asking other travelers for information is a great idea, you are bound to get the best travel tips for Italy from Italians. After all, nobody better than us knows how things work here, right? Locals are your best bet to find off the beaten path places; to get directions to the best local restaurants, or on how to get from a place to another.
Ask other travelers for tips
Other travelers are often a very reliable source of information and travel tips for Italy. They have probably gone through the same process of discovery of the country, so they will be able to tell you what to expect. Facebook is packed with good groups that share Italy travel tips. Traveling to Italy is probably the largest one and it has a good mix of people who have a deep knowledge of the country as well as locals – bloggers and guides.
Learn some basic Italian
People working in the tourism industry in Italy will speak English, but keep in mind that you can’t expect everyone to speak your language and to understand you. After all, I doubt that in your country everyone speaks Italian, right? So, one of the best travel tips for Italy is to learn some Italian before visiting, and to take a small pocket dictionary with you on your trip – you can even download an app to help you communicate when needed.
Make sure to read my post “20 Useful Tips For Learning A New Language” as it will give you some precious tips to improve your language skills.
Don’t say “ciao” to everyone
One of the first words of Italian you will learn is “ciao” (pronounced “chaw”). It means hello and bye, and we use it in informal conversations to greet friends. Now, the good news is that Italians are hardly the formal kind and nobody will get offended if you say ciao to them rather than the more appropriate “buongiorno” (good day”) or “buonasera” (good evening).
Italian is the official language, but not the only one
While everyone in Italy speaks Italian, keep in mind that this isn’t the only language you will hear. There are 12 officially recognized minority languages in Italy, and on top of those there is a plethora of dialects that vary from village to village. Just to make it all the more fun!
Shouting is common
Now, this isn’t true of every place in Italy, but – especially if you travel to the South – you will realize that people talk very loudly. My dad is from Lazio and boy do they speak loud there. I am pretty sure the entire neighborhood can hear my dad when he talks on the phone with his friends.
The fact that they people in the streets are shouting doesn’t mean they are having an argument. Most of the time it is just the tone of the voice or a cultural factor and there is nothing to worry about.
Avoid visiting in the peak season
One of the most frequent questions I get is when is the best time to visit Italy. Tricky question, that one is! Weather wise, I think any time is a good time to travel to Italy. Winter can be cold and summer can be incredibly hot, but they both have their perks.
However, one of my best travel tips for Italy is to try to avoid the peak season as much as possible. The summer months – June, July, August and the beginning of September – are just beyond busy. Easter and Christmas can be quite busy too. I find that October is a great month to visit as days are still quite long and warm and most attractions still observe their summer schedule then.
Get skip-the-line tickets for popular attractions
Of all the travel tips for Italy, this is the one you need to really note down. Attractions such as the Colosseum, the Sistine Chapel, the Uffizi, Doge Palace and the Last Supper get lots of visitors every day and get sold out weeks (and at times months) in advance. If you care to visit, you really need to get tickets well in advance. You can do so here.
Check out my post “A Completely Honest GetYourGuide Review.”
These posts will explain you how to get tickets for the most crowded attractions:
- Seven Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Colosseum And Skip The Lines
- How To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line
- 7 Ways To Get A St. Peter’s Basilica Ticket And Skip The Line
- A Complete Guide To Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica Dome
- Seven Smart Ways To Get Galleria Borghese Tickets And Skip The Lines
- How To Get Tickets To The Last Supper
Remember to dress modestly in religious sites
This is one of the most obvious travel tips for Italy, yet so many people still do not get it. You need to be dressed modestly to enter religious sites – and this is actually true for all countries, not just Italy. This is hardly an issue in the winter, when it is cold outside. But it can be one in the summer time.
It is very simple though: both men and women must cover their shoulders and chest (so no such things as a tank top) and knees (no shorts). If you are planning on visiting churches, make sure to wear a comfortable long dress on that day and carry a shirt or light jacket to wear on top once you enter.
Ask the experts to plan your trip
There is a certain thill in planning a trip and traveling independently, but at times we just don’t have time to put together an itinerary that makes sense or we are simply too inexperienced to do that. This wouldn’t be a problem, where it not for the fact that if you have limited time you really can’t improvise. So, among my travel tips for Italy is to ask the expert to draft an itinerary for you. Feel free to email me via the contact form and we can work on something that suits all your travel needs for a really small fee.
At times, a guided tour is your best option
In fact, it may be a better idea to actually join a guided tour so you really only have to worry about what you should pack for your tripCHECK OUT THESE GUIDED TOURS OF ITALY
Spend enough time in Rome
I cringe every time I hear someone tells me they are only spending a day in Rome. There is so much to see and do in the Italian capital, that a mere 24 hours is hardly going to give you an idea of what it is all about. So the first of my travel tips for Italy is to devote Rome enough time – at least the first time you visit. If you are unsure on how to plan your time in the city, head over to my posts for more ideas. The first one you need to read is “30 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome.” Then, consider the itineraries:
- A Great Itinerary For A Fabulous Week In Rome
- A Wonderful Itinerary For 5 Days In Rome
- A Fantastic Itinerary For 4 Days In Rome
- The Perfect Itinerary For 3 Days In Rome
- The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In 2 Days
And if you really, truly can’t spend more than a day in the city, please read my post “The Perfect Itinerary To See Rome In A Day.” At least you will know how to structure your day to get to see as much as possible.
Get the classics out of the way first
One of my favorite travel tips for Italy is to start with the classic itinerary. Go to Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre and / or Amalfi. After all, if it is your first time in the country, you really want to see the main tourist attractions. I repeat as a mantra that there is a reason they are called “attractions:” they are attractive. In other words, they are beautiful!
Visiting the main tourist sites will give you a general flavor of what Italy is all about, and next time you visit (I promise you, there will be a second and even a third time, and more) you can focus on other places.
Stay tuned as I will be writing a detailed post with plenty of itineraries for Italy. Meantime, check out these posts:
- Seventeen Incredible Things To Do In Venice
- 5 Excellent Reasons To Go On A Day Trip From Florence To Cinque Terre
- 13 Fantastic Day Trips From Milan
Remember there is a big difference between the North and the South
In fact, let me add the center of Italy and the island to this equation as well. After all, the current borders of Italy were established in the 20th century.
There are 20 regions in Italy and they all differ one from the other. Trentino, in the North of Italy, doesn’t even remotely resemble Sicily, in the South. And Sardinia is different from anything else you can think of.
This is to say: don’t expect to visit one place and think you know everything about Italy, or that nothing will surprise you. Whenever I travel to mainland Italy from Sardinia I am in awe at how different it looks and feels from what I am used to. You won’t really be able to put your finger on it – so just trust me on this one and embrace it.
Don’t just stick to the known
One of the best travel tips for Italy that I have is to discover the hidden gems. Whether you are in a city or not, make sure to go to the lesser visited places as at times they are the most interesting once, where you really get to appreciate the local culture and way of life. Pick a place randomly on the map, and just go. Chances are that even though it didn’t make it to your guide book, there will be something worth discovering.
If you are visiting Rome, make sure to read my posts “31 Incredible Places To Explore Rome Off The Beaten Path” for the best hidden gems and “20 Great Day Trips From Rome.”
Don’t skip the islands
There is so much to see in mainland Italy that you will be tempted to stick to it. But one of the best travel tips for Italy is to actually visit the islands. Sardinia and Sicily are the most obvious choices – it takes an extra flight to get there, but it is really worth the effort and the money. Don’t forget the smaller islands too: Elba, the Aeolian Islands, Capri and Ischia are all waiting to be discovered.
For island inspirations, read these posts:
- A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Sardinia
- A Fantastic 8 Days Sicily Itinerary
- Everything You Need To Know To Visit Vulcano Island, Sicily
Go to the beach
One thing many tourists seem to ignore is that Italy is actually packed with stunning beaches. If you visit Italy in the summer months and especially if you go to the south, make sure to factor in enough time to enjoy the beaches. Some of them are actually worthy of tropical paradise – and in the case of Sardinia, literally all of them!
Make sure to read my post “An Excellent Guide To The Best Beaches In Sardinia.”
Beware that it actually gets cold in the winter
One of the most common misconceptions about Italy is that it is always sunny and always warm. Nothing can be more far from the truth. Even Cagliari, where I am based, can get terribly cold in the winter. I remember once a few years ago a friend from Canada visited and she would not stop complaining how cold it was – and I think she knows a thing or two about freezing temperatures!
Having said that, one of my travel tips for Italy is to visit in the winter, when it is less crowded, and to come prepared with proper winter clothing.
Check out the mountains
I know chances are you already knew this. But when a couple of years ago a friend asked me whether we have mountains here in Italy, I realized that perhaps not everyone knows.
Mountains make up for more than 35% of Italy. The main mountain chains are the Alps, which are shared (among others) with France, Switzerland and Austria), the Dolomites, which are 100% Italian, the Apennines. Lesser known mountain chains include Gennargentu in Sardinia.
Go on a hike
With all the mountains we have, it is only obvious that Italy is a great hiking destination. In fact, it is perfect for adventure sports including rock climbing, paragliding and even rafting.
For hiking inspiration, check out these posts:
- Five Short But Rewarding Hikes In The Dolomites Of Trentino
- Hiking In Sardinia – 14 Incredible Trails
- 11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone May Be A Bad Idea
Where there is mountain hiking in the summer, there are ski slopes in the winter. One of my travel tips for Italy is to opt for a ski retreat if you are planning to visit in the winter. My favorite place is Val di Sole, in Trentino. There are excellent slopes for all levels, good quality snow, and in case you are not in the mood for skiing, there are plenty of other things to do.
Check out my post “10 Perfectly Good Reasons To Ski In Val Di Sole.”
Climb a volcano
If you are looking for a bit of a thrill and are up for the challenge, I recommend climbing a volcano. There are several to pick from, but I recommend opting for either Mount Etna, near Catania, or Stromboli, in the Aeolian Islands. They are both active and the experience is simply incredible.
You obviously can’t climb a volcano by yourself, so here are some recommendations for guided volcano hikes:
- Mount Etna Summit and Crater Trek
- Sunset Hike for Mount Etna
- Half-Day Mount Etna Trek and Lava Cave Visit
- Volcano Stromboli summit crater
- Volcano Stromboli trekking from Tropea including overnight stay
Make sure to read these posts for more information on volcano hikes in Italy:
- Everything You Need To Know To Visit Mount Etna
- Everything You Need To Know To Hike Stromboli Volcano
Travel by train
Traveling by train in Italy is great. Trains really reach out anywhere, they are quick and comfortable. For fast trains (we call them intercity or Alta Velocità, which means high speed) you need to buy tickets in advance – you can do so here. Regional trains are slower as they stop at all stations, but they don’t need to be booked in advance.
But remember to validate your ticket
If you have a paper ticket, you will need to validate it before getting on board the train. There are machines scattered around the train station and the platform. If you don’t do so and show an unvalidated ticket to the train conductor, you may end up getting a fine.
Beware of transportation strikes
Transportation strikes are common in Italy. The good news is that strikes are announced well in advance so you have plenty of times to change your ticket reservations or to make alternative plans for the day.
Plan how to get to the city in advance
Make sure to plan your ride from the airport to the city center before you actually arrive, especially if you are landing in a big city such as Rome, where taxi rip offs are always around the corner. Do a bit of research to see what options are available – the best sites to check are those of the airport, which will give you all the available options. Remember that no matter what airport you land in, taxis are bound to have a flat fee to take you to the city center so check that out in advance.
Landing in Rome? Check out my post “How To Get From Fiumicino Airport To Rome City Center.”
Buy bus tickets at Tabaccherie
Tabaccherie in Italy sell anything from tobacco to snacks, candies, lottery tickets, SIM cards and local transportation tickets. If you are planning on moving around by bus in the city you are visiting, make sure to get a bunch of tickets in a tabaccheria as not all buses sell tickets on board.
Don’t rule out renting a car
Tourists are generally afraid of driving in Italy. Italians have a reputation as bad drivers – and I must say it is mostly well deserved! Streets in the city center can be terribly narrow, which is especially scary if you are used to the wide boulevards of the United States; and finding a parking spot can be a nightmare.
But, if you manage to overcome these worries, driving in Italy can be a lot of fun, a massive time savior and it can take you to incredible landscapes and unusual places. My recommendation is to pick a small car, as it will make your life much easier when driving in the city and looking for parking space.
Check out the prices of car rental here.
Beware of ZTL and speed cameras
ZTL stands for Zona Traffico Limitato, and it refers to some parts of a city that are closed to non-residents traffic at certain hours. You really, truly don’t want to get there with your car at the time it is forbidden, or you may receive a fine. The entrance of a ZTL is usually marked with massive bright signs that will warn you when you can go in (Varco Aperto) or not (Varco Chiuso). There is a camera on top of that sign, so really do not risk it!
Beware of speed cameras too – if you have a good navigator, you will usually be warned of the speed limits and of the presence of speed cameras.
Make a note of business hours
Unless you are in a shopping mall, most businesses in Italy, especially in smaller villages, close for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, usually from 1:00 or 1:30 pm to 4:00 or 4:30 pm. This is completely normal, and keep in mind that shops will stay open until 8:00 and even 9:00 pm depending on the location and the season.
Don’t be annoyed by this: just embrace it and take it as an opportunity for a longer lunch or even a nap (especially beneficial in the summer time, when it’s too hot to be outside anyways).
And of museums closing days
Most museums in Italy are closed on Mondays, so that is your chance to spend your day doing something else. Keep in mind that the Vatican Museums, however, are closed on Sundays.
Book your hotel in advance
One of the best travel tips for Italy is to book your accommodation well in advance, especially if you are traveling in the peak season, visiting a busy city, and have a budget to respect.CHECK OUT THE BEST HOTEL DEALS HERE
Don’t be surprised by the tourist tax
Most cities in Italy now charge a tourist tax, which usually is between €1 and 3 euro per day per person. So if there is two of you spending 3 nights in Rome, where the tax is €2, you will pay a total of €12.
This tax has to be paid in cash at your hotel or airbnb so don’t be surprised if you are asked to pay it once you arrive, even if your hotel stay has already been paid in full in advance. It’s money that doesn’t go to the hotel but to the city council.
Sometimes you pay a tourist tax even on day trips and attractions
This doesn’t happen in many cases (I have seen it in Capri and in Cala Goloritzé beach in Sardinia) but it can happen so it is best to get the information in advance and to always have some spare change for that.
You need to have your ID card with you when you go out
By law, Italians are always asked to carry around a form of identification when they leave their house. If you’d rather leave your passport in the safe in your hotel room, make sure to take a valid driver’s license with you. And by all means, don’t be surprised if the police stops you and asks for your documents.
Don’t put your feet in fountains
Many Italian cities have gorgeous fountains and during hot summer days you will be tempted to sit on them, take your shoes off and put your feet in the water. Don’t do it. It is forbidden by law and the police will often be around and ready to tell you off (best case scenario) or fine you (worst case scenario).
A bar is a coffee shop
In Italy, a bar is usually a coffee shop. Bars usually open very early in the morning and close late in the evening – though that varies on the place and on the location. Like coffee shops, bars serve coffee and non-alcoholic drinks such as juices and teas, as well as pastries, gelato (though not the best kind), light or quick meals and snacks. However, bars in Italy also have a license to serve alcohol so you can go there for a glass of beer or a spirit.
Learn about the different kinds of coffee
If you ask for a generic coffee in Italy, you will get an espresso. But espresso isn’t the only kind of coffee available – you can opt for macchiato, caffé al vetro, caffè corretto, caffé dek, mocaccino and much more. Get acquainted to all the different kinds of coffee available before traveling – in fact, one of my travel tips for Italy is to try them all.
Make sure to read my post “How To Order Coffee In Italy: The Best Italian Coffee.”
Take a food tour
Among the best travel tips for Italy, I must suggest joining a guided food tour or even a cooking class. These are great ways to learn about the local food culture and specialties, oftentimes starting from a local market.BOOK YOUR GUIDED FOOD TOUR HERE
Italian food is more than just pizza and pasta
There is a reason I have never written a post about Italian food – there is no such thing! Food in Italy is actually very regional, and while some dishes are commonly eaten throughout the country (and with local variations), others can only be found in specific locations. Keep this in mind when you go looking for ragu alla bolognese in Rome, or for a cotoletta alla milanese in Naples.
I am also pressed to add that Italian food goes well beyond pasta and pizza. Our diet is actually really varied and though we do have a love for carbs (which by the way are not the source of all evils), we also eat meat, fish and seafood, pulses and massive amounts of fruits and vegetables.
So, these are my travel tips for Italy when it comes to food: try local dishes and be adventurous. You will hardly be disappointed.
Vegans will usually have it easy
Good news vegan friends! Lots of Italian food is naturally vegan. This post, although in Italian, will give you an idea of some traditional dishes which are naturally vegan.
There now are many vegan restaurants in most medium and large cities and in any case most restaurants and now even pizzerie will have vegan options.
Don’t expect eggs for breakfast
Sorry guys, but eggs for breakfast just isn’t our thing. You will find them at larger hotels, but if you are staying in a local guest house or bed and breakfast, you will have to go by what we typically have: yogurt, fruit, cereals, cookies, bread and jam, and lots of coffee.
Don’t expect to have dinner at 6:00 pm
When it comes to dining time, one of my favorite travel tips for Italy is to stick by local times. Italians won’t ever go for dinner at 6:00 pm and if you see a restaurant that is serving that early, stay away from it – it’s probably very touristic, a rip off and serving bad food. Dinner for us usually happens between 8:00 and 9:30, depending on the season and on the location.
If you see spaghetti bolognese on the menu, leave the restaurant
There is no such thing as spaghetti bolognese or spaghetti alla bolognese in Italy. First of all, we’d refer to the sauce as “ragù alla bolognese” – where bolognese means “from Bologna.” Secondly, this is a sauce that we normally put on tagliatelle. Thirdly, if you want to have the real tagliatelle alla bolognese, you need to go to Bologna.
So, here is my tip for you: wherever you are in Italy, if you see spaghetti alla bolognese on the menu leave the restaurant.
Cutting spaghetti is a criminal offense
Ok, you won’t really get arrested if you cut your spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle or any other kind of long pasta with a knife. And although many overseas think it is proper to roll spaghetti on a spoon, we really really do not do that – not even children. So, another one of my travel tips for Italy: train yourself to roll spaghetti properly. I am sure there must be some tutorial on YouTube.
Parmesan never goes on fish
The reason for this is that parmesan has a very strong flavor, and if you put in on top of your seafood risotto, it will cover up the delicate flavor or the fish. To my knowledge, the only Italian recipe that calls for parmesan on fish is sogliole alla parmigiana (sole parmesan).
Chicken or pineapple on pizza (or pasta) is not ok
The Italian food you got used to eating in your country is definitely very good, but most likely very different from what we actually eat here. Chicken never goes on pasta or pizza in Italy – I wouldn’t even be able to tell you why, but it just doesn’t and we think it’d be gross. Likewise, pineapple on a pizza is not acceptable (but you may see green apples or pears on pizza at times, paired with certain kinds of cheese).
Garlic bread is not Italian
Don’t expect to find garlic bread on the menu in Italy. The first time I tried it I was 23 and I was in England, and I was hardly impressed. We don’t have it in Italy – at most, we’d have bruschetta, where garlic can be rubbed in toasted bread before we add a mixture of chopped tomatoes, olive oil, basil and / or oregano.
In fact, and contrary to what people outside of Italy think, Italians don’t eat much garlic at all. We use it to flavor oil when we cook, then take it out because we find it too be too heavy on the stomach.
Learn to pick good gelato
This is one of the most important travel tips for Italy.
First, the basic: gelato is just Italian for ice-cream. Some will tell you that the recipe is different and that gelato and ice-cream are not the same thing, but to us, they are.
Now, the important bits: not even in Italy all gelato is good. Stay away from places that sell a million flavors as chances are they are prepared without using natural ingredients. The best gelato is found in places that have no more than 10 daily flavors, and not on display (so you won’t be able to see the gelato, as it will be in metal containers to be properly refrigerated).
So in short: the shinier and most colorful it is, the less good it is. Easy, right?
Water in fountains is safe to drink
You will find water fountains in most Italian cities and especially on hot days they will be a massive relief. Make sure to carry a water bottle that you can refill as that water is perfectly safe to drink.
But in restaurants, don’t ask for tap water
I can’t even explain why, as tap water in Italy is safe to drink. But this is just something we don’t do. Most restaurants still serve bottled water, and many are now switching to filtered water and will serve you bottles they can refill – which means less plastic and also much cheaper.
Don’t drink cappuccino with your meal
Ok, back to important business guys. This is one of the most important travel tips for Italy. Never, for any reason, have cappuccino with a meal. Ask for it and you will get a dirty look from the waiter – to us, it is just gross. Same thing for having it after a meal. Don’t. Order a caffé macchiato is straight coffee or espresso is too strong for you.
With regards to drinking cappuccino after 11:00 am, we are not as strict. I occasionally have it in the afternoon and haven’t gotten in trouble yet.
It’s always wine o’ clock
Wine is a huge part of Italian culture, so here is another of my travel tips for Italy for you: never miss an opportunity to have a good glass. You don’t have to become an alcoholic, really! Just enjoy a glass with your meal, that’s it.
Take a wine tour
Make sure to do a wine tour to discover the best wineries in the area you are exploring. You will learn about the local grapes, the history of the vineyard, the wine making process and have a proper wine tasting experience. Remember that pretty much all regions of Italy produce wine, and that wine varies a lot between regions. If you happen to be in Sardinia, head straight to Cantine Argiolas in Serdiana for the best wines and wine tours.LOOK FOR A GOOD WINE TOUR HERE
There is no such thing as champagne in Italy
We have plenty of sparkling wines in Italy, but champagne is French. Don’t be tempted to refer to any sparkling wine as champagne as Italians may be offended. Ask for Prosecco for a lighter sparkling wine from the region of Veneto. Spumante can be a good option too.
Service in restaurants can be slow
One of my travel tips for Italy is to learn to be patient. Service in Italy tends to me much slower than in other countries – and you just have to make do with it. In general, Italian waiters won’t be all over customers asking if everything is good, if they need anything etc. You are expected to raise their attention if you need something (and at times, that may take a while). Add to this the fact that most food is prepared to order and that Italians see eating out as a way of socializing, and you get the idea. Instead of complaining about it, embrace it. And order more wine.
Tipping is absolutely not necessary
I will never tire of saying this. Tipping is not required in Italy. Though tips we welcome, they aren’t expected. In restaurants, a service fee will be added to your bill and that counts as a tip. Guides are paid for their job, as well as drivers and any other workers.
If you all leave large tips, employers may well decide to lower wages thinking that their employees can make enough money out of tips. This will put a strain on locals, whose wages are much lower than overseas and won’t have enough to also leave a tip on top of what they consume.
So again, do us a favor: DO NOT TIP!
Credit cards are accepted in most places
Credit cards are commonly accepted in shops and restaurants and you can use them to pay for train tickets.
But always take some cash with you
Here is another of my travel tips for Italy: make sure to always have some spare change with you. You won’t really be able to pay for a coffee or a gelato with a credit card (unless you are buying gelato for an army) and restaurants occasionally have issues with card payments and won’t be able to accept them until the machine is fixed.
Don’t expect a dryer in your apartment
One of the things tourists like the most about Italian cities is that we hang our laundry in the sun. Well guess what – we don’t do it because it looks pretty in photos (though it certainly does) – but because laundry dryers are not a common thing to have here. It’s better for the environment, better for the clothes, and better for our electricity bills.
Bring a plug adaptor
One more of my travel tips for Italy – in fact, valid for wherever you travel. Always carry a plug adaptor with you. If you are coming from North America or the UK, or even from South Africa, you will see that electricity sockets in Europe are different. If you don’t have a plug adaptor, look for one at a ferramenta shop near you.
If you are a girl, don’t carry things such as hair straightener or hair driers. You will find hair driers are available in all hotel rooms or apartments, and in any case the voltage is different so your appliances won’t work here.
Italian health care is free for all (but do get insurance)
Italy has a public health care system, and no matter of your status in the country – resident, tourist, migrant – you will receive assistance if needed. Having said that, I still recommend getting a good travel insurance for your trip. Make sure to read my post “Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” Get a good travel insurance here.
Watch out for scams
Important travel tips for Italy ahead! Learn about the most common scams so that you know how to avoid them. Here they are:
THE OVERLY FRIENDLY STRANGER – If a person approaches you at a train station insisting to help you getting tickets from the vending machine or to carry your suitcase all the way on board of the train, chances are they want something in return. You do get chivalrous people, but not so eager.
THE FRIENDSHIP BRACELET – If someone approaches you and ties a bracelet around your wrist or finger, seemingly as a gift, say a firm and polite no and move away. That is a scam and you will be asked for money. The same goes for flowers.
TAXI SCAMS – The most typical taxi scam will either involved an unlicensed taxi (only take white cabs that have the sign “taxi” on top) or a taxi that takes the longest route possible to take you to your destination. Google maps helps you with the itinerary, so have it handy.
Make sure to also beware of pickpockets. They are common in busy train or bus stations.
Get a local SIM card
The easiest way to communicate with friends and relatives at home and to stay connected is by phone. It is probably cheaper to get a local SIM card so that you can use Whatsapp, Skype to make phone calls, and other useful apps such as Google Maps. The best companies are Vodafone and Wind.
Always carry a pack of tissues with you
This is one of the travel tips for Italy that any proper mamma will give you. Never leave the house without a pack of tissues. You never know you may need to blow your nose, wipe your face, or find no toilet paper in the toilet. Add to it a small tube of hand sanitizer and you are good to go.
Learn how to stand in line
Ah, Italians and lines! We are so bad at it that in many places there now is a number system: you walk in, pick a number from the machine and wait for your number to be called. If there are no numbers, you just have to learn how to line in Italy.
The key here is to stand your ground. Jump the line and you will be yelled at. Be too polite and people will pass you. If you see someone is trying to sneak in in front of you, swiftly push them away by moving forward and placing yourself well in the middle so that they can’t pass.
I am a pro at this – I will ask my sister to film me so that I can show you how it is done!
Italian emergency numbers
Last but definitely not least, make a note of the Italian number for emergencies. It is 112 and it pretty much is like 911 in the US. Chances are you won’t need it, but just in case!
Do you have any other travel tips for Italy to add to this list?