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Top Tips and Advice For Traveling To Italy

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If you’re traveling to Italy, you’re in for an incredible adventure. Italy is a country filled with rich history, breathtaking landscapes, mouthwatering cuisine, and warm-hearted people.

As someone who has explored the charming streets of Rome, gazed in awe at the iconic Colosseum and indulged in delicious gelato on the Amalfi Coast, I’m thrilled to share my advice for traveling to Italy.

In this Italy travel guide, I’ll cover everything from Italy train travel tips to what not to do, what to be careful for, and essential things to know before your Italian getaway.

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Top Tips and Advice For Traveling To Italy

Italy is a country that holds a special place in my heart. Having explored Italy on my last two trips and its captivating cities, and picturesque landscapes, and indulged in its mouthwatering cuisine, I’m excited to share my personal advice for traveling to Italy. In this guide, I’ll provide you with valuable insights and practical tips to make your Italian adventure smooth and unforgettable. From train travel to hotel stays, driving tips to avoiding scams, and everything in between, I’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive into it!

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Advice for Traveling to Italy: Everything You Need to Know

Avoiding Common Italy Travel Mistakes

While traveling to a new country is exciting, it’s crucial to be mindful of certain cultural nuances and customs. Here are some things to avoid during your Italian adventure:

Don’t rush meals: In Italy, meals are a cherished experience meant to be savored. Avoid rushing through your dining experience and embrace the Italian tradition of “dolce far niente” (the sweetness of doing nothing). You Won’t be rushed either!

Credit Card Payments in Italy

Credit Card Payments: Don’t be surprised if you are asked to go to the counter to pay for your meal! Sometimes the waiter will come to your table if you ask for the check with the card machine, but if they don’t have a wireless machine you’ll be asked to go to the 

Tipping in Italy

Don’t overtip: Unlike some countries where generous tipping is customary, tipping in Italy is not obligatory! Sometimes the waiter will ask if you’d like a tip, a 2-3 $ tip is perfectly acceptable. I’ve only been asked once while I was in Italy. A service charge is often included in the bill, so it’s acceptable to leave a small amount as a gesture of appreciation, but it’s not expected to tip excessively.

Avoid excessive PDA: Italians are known for their passionate nature, but public displays of affection (PDA) are generally frowned upon. It’s best to reserve intimate moments for more private settings.

Packing to Italy

Overpacking: My number one Italy Travel Tips is: AVOID AT ALL COST bringing too much luggage. Italy is known for its narrow streets, cobblestone paths, and numerous stairs, which can make it difficult to maneuver with heavy bags. Pack light and bring only what you truly need! This is the luggage I travel with and this backpack. Don’t Miss my 15 essential travel must haves. 

Overplanning: While it’s good to have an itinerary, overplanning every minute of your trip can leave you feeling rushed and overwhelmed. Allow for some flexibility in your schedule to explore and discover hidden gems.

Ignoring local customs: Another important travel tips for Italy is: Italians take pride in their culture and traditions. Familiarize yourself with basic etiquette and customs, such as greeting people with a handshake or kiss on both cheeks, dressing modestly when visiting churches, and avoiding loud or disruptive behavior in public spaces.

Eating at tourist traps: Avoid dining at restaurants located in heavily touristy areas, as they often offer overpriced and mediocre food. My rule of thumb is, if the menu is in English keep going! Instead, venture off the beaten path to discover authentic trattorias and local eateries where you can’t read the menu, and savor delicious Italian cuisine.

Where to visit in Italy

Only visiting major cities: While cities like Rome, Florence, and Venice are popular for good reason, Italy has so much more to offer. Don’t limit your visit to major cities alone. Explore the charming coastal towns, picturesque countryside, and beautiful lakeside villages to truly experience the diversity of the country.

Disregarding pickpocket risks: Like any popular tourist destination, Italy has its share of pickpockets. Stay vigilant in crowded areas, keep an eye on your belongings, and consider using a money belt or secure bag to protect your valuables.

Driving in Italy

 Driving In Italy: Book your car rental months in advance as automatic cars are not as common as manual cars, and always get the extra insurance! All you need to know about driving in Italy, and reserve your rental car here: They have the best prices with multiple local and international rental companies, and they offer free flexible cancelations and price matching! BOOK CAR RENTAL HERE

Not Having Cash: While credit cards are widely accepted in most places, it’s a good idea to carry some cash, especially in smaller towns or local markets where card payments may not be available.

Make reservations in advance for popular attractions, museums, and restaurants to avoid long queues and disappointment.  Book skip-the-line tickets or guided tours to maximize your time as most tour operators sell out! Book here: 

Unesco world heritage sites: earmark these in google maps and make it a priority to see these areas but plan ahead. You can manage to plan it yourself or take a guided tour and have it taken care of for you!

Not Reserving a Renting a car: car rental companies in Italy do book up if you drive an automatic car, they will be more expensive, but the earlier you book the cheaper it is. this website compares the best prices and also has flexible cancelation policies 

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How To Plan a Trip To Italy: Planning Trip to Italy tips

If you’re wondering how to plan a trip to Italy and are looking for Italy tips for planning your trip: I’ve made this step by step guide to guide you on how to plan a trip to Italy!

Passport and Visa:

Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date.

Check if you require a visa to enter Italy based on your nationality and the duration of your stay.

Best Time to Visit Italy:

Italy can be crowded during the peak tourist season (June to August), I recommend visiting during shoulder seasons like spring (April to May) and fall (September to October).

These seasons have pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and better availability of accommodations. See my list Most Beautiful towns to visit in Northern Italy.

Determine Your Travel Dates:

Decide on the duration of your trip and select specific dates to visit Italy. Consider the weather, tourist seasons, and any specific events or festivals you may want to experience.

Research Destinations:

Italy offers a wealth of attractions, so research different cities and regions to decide which ones align with your interests.

Consider popular destinations like Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan, as well as off-the-beaten-path locations that offer unique experiences.

Create an Itinerary:

Based on the destinations you’ve chosen, create a rough itinerary outlining the number of days you’ll spend in each place.

Be mindful of travel times between cities and allow for some flexibility to adapt your plans as you go.

Set a Budget:

Determine your travel budget and allocate funds for accommodations, transportation, meals, attractions, and souvenirs.

Research average costs for various expenses in different cities to get an idea of how much you’ll need.

Book Flights:

Look for the best flight options to Italy, considering factors such as cost, layovers, and departure/arrival airports.

Use flight comparison websites or consider consulting a travel agent to find the most suitable flights for your trip. See My Google Flight hack to find cheap flights to Italy!

Arrange Accommodations:

Research and book accommodations in advance to secure the best options and prices.

Consider staying in hotels, bed and breakfasts, or vacation rentals, depending on your preferences and budget.

Plan Transportation:

Determine how you will travel within Italy. Consider options like trains, buses, rental cars, or a combination based on your itinerary and desired level of flexibility.

Research transportation passes, such as the Eurail Pass or regional passes, that can offer cost savings and convenience.

Research Attractions and Activities:

Make a list of must-visit attractions, museums, landmarks, and experiences in each destination.

Check the opening hours, admission fees, and any pre-booking requirements for popular attractions to avoid long queues.

Check Travel Advisories and Insurance:

Stay updated on any travel advisories or restrictions for Italy issued by your country’s government.

Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect yourself against unexpected events like trip cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost luggage.

Pack Appropriately:

Check the weather forecast for your travel dates and pack accordingly.

Consider comfortable walking shoes, lightweight clothing, a travel adapter for electrical outlets, and any specific items you may need for activities or cultural sites. SEE MY TRAVEL MUST HAVES 

Stay Organized:

Keep all your travel documents, including passports, visas, flight itineraries, hotel reservations, and travel insurance, in a secure and easily accessible place.

Create digital copies of important documents and save them on a cloud storage platform or email them to yourself for backup.

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Here are some of the easiest ways to get around in Italy, along with travel tips for taxis and using public transportation:

  1. Getting Around by Trains in Italy
    • Trenitalia is the primary train operator in Italy. Their website provides schedules, fares, and ticket bookings. 
    • Italo is another high-speed train operator that offers services in Italy.
    • Regional trains are a cost-effective option for shorter journeys within a specific region.
    • Book tickets in advance from the Omio website or app !
  2. Getting around by Buses in Italy:
    • Buses are a convenient option for traveling between cities and within regions in Italy.
    • You can purchase tickets at Tabacchi stores (closed on sundays) or on the bus
    • The main bus operator is FlixBus (https://www.flixbus.com), which offers routes across the country.
    • Regional and local bus services are operated by various companies, and information can be obtained at bus stations or tourist information centers.
  3. Getting Around by Metro:in Italy
    • Major cities in Italy, such as Rome, Milan, Naples, and Turin, have efficient metro systems. 
    • Rome: ATAC (https://www.atac.roma.it) operates the metro system in Rome.
    • Milan: ATM (https://www.atm.it) is the official website for Milan’s public transportation, including the metro.
    • Naples: ANM (https://www.anm.it) provides information about the metro system in Naples.
  4. Trams and Light Rail:
    • Trams and light rail systems are available in some cities, including Milan, Rome, Turin, and Florence.
    • Check the respective city’s official transport websites for information on routes, schedules, and tickets.
  5. Taxis:
    • Taxis are widely available in Italian cities. You can either find them at taxi stands or hail them on the street. Be careful not to take unsolicited taxis, “they will say there’s a lot of traffic so the fee is X amount” and it’s a rip-off. Always go to an official taxi stand./ 
    • Ensure that the taxi has a working meter, and ask for an estimate of the fare before starting the ride.
    • It is advisable to use official taxi services or reputable taxi apps like Freenow or MyTaxi (https://www.mytaxi.com).
  6. Ticketing and Passes:
    • Consider purchasing travel passes or cards for unlimited travel within a specific region or city. These are often cost-effective for frequent travelers.
    • Inquire about the available options at train stations, tourist information centers, or transport company websites.

Remember to always check the latest information on schedules, routes, and fares from the official websites of the respective transportation authorities in Italy. Additionally, it’s recommended to check for any updates or changes in services due to holidays or unforeseen circumstances.

Italy Train Travel Tips: Navigating Italy’s Railways

Tips for travelers

traveling by train is a great and convenient way to explore Italy. Italy has a well-connected railway network that allows you to reach even the most charming towns and cities. But don’t assume you can just purchase tickets last minute, by booking ahead and planning ahead you’ll save yourself lots of stress! To make your train travel experience smooth and hassle-free, make sure you know the following tips:

  1. Research train schedules: Prior to your trip, check the train schedules and plan your journeys accordingly. It’s always good to have a general idea of departure and arrival times, especially for longer trips! Use this website to look for tickets and routes in advance
    1. Booking opens 6 months before your travel dates
    2. there are multiple train stations in each city so make sure you are choosing the nearest train station to your destination! The easiest way is to (check out my how to plan a trip guide) look it up on Google Maps.
  2. Reserve seats in advance: If you’re traveling during peak tourist seasons or on popular routes, reserve your seats in advance. This ensures you have a guaranteed spot next to who you’re traveling with and avoids any last-minute inconveniences!
    1. Make sure you research the arrival and departure times VERY CAREFULLY
    2.  regional train tickets do not let you reserve seats, only fast trains and long-distance trains allow you to do that!
    3. Book your train tickets as soon as you nail down your itinerary. book your train tickets here they have flexible changes if you need to make changes. 
  3. Validate your ticket: If you have a paper ticket, make sure to validate it before boarding the train at the automatic machines. If you have mobile tickets you do not need to validate! Many Italian trains require validation, which involves stamping your ticket in the yellow machines located on the platforms. Failure to do so can result in a hefty fine.
  4. How To Navigate The Train Station: If it’s your first time visiting Italy and taking the train, it can feel overwhelming! But here are the most useful train travel tips I wished I had known before:
    1. The Platform number doesn’t appear until 5 minutes before the train arrives
    2.  Elevators are few and far between, and most often are out of order. Which means lugging your luggage up and down stairs! Make sure you PACK LIGHT.
    3. When looking at the board, don’t pay attention to the final destination of the train, LOOK FOR YOUR TRAIN #, the platform will be displayed 5 minutes before the train arrives
    4.  The train doors CLOSE 2 MINS BEFORE the train departs!  
    5. Only board trains that your ticket is valid for, you will be cited if you have a ticket that isn’t for THE EXACT TIME on the ticket, even though the ticket is for the same route and train
  5. Ticket Checks: The train conductor will start checking tickets once the doors close. Make sure you’re sitting in the correct seat and have your tickets available for the conductor to check.

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Advice for Staying in Hotels & Apartments in Italy

  • Research and book in advance: Italy is a popular tourist destination, so you need to book your accommodations well in advance, especially during peak seasons. THIS IS WHERE I BOOK MY HOTELS  because they have reserve now and pay later and flexible cancelation policies! I always reserve and then cancel if it no longer fits my schedule or I found a better place. This way I’m guaranteed a place so I don’t have to rush searching for a unique stay.
  • Location is key: The location of your hotel or apartment will make or break your experience. Staying near major attractions or public transportation hubs can save you time and make exploring easier! It’s worth paying a little bit more for the convenience
  • Check for amenities: Check for amenities, don’t assume it’s included! Such as Wi-Fi, air conditioning (especially in summer), breakfast options, and proximity to restaurants or markets. Know that air conditioning and stairs are NOT COMMON in italy!
  • Be mindful of city tax: Many cities in Italy charge a city tax per night per person. This fee is not always included in the initial booking price, so be prepared to pay it upon arrival via cash.
  • Passports: Don’t be alarmed if the hotel or Airbnb asks for your passports! This is completely normal as they make photocopies for tax purposes. 

Italy Travel Tips for Restaurants 

  • Try local specialties: Italian cuisine is incredibly diverse, so don’t miss the opportunity to try regional dishes. From pizza in Naples to pasta in Bologna and gelato everywhere, try the foods the region is known for!
  • Make reservations: Popular restaurants can get busy, so it’s advisable to make reservations, especially for dinner. This way, you’ll secure a table and avoid disappointment. Some restaurants will accept walk-ins but it’s best to ask ahead via e-mail.
  • Observe dining etiquette: Italians take their dining seriously, so follow their lead. Don’t rush your meal, savor each bite, and remember to say “grazie” (thank you) to the staff.
  • Be Aware of the Coperto: A coperto is a small fee a restaurant will charge to help cover napkins, table linens, and bread. is typically 3-5 euros. 
  • Price difference between sit down and counter: Many cafes will have different prices for drinks if you sit down or stand at the counter! If you chose to sit down it will be a bit more expensive than having the coffee at the counter standing.
  • Capuchinno is for Breakfast: It’s a huge faux pas to order cappuccinos outside of breakfast time. It is considered a breakfast drink!
  • Lunch & Dinner Time: lunch is 12-3 and apertivo is 5-7pm and dinner is 7:-730 pm 
  • Water isn’t Free: You will be asked if you want Naturale or sparking “gassata”. They are the same price and will come in a bottle. There isn’t tap water that’s free as there is in the states.
  • No Refills: if you’re from the US you may be accustomed to free drink refills but this isn’t the case in Italy!
  • No subsitutions: Pasta noodles can’t be substituted for a different kind. they are specific for the dish and the sauce and the recipe. It is rude and unacceptable to ask. 
  • House wine is cheap and good: for about $6-8 euros you’ll get a glass of their house wine. make sure to ask for  “ vino della casa ”.

What To Know Before Going To Italy

1. Get A Sim Card or Pocket Wifi: Vadofone is popular for sims, or do what I did and get a Pocket Wifi! It’s the best thing. It’s basically a small pocket router that you purchase data via your phone, and the mini pocket router gives you access to data that up to 10 other people can be connected. It’s seriously so easy and COST EFFECTIVE! I used this company and had great connections. It made it so much less stressful driving in Italy. 

2. Restrooms or Toilets: public toilets are available and clean and cost $1 typically. You can go into hotels or sometime restaurants will allow you to use it toilet.

3.Be Prepared in case of an Emergency: the Italian emergency number is 112. Just in case. It’s always good to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation! Public Hospitals are low fees or no charge even for tourists. Have an idea where the nearest hospital is just in case. 

Packing list for your trip to Italy

1. Get European travel adaptors: this is my favorite adaptor one is enough per person and it folds up taking up less room.

2. Dress for the region: as the weather in Italy depends on which region you go to, it’s always a good idea to bring layers that are easily taken off or bundled on.

So these are all the things and tips I wish I had known before heading to Italy! Bookmark this page and or save it to your pinterest page so you can come back to it later. I update this list yearly so it’s always up to date with the newest tips and tricks. Let me know If you find it useful in the comments below, and make sure to sign up for my newsletter to get my free packing list!

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