Italy is one of the most fascinating and diverse countries in Europe. Historical monuments, interesting history, beautiful beaches, gorgeous food, breathtaking nature – these are only some of the attractions waiting for tourists in Italy. Are you planning a trip to the Italian Peninsula in the nearest future? Read some tips before your travel.
It is a good idea to divide exploring Italy into several trips, visiting separately different regions, for example Sicily, Tuscany or Italian Alps. Exploring cities according to a certain concept can also help, for example Verona on the trail of Romeo and Juliet, Florence following the steps of Michelangelo, Rome tour of fountains and ancient monuments or Milano route of fashion and culture. Apart from the most famous historical monuments we recommend to see alternative destinations, that is less popular and less crowded places located further from the city centre. When you visit the cities, you can save money by buying a sightseeing pass that covers many attractions rather than individual tickets granting single admission. Additionally, when you purchase a sightseeing pass or card you may get a city map, a metro map, a mini city guide or discounts to theatres and galleries.
It is very easy to go sightseeing in Italy on your own. Public transport network is very well developed and it is very convenient to move between bigger cities for example by train. Nevertheless, you should be aware that in some places public transport timetables do not exist or even if they do, nobody keeps to them. In such situation you should be prepared for waiting at stops or stations. It is a good idea to rent a car when travelling through Italy. Car gives you the possibility to get to places ‘off the beaten path’ and discover authentic Italy. The best places in Italy are those off the tourist map, where you meet not crowds of tourists but the locals. We recommend to explore Italy without keeping the map or guidebook instructions but with discovering some extraordinary places to get lost. Try to leave the city and visit towns and villages. Do not rush from one tourist attraction to another, take your time, walk slowly soaking up the atmosphere and beauty of the places you are passing by according to Italian ‘dolce far niente’. Instead of booking an expensive hotel try small family owned and run guest houses or even homestay accomodation. The best trip to Italy is a spontaneous break, preferably off the tourist season, that is from October to March. It is better to avoid holiday months, long weekends, public holidays and festivals when overcrowded destinations are difficult to explore. The worst month for a trip to Italy is August. Many shops and restaurants are closed then, because Italians leave for their holidays in August.
Italian ice cream ‘gelato’ is a must, especially when you find hand-made gelato. And of course the authentic Italian espresso. Be careful in cafes when you order ‘latte’ as it means ‘milk’ and you can get just a cup of milk. ‘Ice coffee’ in Italy means black espresso with an ice cube. Do not hesitate to try local charcuterie and cheese and of course Italian wines. A stay in Italy is not complete without trying traditional Italian pizza and spaghetti. Superb culinary experience is a visit at a local market called ‘mercato’. During your stay in Italy do not forget to try such dishes as focaccia, piadina, fried rice balls stuffed with meat called ‘arancini’, stuffed and fried olives ‘olive all’ascolana’ and various desserts and pastries. Do not be surprised that after 2 p.m. it can be difficult to have lunch as it is time of Italian siesta and most of the restaurants are closed.
Things to be careful with while travelling
In Italy you need to be extra aware of pickpockets and keep your eye on your bags and backpacks as many thefts happen especially in top tourist attractions. When you go to a restaurant don’t be surprised to find a service charge added to your bill. Taxi drivers may want to charge you extra when they discover that you are a tourist. If you want to speak Italian with the locals during your stay, be careful about the pronunciation. Quite often words that are spelled the same but pronounced differently change their meanings. If you plan to relax at the seaside, don’t forget to take flip flops or water shoes as the sea bed is rocky in many places.
Colosseum in Rome, Leaning Tower of Pisa, gondolas, idyllic landscapes and beauty of Tuscany, slow life, smiling people, the best pizza in the world, rich history and culture – these are the first associations coming to mind when you think ‘Italy’, but this country has much more to offer. Undoubtedly, it is a place you must see in your lifetime. Remember that each Italian region is different and after one short trip it is difficult to say that you know Italy very well. That is why Italy is the place you want to return to quickly.
photo source: https://www.blacktomato.com/us/destinations/italy/taste-authentic-italy/2018-02-15