Are you having a trip to Italy for the first time? Then we got you covered. In this article, you will find some thrifty tips, Italian cultures you should be aware of and essential travel tips so you will enjoy your vacation in Italy.
Italy is the 3rd most visited country in Europe, with 58.3 million visitors per year. This is unquestionable because Italy is a beautiful country with lots of inspiring history, aesthetically pleasing and enchanting architectures, romantic ambiance, tasty food, and best wines. No doubt that Italy has a lot to offer.
Packing list for a trip to Italy
Here are some of the essentials you can bring for a stress-free Italy trip.
Traveling light is the best way to go around Italy. Lugging around a big-wheeled suitcase with your day pack and other carry-ons will not only make you look like a clueless tourist but also one who is about to have a throbbing backache at the end of the day.
Travel in comfort and style with a pack that is no bigger than a 45-liter capacity pack that blends seamlessly with any outfit you might be wearing. Bring an extra foldable bag for souvenirs because even if you don’t plan on buying a lot, you’ll surely find a lot of interesting things as you tour around.
Usually, the main thing people come to Italy for is the scenic views. So you definitely need a camera when traveling to Italy to capture stunning images and keep wonderful memories. Alternatively, if your phone’s camera captures clear and high-resolution images, that alone will do to lessen the bulk of your pack.
Comfortable, fashionable footwear
Expect to do a lot of walking in Italy. Much of your days as a tourist will involve walking with little breaks in between for resting, eating, and sight-seeing. You’ll basically be on your feet all day, every day of your trip, so make sure that your shoes are extra comfortable.
Aside from being comfortable, make sure that your shoes are fashionable too. Italians are known for looking good even on casual occasions. Try to reserve the urge to wear flip-flops, shorts, and tanks for sporting events or the beach.
A light jacket or travel blazer
To look effortlessly good, no matter what outfit you pack, you can bring along a light jacket or a travel blazer that will go along with everything you plan to wear. A nice but neutral-looking blazer will take any outfit to the next level and make you look more put-together, even if you’re only sporting jeans and a shirt underneath.
Additionally, having a jacket will help keep you warm if it gets chilly at night or protect you from the burning heat of the sun during summer days.
As previously mentioned, shorts are a no-no when traveling to Italy. Having a pair or two of travel pants that are both lightweight and fashionable will make daily outfit decisions easier for you. A good pair of travel pants are versatile enough for you to wear while roughing it on the streets or visiting a refined high-end museum.
Nice evening outfits
It will also help to pack something dressier for evening outs, such as if you plan to dine at a high-end restaurant. A simple but elegant little black dress for ladies and a pair of heels will do excellently. For men, a pair of trousers and a well-fitting button-down paired with stylish shoes is a safe option.
Nausea meds (and other meds)
If you plan to tour around the country, expect to get on a boatload of boat rides, train rides, and bus rides. If you easily get car sick or seasick, pack an extra packet of anti-nausea medicines to keep your tummy settled.
It would also help if you packed other emergency supplies and medicines for fevers, allergies, and diarrhea, as well as vitamins, just so you remain comfortable and healthy throughout your entire trip.
Did you know that Rome has drinking fountains scattered throughout the city where you can refill your water bottle anytime you get thirsty? It is wiser to bring a water bottle in Italy since you can get water for free instead of spending so much on bottled water throughout the entire trip.
You can pack a traditional water bottle, but a collapsible water bottle saves more space when not in use. You can simply roll up the bottle and tuck it into your day pack pocket, and take it out when you need to refill and drink.
If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll definitely need a power adaptor for your gadgets and other electronics like laptops, and even blow-dryers.
Umbrellas might not be allowed in carry-on bags, but if you have bags for checking in, it would be wise to include a foldable travel umbrella. It will not only protect you from the rain but also provide some instant shade if it is particularly sunny and hot. You can purchase umbrellas in Italy, but it may cost you a bit more as opposed to bringing your own travel umbrella.
Before you get too excited and book your ticket and your hotel in Italy, here are some important points that you should know.
1. Learn to speak Italian
It is a good idea to learn how to speak Italian before visiting Italy. Learning a foreign language is a must, especially when traveling to a country with few English speakers. According to an article published in Polyglot’s Corner, Italians don’t speak English fluently. In fact, this does not only concern Italy but in other European countries as well.
If you are visiting Italy, you will notice the lack of English media. Most of the entertainment TV shows or movies that are from the United States are translated from English to Italian.
Although you will find some Italians speaking a bit of English in most tourist spots, learning some Italian language can be useful and help you have a better experience when you are in Italy.
Here are some recommended online courses that will provide you with high quality and in-depth Italian language lessons:
- Conversational Italian for Beginners
- 3 Minute Italian
- 3 Minute Italian: Course 2
- 3 Minute Italian – Course 3
- 3 Minute Italian – Course Four
- Building Structures In Italian – Structure 1
- Building Structures In Italian – Structure 2
- Building Structures In Italian – Structure Three
- Italian Quick Guide: Verbs One
2. Italian greet people with kisses
It is common in Italian to greet people that they know, with air kisses on both cheeks. Men in southern Italy only greet their family members with kisses. Italians are very affectionate people, so do not be surprised when you meet an Italian who will greet you with two kisses. It is a common greeting in Italy and has a long history.
Most newcomers and visitors in Italy from other countries struggle to “kiss or not to kiss” when they meet someone new. To save yourself the embarrassment when meeting someone, a general rule is to give someone a light kiss on both sides of the cheeks. It means that your lips should not touch the other person’s cheek, not unless you know each other well.
Another technique is to pick up cues from the other person. You don’t want to accidentally bump your head, kiss someone the lips, or bash your nose with someone else.
3. Learn to speak with your hands
Perhaps you have seen Italians in movies speaking while making hand gestures. It is not an exaggeration portrayal of Italians because they indeed use a lot of hand gestures while talking. They do this to underline their expressions and thoughts.
So, if you are struggling to express yourself with words, use your hands instead. There are important points that you should know before throwing hand gestures. Each gesture has a different meaning. Also, you can use body language and hand gestures to emphasize what you are trying to say. Find out tips to use Italian hand gestures and body language like a real Italian in this article.
4. Be wary of tourist traps
Since Italy is one of the top tourist destinations, potential tourist traps are all over Italy. Even locals get victimized by this, especially when they visit places in Italy like Rome, Florence, and Venice.
There are a few rules that you can consider to avoid some of the major pitfalls many visitors in Italy fall into. Here are some:
- Research on the best time to visit Italy. For example, it can be really hot and crowded in late June, July, and August in southern Italy. While in August, many locals are off, and the traffic is light in Milan, Florence, and Rome.
- Avoid restaurants and cafes near the main landmarks or places with many visitors. It can be costly.
- When taking a group tour, confirm the number of participants before joining.
- Consider going to some of the popular towns and cities nearby.
- Use help from a travel professional or agents who know the ins and outs of Italy.
- When you are traveling in a large group, opt to use private guides and drivers.
- Do an online research on places you plan to visit and search for reviews from Italians.
5. Watch out for petty crimes and foul plays on tourist attraction places
Italy has a moderate rate of crime. But it still pays off to exercise extra caution, especially when using public transportation or visiting crowded places. Petty crimes are a serious problem in Italy, such as pick pick-pocketing and purse snatching.
Don’t leave you things unattended, especially in public places. Always keep your purse or bag in front of you, and do not keep your wallet in your pocket or backpack. You can put your valuable things in a bag or a hidden zipped pocket where no one can easily access it. Avoid people who are trying to ask for help from you. While some might be genuine, some of them might also be trying to scam and rob you.
6. Eat like a local
This is probably one of the activities you are looking forward to enjoying in Italy. Food! So enjoy Italian cuisine by eating like a local.
Enjoy your classic Italian breakfast with a sweet pastry such as brioche (which is a croissant) and a cup of coffee, usually cappuccino. Italians coffee culture is quite unique. Milk-based coffees are usually consumed only in the morning. And when you order coffee, they will usually serve you an espresso shot.
Otherwise, you can also enjoy a savory breakfast with orange juice. It can be overwhelming because there is no shortage of places to eat in Italy. So it is helpful that you make a list of the different foods you want to eat before you go to Italy.
Last tip: Beware of hidden or additional charges in cafes and restaurants
There is a term in Italy called Il coperto, which is an Italian cover charge. In Italy, it means “cover,” or seat is taken at a restaurant. When you get your bill, you will be surprised by the additional charge for each person sitting on the table. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants in Italy where you can eat, whether standing or sitting. Therefore, you should determine first if the table is il coperto before deciding to take a seat.
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