37 Things you need to do before your first trip to Italy
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How to Prepare for your first trip to Italy!
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The food, culture, and landscape are all a part of Italy’s uniqueness. If you have never been to Italy before, there are some things that you need to know before going on your first trip! In this blog post we will discuss 37 essential things that every tourist should know about visiting Italy for the first time!
- You need to pre-book tickets for all of the museums and attractions that you want to see. Book tickets to the Colosseum, the Duomo, Pompeii, the Vatican , and other sights ahead of time. Booking tickets for these popular attractions can be sold out weeks in advance. You don’t want to spend your vacation standing in line.
- The food in Italy is fantastic! Pick the places you want to eat before going and make reservations if you are there in the busy season.
- Don’t forget that Italy is a Catholic country. You will see churches everywhere, and people are very religious here, which means there are some important rules every tourist should know when visiting churches, such as dress codes (no tank tops or very short shorts, for example) and no pictures allowed inside.
- Italy has one of the best train systems in the world, so it’s easy to get around from place to place. Make sure that you have an up-to-date Eurail Pass or Inter Rail pass with you as well!
- Bring plenty of sunscreen for this hot climate – Italian summers last until October or November every year, so be prepared!!
- Italians love espresso shots (they do not call them cappuccino; they call them espresso). You should not order an espresso unless you want a tall, strong coffee.
- Italian food is famous all over the world for being delicious and hearty – this means that people usually eat twice as much here as they do in other countries! Make sure to leave room for dessert, too, because Italians love sweets like gelato (ice cream), Tiramisu, biscotti cookies, etc.!
- You can often find live music playing on certain streets or squares around Italy so it’s worth exploring what’s happening there before deciding just one place to go out at night.
- Watching soccer games are very popular in Italy – if there is a game going on when you visit, then take some time off of work and watch with your new best friends.
- Do your research before booking hotels or Airbnb because prices can vary hugely depending on location.
- If buying anything from an artsy street vendor, make sure they are licensed first!
- Pizza comes in different shapes, sizes, and styles, but they are all tasty! Order a pizza with mushrooms to try something different, or just go for your favorite toppings like pepperoni, olives, ham etc.
- Italians expect that guests show up on time, so if you’re visiting someone’s home, don’t even bother showing up past their specified hour unless you want to come across as rude.
- Bike tours are offered in many cities and are a great way to see the city. But they aren’t for the faint of heart!
- If you’re trying to save money on your coffee purchase, buy a cup of espresso at the bar.
- Wi-Fi is offered for free in many restaurants and cafes so if you need to check something quickly or make an important phone call it’s worth taking advantage of.
- A few words that might not translate well are pasta (spaghetti), cappuccino (coffee with milk foam), caffe latte (espresso with steamed milk). You can also have “caffe lungo,” which means long coffee since it has more water than espresso.
- Do not be surprised when locals greet each other by kissing both cheeks! It is normal but always follow their lead as some people may only want one cheek too.
- If you choose to drive, you will most likely get a ticket unless you read Italian! Most parking areas are off-limits so avoid driving in cities.
- Italy is a big country and has so many famous sites, you may be tempted to do it all in one trip. Pick one area and explore it rather than hop from place to place. If you have two weeks you can hit all of the major sites.
- When traveling by car, be aware of small towns and villages that don’t have traffic signals or stop signs, so slow down in those areas!
- Italians often eat dinner at around nine o’clock, so if you plan on eating late, make sure reservations are made ahead of time otherwise, restaurants will be closed.
- Italy’s currency is called the Euro (€). There may also be some places that only accept cash, though in most major cities, you will be fine with credit cards.
- Most people stay inhotels, but if you are looking for more privacy, you always rent an apartment through VRBO or Airbnb. And while some apartments have private pools, not all do so double-check before booking!
- Visit in the off-season and save a lot of money! Peak season is usually between June and September.
- One thing to know about Italians: tipping isn’t expected in Italy, but it is appreciated! If you want to leave some extra change after paying your bill.
- Use the phrase “Grazie” for thank you. It means Thank You, so if someone does something nice for you like they hold open the door or giving up their seat on public transportation, say “grazie.” The word can also be used as an exclamation when feeling grateful such as “I am so thankful right now!”
- Book tickets for trains, planes, and ferries ahead of time. Booking tickets for these modes of transportation can be difficult in Italy, so if you are traveling by train, get your ticket before arriving at the station!
- Be wary of pickpockets. Thieves can be found anywhere in Italy, but especially on public transportation and crowded tourist attractions like the Colosseum or Duomo.
- You will want to eat gelato almost every day. Tourists often joke about the number of gelato shops. Italians are known for their fascination with ice cream, which has more than 300 flavors. My personal favorite is amarena (sour cherry)
- Italian drivers can sometimes drive a little aggressively in cities such as Rome or Naples. Be prepared when crossing streets because traffic doesn’t stop until there has been a break in traffic – even if the light turns red. This also applies to pedestrian crossings- cars will only cross after waiting for an opening in traffic.
- Most shopping closes by 4 or 5, so be aware if you are planning to do some shopping.
- Spring in Italy is the most beautiful time to visit!
- Bring really good walking shoes for your trip because you will be walking everywhere, especially when you visit Venice.
- Bring sunscreen with you, as we had a hard time finding any with a high SPF.
- Prices for most attractions are quite high compared to other places in Europe. Plan your budget at least 20% higher than originally intended.
- Don’t rush, enjoy the journey! Italy is so beautiful there is no reason to hurry through things.
Do These Things Before Your Trip to Italy, and Then Just Enjoy
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The amount of art, architecture, and spectacular vistas will leave you wanting more! Prepare ahead so you can soak in everything around you!
Want to know how to spend 10 days in Italy? Check out this post!
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