Italy is a fascinating country, and we do not say it just because 50% of backpacking is from there. Being objective … it has everything: history, culture, traditions, and gastronomy to suck your mustache! And you, like a good lover of travel, sure you have it in the peephole for a long time. But do not you know how to prepare a trip to the Belpaese? Do not worry, here we bring you a few Italy travel tips and not screw it up.
Italy travel tips
Visiting Milan, Cinque Terre, Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Rome, Naples, and the Amalfi Coast in 7 days is a real madness … and also impossible! It is better to make different trips or center the days in a very concrete area.
Of course, this is easy to say for those of us who live in Europe, now, if you travel from far away and you only have one week of time, we understand that you want to see the best of the best , so in your case we recommend visiting its 3 more treasures known: Venice (1 day), Florence (2 days) and Rome (4 days).
Plan several 1-week trips
If instead, you are lucky enough to travel to Italy more frequently, we recommend dividing it into 3 zones: north, center, and south. Plan several trips with very attractive itineraries, such as …
- 7 days in northwestern Italy: Milan (1 day), Lake Como (3 days), Genoa (1 day), Cinque Terre (2 days).
- 7 days in the north-east of Italy: Trieste (1 day), a Road trip through Friuli (1 day), Venice (2 days), Padova (1 day), Verona (1 day), Bologna (1 day).
- 7 days in Tuscany: Florence (2 days), a road trip through Tuscany (4 days), Siena (1 day).
- 7 days in Campania: Naples (2 days), Capri (1 day), Pompeii (1 day), Costiera Amalfitana (3 days).
Do not forget the lesser-known destinations
It is true that the “Holy Trinity” (Rome, Florence, and Venice) is the one that takes all the honors, but Italy has much more to offer and is that there are regions, areas, and cities that are super beautiful that almost do not receive visitors. Some examples are the Aeolian Islands, Puglia, Friuli Venezia Giulia, or Calabria.
Rent a car, yes or no?
The clear things: Italians drive like crazy, and in certain areas even worse! However one of the trips that we remember best was the road trip through Tuscany, we also rent a car on Lake Como, and we have to make another 4 wheel trip around Sicily. So, unless you feel unable to drive in another country, renting a car is a good idea in some areas of Italy. The two websites that we use to rent cars are Rental cars and Autoeurope.
However, I would rule out this option in the case of wanting to see only big cities: traffic can become very oppressive and not to mention the parking lots! Also, keep in mind that in most Italian cities there are limited traffic zones (ZTL) where if you get there you will probably get a ticket a few times after returning the car.
Transportation between cities in Italy
To move between one city and another, there are several options:
Train: the ideal thing is to buy the tickets with enough advance (the tickets are usually available between 2 and 3 months in advance), you can get some incredible offers. The two companies that manage long-haul transport are Trenitalia and Italotreno. Always remember to validate the ticket in the machines before boarding the train, if you do not do it, they can find you!
Bus: very very good deals can be found with the Flixbus company (trips for around € 5!). Of course, you have to be organized and buy the tickets a few weeks before. In this case, it is also easier to find offers with advance.
Fill the crop with knowledge
There are some things you should know before entering the wonderful world of Italian gastronomy:
No, we Italians do not eat just pasta and pizza. The guys from Salta Conmigo (also 50% Italian) worked on these 3 posts where you can see the typical dishes of each region: north, center, and south.
Yes, we eat very early: between 12 and 14 (at the most!) At noon and we have dinner between 7 and 8 pm Try to get used to these times if you do not want to run the risk of finding the kitchens closed.
A menu of the day costs between € 10 and € 15, although there are many other ways to eat cheap (without having to step on fast food) … pizza, bruschetta, and a few more Italian street-food will save your life (and the portfolio).
Get ice cream … they are delicious, and they are very cheap (the ball from 1-1,50 €). The aperitif is a great idea for fine and cheap dining: practically all bars do it from 6.30pm /7 pm until 8 pm/9 pm. It consists of drinking something to drink (cocktail, wine or beer) and you can eat for free at a free buffet (pasta, pizzas, paninis …). It usually costs around € 8-10.
The Coperto. In restaurants, they often charge a “fee” of between € 1 and € 2.5 per person.” There is somewhere, especially in tourist places, that include it in a closed menu, but as a general rule, it is something that you will have to pay always … keep it in mind and if it is not specified in the menu, ask!
Book tickets and tours, yes or no?
It depends! We recommend reserving some tickets in advances, such as the Vatican Museums, the Uffizi Gallery, Leonardo’s Last Supper, the Tower of Pisa, or the Colosseum, but it is not necessary to take everything closed.
As for the tours depends on your tastes: if you are a machine that prepares a trip to detail, you study the history of the place, and you already know a lot, well … I would not book any tour. If instead, the trip has been “last minute” or you want to learn more about the history of Rome, the art of Florence or the curiosities of Venice it is interesting to hire a guide. And do not miss the free tours (for free yes, but do not forget a good tip hehe)!
Italy from the beach to beach
Do not forget the beaches of Italy: we have thousands of kilometers of beaches, and many of them have nothing to envy the Caribbean. And we do not only speak of Sicily and Sardinia but also lesser-known destinations such as Puglia, Calabria or one of the many small islands lost in the Peninsula (such as the Elias or Elba Island ).
Avoid the summer months
It’s very hot; the cities are full of tourists and the beaches too … July and August are the worst months to travel to Italy. So what is the best time to travel to Italy? The months of April, May, and September are our favorites. Although in general Spring and Autumn are the best season to travel to Italy: fewer people, milder weather and lower prices!
Eye to the scams
As a general rule, Italy is a fairly safe country. So, all you have to do is have the normal precautions when traveling (check your wallet and bags in crowded places, not get carried away by the typical street hustlers, etc. …) Of course, there is some ” scam ” quite recurrent, look looks:
Tourist menus that do not include drinks: always ask how much they cost … or water can leave you for € 5! In the stations there is almost always someone who will offer to help you with your suitcases … if you do not want to leave a tip do not accept the help, it is not disinterested.
In large cities avoid taking something in bars located in central squares or the account will be a full-fledged saber. In Rome do not take photos with the false gladiators: they will ask you for money in exchange for the photo and we do not talk about small change.