10 things to know before planning a trip to Italy

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Planning a trip to Italy is exciting and Winalist is prepared to help you have the best trip to Italy you could ever imagine. If this is your first time traveling to Italy, don’t worry – we have all the insider tips you need for a great trip!

There are so many questions that may arise when planning an excursion abroad. If you want to be well informed before and during your journey in Italy, look no further; our guide will provide the answers and advice needed for a successful experience!

Top 5 things to know before going to Italy

Trip to Italy - Florence

Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, both in culture and nature. It’s no wonder Italian destinations are most adored ones by international tourists, who long for trying some of that Dolce Vita during a couple of weeks. Travelling to Italy is fun, but it’s even better when you’re well prepared!

1. Restaurants & dinner time

Although Italians don’t dine as late as their Spanish counterparts, they still share similar dinner customs related to the southern Latin culture. The time of dining can differ from area to area, but generally speaking one should not expect meals before 8pm. Restaurants usually open no earlier than 7 pm and remain open until 10pm so you can savor an awesome Italian meal!

When exploring less frequented destinations in Italy, it is commonplace for businesses to have a more relaxed approach to their operations. Don’t be surprised if restaurants open up later than the established hours; these delays are accepted without explanation or apology. To truly get an authentic Italian experience, let go of any tight schedules you may have been accustomed too and just flow with the natural flow of life there!

2. Metro in Rome – a couple of tips

Planning a trip to Italy - Rome
Rome, Colosseo

In Rome, it’s easy to figure out why only three metro lines (A, B and C) are surrounding the city center – this is because of preservation. It’d be foolish to dig under such a historic place if we don’t want landmarks like the Colosseo crumbling down. With these accessible routes though, you can still reach main points of attraction including Piazza di Spagna and other sites where vestiges remain intact!

Additionally, disturbances such as labor strikes can affect metro lines, so it’s essential to be conscious of any local news. And don’t forget that you must validate your ticket before boarding the train!

There are also amazing wine experiences and vineyards near Rome. Check them out with Winalist!

3. Italians don’t speak English

Italians know their Italian, but not their English! While most of European countries are English-friendly, Italy comes as an exception. Indeed, Italy is ranked as one of the worst English-speaking countries in Europe, and this or several reasons. This being said, it just means that it’s your cue to learn a little bit of Italian and putting yourself out there! Italians are very friendly people, and will be grateful to notice your effort in fitting in. Plus, having a conversation with locals is so enriching, since Italians are so passionate about what they do and what they can offer you.

4. About the famous “coperto” in restaurants

If you it’ll be your first time in Italy, then this is a good tip to keep in mind. While tipping is not something expected in restaurants, you will notice something different on your receipt: the coperto.

Usually it’s not more than 1,5€ a person, 2€ max – it comes as a sort of fee for eating in the restaurant. So, if you don’t eat on site, you are not charged extra; but of course, the idea is not to encourage you eating on the takeaway, it’s just the Italian way of charging their “servizio”.

5. What to pack for your trip to Italy

Traveling to Italy gets much easier when you are equipped with the right adapters for Italian plugs. Getting some before going to Italy is your best chance not to overpay these, as they sell some in gas stations and airports, but the price is of course much higher. Plus, it’s always best to avoid risking running out of battery, and may not have time to buy some once in Italy when arriving at your hotel room or apartment.

Do’s and Don’ts on your trip to Italy

While there are things to be aware of before going to Italy, there are also tips you should keep in mind while there. Here are the main dos and don’ts for Italy!

1. Do eat one gelato a day, or more!

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Cocomero ice cream

The list is long, when it comes to must-tries in Italy, especially for drinks and food! While drinking several coffees, Spritz aperol cocktails and wine with your pasta, pizza and the 10 000 excellent local dishes you should try, that creamy gelato is a 100% part of the package-deal!

You will never have too much of fragola, Stracciatella, nocciolina or limone ice cream. As much as Italian are dedicated to producing the most excellent wines, there are all the same devoted to creating creamy wonders for the summer. And they are never short of amazing ideas to impress your taste-buds! Having one ice cream a day is the least you can do to honor the perfection of gelato art.

2. Do check closing hours

Similarly to Spain or southern countries in Europe, the afternoon siesta is a true story. If you come to Italy during the summer, it is very likely to find most of the shops closed during the afternoon, from 1pm to 4 or 5pm. Of course, in large cities and touristy areas, facilities re-open a little earlier, but still.

3. Don’t order Cappuccinos after breakfast

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One of the best travel tips for Italy that we can give you, is to order cappuccinos only at breakfast. In Italy, coffee is basically a religion. cappuccinos, a delightful hot drink made out of a strong espresso with a precise amount of whisked milk, is only and exclusively served at breakfast.

In most restaurants, bars, coffeehouse or bakeries, you can simply not order cappuccinos after around 11 am. If you don’t want to make a touristy impression, save cappuccinos just for mornings!

4. Don’t put Parmesan on seafood pasta

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In Italy, there are a few cardinal sins when it comes to food. Topping off your seafood pasta with Parmesan cheese is one of them! Italians take great pride in their culinary creations, so if they caution against adding the sharp and salty taste of Parmesan to shrimp pasta – then you should listen up. Even for the most die-hard fans of this aged cheese, try not to indulge here; otherwise you may be met with an Italian scowl.

5. Don’t touch marble statues in Firenze on Piazza dell Signora

To avoid being scolded by the Italian police while you capture that idyllic Instagram photo near a marble lion in Piazza della Signora, hands off! Italians are fiercely devoted to excellence, quality and maintenance of their artistic pieces – even those displayed outside.

If you’re planning on a variety of cities or vineyards in Italy during your vacation, Winalist has you covered!

Trip to Italy FAQs & resources

How much would a week in Italy cost?

This depends very much from the destination you choose. Some areas are quite touristy, like Cinque Terre or large cities, so a week there will come as more spendy than in a remote area such as center of Italy. However, the whole country is absolutely beautiful, so there are many amazing areas that are not spendy at all.

What to know about traveling to Italy for the first time?

The main thing to know about Italy, is that you will have an amazing time wherever you go! Try to avoid touristy areas and meet locals instead, you will eat and drink much better, and spend memorable moments.