Planning a trip to Italy is exciting!
Is it the first time you’ll be traveling to Italy? No problem, we got you covered with insiders’ tips!
Planning a trip to a foreign country is always a challenge, and you find yourself with loads of questions. If you want to spend a great trip to Italy but wonder what you should know before you go, and the main does and don’ts once in Italy, keep on reading!
- Top 5 things to know before going to Italy
- Dos and Don’ts Italy
- FAQ & Useful resources
Top 5 things to know before going to Italy
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
Even if Italians don’t eat as late as Spanish people, you’ll still have that southern Latin influence in dinner time. It may vary from northern to southern regions, but generally speaking, don’t expect eating dinner before 8 pm. As a result, restaurants don’t open very early – that is, no earlier than 7 pm. It is not rare that Italians keep coming until 10 pm, and they will still be received for an amazing Italian dinner.
In less touristy areas, Italians tend to be rater casual when is comes to business hours – restaurateurs may open up a little later than expected and won’t feel like owing explanations of this delay. It’s good to flow with the natural Italian way of life once there, rather than expecting tight & square behaviors like we may be more used to.
2. Metro in Rome – a couple of tips
It’s very simple: in Rome, there are only three metro lines (A, B and C) that surround the city center and bring you to main points of interest (Piazza di Spagna, the Colosseo…) – but not really where most vestige lies. There is a very logical explanation: the preservation of vestiges. It seems obvious that digging under Rome might not be the right thing to do if you don’t want the Colosseo to crumble.
Also, metro lines are quite often impacted by labor strikes, so it’s best to keep an eye on local news to be aware of possible disturbances.
Finally, when buying your ticket, you must remember to validate it before boarding.
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.
Dos and Don’ts 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!
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
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
More about food sacrileges in Italy: putting some Parmesan cheese on your seafood pasta dish. Even if you are a big-time Parmesan fan and sprinkle some on all of your pasta dishes, try to avoid it this time. Italians are very peculiar about their dishes and how they turn out, so if they say Parmesan doesn’t taste well with shrimp pasta, they just don’t.
5. Don’t touch marble statues in Firenze on Piazza dell Signora
If you don’t want the Italian police whistling at you while you are posing that perfect Instagram picture next to a marble lion on Piazza della Signora, you should literally not touch the lion – at all. Italians are very much attached to excellence, quality and care, and this goes with pieces of art, even if they are exhibited on open-air public areas.
FAQ & Useful 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.