Hello, my name is Natasha, I’m a 24 year old student who has been living in Milan for almost half a year now. I love to travel around Italy and have seen a lot, learned about some of the different regions, and have fallen in love with it even more.
Especially for Bright Side, I’ve gathered valuable and useful pieces of advice for travelers whose next destination is Italy. Hopefully thanks to this article, your trip will be unforgettable.
1. When and which part of Italy to visit?
It’s better to visit Italy’s premier destination cities in the spring. This way you’ll enjoy the city in bloom, won’t arrive during the peak tourist season, and you’ll avoid crowds of tourists near the major sights. Pay attention to the geography of the city: the more to the south the sooner you can go there. The blooming season in Milan begins at the end of March while Rome is already flourishing. If you wonder when it’s best to go to the seaside, remember that it depends on the geographic location of the resort you choose. The further to the south, the earlier the swimming season begins. For example, in Naples and in the south of Italy people start swimming at the end of April. While in Liguria the water temperature doesn’t warm up until June. Italian coasts are especially pleasant during the velvet season from September to October. The water is still warm and there are half as many tourists. You can find the most picturesque cities using the following phrase I borghi piu belli dell’ Italia. Type the name of the region of Italy instead of the country in your search engine.
On Instagram, you can find out the location of picturesque villages and places, and learn what and where to eat. For example, if you want to see colorful houses like those in the photo above, go to Genoa instead of the over-hyped sights in Cinque Terre. You’ll save a lot of money on tickets and avoid crowds of tourists. How to find a blogger? Google or do a search on Instagram using the name of the city or region you want to visit. Or you could also find a tour guide. If you’re going to Rome look here. Here you’ll find out a lot about Liguria. Interesting facts and tips about Milan and Palermo are here.
2. Read blogs written by people who live in Italy.
3. Rent a car in Italy.
The system of public transport is well-developed here and you can easily get to the major tourist sights by train or by bus. But the most beautiful villages are hidden from the main view like little pearls and it’s not easy to get to them without a car.
4. Where to have an amazing dinner?
Just like in other countries, it’s better not to plan your dinner in restaurants located near the main squares in Italy. Find a cafe where the locals eat and if you want to eat real Italian food you have to have dinner at an agriturismo at least once. What’s an agriturismo? It’s an old farm converted into a restaurant or a hotel. These places are usually located near villages and small towns. The food is fresh, grown by the local farmers, cooked well in the traditional family style; sometimes the owners are even the ones cooking. Enjoy these dishes prepared using traditional Italian recipes and that contain only fresh, natural ingredients. What could be better?
5. Don’t order pasta and pizza in every region of Italy.
We all got used to the fact that pasta and pizza are “typical” Italian foods. But the local cuisine is so diverse that there’s no need to limit yourself to these 2 dishes. In Emilia-Romagna, you can try piadina — a thin bread stuffed with cheese and several kinds of salami. Find the best pasta in Rome, Lazio, or Umbria.
In the north of Italy people have been eating rice since the beginning of time. When in Milan, order Risotto alla Milanese. In Naples, pizza is your best choice. They cook it perfectly in the traditional way.
In Liguria, eat focaccia instead of pizza — it’s a soft bread made with olive oil and sea salt. In Sicily, you should definitely try granita — flavored, crushed ice. The lemon, pistachio, and coffee flavors are especially good. If you travel across the mountain regions, this is the best place to safely buy sausages, cheese, and dairy. Don’t be shy when asking the locals about the traditional recipes of their hometown or the whole region. This way you’ll taste new dishes and meet talkative Italians who love to talk about their favorite foods.
6. Think about having lunch early.
Italians are quite diligent about many things, and one of them is food. Many of them have a special food timetable. Breakfast begins at 11 a.m. and usually consists of a cup of cappuccino and a croissant. Lunch lasts from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. After that, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. is time for an evening aperitif. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. and can last until midnight. The thing is that if you’re late for lunch, according to the Italian timetable, you may not be able to eat at all. Fast food restaurants are open 24/7, but places with national cuisine will most likely be closed in the off hours. If this happens to you in a small town, there’s nothing you can do, even the supermarkets will be closed.
7. What about the money?
Almost all places in big cities accept credit cards. But it’s better to have some cash if you’re going to a small town. The chances you’ll be able to use a card are pretty low even if the owner has a credit or debit card payment machine. Italy charges very high fees to vendors accepting card payments which why it would not be cost-effective for small traders to accept payments less than 5 euro by card. It’s also considered to be bad manners to spend less than 5 euro using a card.
8. How to save money on coffee?
Italy is crazy about coffee. You can buy really good and inexpensive coffee almost everywhere. But there’s a good way to save money: drink it like a real Italian — only at the bar stand. This way you won’t have to pay for the service and will be sure your coffee will cost around one euro. And one more thing, never order a cappuccino after 11 a.m. This special unwritten rule is followed by everyone in Italy.
9. How to save money on water?
All big Italian cities like Milan, Rome, Turn, Florence, and Venice have a lot of drinking fountains. You should definitely take the chance and drink from it, the water is much tastier than the bottled water you can buy. Besides, you’ll help the environment if you stop buying plastic bottles with water. Additionally, you can drink right from the big city fountains in Rome.
10. Take a scarf with you
All Italian churches are really beautiful and old. But you can’t walk into a church in shorts, short skirts, or with bare shoulders. If you travel during the summer, take a couple of scarfs with you — they won’t take much space but will save you the money so you don’t have to buy something to wear in a pinch. You might agree that it would be sad to walk past the Vatican just because you don’t have a scarf. Even if they allowed you to come inside, it’s better to abide by the law and follow the local rules.
11. Enjoy Italy!
It’s not without reason that you hear people lovingly speak of this beautiful country. Italy is like an open-air museum. When you’re here, it’s important to keep a balance between visiting museums, churches, and simple walks around the city. Sometimes it’s really worth skipping the museum tour to enjoy a wonderful walk in the fresh air. Drink a cup of coffee at the city square, feed the doves, and get lost in the Medieval streets. Hide from the summer heat in an old church and enjoy its silence or just eat a pizza on some monument’s stairs. Do some shopping and then choose a bar and order the famous Aperol Spritz.
Have you ever been to Italy or are you planning on visiting this wonderful country? Tell us in the comments.
Preview photo credit Pixabay, Unsplash