Everyone loves the “top ten” lists these days, but after passing bullet point number 7, you start to wonder what number two was, and by the time you get to 10, you can’t quite put your finger on what these tips are helping you to do. Slightly annoyed, you hit the “x” and think about the other 19 things you could have done in that period of time. This post is going to tackle and overcome that problem, narrowing our tips down to four (even five or six seemed lengthy) bolded suggestions with explanations on how you can make your next Italian travel go smoothly while experiencing the country to the fullest.
1. Do Your Research…and Use Guides!
You don’t have to be the most well read expert on every city you go to, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little research about what you are going to see, especially because several of the cities littered with ruins or buildings with historical significance (Rome, Florence, and Venice, for example) are not going to have any sign or indication of what they are. In addition, cities such as these are always hosting special events that could greatly enhance your experience…if you know about them. How can you best prepare? Easy-access, up-to-date information on events and news in Italy are in our monthly newsletter or an English news reel of an Italian news site, such as Ansa. Besides the usual guidebook, we recommend you also sign up for a “Must See” tour for each city you visit. This will give you an over-arching story of the city and allow you to pick what you want to return to later, during your free time. Also the Tips For Travelers is a great source to scout some great restaurants, bakeries, shopping location and more.
2. Money, Money, Money!
Before you leave, call your credit card company to alert them that you will be out of the country and avoid any freezes they might place on foreign transactions. If you don’t already have one, consider asking your bank for an ATM card to withdraw cash, just in case something happens to another card. Speaking of cash – once you are in Italy, carry it with you at all times. Although the country is slowly moving towards regularly using cards, many vendors still prefer cash and some will refuse to take your card for small purchases.
3. Pack Smart
This seems like a no-brainer, but can actually be quite a challenge, especially for those who have never visited their destination cities before and who like to be prepared. Begin your packing list by categorizing potential contents: Essentials, Toiletries, Clothing, and Other. Then place items in each category based on priority. See our blog post on packing smart for a complete guide.
4. Integrate and Socialize
Make it a point to wander off the main streets to enter a local café and chat with those around you while you grab a caffé and cornetto. Treat your taxi driver like a potential amico and not only will you make a new friend, but your final price might go down as well. Realize that Italy is another culture with its own expectations and assumptions, and if you are sensitive to this and try to integrate rather than just see it, the most memorable experiences of your trip are not going to be the ones with your tour group taking a picture of the Trevi Fountain, but the ones of a very real, beautiful, and authentic Italy.
What other suggestions do you have for future Italian travelers to get the most out of their experience? Share them with us below!