Steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty, Italy is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and for good reason. It is regularly ranked as the number one destination among customers of several international airlines and cruise lines. From experiencing meandering back roads in Tuscany to the ruins of Pompeii or the fashion wonders of Milan, the country is a mecca for anyone seeking a unique and once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience. International travel presents many challenges that tourists are not always prepared for but could be avoided by following a few simple Italy travel tips before a vacation begins.
Italy Travel Tips That Will Help Improve Your Stay
Research Your Trip
Before setting foot in the land of Leonardo da Vinci, become familiar with Italy’s culture. If you have been planning that special vacation to Italy, you owe it to yourself to learn as much about the country as possible. Knowledge will enlighten your understanding of its wondrous architecture (The Coliseum, anyone?), its people, politics, religion, and amazing food and drink.
What does “Ascoltate ” mean? It is Italian for “Listen up!” A major faux pas of visitors to foreign lands is not making an effort to have a rudimentary understanding of the dialect — even if that means downloading a language translator to your mobile phone, or buying a pocket language guide. In other words, explore the language. Chances are, you will not become fluent in Italian prior to your trip, but one of the most obvious Italy travel tips is to become familiar with a few polite words or phrases before setting foot in Rome or any other destination. As an example, practice the following: ” buongiorno,” hello; ” grazie,” thank you; ” per favore,” please; ” Posso?,” which is May I?; and ” Quanto costa?” for How much?
Italy Travel Tips about Clothing
A number of Italy travel tips that should never be ignored relate to clothing, one of the most important being pack clothing for appropriate weather. While many European countries experience cool weather, the weather in Italy can be downright balmy mid-May through late September, with the average high temperature during July and August reaching the mid-80s Fahrenheit. If you travel during the summer, pack clothing you will be comfortable in throughout the day. Travel later or earlier in the year, of course, will necessitate packing slacks, long sleeve shirts or blouses, and other appropriate outer wear.
Here is another clothing related tip. Italy is predominantly Catholic, so be aware of conservative dress requirements when visiting Catholic tourist attractions such as churches and museums. When in doubt, always remember that long sleeve shirts, full length slacks or skirts, good shoes — not sandals, and high necklines for women, will stop most fashion faux pas before they happen.
When you have looked at your closet and decided what is most suitable for traveling, please remember no to OVERPACK! First of all airlines have imposed more restrictive limits to the weight and number of bags you can carry with you. Check with your airline to be sure what you are allowed for your fare level. If you are planning to travel within Italy or Europe by air, these flights could have even more restrictive rules. Do no forget that you will most likely be purchasing some items when you travel so if you have some room for your purchases it will be better for your return flight.
Choose mix and match items of clothing that can give you several different looks with few pieces. If traveling in the summer months bring tee shirts and items that can be washed and dried overnight. Take travel size bottles of toiletries. These Italy travel tips on packing will save you money with airlines and will make your trip more comfortable especially if your itinerary includes train travel. Not all Italian rail stations offer porter service! If you are traveling with a car rental most cars in Italy do no have large trunk spaces so you will need to put some of the luggage in the back seat.
Pay Attention to Money Woes
Italy travel tips can make or break your trip, especially when it comes to money. Carry traveler’s checks, and if you are planning on using a debit or credit card make sure you know the location of banks or ATM machines near your hotel or wherever else you are staying. It also is advisable to let your bank or other financial institution know in advance of your travel itinerary. Many travelers have reported their bank cards were disabled or locked out from being used because of “suspicious” charges — due solely to the fact they rarely traveled outside their home town, so of course irregular overseas debits drew suspicion.
While credit cards, debit cards, and traveler’s checks are widely accepted, merchants throughout Italy still very much prefer tourists to use cold hard cash. As such, Italy travel tips dictate that tourists should not be afraid to barter or ask about a discount (“sconto”) when dining, shopping, or otherwise spending money.
Avoid the Faux Pas
Tourists unfamiliar with local Italian customs are easily identified because of mistakes that could be avoided by following these Italy travel tips: It is considered rude to compare dining, hotel, and transportation to what you have “back home;” If you want to speak Italian, do so to your best ability — but leave the fake, exaggerated accent at home; Visitors from North America love coffee 24/7, but in Italy, cappuccino is regarded only as a breakfast drink and should not be ordered during or after other meals; finally, chefs in Italy are sticklers for food preparation, and are offended if customers try to substitute menu items or, even worse, ingredients.
Remember the Paperwork
International travel requires the use of passports and visas, but traveling to Italy with children in tow also means parents or other responsible adults should have birth certificates or other identification on hand for the minor, themselves, and other traveling companions. Photocopies of key pieces of identification normally suffice, except in the case of passports and visas.
Italy Travel Tips: What is in Your Wallet?
Avoid carrying certain items in your wallet or purse. While pieces of identification are necessary, do not place your birth certificate, social security card, credit or debit card, driver’s license, or voter registration card in a wallet or purse. These kinds of items should be stored in an inside pocket of an article of clothing or, if possible, in a hotel safe or lock box. Tuscany tours are generally safe, but muggings can happen anywhere, and Europe is a haven for sophisticated identity thieves.
Finally, Italy Has Speed Limits
As far as Italy travel tips go, stay safe on the roads. Pay attention to posted speed limits: in a town or as posted, 50 kilometres an hour; most two lane roads, 90 kilometres an hour; divided highways, 110 kilometres an hour; and up to 130 kilometres an hour on the Autostrada — the country’s national highway system. Another good tip: Depending on your length of stay and travel plans, extended trips that require a car rental also mean you will need an International Driving Permit as a supplement to the license issued in your home state, country, town, or province.