Italy is one of the most popular international travel destinations.
This Mediterranean oasis is known not only for it’s Chianti wine and gooey pizza, but its very distinctive regions each boast their own unique cultural experiences.
From exploring Roman ruins to embracing Florentine art traditions, read on to learn my top travel tips for truly embracing the Italian way.
Essential Tips for your Trip to Italy
Length of stay
If I could spend an entire month or three in this gem of Europe, I certainly would. Determining the length of your stay will set the foundation for outlining your entire itinerary.
Where to fly
Take a hard look at your goals for this vacation to hone down which airport you will fly into. Some things to consider:
- Budget – Consider budget airlines to determine which city to fly into and explore. Wizzair and Ryanair are budget friendly airlines that fly into major cities like Rome and Milan and also have stops in medieval Verona (think Romeo and Juliet) and Bari (located in the heel of Italy).
- Destination – If your focus is to hit the major cities such as Rome, Milan or Venice, there are numerous flights available. These cities traffic the most flights through their airports. If you are thinking about travelling through a certain region of Italy, you will need to consider which airport is located nearest to the region you plan to visit.
- Experience – If you are interested in exploring the treasures of the Vatican, you will certainly need to fly into Rome. If the colorful cities of Cinque Terre are inviting you to hike that coastal trek, you should look at flight arrivals in Pisa or Milan. Considering what you want to do while in Italy will help you hone down which city is optimal to fly into.
Book in advance
I’ve always wanted to walk into an airport and book the next available flight, but this type of spontaneity is generally not something most people have the flexibility to do, especially when travelling internationally. Cheapo air offers a data analysis stating flights are most affordable when booked between 21 and 175 days in advance. With that much variance, we wanted to offer some other concrete tips for booking your trip to Italy:
- Day- For a long time it was said that Tuesday was the cheapest day to book flights, however this rule is no longer gold. It’s better to simply be flexible and keep an eye on prices. Weekends are generally more expensive than weekdays. So, remember that the day of the week on which you schedule your flight to Italy has a larger impact on the overall cost than the day on which you make the booking.
- Season- Italy is a popular European destination, so throughout the year there is a steady circulation of tourists, especially American. Over time the “low” season has become shorter and shorter. Now, cities, beaches and even villages become swamped with tourists as early as May until late September. On top of that, in August Italians usually take their vacation for the entire month leaving behind their shops with doors closed. The low season (winter) is the cheapest time to travel to Italy. The better time to travel is the “shoulder season,” which generally falls right between the low and the high. Recommended months to travel during this period are March and April.
Super Simple Italy Travel Guide to Embracing Italian Culture
From air kisses to enthusiastic hand gestures, Italian culture is generally known for being bright and friendly. Here are some top tips to guide you through the Cultural differences:
Embrace the Slow
Having traveled a few times through Italy myself, the single most important tip I can offer to you is this: slow down.
(Unless you are driving a slick Italian car or are having an impassioned political debate.)
Savoring your experiences by taking the time to slowly taste every bite of gooey pizza or meandering along narrow streets until you’re lost will immediately allow you access to a more authentic Italian experience.
Connect with Others
It’s also important to remember that Italians value their families and communities. In the morning you will see friends chatting it up on the street or later taking la passagiata (the evening walk) to socialize. So, if an Italian engages in conversation with you, take it as a compliment.
Knowing a few simple words goes a long way:
- Good Morning: Buongiorno (Bwon-joor-no)
- Goodbye: Ciao (Chow)
- Yes: Si (See)
- Please: Per Favore (pair fav-aw-ray)
- Thank You: Grazie (Graz-ee-ay)(don’t forget the “ay!” at the end)
- Your Welcome: Prego (pray-go)
Visiting Italy the Italian Way
There is little sense in sticking to a super strict schedule while you are visiting Italy. This can be especially hard to do if you only have a few days to travel and want to fit a number of things into a single day. So, it’s usually better to plan your trip to Italy with the knowledge that schedules may change or you might encounter some obstacles (such as a train strike or late bus).
- Trains are the the most efficient method of transport, especially if you are moving between cities. It’s important to check for train strikes though, as these can really interfere with travel plans. What’s useful to know is that train strikes are usually planned, so if you know where to look you can prepare and modify your plans accordingly.
- Buses are a great budget option for getting around, especially within a city or between small towns. While bus schedules and routes can be hard to research, this article advises travelers to make sure they do so before boarding. It’s also worth mentioning that you can usually buy the bus ticket directly from the driver when you board.
- Walking is a great option if you are sticking to one city. You’ll get some good exercise and the opportunity to naturally discover a hole in the wall trattoria instead of just hitting the touristic high points.
- Rent a car while you are staying in Italy especially if you are planning to stay in one place. It’s popular to have a home base in one city and travel around the region. For example stay in Florence and take several day trips around Tuscany to visit small medieval villages like Siena or go to a wine tasting in a remote vineyard.
- Other options for getting around while in Italy are:
- Taxi and Uber: Taxi’s are generally found throughout Italy. Even small towns generally have a dedicated taxi driver. Uber is much more limited due to taxi drivers protesting it’s presence and is only available in select cities, such as Rome and Milan.
- Rideshare/Blablacar: This rideshare option is great for the super budget as it offers affordable transport by catching a ride with someone already planning to drive from point A to point B. The points guy has some great tips here for how to set up and use this service and why it’s a great way to meet the locals.
Take care when booking your next trip to Italy so that when you travel to Italy you can relax and enjoy your visit to Italy. As lively as Italians are, remember to slow down and appreciate each and every moment.