Whenever you travel somewhere, you want to leave your country prepared. Besides arranging your accommodation, transportation, and travel documents, you need some additional information about the place you are visiting. If you plan to visit Italy, it will be quite more convenient if you know some local tips. You cannot base your expectations on pictures you see online. Therefore, a few Italy vacation tips will definitely come in handy.
To make your travels more comfortable and safe, I have created a list of fantastic tips that will help you navigate through Italy better. Relying on the recommendations below, you can travel to every city without issues. So, take some time and prepare yourself for your next Italian adventure!
Learn a Few Italian Phrases
Learning a few phrases in Italian can be really convenient. Although Italians are quite hospitable towards tourists, knowing a few words can get you some special treatment. And who does not love that? Moreover, it will allow you to feel more like a local. This way, you will experience the country in a different, far more enjoyable way.
Learning a bit of Italian’s mother tongue is one of the best Italy vacation tips I can give you. You will see that basic phrases, such as “ciao” (hello/ bye), “grazie” (thank you), and “scusa” (excuse me/ sorry) will open new doors to your travel adventures.
If you need to learn some basic phrases in a hurry, there is always Duolingo
Having a few Italian words in your locker will help you talk to store clerks
Understand The Term “Coperto”
Another essential thing in this Italy vacation guide is the concept of giving tips. Tips are very important in Italian cafes and restaurants. However, Italians do not live by the same rules as Americans. While in the USA, it is customary to leave a 20% tip, you can always choose not to do that.
In Italy, they have the term “coperto” that you can generally find at the end of your bill in a restaurant. This refers to a fee or a cover charge for the services you have received in a restaurant. It is basically a mandatory tip you have to pay, even though they do not refer to it as that. So, do not be surprised when you see this in your check, or rather, expect it!
While we are on the subject of restaurants, discover the 10 must-try foods in Italy!
Acknowledge and Embrace The Cafe Culture
Most of you are probably accustomed to having your morning coffee in a local cafe along with your laptop. Well, you can just forget about that while you are in Italy! Italians do not spend long hours in cafes. On the contrary, they would simply start their day with a quick cup of espresso or cappuccino at a bar. They do not even sit down. In general, they order their coffee, pay a few euros, and in less than five minutes, they are on their way.
So, if you want to experience Italian culture in a true sense, be prepared to take a cup, drink it quickly, and get on your way. Do not count on working on your laptop in a local coffee shop, and most importantly, expect only a few types of coffee.
Coffee in Italy generally costs €1 outside of the big cities, and it should never cost more than €2 unless you’re sitting down. This applies to both espresso and cappuccino.
Don’t Stick to The Tourist Areas Only
Planning a trip to Italy means planning a dreamy adventure. However, one of my greatest Italy vacation tips is not to behave like a tourist- even though you are one. For instance, no one says you have to have lunch in the hotspots of Italian cities just because a specific famous landmark is over there. That does not mean that the restaurants in those areas serve the best food. On the contrary, if you went to one of them, you would discover that the food is quite overpriced and not so delicious.
Instead, I invite you to explore the narrow streets of Italy and find a restaurant that serves something eye-catching. Most have their menus outside, so check out your options and the prices. To learn more about what you can gain by not always staying in the tourist areas, read my Italy on a budget article!
Prepare The Right Shoes for The Cobbled Streets
Every Italy vacation guide should mention that Italian cities are built on cobbled streets. This means you need to forget about wearing your favourite high heels while exploring the area. Although your outfits will look gorgeous along with the scenic landscapes of Italy, wearing flats will be much more comfortable.
Moreover, forget about taking a nice and expensive suitcase because the streets may really damage it. Plus, you might encounter many stairs, so you might be better off with a duffel bag or something similar.
Prepare to pay a tourist tax!
It wouldn’t be an Italy travel guide if we didn’t mention some unexpected fees! That said, you should know beforehand that you need to pay a tourist tax regardless of which city you visit. Not every city has the same price, though – some are a bit more expensive. You can pay only in cash in the hotel or your private or Airbnb accommodation.
It might come as a surprise that when you check in, the owners or management will take a picture of your passport or just get the passport number. If you think this is odd, don’t worry; they are doing it for tax purposes!
Also, here is one of the most important Italy vacation tips – be wary that not every place has air conditioning. Make sure to check prior booking because this is something that is NOT given, which can be a bit of a problem if you are travelling during the warmer months. Oh, and if you are a bit taller, expect tiny beds! Are you travelling as a couple and need a double bed? Don’t fret; private accommodation owners can find a solution in a second. They will simply push two twin beds and call it a day.
Fancy some wine?
I am sure you are eager to savour some premium quality wine, but let me tell you a secret – the house wine is equally delicious (maybe even better)! Trust me, even if you go to a restaurant and don’t see it on the menu, it is there. Just say vino della casa and order a quarter, half or a whole litre.
While on the subject, make sure to try Prosecco if you are into sparkling wines. It is amazing.
If you rent a car, keep in mind that even if you don’t get halted by the authorities in the case where you violate the rules, they monitor everything digitally. Don’t be surprised if you find an unexpected bill in your mail! Usually, it is forbidden to drive in historic centres. Regarding parking, the white-marked ones are free, blue paid, and those in yellow should definitely be avoided. The Italian roads are narrower, so renting something smaller will be a lifesaver.
Visit in Autumn
We talked about Italy vacation tips that are basically rules, but when it comes to the season, the topic is objective. However, I recommend experiencing Autumn because the weather is just perfect. It is still fairly warm. Plus, there are a ton of harvest festivals and various celebrations that will undoubtedly spice up your trip!
Here is a clip of the Bosco Vertical in Milan during Autumn.
American Express Cards are NOT widely accepted
American Express should be accepted in upscale establishments, most hotels, and popular tourist areas when traveling in Italy. However, its acceptance is less widespread compared to Visa or Mastercard, particularly in smaller shops, local markets, or some restaurants. To ensure you are not left in an awkward situation, we suggest you carry a small amount of cash, especially if you are exploring smaller towns or rural areas. It would be best if you also take a backup Visa or Mastercard. Both are widely accepted all over Italy.
More Italy vacation tips will be added here
When planning your trip, I hope you will find these Italy vacation tips very useful. Being properly prepared will make your holiday more enjoyable, and you will get the chance to experience this gorgeous country in its true light!