Ciao! I’ve just returned from a three week European vacation and I am so excited to share all of my travel tips with you! We packed quite a bit into those three weeks and today’s post is all about Italy travel tips!
Italy is such a fantastic country with delicious food, rich culture and fascinating history. I’ve compiled a list of essential things you need to know before travelling to Italy to help you be as prepared as possible. I hope these tips will help you make the most out of your Italian adventure! Be on the lookout for my travel guides and itineraries for Italy coming at you soon. 😀
Italy Travel Tips
Language – Meet them halfway
Italians are lovely and passionate people. They are, however less forgiving to those who do not speak Italian (in my experience). Most of the people we met on our trip spoke some English which was great but we had a few instances of impatience with us not knowing the language. A helpful tip is to ask at the beginning of the conversation if they speak English. The phrase in Italian is “parla inglese?”, translated as “do you speak English?” This phrase can go a long way. It also shows that you are trying to meet them in the middle.
Meals – Be prepared to eat later
Dinner in Italy is typically held later in the evening than in North America. Dinner can be from 7pm or 8pm to as late as 10pm. One helpful thing to note is that many of the restaurants don’t open for dinner until a bit later in the evening, around 7pm. Breakfast also tends to be later in the morning and many of the cafes aren’t open until 730 or 8am. A helpful tip is to have some snacks on hand if you find yourself hungry in between meals.
Tipping (Gratuity) is not customary
Unlike North America and in many other parts of the world, tipping is not a customary practice in Italy. Those working in Italy are well paid and a service charge is often built into the price of your purchase or meal. So there’s no need to tip! Unless you find the service to be particularly excellent. If a server happens to ask you for a tip, they’re likely trying to take advantage of the fact that you’re a tourist.
Weather – Make sure your hotel has A/C
Italy is very hot and humid in the summer months (especially July and August) and air conditioning is essential. My tip is to make sure to check that your hotel, Airbnb etc. has air conditioning before you book it. This is especially important in Florence and Rome, which are two of the hottest cities in Italy (they aren’t on the coast!)
Remember the tourist tax
Something that’s nice to know ahead of time is that there’s a tourist tax that’s charged when you arrive at your hotel/Airbnb etc. Expect to pay a few euros per person for each day you’re staying.
Drink your coffee at the bar
The cappuccinos in Italy are so delicious! Something to note is people in Italy have their coffee while standing at the bar or counter. It’s quicker and cheaper than having your coffee sitting at one of the tables in the cafe. Prices for coffee vary between cities however on average we paid between 1-2 euros per cappuccino. The cafes that are closer to the main tourist attractions will likely be overpriced.
Beware of pickpockets (theft)
Pickpocketing is unfortunately very common in Italy, especially in busier cities such as Rome and Florence. The main places pickpockets hang out at are around the big tourist attractions such as the Colosseum, buses and trains/train stations. Be aware of your belongings at all times when you find yourself in a crowd. My biggest tip is to wear a money belt and keep all of your important documents and money in it. We used a money belt and didn’t have anything stolen during our trip.
Use a bank ATM
Cash is king in Italy for most purchases. Although you can purchase train tickets etc. with a credit card, having cash on hand is essential. Before you go, be sure to visit a currency exchange to get some Euros for spending money, because you’ll definitely need them.
Avoid ATM machines in touristy areas near currency exchanges or with “Euronet” on them, because the exchange rates are terrible. Instead, use ATM’s located outside of banks. These are called “bancomats” and will provide the best exchange rates for a direct withdrawal.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found this post helpful and learned a few tips or some new information about travelling in Italy. See you in my next post! Travel guides coming soon! xoxo Candice