Italy is amazing, and vacation travelers have the opportunity to view artistic masterpieces, sample gourmet cuisine or eat like a native and walk ancient cities still brimming with vitality. Italy is one of the most culturally rich and visually stunning countries in the world.
While traveling, it helps to know enough survival Italian to get by. Survival Italian includes short phrases, such as “Where is the restroom?” or “How much does it cost?” Without basic survival Italian skills, traveling is more difficult. In cities there are plenty of English speakers, but not in the countryside. Take an Italian language course to make travel easier, impress friends and have a more enriching experience in Italy.
Buy plane tickets early. The cheapest tickets will have layovers. If dealing with long layovers in foreign countries is unacceptable, plan on paying more for tickets. Few discounts are available on flights to Italy, with exception to using frequent flier miles to purchase tickets. Get the best price quotes on tickets by purchasing very early or very late.
There are methods and ways to navigate discount systems that can pay off. Some travelers have devised a method to get plane tickets without paying a dime. Learn this method and others from online travel hacking courses.
Italy is on the Mediterranean Sea and is very hot and sunny in the summer. Naturally, tourists assume that tourist destinations will be packed with sightseers. Contrary to popular belief, September is actually the high season. Avoid crowds by traveling during the coldest months of the year. Christmas in Italy could be a very romantic experience.
Seeing everything Italy has to offer during a short stay in the country is simply impossible. Plan on spending a minimum of 2-3 days in each destination just to see the most popular sights. Most tourists agree that changing destinations and hotels is time consuming, exhausting and stressful, so try to travel less between cities and explore more extensively upon arrival.
Don’t go crazy over planning for a trip. When vacation schedules don’t have any wiggle room, it can ruin a holiday. Just nail down which trains are needed for transport between cities or tour locations and know how to navigate train stations. Once in Italy, plans seem too restrictive and it is common to do away with overly planned schedules in order to have more fun.
Hire tour guides while sightseeing at popular tourist sites. In Italy, travelers are given the option of taking a group walking tour or a private tour. A private tour is more informative, relaxing and fun.
Packing, Luggage and Weight
Get new luggage if old bags can’t handle the load they need to carry. Duct taped bags or luggage that is damaged beyond repair will not be allowed through security. Use something familiar to mark bags for easy identification. Some people use handkerchiefs or scarves while others use specially purchased travel tags.
The weight of each piece of luggage is very important. First time travelers on overseas flights may be surprised by steep baggage overweight fees. It is possible to accumulate overweight bag charges that are in excess of the price of the plane ticket. Avoid being that one person at the airport throwing away items and rearranging their bags to avoid overweight fees by packing light. Each bag should weigh no more than 50 lbs, so don’t buy a bag more than 28-32 inches to avoid over-packed, over-weight luggage.
Purchase a cheap luggage scale for use at home. Weigh bags before departing from home to avoid overweight charges, exposing the contents of personal luggage to other passengers, panicked rearranging of bags in public and forced disposal of personal items to reduce baggage weight.
Luggage with wheels is much easier to use and transport than luggage without wheels. Forego buying huge duffle bags and go with an easy to handle suitcase with wheels.
Be sure that liquids bags are properly labeled and items inside the bag are packaged in travel size containers. Rule breakers will be forced to throw away full sized bottles. To keep flip-top bottles from spilling, cover the inside of the caps with masking tape and then flip them closed. There is nothing more frustrating than arriving at a hotel, opening bags and finding clothes soaked in shampoo and lotion. Masking tape will prevent that problem!
Italian Art and Culture
Italy is world famous for being home to some of the world’s most amazing religious and cultural art. It’s probably the best place in the world to view priceless paintings, frescos and stunning architecture. Learn about the art on display in Italian museums and cultural sites by taking a Pre-Renaissance Art History course.
Pre-1300’s, Europe was burdened with a class system where aristocrats ruled, commoners lived lower-class lives and peasants starved to death. A new class, called merchants, emerged in Italy and laws evolved giving merchants the right to be elected. Capitalism emerged, the nation prospered and a more cultured society developed. Art was born during these times, and masterpieces reflect the events, beliefs and social mores of the time. The works of art available for public consumption from the early Renaissance era in Italy are truly stunning.
Tipping is a little bit tricky in Italy. When the bill for a meal arrives, the total includes a line that will say something like, “coperto e servicio,” meaning the tip is covered. That’s not really true though. Servers in Italy make a minimum wage equal to that of other low-wage workers. Italians usually tip about 10% or 2 Euros per person on top of their bill to help boost the server’s income. Most Americans like to leave bigger tips. They appreciate bigger gratuities and it is the right thing to do.
When first meeting someone new, shaking hands is a good way to introduce oneself. Only after subsequent meetings is it customary to kiss each other on the cheeks. Always begin on the right cheek when giving European air kisses.
Italians use their hands when they speak. They are not trying to startle foreigners or make them uncomfortable. Try not to be surprised by sudden hand gestures, loud yelling and very expressive speech patterns.
If invited to dinner at someone’s house, bring a bottle of wine. This is customary in Italy.
If giving someone a gift, expect them to open it right away. Reserve parting gifts for when actually parting ways with new friends and not before.
Avoid propping elbows and feet up on chairs or tables. This is very rude in Italy.
Italian coffees, such as a cappuccino, is either drank in place of a meal or with breakfast. Morning meals are common in Italy, so don’t skip breakfast. Take advantage of every opportunity to eat the food, because it is truly delicious. Most Italians drink their espresso standing up at the bar, as sitting down for cafe will cost you more money.
When asking Italians to snap photos of travelers and groups, don’t be shy. Italians are accustomed to holiday makers, and taking a quick photo is not much of an imposition. If they oblige, gift them with a little American trinket or US coins.
Take all the time necessary to study angles through camera lenses. The chance to retake the shot may never come. Learn more about taking professional quality photographs in an online travel photography course.
Americans love Italian food just as much as the natives. It’s delicious! Absorb the unique local culture by eating real Italian pizza from a sidewalk vendors or cafes. A true pizza is nothing more than a small disc with tomato sauce and a few squares of fresh mozzarella. As simple as it seems, the flavors meld perfectly and uniquely.
Real Italian spaghetti has a nutty flavor to it that is completely unique. The flavor is rumored to be from the use of anchovy oil to sauté garlic and onions for the pasta sauce. Know how to recreate the flavors of Italy at home by studying recipes, asking locals for cooking tips and experimenting. Learn how to cook authentic Italian meals with an Italian cooking course. Real Italian food will invoke wonderful reminders of a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. A trip to Italy is unforgettable, especially when returning home with amazing photos, great food and probably a pair or two of shoes.