Top Travel Tips for Italy – Part 2
In our last post, we shared some Top Travel Tips for Italy (Part 1). This is the 2nd and last part of the same post. Here, we shall write about the most important thing Italy is known for! Food! Yes, Food! Italy is a foodie’s paradise. That’s why it is fondly known as “Eataly”. Italians are very particular about their style of eating, and here is why you must know these general rules before you visit this Food Paradise! We shall share some general and cash related tips as well. Read on to know more.
Top Travel Tips for Italy – Part 2
Avoid restaurants with pictures of food and don’t eat in a restaurant with someone outside encouraging you to come in.
Don’t rush. Meals can last hours in Italy. Savor them.
Dinner is past 8 pm, not at 7 pm. If you’re hungry at 5 pm, go to a pasticceria and get a hot chocolate and some pastries. If you’re hungry at 7 pm go to a bar and order an aperitivo. Don’t show up for dinner before 8 pm (and that’s still kind of early!). You can’t order food “to go” unless you are in a casual pizza place, bar, cafe or rosticceria. If you try to walk into a restaurant and order a meal to go, people will look at you as if you were crazy!
Tipping is not required in Italy.
Eat where the locals eat and seek for places crowded by local people to have a good meal at a decent price.
Don’t call out to the waiter, they will come on their own to take the order.
If you don’t ask for the check, you’re not going to get it. Italians consider a check put on the table before you’re done with your meal, or without you asking, like an invitation to leave. It is considered a no-no in restaurants, so you must ask for your check if you’d like to pay!
Every once in a while buy stuff from the local grocery store instead of eating out in a restaurant. It will save you tonnes of money.
This might sound like a very basic tip but you can order 2 different flavored scoops of gelato in a single cone/cup. We didn’t know this when we ordered our very first gelato in Rome. 😛
Coperto charge or cover charge for sitting to eat is not a scam so don’t be surprised when your bill goes up by 2 Euro per person. A takeaway bill is always cheaper.
Drink coffee at the bar like the Italians do or pay extra to sit down.
Visit a vineyard in Tuscany for wine tour and tasting.
Carry around a small Italian dictionary or phrasebook to help you decode the menu when you eat in restaurants with NO English menus.
Eat as far away from the major attractions as possible.
Always carry a water bottle in your day back-pack. Drink the public drinking fresh fountain water throughout the trip – It is delicious, clean, free and safe!
Opt for an aperitivo instead of dinner every once in a while. They are typically served between 6-8 pm. You pay for the drink, usually around 7 to 10 euros, and get to enjoy the complimentary buffet.
Drink the house wine or vino della casa, it’s delicious and cheap.
Water is pricey in restaurants. They normally cost 2-3 Euros for a bottle of water. You can request tap water, but you will probably get funny looks.
To look like a local, avoid ordering a cappuccino after 10 am as it is considered a morning drink. In the afternoon, Italians prefer espresso.
Coffee is cheaper than public toilets! When needed, use the washroom of coffee shops after you order a cup of coffee.
Don’t forget to have the Bestest Gelato in the world at Gelateria Dondoli, San Gimignano during your Tuscany tour. They have a variety of delicious options to choose from! Slurrrppp!
Always carry cash but not too much, just enough for the day. Many places will not let you use your debit/credit card for small purchases.
Separate your debit and credit cards. God forbid if you are pick-pocketed, it is best to have a fall back card with you.
Call your banks & credit card companies before leaving the country and inform them that your cards might incur transactions in a foreign currency so that they don’t block it on the pretext of fraudulent transactions.
Carry your Multi-Currency Forex Card loaded with Euros. We used ATMs to withdraw Euros and avoided using Debit/Credit cards to save cross-currency charges.
Buy an Italian SIM card as soon as you reach Italy.
Use your GPS everywhere. Trust me, it really helps, especially in Venice.
Don’t impulse buy, many times you’ll find a similar product around the corner for less.
Get up early every once in a while. Many cities like Rome or Venice have a completely different feel without the tourists. It is worth to start early and get a different perspective of the city.
Do not try to break lines anywhere. It is considered extremely rude and uncivilized.
Accept it, you will get lost in Venice so embrace it gracefully.
Spend the night in Venice. So many tourists only come for the day and Venice is magical at night with its moonlit sky. Ideally, you should spend 2 days in Venice and keep the 3rd day for the Venetian Islands of Murano, Burano, and Torcello.
If you plan to stay in Venice for 1/2 days and visit the Venetian Islands too, opt for the Vaporetto Two/Three Day Pass instead of a single day pass. This will save you lots of money. We learned it the hard way. Don’t repeat our mistake. 🙂
Plan your itinerary well. Italy is a big country, and if you want to see most of it, you need to plan each day in advance. Make note of the public holidays and closed-days while planning your trip.
Take the Vaporetto down the Grand Canal (for a much cheaper tour). In case you want to take the gondola ride, pack in as many as possible since a Venetian gondola seats six and the price is per gondola, not per person.
Loudness does not mean argument. Italians make good use of their body language.
Don’t just randomly pose with people dressed as gladiators in Rome. Ask the price first.
Italians are romantic people. Expect a lot of public displays of affection (PDA) everywhere. Do not stare at them. It is considered bad manners.
Sunday is a holy day, not for the church, but for soccer! When the games are on, you will see plenty of people walking down the streets with their family and a radio glued to their ear. Sometimes as you walk down a busy street on a Sunday afternoon you will hear a mix of cheers and mumblings – that’s the sign for one of the teams scoring! We experienced such high level of enthusiasm in Florence!
A word of caution, carry toilet paper in your purse always! It’s not that there is no toilet paper in the washrooms in Italy, but to be on the safer side, carry it. We found no toilet paper in one of the washrooms in Sorrento, so thought to let our readers know about it too.
Do opt for the humble metro ride instead of the expensive taxi ride.
Scan all the important documents such as Passport, Visa, Identification Cards, Itinerary, Insurance and email to yourself.
Soak up every minute in Italy! Often traveling can feel rushed or seem to flash by. Live in the moment, sit back, relax and enjoy your trip. Take time to actually learn about the culture and converse with locals. Don’t get stressed if you feel like you “missed” a landmark or experience, it’s impossible to see everything. Italy is truly an unforgettable experience.
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