Italy is a unique European country that holds on vigorously to its past while modernizing. A walk around many of Italy’s major cities offers an enthralling experience in which you see old and new together as one. Italy is still regionalized with the north and south begin very different. A trip from one region to the other can be eye opening to say the least. From cuisine and culture to the way of life and money, Italy does things differently in each part of the country.
Over 58 million people visited Italy in 2019, making it the third-most visited country in Europe. Once mass tourism begins again, you can bet Italy will rebound as one of the major tourist destinations – not just in Europe but – in the world. If you plan to book a holiday to the peninsula in 2021, here are a few Italian travel tips you should know about.
Italy Travel Tips: Items to bring with you
Italian electric plugs are different to those found in North American and the United Kingdom. To ensure you can charge up your mobile phone, tablet, computer, or other electronic devices, be sure to get an electric adaptor that works in Italian plugs. Don’t skimp on the adaptor either as a cheaper adaptor may fry your devices.
USB power banks are extremely useful and can be a lifesaver. Your mobile phone can come in handy in Italy for a variety of reasons, including directions, language translations, and of course, a camera. A small USB power bank can give your electronic devices the boosts they need when low on power.
The days of having a thick book of Italian phrases and words in your backpack are over – unless you want to carry one with you. Travelers can use their mobile phones to quickly find phrases and words to get through the day. If you prefer to use your mobile phone then be sure to have a USB power bank with you. Of course, you can go old-school and use a phrase book.
Many of the towns and villages in Italy have exceptional drinking water. Of course, you will see locals drinking filtered and/or sparkling water produced by local water companies. You don’t need to bother with buying bottles of water and can reduce your carbon footprint by using your own water bottle. You can find water fountains around Italy to fill up your bottle allowing you to have a full bottle of water throughout the day.
Italy Travel Tips: Things to avoid
Italy’s major tourist destinations do have their shadier side, especially near the most popular landmarks. Pickpockets are common around major tourist attractions in Italy. Many of them aren’t older men who are stereotypical criminals. Kids between the ages of 10 and 18 are the most common pickpockets you will encounter. Why so young? Because most travelers wouldn’t expect them to be pickpockets.
Be careful where you sit
Italian waiters will take advantage of you if they realize you are a tourist. When visiting a cafe or bar in a high-tourist area, select the establishment carefully. If you sit down in a specific area – or sit down at all – you may be charged more than if you get a drink to go.
Always buy (and validate) your train and bus tickets
You want to avoid running afoul of the transport authorities who patrol trains and buses to ensure passengers have valid tickets. Public transport companies around Italy target tourists and non-Italian speakers riding trains and buses, hoping to catch them out. Authorities love to hand out €50 fines to violators.
Don’t buy knock-off goods from a street vendor
Italy takes the buying and selling of knock-off goods very seriously. Buying illegal items from a street vendor is prohibited and you can be arrested and/or fined. Undercover police patrol the streets of major cities to arrest individuals selling fake goods.
Don’t use the airport currency exchange
If you are a regular traveler, you will know that currency exchange counters at the airport are a scam. Always go to the ATM to take money out of your account back home. You will get a better exchange rate than at the airport.
Wear comfortable shoes
Italy’s major tourist destinations can be covered by foot and you may spend the entire day hoofing it around town. Be sure to take a good, comfortable pair of shoes to wear while sightseeing. Rather than wear your Converse All-Stars or trainers with no support, wear your running shoes or any sturdy, comfortable shoes you have.
Grab a drink to go
There are bars and cafes that sell beers and wine to go to take with you. After buying a glass, go to a nearby piazza, sit back, sip, and watch the world go by. It is perfectly legal to have a drink in public, just don’t have too much.
Try the wine
Italy is famous for its red and white wines. Many of the best wines are not the major brands. You can go to different cities and regions in Italy and get great tasting vintages. Don’t be afraid to try new types of wine.
Visit the south
The south of Italy is much different than the north. The south is more rural and it lacks the infrastructure that the north possesses. A visit to the south is like a trip into Italy’s past. Don’t expect public transport and things to operate in a timely fashion in the south, however. The region has a slower pace of life, but is just as good to visit as the northern region.
Get away from the cities
Italy can be overrun by tourists during peak travel season. The peak season is June through August, and cities such as Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice are awash with tourists. Get outside of these major cities if you choose to visit Italy during the peak season. You won’t regret exploring the less traveled to regions of Italy.