As you know, one of my favorite vacations (of all time) was a trip to Italy. We ❤️ Italy! We are not alone. Over 46 million tourists visit Italy every year. We know it can be tough for 1st timers visiting Italy. We wanted to share some of our favorite tips to better experience Italy for 1st timers.
Ready to Visit Italy?
#9 Slow Down
You will NOT see it all! Trust me, the reason that the 46 million tourists visit Italy each year is because there is so much beauty to see and experience. You will not see it all in one visit. You will want to come back again and again.
#8 Dress More Conservatively
Italians dress up. You don’t have to be formal and uncomfortable, but you do want to be neat. Don’t pack short shorts, tank tops, or crop tops. Italy is much more conservative.
Some Cathedrals (including the Vatican in Rome) will not let you enter if your shoulders and knees are not covered.
You also want to leave your heels at home. Most of the streets are cobblestone, so wear comfortable and sturdy shoes.
#7 Cappuccino and Cafe?
Lattes are morning only drinks. A true Italian would never dream of ordering one after late morning or especially after a meal. If you need a caffeine drink later in the day, stop in a coffee bar for a quick shot of espresso. This is just like the locals!
Did you know that Italy is one of the only countries that doesn’t have a Starbucks? They are illegal there because the Italians are proud of their coffee culture. Italian coffee is superior and should be enjoyed as the real Italians do!
#6 Simplify Your Schedule!
Leave time in your day to just wander around and poke your head into the real Italy. If you just get a couple of blocks away from some of the most famous tourist sites, real Italian life is in front of you. One of my favorite activities is just sitting in a plaza people watching. This is the simple life of traveling…just enjoy!
#5 Call for a Taxi
You cannot just hail a taxi off the street in Italy. Many Italian taxi drivers get their entertainment from watching tourists try to do so. As an alternative, familiarize yourself with the public transportation systems in your town. These transportation options include busses, subways, trains and boats. During our trip, we took the trains all over the country.
#4 Practice Your Italian…Or At Least the Basics!
You are visiting Italy and they speak Italian. Learn some basic Italian. That way you can attempt to communicate or at least be more respectful of the locals, that live there. I know Italians are more responsive to a tourist when they attempt to speak Italian vs just asking if they speak English.
Try to experience all of Italy. Communicating with the locals is part of the experience. In our family, we love Duo Lingo. This fun app is great for the whole family and is free.
#3 SLOW SLOW SLOW Service
Try not to ever go to a restaurant hungry. The service in Italy is super super super super slow. Most meals last for over an hour. We had breakfast one morning that lasted 2 hours. It was an incredible meal, but we were shocked we were still there…2 hours later. Be prepared for slow service while dining.
#2 No Kissing?
Italians are very welcoming people, but there is a certain etiquette for reaching out and saying hello. You will see friends, family, and even acquaintances kissing each other on the cheeks and saying “Ciao.” However, this does not always apply to strangers. Keep that in mind when meeting someone during your travels. Look to them to see if it is more appropriate to just shake their hand.
You are in a country that has welcomed and inspired visitors for centuries. Enjoy the people, the beauty, the art, music, and literature. You are one lucky duck…and don’t forget it! The Italians will be happy to share a smile with you, especially in the smaller towns.
We hope these tips help you on your visit to Italy. Ciao!
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Here is another article about visiting Italy.