As I am so fortunate to live just an hour from the Italian border, I have been to Italy many times alredy, for travelling as well as for work. That way, I learned a lot about the Italians, the landscape, history and the country itself.
This 7 Travel Tips I learned:
1.) Speak Italian
Or at least try to! 😉 This sounds maybe obvious, but as you may have heard, the Italians as well as the French are incredibly proud of their language, so they are equally pleased to talk to a Tourist who knows at least a little Italian. From my experience I can tell you, that it´s even better to speak with them in horrible Italian than in perfect Englisch. My Italian is really fluent, and it helped me a lot. Not just to get directions or information, it always got me little favours, like a free Espresso, an insider- information, or free entrace into a club! But most important, you get a charming smile from that Italian waiter you just talked to in Italian 😉
2.) Drink the water
Many people and studies might contradict me with this, but in my opinion, if you are a healthy young person, the Italian water is perfectly safe to drink over a short period of time. At least, I did it all the time I stayed in Italy and it didn´t do any harm at all. I simply brought my water bottle with me anywhere and refilled it. That way I saved a lot of money and avoided the “Dehydration-Headaches”.
3.) Try the Italian alcohol
First of all, the Italians are really really loose about giving alcohol to underaged persons. So if you want to try a famous Sabmucca and you are 17, don´t worry. It´s really worth it. “La dolce vita”, “The sweet life”, how the Italians call their relaxed, leisurly lifestile includes a little alcohol once a while. But not just some cheap crap from the supermarket, no, Italians love to enjoy high-quality alcohol. Try for example a nice glass of wine, sitting in a bar on a sunny afternoon, or a shot of strong Grappa after dinner. Or, following step 1, simply ask the waiter about the best drink in the house.
4.) Avoid Driving
I know, a roadtrip around Italy sounds tempting, but I tried it, and it´s really exhausting. The roads in the cities are narrow and angled, the parking is unbelievably expensive, the shields are horrible and most of all, the Italians express their slightly agressive temper while driving. They also use their car´s signal horns all the time.
5.) Love History
There is no way you can enjoy Italy if you´re not interested in history. This country tells it´s incredible, long history on everywhere. Nearly all of the top 10 sights in every city are historic sites only. That Italy is the country with the most UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites in the world is another signal thereof 😉
6.) Enjoy Italy in Winter
If you´ve ever been to Venice in summer, you´ll know how incredibly crowded Italian cities can get. I could hardly enjoy myself trying to push through crowds at Saint Marc´s square. So I asked a waiter when would be the best time to visit Italian cities, and he recommended November, early December and January. Even though it might be chilly (4-10 degrees), you´ll really see it´s worth it, because you´ll experience this cities with just the natives and a handful of other tourists. You can take amazing Pictures without waiting for the crowd around yout to disappear and you don´t have to wait in queues for ages!
7.) Try “La Dolce Vita”
The Italians don’t think about staying in bed all day and watching TV as being the “Sweet Life”. They love getting up earlier than needed, hop into a bar and have an Espresso and a Brioche and do some people-watching. Even if last night’s lack of sleep is nagging on you, get yourself together and be Italian! It’s worth it 😉
I hope this travel tips and tricks help you a little if you´re planning a journey to Italy. For more information just comment about what Topic you´re curious about.