44 Essential tips first-time travellers must know before visiting Italy
Italy is one of the most popular destinations so, as an Italian, I decided to write a super complete list of all the essential tips I can give you to help you make your next Italian holiday the most perfect and excellent of your life. Check out the things you need to know before travelling to Italy for the first time.
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1. Book your flight tickets to Italy in advance:
Italy is a trendy holiday country, with all its culture, art, and delicious food, everybody wants to visit Italy at least once in a lifetime. So please, this is an essential tip to visit Italy you cannot miss following.
Book in advance your flight to make sure to have all the flights available to be reserved, check when it is cheaper and book it.
2. Avoid visiting Italy between July and August:
During summertime, Italy's cities are so overcrowded with tourists from all over the world that accommodations are much more expensive, restaurants are crowded, and you have to wait hours to get to the entrance of every museum.
When you are finally inside, you will not deeply enjoy it because of all the people walking around.
3. Book your flights to Italy on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays:
Flights on weekend days are always much more expensive, so if you can, try to fly to Italy at the beginning of the week and then fly back home at the beginning of the week after. In this way, you will save a lot of money to spend once you are there.
Do you need some Travel Tips, like how to pack for your next travel, how to plan a budget for a solo trip or for a couple's travel?
Check out my Travel Tips section where you will find all the help, tips and tricks to plan your next adventure in the most organized way!
4. Book your accommodation in Italy as soon as you book your flights:
Earlier the better because in this way you can see all the options that for sure won't be available 1 or 2 months before your travel because they are going to be all already booked. So book your hotel's room early, get the best accommodation at the best price and save money.
5. Don't forget to get a good travel insurance:
Have you always been lucky while travelling? Good for you, but trust me that not everyone can say the same, so book good travel insurance and sleep without worries at night.
Plan Your Vacation in Italy in the Best Way
Check out all my Articles in the "Most Complete Guide of Italy" and get all the information you need to make your next travel a success.
6. Buy in advance the skip-the-queue ticket:
For all the most important museums and attractions in Italy, I highly recommend you purchase all the sip-the-queue tickets in advance.
So always check online and buy tickets in advance.
7. Get yourself a prepaid travel card:
Having a prepaid card is very important if you don't want to pay any extra fees.
Travel Cards are all easy to use and trust me that you will save a lot of money because they automatically exchange your currency into the local currency, and you will also be able to freeze it in case you lose it and check what you are spending in real-time.
I have been using Revolut Card since 2016 and it was my best friend ever since, I always take it with me while travelling and also when buying online.
8. Make sure to have a credit card with a magnetic stripe or a chip:
In many cities in Italy, you will see that you will have to enter to withdraw money from a bank, and the doors are closed at night. The only way to enter the bank hall is by swiping your card at the chip reader, and the door will open for you.
And to get out, you will see a green button at the side of the door with the writing "Apri"(means Open).
9. Take with you some cash:
Always carry some cash when in Italy, not so much, 50 euros is more than enough because in most of the places you are going to be able to pay by card, but in some little shops or bars or even in the market stalls, most of the time card payments are not accepted.
10. Bring with you a reusable bottle:
This is one of the most important rules to keep in mind to save money. Tap water in Italy is excellent, and there are many water fountains where you are going to refill your reusable bottle.
It will also make you save money at the airport and on the plane because you can fill it as soon as you pass the security check.
11. Bring with you an anti-theft backpack or purse:
Like in every tourist spot, the bigger cities in Italy have many pickpockets, so take care of your belonging and keep them safe at all times.
12. Learn some Italian phrases:
Learning some Italian phrases is very important because Italians appreciate it when tourists try to communicate even if they know only a few sentences, they will treat you like a friend. They will also help you in case you are lost or need help.
13. Don't expect everyone to speak English:
Most Italians I know only speak Italian, so learn some basic phrases as I advise you in the previous tip. It will help you a lot, even to buy a train ticket or order at a restaurant.
14. Keep in mind that most of the shops and restaurants are closed a few hours after lunch:
Not in the city centre of big cities like Rome or Milan, but shops closed at 1 pm and reopened at 4 pm in smaller towns. Restaurants closed at 2.30 pm and reopened at 7/7.30 pm, so keep it in mind if you want to have a late lunch or an early dinner because it will not be possible in most cities.
When in Italy, do as Italians do.
15. If you drink your coffee at the counter, it is cheaper:
In Italy, almost everyone drinks the coffee at the counter because it is faster, they may have only a few minutes to drink it just before starting work, so if you sit at a table, you will pay the "eat-in" price even for just a coffee.
16. Eat a lot of Gelato:
You will be in the country of Gelato, and everywhere you are going to be, it will be delicious, so eat it, even for breakfast as I do sometimes when I visit my family in Trieste. It is so good that you have all day to burn the calories while exploring around.
Tip: Don't forget to try the seasonal fruit flavours, like figs, melon, wild strawberries, chestnut etc.
17. Eat like a local:
The best way to fully enjoy and explore Italy is by doing as locals do. So avoid touristic restaurants, check the local recipes, and for the love of God, never ask to add ketchup on pizza or pasta. You are just going to ruin something perfectly made. And no, there is no cream in the carbonara.
18. Italian customer service is one of the best so ask for help:
If you are unsure what to order at a restaurant, ask for help, and your waiter will be more than happy to advise you about what to try. And in case you need some advice about the place you are visiting, ask your waiter, they know the area, and they will be more than happy to help you.
19. Don't drink a cappuccino while eating a meal that is not breakfast:
Order a glass of wine or a beer instead, and you will taste the difference.
You will feel the perfection inside your mouth while mixing a particular kind of cheese with the best wine that will look like they have been made to get paired.
20. In Italy, there is more than pasta and pizza:
Yes, those are wonderful and also very famous dishes. Still, in Italy, you will find different local recipes in every city you will visit, so always check out "My complete guide of what to eat" in that particular place (if I have already written about it, but don't worry, more content are regularly coming out) and take note of it.
Do you want to know what to eat in Italy?
21. Don't ask for spaghetti with meatballs in Italy:
I am sorry to break your heart. Spaghetti with meatballs (even if delicious) is not a typical Italian dish.
Its origin started with the Italian immigrants who arrived in the U.S. between 1880 and 1920.
If you find spaghetti with giant meatballs on the menu, you probably ended up in a really tourist restaurant where they don't care to give you authentic local food.
They just want to sell it to tourists.
Unless you are visiting the Italian regions of Abruzzo, Puglia and Sicilia, where little meatballs with tomato are added as a sauce to egg pasta or to oven-baked pasta.
22. Every region and every city in Italy has different local food:
Yes, it is correct, and it can sound impressive if you love to try different recipes. What you are going to eat in a city might not be available in another one, the food from the north is entirely different from the south, so do your researc