Italy is by far one of our favorite European countries. Here are a few of our top travel tips for Italy.
- Don’t order insalata verde and expect anything more than a bowl of lettuce.
- Don’t make special requests when ordering at a restaurant. Italians usually take things as listed on the menu and you don’t want to be the annoying foreigner who asks for special items.
- Prepare to eat late. Many restaurants, especially the fancy ones, don’t open until 7pm or later.
- When browsing menus and deciding where to eat, pay attention to the “Il coperto” (cover charge). The cover charge varies from restaurant to restaurant (usually a few Euros). This charge is often listed at the bottom of the menu. This way you won’t be surprised when you get the bill.
- ATMs & Money. It’s a good idea to exchange some money before you leave your home country. ATMs are the most economical way to exchange money while you are in Italy, but the airport ATMs may be empty when you land (especially on a weekend) and you don’t want to be forced to exchange your money at one of the expensive currency exchanges.
- Transportation strikes are common in Italy, so give yourself plenty of time if you need to catch a flight. Don’t be shocked if there is a strike of some sort that may affect your travel plans. It’s not uncommon for Italians to have train strikes, taxi strikes or bus strikes.
- Book accommodation outside of big cities to get the best deals and avoid crowds. If you don’t want to pay full price for your accommodation or if you prefer to avoid major crowds, oftentimes you can find a hotel, hostel or campground in a nearby town.
- Book your tickets at the train station with an actual person whenever possible. Some of the booking options are not available online or in the station kiosks. Tren Italia’s website is also notorious for not working correctly. If you want to book ahead of time to get the best price, but you don’t know your exact dates or time of departure, then get an “Ordinary Ticket.” You will have the flexibility of open ended dates and times. Just keep in mind that it does have an expiration date, so make sure to ask the customer service representative before you purchase.