10 Italy Travel Tips
Last summer, we spent eight days in Italy. For itinerary ideas, see the posts about Rome, Florence, and Venice.
While those posts may give you ideas about what to do, I also want to share other things we picked up along the way! Here goes Washington Weekender's 10 Italy Travel Tips:
1. Eat outside as much as possible.
A huge part of the experience and charm of these major Italian cities is the plethora of restaurants with outdoor seating. And if you live in DC, I know you appreciate a good outdoor meal. Take advantage of it!
2. Buy breakfast food/snacks if you want carb alternatives.
Pastries for breakfast, pizza or a panini for lunch, and pasta for dinner. These will essentially be most of your meal options and they are amazing. But if you are craving carb alternatives, take a few minutes to stop in a local market or store and pick up some fruits and veggies for snacks or breakfasts before you head out for the day. You'll thank yourself later.
3. Be prepared for slow service.
Many of the restaurants we visited were much more laid back than what we were used to in the U.S. So, pick a restaurant where you can relax outside, order a wine, and if you're like me, don't wait to stop for food until the moment you're starving.
4. Drink out of the Roman fountains.
It's true--it's clean drinking water!
5. Italian men may offer you roses--but not out of the kindness of their hearts.
On our first night in Rome, my friend and I had roses forced on us for "free"--and then the man offered to take our picture and my friend's fiance ended up being guilted into paying him. Alas--at least we got some nice roses out of it.
6. Walk everywhere you can (but be wary of your luggage).
Rome, Florence, and Venice are very walkable cities if you're comfortable doing so (and have comfortable shoes). The only times we regretted walking were when we had our suitcases with us--and my husband's roller bag did not handle the cobblestone streets well. I guess that's why people backpack across Europe...
7. Use the trains.
Especially if you hit Rome, Florence, and Venice like we did, the trains provide a straight shot to wherever you want to go.
8. Don't worry about over-planning your restaurants.
We planned and researched stops at a few restaurants in advance of our trip. But most of the time, we ended up just walking into ones that were convenient, and everything was still great!
9. Pick the “sunken” gelato?
OK, a ton of people gave us this advice before we went to Italy. Apparently if the gelato sinks down by the end of the day, that means it's less artificial and tastes better. We found it hard to figure out what was "sunken" and what was just scooped out or slightly melted. So instead, we just tried the gelato everywhere and were still very happy.
10. Check off the touristy things but leave flexible time, too.
Normally I love scheduling out my trips. And I'm very glad we hit some of the big touristy spots in Italy, because we would have regretted not going to them. However, some of our favorite memories are of the random stops for food and wine--or the experiences we had, like a Tuscan wine tour and a cooking class. (OK, so maybe they all had to do with food and wine--but those were essential parts of an Italian vacation!!)