view of town of positano on hillside and sea

200+ Essential Italy Travel Tips for Your First (or 10th!) Visit

Updated on November 19, 2023

Are you daydreaming about a vacation in Italy?  Maybe you’ve booked your flights but have no idea what to do next.  Don’t worry – these Italy travel tips will help you make the most of your time in Italy.  Below you’ll find things to know before traveling to Italy, as well as helpful tips for your time in bella Italia.  With proper preparation, you’ll have an amazing trip! 

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When To Visit Italy

Trying to decide when to visit Italy? Check out our monthly guides:
Italy in January
Italy in February

Italy in March
Italy in April
Italy in May
Italy in June
Italy in July
Italy in August
Italy in September
Italy in October

Italy in November
Italy in December

Check the average temperatures during your trip for the area you’ll be visiting.  Italy has many different climates. 

You’ll also need to consider what you’d like to do on your trip.  Want to visit Florence’s museums when they’re not crowded?  Come in the winter!  Want to hike on trails free of snow AND crowds in Northern Italy?  Come in July or September! 

1. August is best avoided throughout the country if possible.  It’s the holiday season for Italians and Europeans, meaning destinations are packed.  It is also very hot, especially in the central and southern parts of the country.  The heat, combined with crowds, lack of A/C, shops being closed (because their owners are on vacation), and higher prices can make August an unpleasant month to travel. 

Best Months to Visit

Green hills in Tuscany with yellow rapeseed plants
The Tuscan countryside in the spring

2. Outside of August, choose the best months to visit by region:

  • Florence & Tuscany – May, September.  Green countryside and poppies make May a perfect time to visit.  September is harvest time and the weather is pleasant.
  • Rome – May, September, October.  The city can be unpleasantly hot in the summer, but visit if you’re okay with heat and you can plan time to rest during the day.
  • Venice – May, September, October, and winter months (if you’re dressed warmly!).  Acqua alta (literally ‘high water,’ when the city floods) usually occurs in November and December.  Venice is busy year-round, except for the winter, but you can always escape the crowds by wandering off the main roads or by exploring at night.
  • Sicily – May, September.  Summers are hot but if you’re spending time at the beach, you’ll be fine.
  • Milan – May, September.  Avoid the city in the hot summer months.
  • The Dolomites – Mid-June (to avoid snow on trails) through mid-September (when lifts close) is best for hiking and summer activities.  December through April for winter sports.
  • Piedmont – All year, but avoid winter because many places will be closed.  Harvest time is nice but many wineries are closed while the grapes are being picked.
  • Puglia – April, May, June, July, September, October.  Spring brings beautiful wildflowers.  October can be amazing – warm weather, no crowds, and excellent prices.   
  • Cinque Terre – April through October
  • Amalfi Coast – April through October
  • Fruili – May through October
  • Italian Lakes, including Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, and Lake Garda – April through October

Italian National Holidays

3. Know when the major Italian holidays are, both state and religious.  If you’d like to be in the country during an Italian holiday, expect to pay more and find more crowds.  You’ll also need to book in advance.  Italians love to go on vacation too! 

National Holiday Italian TranslationDate
New Year’s DayCapodannoJanuary 1
EpiphanyLa BefanaJanuary 6
Easter MondayPasquettaVaries
Liberation DayFesta della LiberazioneApril 25
Labor DayFesta dei LavoratoriMay 1
Republic DayFesta della RepubblicaJune 2
Feast of the AssumptionFerragostoAugust 15
All Saint’s DayTutti i SantiNovember 1
Feast of the Immaculate ConceptionL’Immacolata ConcezioneDecember 8
ChristmasNataleDecember 25
St. Stephen’s DaySanto StefanoDecember 26

Note – some Italians celebrate non-traditional or non-Italian holidays, like Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving. There are also other Italian celebrations that bring more crowds, like Italy’s Carnevale.

Italian School Breaks

4. When possible, travel while Italian kids are in school. The Italian school year typically begins mid-September and finishes mid-June.  Expect crowds in the mountains and the seaside from mid-June to mid-September.  Many families travel to the beach for the entire summer. 

However, if you are traveling with teens or kids, you may want to time your visit to coincide with Italian school breaks. There will be plenty of kids to play with during your trip!

Families from other European countries love to visit Italian beaches and mountains in the summer as well. 

View of Lama Monachile beach in Polignano a Mare on a sunny day. The water is turquoise, there are a few people laying on the beach, and you can see buildings on either side of the cliffs.
A quiet day at Lama Monachile beach in Polignano a Mare on a visit with my son
School Break Italian TranslationDate
New Year’s DayCapodannoJanuary 1
EpiphanyLa BefanaJanuary 6
Easter Break Vacanze di PasquaVaries, long weekend of 5-6 days
Liberation DayFesta della LiberazioneApril 25
Labor DayFesta dei LavoratoriMay 1
Republic DayFesta della RepubblicaJune 2
Feast of the AssumptionFerragostoAugust 15
All Saint’s DayTutti i SantiNovember 1
Feast of the Immaculate ConceptionL’Immacolata ConcezioneDecember 8
Christmas Break Vacanze di Natale2 weeks, beginning just before Christmas and ending after the Ephiphany on January 6

Planning Your Trip to Italy

5. Don’t try to do everything in one trip!  You’ve heard the saying, “Roma, non basta una vita” or “Rome, a lifetime’s not enough.”  It’s true for Rome, and Rome’s just one part of Italy!  While it’s tempting to try to do everything in one trip, it won’t be pleasant.  You can always come back.  And even if you can’t, you’ll want your once-in-a-lifetime trip to be enjoyable! 

6. Book travel insurance.  Book trip cancellation insurance as well.  It’s often not included in the main policy.

7. Think about flying open jaw.  For example, if you begin your trip in Venice and finish in Rome, consider flying out of Rome.  You’ll save time and money on the transport back up to Venice, and the open-jaw flight probably won’t cost much (if any) more than a regular flight.

8. Make sure you have a valid passport.  You will be able to buy a plane ticket without a passport, but you will not be able to check-in (and therefore board your plane) without a valid passport.

9. Make sure your passport is valid for 3 months from the end of your expected travel.  The US government’s travel site lists both 3 and 6 months (on the same page!) but the Italian government’s Ministry of External Affairs and International Cooperation’s website lists 3 months from the end of your expected travel.

10. Check to see if you need a visa.  For example, if you’re coming from the US, you can travel without a visa for 90 days.  If you plan on staying longer in the Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland), you’ll need to apply for a visa.

Good To Know: Beginning in 2024, many travelers will need the new ETIAS travel authorization to enter Italy. Read more about Getting the ETIAS for Italy. Note: The ETIAS is not a visa.

11. Buy airline tickets directly from the airlines.  If you need to contact your airline during your trip, it’s much easier to speak directly with the airline to make changes.  All major airlines have English and Italian operators and you’ll also be able to get help from a fluent Italian speaker, like someone from the front desk at your hotel. 

12. Read books and magazines about Italy, listen to podcasts, and watch movies about the country.  Learn about what interests you – Italian history, art, culture, food, architecture, geology, fashion, or wine.  It will be a much more rewarding visit if you know what you’re looking at!

Looking at photos and watching movies filmed in Italy will also help you choose your destination(s) to visit.

Child's hand turning page of Michelangelo kids book
My kids love reading about Italy and famous Italians, like Michelangelo

13. Try to avoid day trips to highlight destinations if possible.  For example, Venice at night is magical.  The tour groups are gone, you can take a vaporetto without the crowds, and look up into windows to see beautiful frescos.  It beats elbowing your way through the crowds in the heat and will give you a different perspective on the city.

14. Plan according to your travel style and personality.  Like to live in the moment?  Use last-minute hotel booking sites or roll into town and ask for a place to stay.  Want everything plotted out?  Do your research and create a detailed itinerary or hire a planner or travel agent to design one for you.  The best option is often something in between:  Have a basic itinerary planned but don’t miss out on unplanned experiences – sometimes they’re the best memories you’ll have from your trip.

15. Bring a copy of your passport.  Better yet, if you’re traveling with others, trade copies of your passport.  It’s important to always have identification with you and you may need to leave your passport in the hotel safe or with the hotel reception (they’ll ask to make a photocopy on arrival). 

16. Alert your bank and credit card company that you’ll be traveling in Italy.  It’s not fun to have your card blocked and to have to spend precious vacation time calling your credit card company to get it unblocked.

Packing for Your Trip to Italy

17. Bring a small travel umbrella.  While there are always vendors selling umbrellas, they’re very low quality and break easily.  Nice umbrellas are pricey here.  Bring one from home.

18. Bring your favorite toiletries and medications – bug spray, sunscreen, etc.  Vacation is not the time to experiment with other brands.  Yes, you can find anything you need here, but it may not be exactly what you’re used to or exactly what you want. 

19. Avoid bringing valuables.  While there are safes in many accommodations, you’ll spend less time worrying about your valuables. 

20. Don’t bring a large suitcase.  Italy’s characteristic cobblestone streets aren’t luggage friendly, so you won’t want to be dragging a large, heavy suitcase on them.  Many hotels don’t have elevators.  You may have trouble finding room to store a large suitcase on the train or in a rental car. 

Small yellow car in Rome, Italy on cobblestone street.
Cars here are probably smaller than what you’re used to – no large suitcases will fit in this trunk!

21. For daytime touring, bring a zippered bag with inside compartments.  It can be a purse, backpack, or tote.  Zippers keep out wandering hands and will keep your things from falling out. 

22. Bring hair tools if they’re important to you.  Do you feel better if you’ve straightened your hair?  Bring your straightener!  Many hotels have hairdryers, but they are often basic and not what you’re used to using at home.  Make sure your hair tools work on the Italian 220v

23. Bring an Italy travel guidebook – either a paper copy or a digital download.  Browse through it on the plane, during riposo time at your hotel, or while you’re out at aperitivo.

You may want to check out
Italy Packing List (+ Free Printable PDF)
Italy Packing List for Kids
Italy Packing List for a Baby or Toddler

Transportation in Italy

24. You’ll need to decide whether to rent a car or use public transport.

If you’re traveling in a family or a group, it’s easier to rent a vehicle than to take trains and other public transport.  You don’t have to worry about bringing luggage (and strollers, etc) on and off public transport.

If you’re only visiting bigger cities (and you don’t have a lot of luggage), you’ll be fine using public transportation.

Public transport tends to be more on-time and reliable in the northern part of the country.

25. When deciding whether to rent a car or take public transport, remember to factor in all costs of getting from point A to point B. 

If you’re flying, remember that discount airlines may use airports far from the destination city, so you’ll need to add in transport costs to get to and from the airport.  They also charge extra fees for all luggage. 

If you’ll be renting a car, don’t forget to include gas, parking, and tolls in your budget (and hopefully not any fines!). 

For train travel, you’ll pay extra for seat reservations and transport to and from the train station.

26. Stay up to date with strikes. Transportation strikes are common and are published in advance.  The best site is the Commissione Garanzia Sciopero (look for the calendario scioperi, unfortunately, it’s only in Italian).  You can also ask hotel staff and transport workers. 

Read more about Train Travel in Italy.

Renting a Car in Italy

Check to compare rates from Italy’s main car rental companies.

Two young boys watching a red Ferrari drive by in the Tuscan countryside

You may want to read our posts on
Renting A Car in Italy
Renting a Car in Tuscany
Renting a Car in Florence

Renting a Car in Milan
Renting a Car at the Bergamo Airport
Renting a Car in Pisa
Renting a Car in Sicily
Renting a Car in Palermo
Renting a Car in Catania

27. You’ll need to choose between renting an automatic or a manual. If you can only drive an automatic, reserve well ahead of time.  If you reserve a manual, review the gearing and how to reverse before leaving the car rental parking lot. 

28. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP) in your home country.  The IDP translates your license into Italian (and other languages).  Many car rental companies require it, and you may be fined by the police if you don’t have one.

Read our post on the International Driving Permit for Italy – Why and How to Get One.
You may also want to check out
Can I Rent a Car in Italy with My US Driver’s License?
Renting a Car in Italy as an American

29. Make sure you’re permitted (by the car rental company) to drive on gravel roads if you’ll be visiting the countryside.  Many small villages and attractions are reached by strade bianche (gravel roads).

30. Rent a car outside of the city center if possible, especially if you’re staying in a big city like Milan, Rome, Florence, or Naples.  Driving in city centers can be tricky – think narrow lanes, one-way streets, pedestrians, ZTL (limited traffic zones), and plenty of traffic.

31. Rent as small of a car as you can (don’t forget about luggage space).  Roads are narrow, parking spots are narrow.  Now’s not the time to rent an SUV.

Driving in Italy

32. Know how to use the Autostrada (toll road motorways) – take a ticket to enter and when exiting, pay with cash (white sign with cash symbol) or credit card (blue sign with card symbol).  Avoid the yellow Telepass lanes, which are reserved for Italians and some Europeans with a special device that allows toll payment without stopping by debiting the user’s bank or credit card account.

Read more about
Italian Toll Roads (Autostrade)
How to Pay Tolls in Italy

33. Get gas, eat, and shop without exiting the autostrada.  Autogrill, Sarni, ChefExpress and MyChef are the major rest stop service providers.  Autogrill and Eataly have partnered to create amazing Autostrada dining and shopping stops.

Learn more about Italian Gas Stations and Getting Gas in Italy.

34. In Italy, ‘in the direction of’ road signs guide you to your destination.  For example, you’ll drive toward Rome, then turn toward Siena.  This is different than many other countries, where directions will be to ‘turn right on highway 165.’  You may not know the name of the road you’re turning onto (it’s usually not marked), but you will see the sign pointing toward your destination (for example, Siena to the left, S Felice to the right).

Road signs showing directions to cities on brick wall in Chianti, Italy

Check out our posts:
Italian Road Signs – Guide for Visitors + Photos
Driving in Italy

35. Don’t pack too many stops into your driving day. When looking at a map, distances between points may seem short, but driving in Italy can take quite a while due to small and/or winding roads.  You may also get stuck behind a slower driver (or a tractor!) on smaller country roads. 

36. Don’t enter active ZTL (zona traffic limitato – limited traffic zone)!  You will receive a fine, often months after you’ve returned home.  You are allowed to enter the ZTL if the lights are green or it says ‘non attivo‘ or ‘aperto‘ (‘not active’ or ‘open’).  They are often open on Sundays. Read more about ZTLs in Italy.

Road intersection with ZTL signs in Florence, Italy

37. Look out for red light cameras in towns and cities.  They are not marked, but they will photograph your vehicle and issue a fine if you run a red light.

38. Italian law states that speed traps must be marked ahead, so make sure you know what they look like.  You will never reach a speed trap without being warned by a sign.

Some Autostrade in Italy check for speeding with the Safety Tutor (aka Sistema Tutor).  The Safety Tutor photographs your license plate and checks your speed at point A, and later at point B.  Then, it averages your speed between point A and B.  If you are driving over the limit (with a 5% leeway) between points A and B, you will receive a multa (fine). 

Parking in Italy

Parking in Italy can seem confusing.  Find the signs that explain the rules and ask someone if you have a question.

39. Generally, blue lines marking a parking space denote a paid space, while white lines usually mean free parking or resident parking.   

40. Pay for parking by displaying a disco (disk) which marks the time you arrived, paying the meter (by coins or credit card), or scratching off your arrival time on a scratch-off ticket.  The method varies, so always have coins and a disco handy.  Scratch-off tickets are less common and can be purchased in a bar.

41. When you park your car, someone may offer to watch your car (for a small donation).  It’s up to you.  We always give a euro.

Read more in our Guide to Parking in Italy.

Taking the Bus in Italy

42. You’ll need to purchase a paper bus ticket at the bus stop or at a tabbacchi (tobacco) shop or edicola (newsstand) before you get on the bus (although in some places you can now use contactless payment).  If you’ll be riding on Sunday, make sure you purchase your ticket ahead of time as most shops are closed on Sundays. Or, find out if the city or region you’re in has an app for ticket purchases.

43. Make sure you validate your bus ticket immediately when you board the bus.  There will be a small machine by the driver.  If you are asked to show your ticket and it’s not validated, you will be fined.

Train Travel in Italy

44. Purchase tickets and have your confirmation code available to show the train attendant.

When purchasing train tickets, check the websites of the two main train companies, Trenitalia (state-owned) and Italo (private).  There are often discounts posted.  You can also sign up for an account with Trenitalia or Italo and have your tickets on the app on your phone (or just show your email confirmation code).

On certain trains (InterCity, EuroCity, Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca), you will have a reserved seat.

Italo train at the track at the Venice Santa Lucia train station.
An Italo train waiting at the Venice Santa Lucia train station

In many stations, you may only enter the alta-velocita, or high-speed train (Italo, or Trenialia’s Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, or Frecciabianca) area if you have a ticket.  And, in some stations, you must show your ticket to access any of the trains.

45. You will need to validate your train ticket if it doesn’t have a specific date and time (regional train tickets).  To validate it, insert it into the ticket-validating machines near the tracks.  The machine will stamp the date and time and you will have four hours to use it.

Plane Travel in Italy

Pisa's Galileo Galilei International Airport entrance at night
Pisa’s International Airport

46. The main airports for reaching tourist destinations are:

Airport Code Airport NameIdeal for Reaching
FCORome – Fiumicino “Leonardo da Vinci”Rome, Umbria
MXPMilan – MalpensaMilan, Lake Como, Cinque Terre
BGY Bergamo – Orio al Serio “Il Caravaggio”Milan, Lake Como, Bergamo
VCEVenice “Marco Polo”Venice, Dolomites
NAPNaples – Capodichino “Ugo Niutta”Amalfi Coast & Capri, Naples, Pompeii & Vesuvius
CTACatania – Fontanarossa “Vicenzo Bellini”Sicily, especially Siracusa & Taormina
BLQBologna – Borgo Panigale “Guglielmo Marconi”Florence & Tuscany, Bologna & Emilia Romagna
PMOPalermo – Punta Raisi “Falcone & Borsellino”Sicily, especially Palermo
LINMilan – Linate “Enrico Folanini”Milan, Lake Como
CIA Rome – Ciampino “Giovan Battista Pastine”Rome, Umbria
BRIBari – Palese “Karol Wojtyla”Puglia
PSAPisa – San Giusto “Galileo Galilei”Pisa, Florence & Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Portofino
CAGCagliari – Elmas “Mario Mameli”Sardinia
TRNTurin – Caselle “Sandro Pertini”Turin
VRNVerona – Villafranca “Valerio Catullo”Venice, Verona, Dolomites
TSFTreviso – Sant’Angelo “Antonio Canova”Venice, Dolomites
FLRFlorence – Peretola “Amerigo Vespucci”Florence & Tuscany, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Portofino
GOAGenoa “Cristoforo Colombo”Cinque Terre, Portofino

Of course, you can always fly into an airport and drive or take public transport to get closer to your destination.

Taxis in Italy

Taxis are important for Italian locals and tourists and need to be supported – please use them instead of ride-sharing services.

47. Only use official taxis.  You will find them waiting at a taxi stand.  You can also call a taxi or have your hotel call one for you. 

48. Know rate and meter regulations:

Rates are fixed, per person, bag, and kilometer. 

The meter will begin running when the taxi takes the call, not when you get in the vehicle.

To avoid a dispute over the fare, make sure the taxi driver has the meter running when you get in. 

49. Tips aren’t necessary but rounding up is kind.  A euro or two for help with bags is appreciated.

Unsure of when and how much to tip in Italy? Check out our post on Tipping in Italy!

Ferries in Italy

50. You must have a government-issued ID to board the ferry.  Children are also required to have their official ID to board.

51. On all but the briefest journeys, you will need to leave your vehicle and spend the trip on the passenger deck.  Have a small bag or backpack with your valuables and anything you may need during the trip.

52. If possible, avoid taking a ferry in August – it will be hot and crowded.

Private Car with Driver (NCC) in Italy

53. Look into using a private car with a driver, known as an NCC in Italy (noleggio con conducente, rental with driver).  They can be a convenient but more expensive option for transport in Italy.  They are great if you have a larger group and everyone wants to relax and avoid the stress of driving and navigating the Italian roads.

Check multiple companies for the best rates.  Hotels will often have NCCs that they use and recommend. 

Make sure to ask if the NCC driver speaks your language.  It’s a great way to get to know a local person and learn more about the area you’re visiting. 

You can book an NCC through the Uber app. Learn more about Uber in Italy.

Accommodation in Italy

54.  Try multiple styles of accommodation during your trip!  Accommodation options in Italy include hotels and bed & breakfasts, vacation rentals, agriturismi, campgrounds, and other unique properties.

55.  Know that in general, accommodations in Italy are not spacious.  Your hotel room may have space for the furniture and your suitcase, but not much else.

56.  Request a bathtub if you want one.  Bathrooms in Italy are usually tiny, and showers are the norm, not bathtubs. 

57.  If heat bothers you or air-conditioning is important to you, be sure to check to see if it’s offered.  Air-conditioning is not common – few Italians have it in their homes. 

58.  If you’re visiting during the summer or early fall, think twice about opening windows at night if there are no screens – mosquitoes in Italy are smart and vicious.   

59.  You must provide your passport at check-in, so have it handy.  The staff is required to enter your information into a database for antiterrorism and national security reasons.

60.  Have cash for the city accommodation tax.  All guests over a certain age (which varies by region) must pay the per-night tax. 

61.  If your accommodation has a physical key, you will be asked to leave it at reception when you leave for the day or evening.  If you have a key card, you can bring it with you. 

Check out my guides on
Where to Stay in Florence
Where to Stay in Taormina
Where to Stay in the Dolomites with Kids

Hotels in Italy

62.  Italy’s hotel star classification is different than international standards.

Hotels are classified from 1 to 5 stars, and there is also a 5-star luxury classification. 

The system is standardized nationally and includes basic guidelines for each star. 

For example, a 1-star hotel must have a reception available 12 out of 24 hours, a double room must be at least 14 square meters with a bathroom of at least three square meters, cleaning service is offered at least once per day, and the linens are changed at least once per week.

The requirements increase with each star. 

A 5-star hotel must have 24-hour reception, a double room must be at least 16 square meters with a bathroom of at least five square meters, the hotel staff must know at least three foreign languages, porter service must be available, washing and ironing service must be available, bathrobes are supplied, and much more.

Vacation Rentals in Italy

63. A vacation rental apartment, home or villa is an excellent choice for a group or family.  You will often have access to amenities like kitchens, washing machines, and larger living areas.  Popular agencies include Booking, HomeAway, VRBO, and Airbnb. 

Check reviews carefully and ask any questions you have about safety, including if there are smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and if the building is up to code. 

Agriturismi in Italy

64. Consider a stay at an agriturismo. An agriturismo used to be a working farm (agri) that invited tourists to work, stay, and eat meals on the property (turismo).   Today, most agriturismi don’t expect guests to do any work on the farm. 

They are wonderful places to stay and often have amenities like swimming pools, restaurants, and beautiful outdoor areas.  Some are structured like hotels; others are family-run.

Campgrounds in Italy

A campground in Colfosco in the Dolomites, Italy. Pine forest and tall mountains in the background. RVs in a gravel and paved parking area in the main part of the photo.
A campground in Colfosco in the Dolomites

65. Don’t expect only peaceful campsites with tents nestled in the forest, surrounded by singing birds and burbling streams. 

While some Italian campgrounds are like the above, many have RVs and quite a bit of pavement.  You may be close to your neighbors and the campground may be located on the outskirts of a town or city. 

66. Free camping in national parks is highly regulated and you must get permission to camp overnight. Countryside residents may let you camp in their fields.

Unique Accommodations in Italy

Inside a cave room at Caveoso Hotel in Matera, Italy. You can see the bed, a large mirror, and more furniture in the background.
A Matera cave hotel my son and I stayed in

67. Don’t pass up a chance to stay in one (or all!) of Italy’s unique properties. They include castles, trulli (stone homes with conical roofs), masserie (fortified farms), and sassi (cave homes). 

Money Matters in Italy

68. Italy uses the Euro (€).  You can’t pay with US dollars or other foreign currency.

69. If possible, bring Euros from home so you have cash with you on arrival.  You can get to your hotel without having to find a bancomat (ATM) first.

70. Learn your ATM pin for use at the bancomat in Italy.  Your pin may be different (5 numbers instead of 4) than what you use at home – check with your bank. 

71. Your bank may establish a daily limit bancomat withdrawals.  Usually, the daily maximum is between 250 and 500€. Bancomats typically dispense 20€ and 50€ bills, but sometimes you can choose.

72. Contactless payment is becoming much more prevalent. I now use contactless (phone, iPhone, Apple watch, or credit card) at many places in Italy, including stores and toll booths.

73. Credit cards can be used almost anywhere in Italy, but it’s best to have some cash on hand for smaller transactions and just in case technology fails.  You will almost always need cash at outdoor markets and small shops and food stands.

74. You may not enter or exit the country with more than 10,000€ or equivalent.

Technology in Italy

74. Get an Italian SIM card if your phone is unlocked.  Or activate an overseas plan with your home-country carrier.  Vodafone has the best national coverage (in my experience), followed by TIM. Or, use an e-SIM (like Airalo) if your phone is compatible.

Need to call Italy before arriving? Read about How to Call Italy From the USA.

75. Recharge your Italian SIM card at the grocery store, a tabaccheria, a bancomat, online, or at your carrier’s physical store.

76. Don’t rely on your phone!  You’ll be upset if the battery dies, or you forget it at your hotel.  Write down important phone numbers (where you’re staying, travel insurance, emergency contacts) and carry a paper map. Bring a portable phone charger (I use mine whenever I know I’ll be out exploring all day).

77. Many cities or businesses offer free WI-FI.  But, be aware of lower security while using these networks.  It’s best to have a data plan for your phone or to use secure WI-FI at your hotel.

78. Use an offline maps app. After trying different apps, I prefer the offline version of Google Maps.   You won’t use your data while out exploring.

Check out some of my Favorite Italy Travel Apps

79. Italy uses 220v – 230v power.  Check your devices – the voltage will be marked on them.  Most electronics like cameras and phones work universally, and it’s becoming more common for smaller electronics (like hair straighteners).

Read more about Electricity in Italy to find out which adapter(s) you should bring and if you need a voltage converter.

80. Italy electrical outlets use plugs F, L, or C.  If your electronic device works with Italian voltage, you will need a plug adapter to fit your plug into the Italian wall outlet.  If your device has a different voltage, you will need a converter to convert it to the Italian voltage. 

Weather in Italy

The Sciliar mountain range as seen from Fie allo Sciliar in July
A beautful day in Fiè allo Sciliar in the Dolomites

81. Prepare for Italy’s weather by packing appropriate clothing and planning activities that suit the weather for the season and area you’ll be visiting.

Italy has a Mediterranean climate.

Weather in Italy varies greatly by region and time of year. 

Snow is common in Northern Italy between December and February.

Summer is typically hot throughout Italy.

Italian Language

82. Try to learn a little bit of the language.  A few important phrases to know include:

BuongiornoGood morning / Good day
BuonaseraGood evening (use from the afternoon)
BuonanotteGood night (going to bed)
Per favorePlease
GrazieThank you
PregoYou’re welcome / Go ahead
Mi chiamo…My name is…
PermessoExcuse me, can I get by?
Mi scusiExcuse me, I’m sorry
Dov’è…?Where is…?
Quanto costa?How much does it cost?

Learn more words and phrases for your trip in 100+ Useful Italian Travel Phrases!

83. It isn’t appropriate to say ‘ciao’ to everyone you see.  ‘Ciao’ is reserved for people you know.  Instead, offer a friendly ‘salve,’ ‘buongiorno’ or ‘buonasera.’ Read more in our post Ciao – What it Means and When To Use It.

84. There are dialects throughout the country, but everyone will understand classic (Florentine) Italian.  German, French, Slovene, and Ladin are spoken in parts of Northern Italy. 

Italian Culture

85. Campanalismo is the concept of being loyal to, proud of, and attached to your town (and your town’s belltower – campanile).  For example, someone from the city of Prato would first be Pratese, then Toscano, and finally, Italian.  Italy is still a very young country and rivalries between neighborhoods and adjacent towns still exist (for example, between the contrade of Siena and between the cities of Florence and Siena). 

86. Participate in the passeggiata, the evening stroll through town.  In cities and small villages, Italians will dress well and wander up and down the street, eating ice cream, chatting with friends, and enjoying the bella vita.  This simple ritual will immerse you in Italian culture.

87. If you’re in the right place at the right time, participate in a harvest! 

Italy is home to wine regions from north (Piedmont) to south (Sicily) and everywhere in between.  The grapes are usually harvested in the months of August, September, or October, depending on the region and the year’s weather. 

The olive harvest in Italy takes place in the months of September, October, or November, depending on the region.  Olive harvests are especially rewarding because you can see the oil being made at the frantoio and try the liquid gold right away.

88. Go to a sagra, a food festival!  Rub elbows with locals as you sample the area’s specialty.  Funghi (mushrooms), bistecca (steak), vino (wine), formaggio (cheese), and frutta (fruit) are popular subjects for sagre.  They usually take place outdoors, with participants dining together at picnic tables.  The scene is very casual – think paper plates and plastic cutlery.  There may be games for the kids, a band, dancing, markets, or art exhibits. 

89. Italians (women and men) greet each other with kisses on each cheek.  Note that post COVID-19 pandemic, most Italians still offer a cheek, while others offer a hand or hug.

90. Italians do not need much personal space.  While you’re waiting in lines, don’t be surprised to have others brushing up against you and entering your ‘personal space.’ 

91. Queues or lines in Italy are suggestions.  Italians don’t always respect the queue.  If you notice this, you’ll need to be more aggressive or you’ll risk never making it to the front of the line!  It happens everywhere – at the grocery store, waiting to get on the train, buying tickets for a museum.  Beware of innocent-looking nonne (grannies) – they’re the worst offenders!

92. Don’t schedule your activities to the minute.  Transportation often runs a little behind.  You may end up spending hours at dinner in a restaurant.  Take off your watch and enjoy the slower pace of life in Italy.

93. If you don’t want to buy the (fill in the blank – flowers, friendship bracelet, poster, beach towel) that the street vendor is offering you, reply with a firm, “no grazie.”  If you waver in your response, the vendor will pursue you for the sale.

94. Ask locals for advice.  They’ll be happy to share their favorite restaurant or aperitivo spot.  Italians are kind and generous and want you to love their country as much as they do.

95. As tempting as they may be on a hot summer day, Italian fountains are not made for swimming.  Resist, or you’ll walk away with a fine.

96. Avoid stereotyping Italy into north versus south – you will find all types of people and attitudes throughout over the country. There are 21 very distinct regions.  Even towns next to each other can be very different! 

Alcohol in Italy

97. The drinking age is low in Italy – you must be 18 years old to be served alcohol in a bar or restaurant.  This doesn’t mean you’ll find young drunkards everywhere.  In general, young Italians are responsible drinkers.  They don’t have to wait and then binge. 

98. The legal alcohol limit for driving in Italy is .05.  Note that this is much lower than in the United States (.08).  There are occasional traffic checks.  Be smart and have a designated driver, walk to dinner if possible, or drink your Italian wine back at your hotel.

99. Toasting in Italy has a few rules:  1.  We say ‘cin cin’ (cheers) or ‘salute’ (to your health).  2.  You may simply raise your glass into the air, or clink glasses with others.  If two people at the table decide to clink glasses, everyone must.  3.  When clinking glasses, you should look the other person in the eye.

Toilets in Italy

100. Public toilets in cities usually have a fee (€0.50 to 1.00).  They may be attended.  If the posted signs say the toilet is free, you do not need to pay, even if someone is standing at the entrance asking for a ‘fee.’ Many public toilets in Italy don’t have toilet seats or toilet paper (I carry a little pack of tissues with me).

101. Legally, a bar or restaurant must have a toilet for paying customers (even if the purchase is only a coffee or pack of gum).  It is against the law for them to charge a fee just to use the toilet.  If you do not want to make a purchase, the bar or restaurant is within its rights to turn you away.  You may need to ask for a key or code to access the toilet. 

102. Embrace the bidet!  It’s a nice way to keep things clean ‘down there.’  You can sit on it facing towards or away from the wall.  Adjust the temperature of the water to your liking, use soap, and wash away!

Read more about Italian Bidets – How to Use Them + Helpful Tips!

103. You can flush toilet paper throughout Italy.

Children in Italy

104. If you’re traveling with your family, look for family lines at museums, airports, train stations, etc.  If they aren’t marked, ask!  Italians love kids!

Read more about
Visiting Italy With a Baby or Toddler
Best Places to Visit in Italy with Kids
Flying to Italy with a 3-Year-Old – Tips & Advice

105. Bring a stroller if you’re traveling with a baby or toddler. You’ll be doing a ton of walking – using a baby carrier for the entire trip will be tough.

Check out
Packing List for Italy With a Baby or Toddler + Printable Checklist
Italy Packing List for Kids

106. Bring a carrier (in addition to a stroller) if you’re traveling with a baby.  There will be times and places for both.

107. Are you a breastfeeding mama?  If so, don’t feel like you need to hide away in a bathroom.  Italians are used to breastfeeding moms and are very respectful. 

108. Changing tables for babies are not common in Italy.  Some restaurants have them, but it’s not a given.  Bring a portable changing mat and be creative with diaper-changing locations. 

109. You can order off the menu for your children.  Restaurants are happy to make pasta ‘in bianca,’ or pasta without sauce for the little ones.  You can also order a mezza porzione, a half portion.

110. Bring something for kids to do at restaurants (coloring pages, card games, word searches, etc).  Meals can take a while, so you’ll be glad you have entertainment for them. 

111. Italians and their kids eat dinner later (from 8pm onwards).  Young Italian children are often out until late at night and may not go to bed until 11 or 11:30pm in the summer.

112. Have a travel journal for kids to fill out during the trip.  It will keep them busy, help them learn about what they’re seeing and experiencing, and it will be a fun souvenir of their time in Italy. Little kids can color our Printable Italy Map for Kids.

113. When visiting museums, stop at the information desk and check to see if there is a special kids tour or museum pack.  This can make the difference between dragging your child around a museum and having him or her fully immersed in the experience. And, choose museums that are fun or interesting for kids!

114. Pools in Italy are rarely fenced.  It is not required by law, so make sure you check with your accommodation if a pool fence is important to you. 

115. Before booking accommodation online, contact the property to see if they have discounts available for children.  Many booking sites will charge a rate for a child that the hotel will waive or discount.

116. The best Italian playgrounds are in the Dolomites.

Check out some of our guides to Italian destinations with kids:
Alberobello with Kids
Alpe di Siusi with Kids
Bergamo with Kids
Bologna with Kids
Bolzano with Kids
Burano with Kids
Cefalù with Kids
Dolomites with Kids
Emilia-Romagna with Kids
Fiè allo Sciliar with Kids
Florence with a Baby or Toddler
Florence with Kids
Florence with Teens
Gardaland and LEGOLAND Water Park
Lake Garda with Kids
Lake Molveno with Kids
Le Marche with Kids
Locorotondo with Kids
Lucca with Kids

Matera with Kids
Milan with Kids
Modica with Kids
Monopoli with Kids
Montalcino with Kids

Monterosso al Mare with Kids
Ortisei with Kids
Orvieto with Kids

Ostuni with Kids
Palermo with Kids
Polignano a Mare with Kids
Pompeii with Kids
Puglia with Kids
San Cassiano with Kids
Seceda with Kids
Siena with Kids
Sirmione (Lake Garda) with Kids

Taormina with Kids
Venice with Kids

Vernazza with Kids

What to Wear in Italy

117. Italians love to ‘fare la bella figura,’ to present themselves well.  You won’t see Italians dressing in sportswear unless they’re heading to the gym.  Likewise, to an Italian, flip flops are for the beach or pool.  Italians appreciate dressing nicely and making an effort with their appearance. 

118. Bring your sneakers to Italy. It’s a myth that Italians don’t wear sneakers – sneakers are a staple in every Italian’s wardrobe.

119. Don’t stress about trying to dress just like Italians do.  As hard as you try, most Italians can tell you’re a tourist, and that’s fine!  They appreciate individual style.  So, wear what you like to wear, what you’re comfortable in, and don’t worry about whether you look like you’re Italian.

120. Don’t carry a dress jacket around Italy if you’ll only use it for one evening. Like upper-level restaurants in other parts of the world, fine dining establishments in Italy often have a dress code.  If you arrive at one without the appropriate attire (a jacket, for example), they will have extras to loan to you.  If you’re worried, call or email the restaurant in advance.

121. Dress appropriately in churches.  Yes, you may see a woman sneak in wearing a tank top and short shorts – that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate or respectful.  Plan and dress appropriately or use a scarf or shawl in a pinch.  You may be turned away if you are not suitably dressed.

122. If you’ll be doing your own laundry, bring clothes that can dry quickly.  Dryers are not common in Italy.

123. Save dressy shoes for the evening and wear comfortable shoes during the day.  Your feet with thank you. 

124. And skip high heels if you can – they don’t mix well with Italy’s cobblestone streets.  If you must wear heels, you’ll probably want to organize a taxi to and from your destination.

125. Pack clothing for specific activities.  If you’ll be cycling, make sure you bring your bike shorts.  If you’ll be hiking in the mountains, don’t forget broken-in hiking boots.

You may want to see our
Packing List for Italy
Guide to the Best Shoes for Italy

Shopping in Italy

126. Check out Tabaccherie (tabacco shops), Italy’s all-purpose shops.  Inside you’ll find newspapers, candy, lottery, stamps, and other miscellaneous goods.

127. Farmacie (pharmacies) have more than just medicine and first aid supplies.  They also sell baby supplies and food, gluten-free food, sports nutrition supplements, and more.  You can also buy many medications over the counter in Italy.

Read all about Pharmacies in Italy

128.  Choose a souvenir that suits the receiver’s interests and is a specialty of the area you’re visiting.  Do you need help choosing something to bring home for yourself or friends and family? A few ideas include:

Floor made of colorful Tuscan ceramic tiles
  • Tuscany – olive oil wood cooking spoons, ceramics, olive oil, wine
  • Florence – paper, leather
  • Puglia – olive oil
  • Venice – Venetian glass, Carnevale masks
  • Piedmont – wine
  • Capri – leather sandals
  • Dolomites – hiking gear

If you’re already home, check out our Gifts for Italy Lovers

129. If you decide to bring food home, make sure it’s allowed by your home country.  There is nothing worse than worrying about the customs agent taking away your precious cheese from your visit to Pienza.

130. Most stores close on Sundays and on holidays.  Some stores have another giorno di riposo (rest day), with Monday being the most common.  Hairdressers are usually closed on Mondays. 

131. Boutique shop assistants prefer you don’t touch and unfold all the clothing.  If you’d like to see a size of something, ask and they’ll get it for you.  In larger chains (Zara, H&M), feel free to sort through the clothing.

132. Saldi, Italian sales, take place in January and July.  These are the best times for discounts on clothing and other goods but don’t expect extreme discounts.  We also have Black Friday sales now, but the discounts are not as good as they are in the US for Black Friday.

Italian Grocery Stores & Food Shopping

Check out our post on Italian Grocery Stores – A Visitor’s Guide + Helpful Tips!

133. Shop at grocery stores to save on staples and non-perishables.

The largest (by the number of stores) grocery store chains in Italy are:

Conad, Crai, Coop, Carrefour, Despar, Sigma, Eurospin, MD, Lidl, Tuodi, Penny Market, iN’s Mercato, Esselunga, Familia, DiPiù, Aldi, Margherita, Sisa, A&O

134. In the grocery store produce section, use the provided plastic gloves to select your fruit and vegetables.  Then, bag them, weigh them and take the sticker from the machine and place it on the bag.  At small fruit and vegetable shops, the owner will usually select the fruit for you, or you can point to the items you’d like, and they’ll pick them up, weigh them, and bag them for you.

135. Bag your own groceries at the supermarket.  Put your food on the conveyor belt, bag, and pay when the cashier finishes. 

136. If you don’t bring your own bag to the grocery store, you must pay for bags (plastic, paper, or reusable). The fee is usually around €.05 per thin plastic bag and €1.00-2.00 for a multiple-use bag. More and more stores are eliminating the single-use bags.

137. Grocery stores are closed on Sundays and Italian holidays.  In cities and larger towns, they are often open for all or part of the day on Sunday.

138. Get the freshest, highest-quality food by going to individual specialty shops – the panificio (bakery), fruttivendolo (fruit shop), macelleria (butcher shop), etc.

Woman holding Italian apricots in hand
Fresh summer apricots in Tuscany

Italian Food & Dining in Italy

139. Typical Mealtimes in Italy are:

Breakfast (7:00-9:00)
Lunch (12:30-15:00)
Aperitivo (18:00-20:00)
Dinner (20:00-22:00)

140. Breakfast in Italy is typically coffee and a pastry or bread.  Lunch is usually a large meal, but not in big cities.  Dinner includes an antipasto (appetizer), primo (first course), secondo (second course), contorno (vegetable), dolce (dessert), caffe (coffee). 

141. Have a memorable picnic lunch with food and wine purchased from a local market. 

142. Children usually have a merenda (snack) around 16:00 in order to make it to the late dinnertime.  You can buy a small sandwich from a bakery or pack your own snacks.

143. Restaurants aren’t open all day, so plan ahead.  They typically open for lunch, close in the afternoon, and reopen for dinner.  But, in larger cities you’ll find a small selection of restaurants open all day.

144. Have dinner at aperitivo Aperitivo (pre-dinner drink and snack) includes small snacks.  Sometimes you’ll find apericena, which is aperitivo with more food, often a small buffet.  Buy a drink and fill up your plate with delicious food!

Kids' hands reach for snacks like potato chips, taralli, and olives on a table at aperitivo in Italy. There are also drinks on the table.
Having aperitivo with my family in Capalbio

145. Give in to eating dinner late.  Restaurants often won’t open before 19:30, and if you go at that time, you won’t find a crowd.  The further south you go, the later dinner is.

146. Take your time at dinner.  Your waiter isn’t expecting to have multiple seatings for your table. 

146. Restaurants usually charge a coperto, or cover charge.  This is a charge to sit down and usually includes bread.  Increasingly common is a servizio, or service charge (an included tip) on large tables or in areas with many tourists. 

147. When ordering, it’s not rude to skip a course!  Sometimes you may be fine ordering an appetizer and wine!

148. You can ask your waiter to bring your food as it’s ready or together. Otherwise, your waiter will bring the food by course and wait for all diners to finish the course before bringing the next one.

149. Salads are served after the second course unless you ask for them to be served sooner.

150. Insalata verde is exactly what it translates to: green salad / lettuce.  If you want more than greens, order a different salad.

151. Dipping your bread into a plate of oil and vinegar is an American import.  You also won’t see an Italian using their bread to wipe sauce from his plate in a restaurant.  This action, to fare la scarpetta (literally ‘make a little shoe’) is only done at home. 

152. Don’t put parmigiano on your main dish (secondo).  If you do, be ready for side-eye from the waiter or Italian diners. 

153. Some well-known foods in your home country don’t exist in Italy – fettuccine alfredo, garlic bread, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken alfredo, to name a few.

Other foods have different names.  For example, if you want the spaghetti bolognese you know from home, look for spaghetti al ragù on the menu.

154. Try the house wine, especially if it’s made by the restaurant.  You can order un litro (liter), un mezzolitro (1/2 liter), un quarto (1/4 liter), or un bicchiere (a glass). Salute!

155. Italy doesn’t have the same automatic restaurant tipping culture like in the United States. But, tips for exceptional service are always appreciated.  A few € is fine.  If the servizio (see above) is already included, you do not need to give an additional tip. 

156. Be wary of gelato that’s too colorful or piled too high.  Colorful gelato signifies artificial ingredients.  Pistachio gelato should be a dull greyish-green color, not bright green.  Banana gelato should be an off-white color, not bright yellow.  Gelato piled high in containers means it contains chemicals to keep it that way – quality gelato without chemicals would melt.  Because of this, the best gelato is often kept in metal containers with lids. Stop in at one of the Best Gelaterie in Florence or Best Gelaterie in Rome!

157. If not for food intolerance or allergy, think twice about asking to change ingredients in a dish.  Cooking here is an art and the chef has created dishes as he/she believes they are meant to be eaten.    

158. Try the food specialties of the area you’re visiting.  Some dishes to try:

  • Cinque Terre and Liguriapesto, foccaccia
  • Florence – Bistecca Fiorentina, panino con lampredotto
  • TuscanyPanzanella, ribollita
  • Southern Tuscany – pici pasta, pecorino cheese
  • Milan – risotto
  • Sicily – cannoli, granite, arancini
  • Dolomites – canederli
  • Naples – pizza
  • Amalfi Coast – lemon gelato
  • Sardinia – maloredus, porceddu
  • Rome – cacio e pepe pasta
  • Puglia – seafood, mozzarella
  • Piedmont – tajarin

Make your own panzanella or gluten-free panzanella at home!

159. If you see a restaurant with a photo menu on display at its front door – run away. It’s a tourist trap!

160. Respect the Italian dining culture and keep your voice down. Restaurants in Italy are not loud. 

161. If a restaurant is a destination, book in advance!  Some well-known restaurants open their reservations six months in advance.

Drinking Wine in Italy

Marble surface with white plate of small pieces of bread with toppings like cheese and sundried tomatoes. Small glass of red wine to left of plate.
Having a glass of wine with cicchetti in Venice

162. Drink wine like an Italian: Italians drink wine with meals or as a pre-dinner drink.  You won’t find Italians belligerently drunk on the streets. 

163. To order wine:

VorreiI would like…
un bicchiere di…a glass of…
una bottiglia di…a bottle of…
vino rossored wine
vino biancowhite wine

164. Wine is made throughout the country.  Try a few of the well-known wines from Italy:

  • Chianti Classico
  • Brunello
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
  • Barolo
  • Amarone
  • Prosecco
  • Nero d’Avola
  • Cannonau
  • Primitivo
  • Friulano
  • Lagrein

Coffee in Italy

Italians will tell you that coffee is just as important as wine!  Italians begin their day with a coffee at breakfast and finish the evening with an espresso after dinner. 

165. Coffee types to try:

macchiatoespresso ‘stained’ with milk
caffè americanoAmerican style coffee
cappuccinoespresso with milk and foam
caffè lattehot milk with a little bit of espresso and foam
shakeratoespresso poured over ice and shaken
caffè correttoespresso with a little bit of liquor
caffè d’orzobarley coffee – caffeine-free

166. If you order a ‘latte,’ you’ll get a glass of milk.

167. Know the system for ordering a coffee at a bar:

Coffee at a bar is typically drunk at the counter.   You can also ask for a to-go cup.

Pay for your coffee at the register, then show your receipt to the barista.

If you’d like to sit at a table, you will have to pay extra for service.

Woman drinking coffee at an outdoor table at Gilli Cafe in Florence, Italy
On a coffee date with a friend in Florence

168. An Italian will drink a cappuccino in the morning.  He won’t drink coffee with milk in it after the morning because he believes it interferes with digestion.  You can order one in the evening but know that it’s not a culturally ‘correct’ thing to do.

169. Coffee is also served at the end of dinner.  You can also ask for decaf (Hag or orzo).

Drinking Water in Italy

170. Bottled water is served at restaurants.  You can choose between acqua gassata / frizzante (bubbly water) or acqua naturale / liscia (still water). 

171. Every Italian city and village has water fountains.  Drink directly from them or fill your own water bottle.  If the water is not safe to drink, it will be marked ‘non-potabile.’

Exploring in Italy

Boy holding railing as he walks uphill on stone path in Matera, Italy.
My son, out exploring Matera

172. If you can, set your alarm and get up and out early!   You’ll get fresh morning air and see markets setting up and daily life getting started.

173. If possible, avoid arriving in smaller towns on Sundays.  Stores and restaurants may be closed.  If you must arrive on Sunday, make sure you have food and supplies to last until Monday morning.

174. Don’t be afraid to get lost, especially in places like Venice Put the map away and just go!  You’ll likely stumble upon a hidden gem.

175. Try to visit lesser-known towns and destinations.  True, destinations like Florence, Rome, and the Cinque Terre are popular for a reason.  But there are smaller villages and lesser-known regions that are jewels, like:
Fiè allo Sciliar

176. Try to visit main destinations during the off-peak times.  For example, San Gimignano (with its 17 medieval towers) is the most magical in the evening after the tourist buses have departed.

177. Be flexible with timing and leave some space at the end of your trip for revisiting your favorite cities or tourist attractions.

178. Not all beaches are free. Some are, but if you want a guaranteed clean space with amenities (umbrellas, lounge chairs, individual changing cabins, restaurants, toilets, showers, swimming pools, and more), be prepared to fork over some euros.  Some daily beach chair/umbrella rentals can cost as much as a night at a luxury hotel at Italy’s most chic beaches!

179. Look into purchasing a city pass.  Some examples: Florence’s Firenze Card (not currently active for many sites), Rome’s Roma Pass, Venice’s Venezia Unica, and Milan’s Milano Card. Read through the details to see if they’ll save you time and/or money.

180. Double-check opening times for attractions.  Website info may not be up to date, so call whenever possible. 

181. Italy is not wheelchair-friendly.  Check with hotels to see if they can be easily accessed and have accessible rooms. 

Museums & Attractions in Italy

Wandering through the Vatican Museums with my son

182. Purchase reservations (skip the line) for popular attractions to avoid waiting in long lines just to buy tickets and enter the museum.  Highly recommended for:

  • Milan – Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, Duomo including rooftop
  • Venice – Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica
  • Rome – Colosseum, the Vatican Museums
  • Florence – Accademia (to see Michelangelo’s David statue), Uffizi Gallery

183. Only use official websites when reserving tickets for museums and attractions.  If you have any problems, it’s easiest to deal directly with them. If the official sites are sold out of tickets, you can try looking for tickets on sites like GetYourGuide or Viator (buy you’ll pay a premium).

184. Most main museums and attractions do not allow large backpacks or large beverages.  Play it safe and head to these locations with only a small backpack or handbag and a 500ml bottle of water.

185. Guidebooks and audio guides are helpful, but a guided tour can really bring a museum or attraction to life.   A guided tour will also help maximize your time in large museums like the Vatican Museums or the Uffizi Gallery.

Crime in Italy

186. Look out for pickpockets.  They often hang out around train stations or on crowded public transport.  They also work inside stores (H&M is a popular haunt in Florence). 

187. Be wary of overly helpful strangers.  For example, someone trying to help you buy a train ticket from the automatic machines.

188. Don’t put valuables in your luggage or avoid traveling with large suitcases that you can’t keep with you. Sometimes you will be separated from your luggage on trains – you will need to store your larger suitcases at the ends of the carriages. 

Safety in Italy

189. Don’t rely on crosswalks.  Most Italians will not stop for a pedestrian.  Not even a pregnant woman, pushing a child in a stroller and holding hands with her elderly father.  Don’t take a chance – wait until the road is clear or walk further to a crossing with a traffic signal.

190. Use common sense!  If you wouldn’t walk home alone at night, don’t do it in Italy.  If you wouldn’t set your purse down at the park at home, don’t do it in Italy.  If you wouldn’t hike on an erupting volcano at home, don’t do it in Italy.

Health in Italy

191. Know the Italian emergency numbers:  112 for general emergencies throughout Europe (emergenza generale), 113 for the police (polizia), 115 for the fire department (pompieri), 118 for health emergencies (emergenza sanitaria). You can just remember 112 – and the operator will direct you to the appropriate emergency department.

192. Rest during the day if you need to!  It’s better to nap in your hotel for an hour than to push through at the Roman Forum and be exhausted and grumpy the next day!

193. Pharmacies are not open 24 hours.  Most are open in the morning until lunch and again in the afternoon until the evening.  Pharmacies are usually closed on Sundays.  If you urgently need a pharmacy, look on the door (or Google) and find the farmacia di turno (on-duty pharmacy) near you. Read more about Pharmacies in Italy!

194. Bring your own small first aid kit with you and include any medicines that are important to you.  You can solve any medical issue here, but medicine names are different and not everything is the same.  For example, kids’ pain relievers aren’t sweetened to taste like grape or cherry. 

195. Always carry a small pack of tissues with you.  Public restrooms may not be well-supplied, and you’ll be glad you came prepared!

196. Have your food allergies translated into Italian and carry a small card with you to show at restaurants.

Some of the common allergens:

frutta a gusciovarious nuts

197. Gluten-free products are available in most grocery stores and in many pharmacies.  You’ll see gluten everywhere (pizza! pasta! pane!), but Italy is very celiac friendly.  There are gluten-free restaurants (multiple if you’re in a major city) and plenty of dishes that don’t contain gluten.

198. Lactose intolerant?  You can order pizzas without cheese.  Instead of gelato, try a granita or sorbetto.

199. If you’re allergic to seafood, always tell your waiter.  Seafood is often hidden inside dishes (for example, anchovy paste in pasta puttanesca).

200. If you’re vegetarian, Italy is heavenly.  There are plenty of vegetarian dishes and you’ll be in heaven at the fruit and vegetable markets.  Occasionally you will find a waiter who thinks that vegetarians only avoid beef. 

201. Bring sunscreen, a hat, or an umbrella.  Summertime in Italy is hot (especially in Southern Italy!).  There is no shade in many places in Italy (the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius).

202. My final travel tip – immerse yourself in Italian culture and daily life every chance you get!  

These Italy travel tips should help you make the most of your Italy trip!  Buon viaggio!

Traveling to Italy FAQ

Which is the most expensive city in Italy to visit as a tourist?

Venice is the most expensive city, based on its hefty hotel prices. But, it’s worth an overnight stay, even one night!

Are there websites available for booking trains in Italy?

The main train companies are Trenitalia ( and Italo ( Both have English-language sites available and you can book train tickets easily through them.

What is the coldest month in Italy?

January is the coldest month, with most places in Italy averaging under 10 degrees Celsius for daytime highs.

Can I use my credit card in Italy?

Yes, you can use your credit card throughout Italy. You will want to have some cash on you for small transactions like at cafes and outdoor markets.

Is San Marino part of Italy?

No, San Marino isn’t part of Italy. It’s a separate country that’s completely surrounded by Italy.

Do Italians wear jeans?

Yes, Italians love jeans and you’ll find Italians throughout the country wearing them.

What is the cheapest month to go to Italy?

The cheapest month to go to Italy depends on which region you’ll be visiting. If you travel during the region’s off season, you will save a lot. For example, January in the Dolomites is high season (it’s the season for skiing and winter sports) and very expensive. January in Florence is low season and affordable.

What month does Italy shut down?

Italy never officially ‘shuts down,’ but it feels like it does in some places in August. Most Italians have their annual holiday in August and they flock to beaches and mountains, leaving cities feeling somewhat deserted.

Can I ski and snowboard in Italy?

Yes, there are many areas for skiing and snowboarding in Italy. The most well-known are Alta Badia, Arabba, Bardonecchia, Bormio, Cervinia, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Courmayeur, Livigno, Madonna di Campiglio, Monterosa, Passo Tonale, Plan de Corones, Sestriere, and Val Gardena.

What is considered rude in Italy?

Many things that are considered rude in your home country are rude in Italy (burping loudly, speaking loudly at dinner, public drunkenness, etc). Some other things to keep in mind: Italians present themselves well, they appreciate small talk at the beginning of business transactions, and they top up others’ glasses at meals.

What is a convenient country to visit from Italy?

Italy borders many countries, and all can be visited easily by car: Austria, France, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Italy surrounds San Marino and Vatican City. Greece and Croatia are also conveniently reached by ferry (or quick flights)

Are Gucci and other Italian brands cheaper in Italy?

It depends. If you make a purchase of 154.95€ or more in one store, you can claim the 22% VAT (value-added tax) refund if you bring the item out of Italy within 3 months.  Depending on the current exchange rate, you could save quite a bit.

Should I book tours online or buy them once I’m in Italy at a travel agency?

Purchase large tours (week-long cycling tour), popular tours (Last Supper in Milan), or any that are very important to you (a cooking class that you really want to do) in advance.  Other tours can be booked while you’re in the country.

How many days in Italy is enough?

Aaaah, that’s a great question! No matter how many days you visit, you’ll wish you had more time in Italy! If you can, try to visit for at least 10 days.

Can I drink tap water in Italy?

Yes, you can drink the tap water in Italy, including drinking fountains you see in cities in towns.  If you can’t drink it, it will be marked as non potabile (not potable).

Can I travel to Italy if I don’t speak Italian?

Yes, you can, because most Italians in a tourist setting speak enough English to communicate with you, and many are fluent in English.  Any effort to speak Italian is appreciated by locals.

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