Italy

Do you enjoy all things Italian? If you’re considering going to Italy, then read on fellow travelers. To help you avoid any potential misunderstandings, here are 14 things you need to know before you travel to Italy.

The 14 Things You Need To Know Before You Travel to Italy

1. The Coperto Charge 

At the end of your visit to a bar or restaurant, there seems to be an additional charge, don’t assume you’re being scammed. It’s probably a coperto charge. A “coperto” charge is actually a cover charge.  

While it may be listed in English on some bar and restaurant checks, on others it will appear as “coperto.” Veteran visitors state the charge is usually one to five 5 Euros depending on the specific establishment, and in restaurants, it typically covers the cost of bread for the entire table. Additionally, because of the coperto charge, your servers will not expect you to tip them.  

2. Train Travel

Choo-choo-choose to take trains. Trains here run on time. Trenitalia is government-run and Italo is privately owned but they both are easily accessible and are high-speed trains.  

You can travel to almost every region on one of these trains. Tickets do not generally sell out and you can buy them online if you wish. There is a 30 percent discount for groups of two to five passengers and on some Saturdays, you can score a two-for-one deal. Make sure you validate your tickets to avoid potential fines. If you’re traveling for more than two hours splurge on cabin class tickets too.

3. Pay Toilets

Italy

In Italy, you generally have to pay to use public restrooms. Typically, the cost is one to two Euros. Be sure to always have some change on you. Don’t be surprised if the toilet has no seat either. Some sources say they’re removed for hygienic purposes. Others say that while the restrooms are clean, broken toilet seats never get replaced.

4. The Food 

Like any other place on the planet, not all eateries are equal. Do your homework though and every meal will be memorable. Travel writers know the rule of thumb is that the further away you stroll from any well-known landmark the less expensive and mediocre your meal will be. During the summer, Italy’s best restaurants are frequently booked at mealtimes. Make reservations whenever possible and learn where the locals dine.

5. Booking A Hotel 

Italy 

Hotels are sometimes pricey during the peak season, of course, especially if you want to stay in places like the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, or Venice. Your rovin’ writer’s regular readers know though that your best bet is to stay in a neighboring town. It’s quieter, cheaper, and the rooms are bigger.

Visiting Venice? Stay in Padua or Verona. Cinque Terre? Stay in La Spezia or Levanto. Research the public transportation choices and schedules ahead of time. Unsure about your travel dates? Read reviews and use a booking website that permits you to make changes for free.

6. Expressive People 

Veteran visitors say that Italians can be very expressive, passionate people. A loud voice doesn’t necessarily indicate anger. You’ll see a lot of animated hand gestures, too. It’s fine. A lot of people talk with their hands. Italians are reportedly some of the most hospitable people on the planet.  

7. Truly Exploring Italy

There’s much more to Italy than Venice, Rome, Florence, and Milan. Frequent flyers also suggest seeing Sicily, Sardinia, Calabria, Turin, and the Dolomites, for example. Don’t miss charming little towns like Ischia, Orvieto, Procida, and Portovenere either. Experience the different regional traditions, specialties, and cultural differences as you explore new neighborhoods. Ask the locals at your hotel and don’t miss out on anything!

8. Are You Ready To Really Eat!?

It’s a vacation! Diet if you must prior to your trip but be prepared to really enjoy the food and drink! Any foodie can confirm that Italian food is more than pasta and pizza!

Anyone who frequents Italy knows that when it comes to meals, there’s a definite structure–centuries-old–meant to make the meal almost a celebration of food and friendship. Meals are practically choreographed from the opening antipasti (salad or cured meat) to the secondi piatti or main course of fish or meat to the dolce or dessert! Don’t forget to finish your meal with a shot of limoncello!

9. Tourist Scams 

Seasoned travelers can tell you that any major metropolis, any major travel destination, is not free of tourist scams. Some “popular” ploys include donations to fake charities, the baggage porter scam, the pigeon feeding scam, and the rose scam. The setting for said scams is usually a tourist-heavy town square or a major transportation hub such as a bus or train terminal. If you have any doubts, speak to someone official such as a ticket booth attendant, a uniformed employee, or even a police officer.

10. The Incredible Views

Most of Italy’s cities are home to a cathedral, castle, or bell tower. They are all worth the climb too. Furthermore, many of these viewpoints are free. Others may cost you a few Euros.  

While some are modernized and offer paid elevator access, the majority of them are not. So if you want to take in the panoramic views, be sure you are dressed to climb hundreds of stairs. The effort is worth it!  

The rooftop bars such as the Aperol Bar in Milan or Franco’s Bar in Positano offer incredible views too but can be pricey. On the other hand, you can sip a super cocktail while witnessing the wondrous views. For the best seats, be sure to make reservations!

11. Most Cities Are Walkable

Prepare to be a pedestrian. If you haven’t figured it out yet from the previous entry, smart travelers take comfortable shoes to Italy. You will be doing quite a lot of walking there. In the cities, taxis are expensive.  

Additionally, you are honestly often better off on foot here anyway because you can explore every single nook and cranny of Italy’s cities on foot. For example, Florence’s historic center is best seen on foot and you can walk around Verona in a day too. Wear a pedometer and you’ll probably discover you rack up thousands of steps each day. If you need to travel further, remember you can always get on a tram or bus.

12. The Vino

Italians have experience when it comes to making wine. They’ve been making it for more than 4,000 years. When you go out for dinner, you will learn that house wines at most restaurants are relatively inexpensive and quite good as well.

You can enjoy a glass for anywhere between three and six Euros. All you need to do is trust your server. Tell your server what kind of wine you like best.  

Whether it’s a sweet dessert wine, a medium-body red wine, a dry white wine, or something else, your server will recommend something that will suit your personal tastes. Perhaps you would like to see just where their wine is made.

After all, the country does include some of the world’s best wine regions. There’s Piedmont found at the base of the Alps, and the Chianti in popular Tuscany, for example. If you’re a real oenophile, you can even visit wineries all over Italy for wine tastings and vineyard tours too. But best book in advance, especially if you are going to visit during peak season.

13.Avoid The Long Lines!

If you don’t want to spend too much time standing in lines, then always check online! (The internet is more than kitty pics and free porn, right?) Seriously, why stand in line if it’s not necessary?

You can pre-book a Colosseum ticket and even reserve a time to climb up the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa too. In fact, some attractions require travelers to pre-book visits. The Duomo climb is but one example.

Who wants to wait in line in the hot sun or freezing cold rain? You’re on vacation! Take a tip from the Scouts and “be prepared” by reserving your tickets for tourist attractions ahead of time.

14.Magic Words

Italy

No matter what country you visit, it’s always good to learn a few basic terms in the native tongue. Today, with translator apps, there’s no excuse not to either. Besides, both “Buongiorno” (good day) and “Buona sera” (good evening) can go a long way in any boutique, hotel, or eatery in Italy.

The word “ciao” is an informal greeting generally reserved for those you know well. Sure, you might butcher the language but most people will appreciate the effort. Other good phrases to learn are:

“Grazie”, pronounced GRAHT-see-eh, is “thank you.”  Better yet, try “mille grazie” (“a thousand thanks”).

“Permesso” roughly translates to “excuse me.” You can use it when trying to get around or past someone and possibly even when you want someone’s attention.

“Il conto, per favore” means “the bill/check, please.”

These magic words may make your trip a lot more pleasant. Good luck! Have a great trip! Let us know how things go!

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