I am lucky. I live in a country that many people consider as the most beautiful in the world. Visiting our peninsula is an unforgettable experience for many tourists: even in the smallest town in Italy there are attractions to see: ancient remains, churches, artworks, wonderful squares. Anyway we have our own culture and conventions, so mistakes among tourists are understandable.
If you are planning to visit Italy, this post is for having the best from it!
Not validating your train ticket
This can be confusing for many tourists, but once you buy your train ticket you have to validate it before getting on board. Especially if you travel with a regional train and don’t have an assigned seat, you have to validate it. Just look for a validation machine near the tracks at the train station and push your ticket in the slot until you hear the stamp. Remember to validate the ticket or you’ll be fined when on the train!
Not being appropriately dressed
If you are going to visit churches or cathedrals, especially in Rome and in Vatican City, remember to avoid bare shoulders or shorts or you won’t be able to enter. I suggest you to plan your visits and dress accordingly, and always keep a scarf with you so that you can cover your shoulders. Also avoid high heels as historical centres are frequently paved with sanpietrini (cobblestones): better wear ballet shoes!
When I go abroad I always struggle to understand how you drink coffee and I guess it’s mutual! It’s common thing for us to have a caffè several times a day – a fresh, espresso coffee we usually drink by standing at the bar. This is because it’s quick, and in many cafes you even pay an extra for the table service. Sometimes you pay before the coffee and sometimes after. Ask for latte only if you want a cup of milk and remember you’ll hardly find flavored coffee, except for hazelnut or nutella (if you visit the Piedmont region, ask for a Bicerin and you won’t be disappointed!).
Many streets here are paved with cobblestones so it won’t be easy to carry around a heavy suitcase or trolley. Even when you go around and visit museums or attractions such as churches, remember to carry only a light, small bag or backpack so you won’t be annoying other tourists and locals!
Not travelling with cash
Credit cards are now widely accepted but remember small or family-run businesses, such as shops, bed and breakfast inns or museums may not be accepting them. We always pay with cash in bars and open-air markets but you should consider this especially when travelling in less tourist places.
Eating at tourist restaurants
Food is one of the best thing to try while you are in Italy. Avoid tourist restaurants as they are likely to disappoint you: they may have great views but the atmosphere is often contrived and the bill expensive! Before leaving look for regional dishes so you will discover much more than just pizza and pasta! Vegetarians are welcome here, there are many Italian dishes that don’t contain meat or fish and eating outside is easy even if you’re vegan (particularly in Northern Italy): ask for food with “no carne o pesce“.