Italy has been at the top of many travelers’ wish lists for many years. The nation is breathtakingly beautiful, boasts top-notch cuisine, and a spoken language that will make you salivate and fall in love at first sight.
There are many things to know before visiting Italy, which we have had the privilege of doing on numerous occasions; listed here are just a few. For additional information, be sure to see our comprehensive Italy travel guide!
Riposo is a very big deal in Italy.
Itay’s midday nap is known as ripposo. There are a lot of stores and eateries that are closed from 1-4 pm.
Italians enjoy taking the afternoon off to go home, have lunch, and unwind with their families before going back to work. This siesta time is well deserved because many businesses in Italy stay open until well beyond 10 p.m.
Plan A Late Meal
Having said that, the majority of restaurants don’t open for dinner until after seven. To prevent any hangry feelings, it’s preferable to schedule your meals if you consume breakfast.
Tipping is accepted but with extra costs‘Coperto’
Unless specifically stated as a “no service charge” Italian restaurant, you may as well get used to paying a fee when you sit down at a restaurant, since many have a cover charge called “coperto.”
Sometimes it’s just a percentage, like 10%, and no, it’s not just for tourists. Foreigners and Italians alike must pay the fee to eat at the table. Typically, at the start of the meal that is covered by the coperto, you will also be given bread, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. This fee is frequently not disclosed in advance.
Avoid assuming that bread is free, like it is in most places in America. Additional tips are not expected beyond this.
New Best Friends for Your Salad
She goes by the name Olive Oil. Only olive oil and possibly some vinegar can be found for your salad.
You won’t find your American favorites in a café, upmarket restaurant, or grocery store, I assure you. Sayonara to ranch dressing and adieu to bikini season!
The cost of a cappuccino is €1.50. Period.
It’s wonderful that cappuccinos and espressos are available everywhere in Italy. Without a minimum of three cups of this foamy delight, your day in Italy would not have been complete. Italy isn’t recognized for being the most affordable place, yet espressos are accessible and reasonably priced.
For a cappuccino, we often pay €1.50, and for an espresso, we pay €1–€1.550. Anything costing more than €1.50 is considered standard tourist fare. When you are in an extremely touristy café, this is acceptable and expected (like the Caffe Florian in Venice).
Additionally, if you order a latte in Italy, you will be given a glass of milk as a complimentary beverage. 🙂
The Wi-Fi Is… Growing
Italy severely lacks readily available Wi-Fi for a developed country. In the majority of the Airbnbs, hostels, and hotels we visit, the Wi-Fi is subpar. We were shocked to learn that more than 30% of Italians have never used the internet.
There Is No Such Thing As The New Cafe Culture
Despite years of opposition from Italy, Starbucks finally built its first location there in Milan in 2018. Europe. Regardless, we discover that there aren’t as many cafés there as we’re accustomed to.
It’s uncommon to find one where you can sit down and use a laptop for a few hours. A straightforward idea that has gained such popularity elsewhere is essentially nonexistent in Italy. This won’t likely be a problem for you if you don’t have any work to complete, but if you’re on a working vacation, you might find it challenging.
The power of “Ciao,” “Grazie,” and “Non-Capito”
Even though Italians are friendly and courteous, I believe that knowing a few basic phrases in their language will help you get along with them. These terms are also simple. Use “Ciao” to say hello and goodbye, “Grazie” to express gratitude anywhere, and “Non-Capisco” (I don’t understand) if a local mistakes you for an Italian. Otherwise, pick up a book in Italian!
Always double-check your bus and train tickets.
Purchasing your tickets at the bus or train station is not sufficient when using public transportation. To demonstrate that you are using the ticket straight away, you must validate it at the small devices nearby.
As a reminder; failing to comply could result in a big fine and a disgruntled inspector, unless you can play the poor tourist card.
Rome Is The End Of The Road
Using Rome as a connecting point is the most effective way to reach numerous Italian cities. Rome’s Termini station serves as a major transportation hub for all of Italy. We found this to be frustrating because we didn’t want to take a long time to leave the city and return. Rome is the likely starting point of many Italian vacations, so we advise spending at least three days there.
For the best pizza, visit Naples.
Naples consistently produces Italy’s best (and least expensive) pizzas. In all honesty, the €3.50 Margarita Pizzas alone are worth the trek to the city. Having that one great pizza in your mouth even once is worth it, even if it does spoil all other pizzas for you in the future.
We never once felt concerned about the safety of our belongings, even though the country has two cities that are among the top 10 pickpocketing locations in the globe. We may have a New York mentality, but we thought Italy was very secure.
There is nothing to worry about if you just exercise common sense and try not to look like a total tourist. This is particularly true if you choose to spend your time away from major cities like Rome, Naples, and Milan and instead visit the Dolomites or locations like Sorrento.
Throw out all of your knowledge of Italian cuisine.
Both cannolis and spaghetti bolognese are only popular in Sicily. Also, pepperoni is never seen. Instead of fettucini alfredo, you will find authentic Italian mainstays like bruschetta al pomodoro, exquisite prosciutto layered on top of pizza, and spaghetti alla carbonara. The cheese, too!
Oh, and let’s not even talk about the cheese in Italy. Nothing at your typical store would ever compare to it because it is so wonderful and fresh.
Make Smart Gelato Selections
There are good gelatos and awful gelatos, even in Italy. Check out a couple of different stores and read your web reviews. You will be aware when you find the greatest. The Gelateria Della Passera in Florence serves unquestionably the best gelato we’ve ever had in Italy.
Italy Is A Large And Diverse Nation (So, Bring your best camera)
Italy varies so greatly from north to south. There are 20 regions in Italy, and each is known for its own distinctive wines, dishes, and customs. It’s amazing how varied and similar a single nation can be.
Although Rome and Florence are beautiful cities, the boot-shaped nation has much more to offer!
To learn more about Italy, read our articles: Top Hotels to stay in Rome, Italy, The local food in Italy, Beautiful towns you must see when traveling to Italy, and Best places you must visit in Italy.
We also answered most frequently asked questions when traveling to Italy for your guide.
Italy is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a dream destination for many travelers. Before embarking on your journey to Italy, it’s essential to be aware of a few key aspects. From the importance of dress codes when visiting religious sites to the etiquette of ordering coffee at a local café, understanding these nuances will help you navigate the Italian way of life with ease.
Additionally, familiarize yourself with transportation options, currency exchange, and basic Italian phrases to enhance your experience. By immersing yourself in the vibrant Italian culture and embracing the warmth of its people, you’ll create memories that will last a lifetime.
So, prepare yourself with these essential tips and get ready to fall in love with all that Italy has to offer. Buon viaggio! (Safe travels!)