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Tips For Traveling To Italy

Travel Tips If you have planned an upcoming trip to Italy, or hope to in the future, there are a few things to consider before you make your reservations. I have collected a number of tips for travel in Italy to help you out.

  • Avoid the intense heat and crush of summer tourists if at all possible by going to Italy early spring or later in the fall. Most cities empty out in August when most of the locals flee for their vacations, so if you can't avoid summer travel, try and avoid being there the last two weeks in August.
  • See a doctor and dentist before your trip, and carry both enough prescriptions to last your entire trip, as well as a list of your prescriptions if your medication were lost, or if you became ill.
  • Italy now uses the euro instead of the lira as currency. I found it quite easy to use the local ATM's to withdraw cash from my bank in Canada when I needed to. Carry only enough cash on your person to last a couple of days, and carry it in a small purse or fanny pack against your body. We were warned repeatedly about the increase in pickpockets in the larger cities across Italy.
  • Visa seems to be the most widely accepted credit card. Keep a photocopy of your credit cards and passport in a safe place separate from the originals.
  • Many hotels in Italy now have personal safes in each room. Always use them to store extra cash and jewelry when you are out of your room. Never leave any valuables anywhere in your car!
  • Italy is 220v compared to 125v in North America. You can purchase inexpensive adapters in electrical stores to use in Italy if needed.
  • Many churches and museums require appropriate dress. Shorts, miniskirts and sleeveless tops will often mean you are not allowed in. Carry a long sleeved blouse or light sweater with you to use if needed.
  • Use the train system to get around Italy unless you are very comfortable driving in a crowded foreign country. The trains are fairly reasonable in price, clean and mostly on time.
  • Consider renting a farmhouse in a central location and taking day trips to see Italy. Often this is one way to obtain reasonably priced accomodation.
  • If you are looking for really good Italian cuisine, avoid restaurants that advertise tourist menus. These all inclusive meals are often below standard. Instead, watch where the locals go to eat, and follow them! Lunch is served from noon to 3, and dinner from 8 until about 10:30 or 11, but some restaurants stay open later, especially in summer, when patrons linger at sidewalk tables.
  • When traveling to Venice, take just one small bag with you. The train station has lockers you can use, and you will be happy you don't have to lug heavy suitcases up and down bridges.
  • Although Italians love children and are generally very tolerant and patient with them, they provide few amenities for them. In restaurants and trattorias you may find a high chair or a cushion for the child to sit on, but rarely do they offer a children's menu. Order a mezza porzione (half-portion) of any dish, or ask the waiter for a porzione da bambino (child's portion).
  • Since hotels tend to overcharge for long-distance and international calls, it is best to make such calls from public phones, using telephone cards.
  • English books and magazines are very expensive in Italy. If you expect to need some reading material for your trip, pack a few light paperbacks in your suitcase.

    Deborah Mele 2002/2003