Travelling to a place for the first time can be difficult in that you don’t know what to expect. It’s easy for others to take advantage of your naivety, meaning you could be forking out for taxis when you could have walked or there was public transport for half the price. Therefore, for my last Italy post, I thought I would include 10 tips I have for people travelling to Italy.
1. Most sights are within walking distance, especially in Rome and Venice. I would recommend having a look at how long it takes to walk before forking out for taxis or gondolas because you might be surprised. Even if the walk is slightly longer, you probably won’t notice because you were too busy taking in the sights. The only exception might be the Vatican City in Rome because from where we were staying, it was a 50 minute walk, which was a lot on top of walking around the Museums themselves, so we paid 1.70 euros for a one-way metro ticket, which is still fairly cheap.
2. There is so much to see and do, especially in Rome. Make sure to make a list of what you must see and what you don’t mind not seeing. You might find my two previous posts about my days in Rome, Florence and Venice useful for this. Make sure to group the attractions together depending on distance from one another to avoid large amounts of unnecessary walking.
3. Carry a water bottle! It is so hot in Italy, especially in the summer, reaching 30 degrees onwards, so you will get thirsty more frequently, unless you have come from a hot country. I would recommend carrying a 500ml – 1 litre water bottle.
4. Public water fountains will save your life. These are a thing and they are pretty common, especially in Rome. Carry a water bottle with you and fill it up at every opportunity you can. Your body will thank you later. Make sure to take note of your nearest water fountain too to save yourself buying water from the supermarket.
5. Get up early, go to bed late and rest at midday. The sun is at its peak about midday so rest or have lunch or a snack in a restaurant or café at that time, especially if you are sensitive to the heat. It is easier to do more when it is cooler which is earlier in the morning and later in the evening.
6. Tours and Museums are expensive! A one-off may not seem that bad, but if you add them up over time, it can be quite costly. I would recommend doing your research into the museums beforehand, especially looking at third-party websites that offer deals on tickets, and establishing whether you actually want to go inside. Another tip would be to opt for an audio guide rather than a guided tour as they are often half the price.
7. Some Museums and Churches have a dress code. Especially in the summer, a lot of people walk around in tank tops and shorts, but these often aren’t appropriate for some museums and churches. The general rule is that shoulders and knees must be covered but I did find that they were a bit more relaxed about the knee rule. My tip would be to invest in a lightweight scarf to wrap around your shoulders but can be easily stored in a backpack during the day.
8. Hawkers, or street merchants, are everywhere and they will harass you. It is best to firmly decline, although some did continue to follow us regardless, convinced they could change our minds. I found the best tactic was to just ignore them, looking straight ahead and continue walking as if I had someplace to be, which I often did. I did read somewhere that buying from them is illegal, but I did see quite a few tourists buying from them, as they do sell umbrellas and water bottles which come in handy in the hot weather.
9. Some sights are closed on a Monday so make sure to look in advance which sights are open and which are closed so you don’t turn up and find it is closed! Similarly to this, some sights offer discounts on the first or last Sundays of the month so make sure to look out for these too.
10. There is a sit-in charge on food and drink. If you wish to sit and eat or drink, either be prepared to pay a higher price or find somewhere nearby to sit down. There are always stairs or walls to sit on where you can easily eat your lunch, just not in St Mark’s Square!
Hope you found these tips useful. Comment below any that I might have missed out.