We first highlighted our Insider Italy Vacation Checklist in a blog post last month, when we focused on the first three steps of planning an Italy trip: design and book your trip, make sure you’ve got your passport in order, either getting your first one or making sure your current one doesn’t expire before 90 days after your return trip and, last but not least, purchasing travel insurance.
Now that those details are out of the way, it’s time to have fun with our next tips, Jumpstarting Your Italian Experience.
To jumpstart your Italian experience, we suggest reading a few guidebooks. Italy is such a popular destination, many public libraries have large travel-book sections. You can also head to the bookstore, poke around the travel book sections and purchase what strikes your fancy. This way, you can get a sense of what you want to do on your trip, planning within your itinerary as it were, and purchase advance tickets for museums and other attractions as well as select a day excursion or two (we’ll elaborate on that in an upcoming blog post).
Here’s something I learned from years of planning Italy trips, for myself and my wife Priscila and for our clients: Start keeping a list of places you absolutely must see! And, as our guest blogger Melissa Muldoon suggested in her two wonderful posts, study Italian. (Though we remind you that you do not have to speak Italian if you take one of our tours!)
We also suggest watching a few Italian movies, something relatively recent like “Cinema Paradiso” or “Life Is Beautiful.” There are also tons of Italian movie classics, such as Fellini’s evocative, dreamy “Amarcord” or the atmospheric and haunting “Bicycle Thief.”
Another fun way to jumpstart your Italy experience is to get to the most authentic Italian restaurant in town. If the menu is in English and Italian, ask the manager if you can have a copy so you can familiarize yourself with Italian dishes. Also, you can learn lots by watching a few cooking shows. (Ciao, Italia, anyone?) They often have clips of Italy, shopping at the market or cooking with an Italy chef.
If you’re social, you should definitely get into the Italy Twitter-Facebook scene. Start following the English versions of an Italian newspaper, or, if you like Italian soccer, check out a website like Goal.com/Italy. Of course we’d love it if you got social with Tour Italy Now’s dynamic online community. You can subscribe to the blog, participate in Facebook discussions, follow us on Twitter. Not only will this jumpstart your trip, it will open up a whole new world of Italofiles. We’ve found our Facebook fans to be very generous with sharing travel tips that are perfect for planning an Italy trip.
Please, tell us your stories! How did you plan for your Italy trip? What would you have done differently? What would you be sure to do next time?