Tips for Italy Travel

Italy is a boot-shaped peninsula kicking out from the south of Europe and extending into the Mediterranean Sea. The sea on the east is called the Adriatic, and that on the west is the Tyrrhenian. Italians are friendly and used to tourists and visitors, after all people have been coming in and out since the Roman Empire! When traveling to Italy it’s important to remember that you are not at home, so always be respectful. It’s appreciated if you try to learn a few words of Italian and take pains to pronounce it correctly: pay attention to what people are saying around you. This can help you make friends and get the most out of your Italian vacation.

There are several things to keep in mind while you are planning your trip to Italy. What follows is a list of tips that we hope will be helpful to you before you go and while you are there.

High Season-Low Season

In Italy the tourist season is divided into high and low. High being summer and low being winter with a few spikes in between. Italians travel in August so be especially aware that if you’re planning on coming to Italy during this month that many shops and restaurants are closed in the big cities while the beach towns are packed and reservations are more than necessary. The high spikes in winter’s low season are Christmas and Easter. These are both busy times of the year and reservations should be made ahead of time if you’re planning on traveling then.

Weather and Clothes

In general the weather is hot in the summer then tapers off to wonderful temperatures through the spring and autumn. If you’re traveling in the summer we recommend that you wear light clothing. Remember to bring along your sunglasses, hat and sunblock, as they are essential. Though it’s easy enough to pick up these things from street vendors once arrived. Of course you won’t want to miss out on the wonderful Italian shopping, so don’t pack too much!

Rain is common from November through April, so you may want to consider bringing an umbrella if you’re traveling during that time. In northern Italy the weather is cooler all year round with the mountains seeing snow and being popular skiing resorts. But as you travel south you’ll find milder temperatures in the winter and hotter—if that’s even possible!—in the summer.

When you visit churches, especially in Rome at St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museums and in Venice at the Basilica di San Marco, it’s essential to follow the dress standards or you won’t be let in. No bare shoulders or knees! While this is strictly enforced in many of the big churches, many of the smaller ones now offer covering at the doors. The Bengali scarf sellers are never far off, so it’s best to arm yourself with a scarf or two before entering because if you wait all that time in line it’s very frustrating not to be allowed in.

Safety

Remember to protect yourself against pickpockets and purse-snatchers, who unfortunately still happen to operate in busy train stations in big cities and tightly packed places like buses and metros. You can wear a concealed money belt or pouch around your neck, but above all be smart about what you’re carrying and where. Hold your purse and camera close to you. The people who pickpocket are quick and know lots of tricks. In general, the farther south you travel the more of a risk there is.

But that being said, Italy is a very safe place. Major crime is rare, and people often look out for each other.

Telephones and Internet

Since hotels tend to overcharge for long distance and international calls, it’s best to make such calls from public phones, using telephone cards that can be purchased from the newspaper kiosks. For general information in English dial 176. To place international telephone calls via operator assisted service, dial 170 or long distance access numbers. If you’re going to be in Italy for awhile you can buy an Italian SIM card to slip into your mobile phone. You can do this at any mobile phone dealer, and you must present a passport.

Many hotels have wifi that require a password available at the front desk. At some places it’s free and at others it’s not. There are certainly not as many places that offer free wifi as there are in the States, but you can find some internet cafes around the train station in most towns where you pay per half hour.

Transportation

Please see several of Tour Italy Now’s pages created to help you get around Italy with ease. Of course you can rent a car to get around independently, though Italy is a crazy place to drive and you must learn the rules of the roads that aren’t always printed in manuals. Remember, the farther south you go the more of a free-for-all the roads become.

Please follow the links below for more information: If you’re traveling around Italy by air, by train, or by boat.

If you are in need of additional information or have found what you are looking for. We suggest that you check out our Italy Travel Guide where there is lots of links and information to go around.

Have a safe and enjoyable trip to Italy!