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5 Common Mistakes Travelers Make in Italy

Italy Liguria Genoa Alleys | Tour Italy Now

Tourists in Italy

Visiting Italy is an experience that you don’t want to mess up with mistakes. There are however a lot of misconceptions that tend to bring about these mistakes and while some of these can be rather inconsequential, there are some that can actually make your trip to Italy less than stellar. How do you avoid the pratfalls that can otherwise make the perfect tour of Italy into a bit of a dud? Here are five of them that you can easily avoid:

1. Ordering a Frappuccino

Just because it has “ccino” at the end of it, this does not automatically make the drink Italian. This beverage is actually a trademarked drink from Starbucks, and hence, it cannot be found in traditional Italian coffee shops. Save yourself the embarrassment of ordering this frothy cold concoction that is actually very American by erasing it from your vocabulary (for the time you are in Italy anyway) and instead, get used to ordering old school cappuccino instead.

The best time to have one of these traditional Italian coffees is in the morning and with a cornetto (not a croissant!), as it’s considered a breakfast drink. You can also opt for something stronger by ordering an espresso after a meal.

2. Thinking of buying tickets at the last minute for tourist attractions and bus rides

If you are thinking of taking the bus in Italy, simply head on down to a newspaper stand or a corner store nearby and you can get one. You can also buy your tickets at the bus company office itself. One thing you should be aware of however is you will need to buy these tickets ahead of time and before you even board the bus.

It is not like the buses in the US where you can pay when you board or you can buy the ticket from the driver (although a few buses have been modernized to have automated ticketing machines on them, but these are not as common as you would like). To avoid the hassle of needing to get off the bus simply because you do not have a ticket (and the bus driver does not sell any), travelers in major cities can simply purchase multi-use tickets, which often come with access to museums or discounts at shops.

The same goes for tourist attractions that people from all over the world line up for to view. When you are planning on seeing the most popular tourist sites in Italy (which is probably one of the reasons why you are there in the first place), it is advised that you purchase tickets for these attractions in advance. You can actually request your tour operator to order these for you ahead of time or you can do this yourself online.This will remove any waste of time involved with lining up for tickets and even ensure that you do get to see the attraction you are there for.

There are some attractions, such as Cinque Terre, that have started to limit the number of tourists that can enter per day to help maintain the area’s pristine condition. Hence, if you expect to buy your ticket on the day itself, you may actually not make it to the visitor cut-off.

Cinque Terre & Tuscany | Tour Italy Now

Cinque Terre – Tuscany

3. Not having enough cash on-hand

While it is advised that you don’t carry all your cash with you when you explore the wonders of Italy, it is also ill-advised for you to totally depend on your credit or debit cards for payments. You need to keep in mind that not all stores in Italy accept credit or debit cards. This is especially true for smaller shops or those located in more rural towns.

To avoid problems with paying for your purchases, make sure you always have enough money with you, especially loose change. You can try asking the restaurant or shop you are at if they accept debit or credit cards (or look for a sign that says they accept such a mode of payment) before you pay using cash. Oh, and remember, paying the exact amount is often appreciated.

4. Ordering a pepperoni pizza

Another American invention that people seem to think is traditional Italian is this pizza topped with slices of this spicy salami. Pepperoni is as American as they come and are not something you find (or even think of ordering) in this country. When you make the mistake of ordering this pizza in Italy, expect to get a pizza topped with peppers. Always order classic Italian pizzas when you are in a pizzeria (check out our guide to ordering pizza), or if you want something meatier, order one with salame (salami) instead.

5. Going on a “standard” tourist trip to Italy

While traditional tourist trails in Italy do take you to some of the most popular spots in the country (the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Panthenon should not be missed), you will actually be missing out on a lot if you don’t customize your trip. If immersing yourself in the culture of the country is part of what you want to experience here, try to plan a trip that includes interacting with locals instead of just your standard sightseeing tour. You can do this by staying in a villa or apartment instead of in a hotel. This will give you the chance to visit local food markets, see how people live their daily lives, and learn more about Italian culture, such as the è così mentality.

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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