Being half Italian and having my own experience travelling, I will speak from my own experience and hope to help anyone travelling to Italy.
I recently traveled to Padova, Milano and Vicenza and found that few people were enjoying the city to its fullest potential. Of course, there is no wrong or right way to experience Italy, it is always going to be great! :) This is the way I usually get around with my family and friends. I will try to help you be true to the saying when in Rome.. There are different attractions you should visit in any city. Depending on where you go, there will be different things to see. Don't forget to keep your eyes wide open and enjoy everything you see! Also always be aware and careful, because where there are tourists there will always be thiefs. Look out for them too! Try to walk as much as you can, and use public transport. This will also give you an authentic experience. Other than that. here are some of my most insider tips for your trip to Italy:
1. Food: Try to find the hidden gems!
This works especially for bigger cities like Rome or Milan. The biggest tourist attractions will usually have a lot of restaurants around them. These are usually quite expensive and will not give what you are looking for. If you are looking for a place run by little Italian families, who don't cook food for big masses and always have fresh food you will have to be willing to go take a look around. Look for places with signs like ''OSTERIA'' or ''TRATTORIA''. Also, when you look at the menus, try to find ones that don't have a huge variety of food. If it's a pizzeria, a few really good pizzas are better than a vast amount of mediocre ones, if it's a place that serves typical food - again, less is more - this means the ingredients are fresh and often homemade (like pasta), and they make it that day. Try to make sure that the place has more Italians than tourists and don't be put off by the fact that it's not the most modern or fancy environment. These places are guaranteed to be on a budget and give you a completely different experience!
|This is the place we went to in Padova, they had really good traditional food at a reasonable price, notice that it's not on a big street.|
2. Shopping: Look for deals!
This goes for any city, but I just wanted to mention this based on my previous experience in Milan. A city that is known for expensive shops and famous brands can offer something else as well. Again, try to choose a different street from the typical ones. This doesn't mean you won't find quality items, on the contrary. Last week I found some really good things for a great price. Things like 100 % wool and well made items. A store had a one day sale for designer clothing that was new on the market. I absolutely jumped to the opportunity and was able to find great things! There are also good second hand stores offering a lot: from original 20s Ray-bans to well preserved designer clothes.
3. Drinks: Order something new!
Don't just stick to the things you know. There are so many alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks that are typical to Italy. You might not like all of them, but it's worth a try. Here are some of the ones that are very popular and I also really like! The Italians call an alcoholic drink after or before a meal an ''aperitivo''.. you can call it whatever you like, but the fact is - it tastes really good! Again, try to find a typical bar to serve it to you.
*Chinotto and Sanpellegrino (nonalcoholic)
|Aperol Spritz is very popular nowadays, you usually get snacks with any drink you order.|
4. Don't forget to order a coffee!
As you probably already know, Italia is all about the coffee. They make it a habit to drink it. It's usually drunk very quickly, in a bar or after a meal at a restaurant. More often than not: without any sugar.. because if the coffee is good, you don't need any sugar. I personally still like to add a bit of sugar to my coffee, but it's a matter of personal preference. If you would like to take some of that spirit home, you can buy one of their coffee makers (Bialetti is really good!) and some coffee (I like Lavazza and Illy) and take them home. That way you can make yourself some Italian coffee every morning!
|If you would like to take some of that spirit home, you can buy one of their coffee makers and make it at home..|
There are always expensive hotels to stay in. If you like that, you can always stay there. But if you want something a bit different, try to do a bit of research online and find a place rented out by families or smaller bed and breakfasts that are cheaper and will definitely offer you something else. Try to plan a few months ahead because places like this usually don't have many rooms available.
6. Attractions: Do your research!
Depending on how you travel and where you are going, you might find some things you would just love to see on the way. If there are other cities on the way, make sure to make a stop there! For example, if you are travelling to Rome by car and are coming from Europe, depending on where you are coming form, there could be cities like Venezia, Firenze or Genova on the way. Make a stop there and experience it! Also, I am sure you will want to experience the main attractions (for those, try to find a less crowded time), but also try to do some research about some of the ongoing exhibitions or other attractions - which might not even be attractions you have to pay or stand in line for - like a beautiful building by a more or less famous architect, or a beautiful garden or park. Mold your trip to what you like and enjoy!
|Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, by Palladio|
Now I am talking about those souvenir shops selling expensive magnets to tourists. You can do so much better! Why don't you try to find a nice magnet at a museum store: you aren't going to save a lot of money here, but at least they aren't those low quality made in china objects. Also, if you want to buy some typical food to bring back home, try a market! If it's where Italians get their food, trust me, it's good! There are also local stores selling freshly made food items, but depending on the city they are going to be easier or harder to find. If you are in Genova and are looking for some fresh focaccia, ask a citizen where you can find the best one!
8. Language: Learn some Italian before you go!
You will notice that Italians don't really like speaking English. They prefer to stick to what they know. Why don't you buy a book and learn something new, or even take a short course to be able to communicate and really understand the country you are visiting?
9. Shopping: Check the hours!
Italians have very specific working hours. Check what they are if you see a store with something you like and want to come back to it! More often than not, a store will close in the afternoon for the owner and employees to go home and have lunch. Don't let that hinder you from getting what you want: check the hours and plan accordingly!
|Translation: And you, would you work on Sunday? Remember: it's a day of rest for us as well|
Roam the streets, soak in the environment, enjoy the food and the people! This is my final tip! Forget your worries, stop rushing it and really enjoy what you are experiencing!
If you disagree with anything I said or want to add something, be sure to comment below and let me know! I would like to know how others experience Italy!
Thank you for reading and be sure to come back for more tips for travelling and living!
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