At last! Some inside, honest Italy tips. Just when you thought you might know everything there is to know about Italy, these 35 travel tips will take you completely by surprise.

Not many travelers are willing to share such secrets, so you are in for a treat with this blog post.

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I have been to Italy more times than I care to remember. I love it. Yes, I have made some big mistakes in Italy but nevertheless, I still adore the place.

Italy is one of those rare countries that ticks every box.

It has more than it’s fair share of underrated and unique places to visit. It has architecture, weather, history, wine and pasta.

Lots of pasta.

And wine.

I told you it was perfect.

I first discovered Italy as a twenty-something backpacker and then a few years later, on a romantic vacation, my husband proposed to me in the shade of an old church in one of the most secret spots in Florence.

As our family grew, I came to realise that taking kids to Italy is a dream. The Italians adore children – they are very family orientated, which makes the family travel thing so much easier.

Through the grapevine and by reading other travel blogs about Italy, I have heard a lot of so-called travel tips that just aren’t true; so I thought I would give you my own version of what you can expect when you to travel to Italy; a few secret valuable tips that you can use for when you visit Italy alone, with friends, or as a family.

 

35 Italy Tips to Help Your Trip To Italia Run as Smooth as a Caffe Crema.

 

 

A house in Italy. Italy tips for travel

What do you think of when you think of Italy? I find it romantic, adventurous, classy and relaxing. Italy is one of those countries that ticks a lot of boxes.

 

 

# Italy Tips – Transport

 

Hiring a Car

 

If you are thinking of hiring a car in Italy, then know that Italy is the cheapest place in Europe (apart from Croatia) that we found for car hire.

Hiring a car in Italy is inexpensive and easy, and as long as you don’t try to drive around the major cities (use public transport for that),  you will find hiring a car gives you a greater sense of independence and is a relaxing way to see Italy.

We only ever used this company for car hire throughout Italy, and they were superb. Best prices and no fuss pick up and drop off. Perfect.

They are currently offering 30% off car hire in Italy so if you need a car I doubt you will find cheaper. Click here to check out their deals.

 

 

Parking

 

Talking of cars, be careful of parking in the major cities. More than once we had scam artists come up to us in Florence and said that we needed to pay for them to ‘keep an eye on our car.’

Don’t be intimidated by these people; they are simply trying it on. We said no every time, and they moved right on to the next car. It’s not a big deal but something to be aware of.

 

Car ticket in Italy. Italy tips on how not to be scammed at the carpark

Don’t be intimidated by the scam artists that work the side street city carparks. They tell you that you need to pay them to ‘watch the car’ This happened to us a few times, and we just walked away. The car was still there when we got back, so I’m assuming they were just trying their luck.

 

 

Driving In Italy

 

If you do hire a car in Italy know that driving in this country is easy enough; just remember to stay on the right side of the road!

Talking of roads, these are better in the North of Italy than in the South – not so many potholes.  We have driven the entire length of Italy and never had any problems.

Make sure your travel insurance covers the excess when you hire a car. Putting this in place before you leave will save you a fortune in Italian fees.

As my husband liked to remind me approximately ten times a day.

We only ever use World Nomads for our Italy travel insurance. They are superb, I can’t recommend them enough.

Italian drivers can get a little heated in the big cities, but apart from that, they were courteous and friendly.

When driving around Italy makes sure you come off the main Highways and find one of the many idyllic picnic spots that can be found by using Google Maps.

Italy tip: Don’t bother using the picnic areas on the main highway, they stink of wee and are full of rubbish. Yuck. Instead, take a 5-minute detour, and you will find what you are looking for.

 

Family having a picnic in Italy. Italy travel tips

Take a five-minute detour off the Highway, and you will find many lovely picnic spots around Ital

 

 

Trains in Italy

 

Our experience with Italian trains was fabulous. Although we spent two months driving around Italy (more on that later), we took trains from Venice to Pisa, and we used the subway around Rome. Both were easy, clean and friendly.

Don’t make one of the common Italy mistakes and forget to validate your ticket BEFORE you board the train – otherwise, you could face a hefty fine!

 

 

A train in Italy. Italy travel tips on how best to vist the country

Taking the train around Italy was easy.

 

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Italy travel tips for Pinterest

 

# Italy Tips – Wine, Food & Coffee

 

I love wine, and food and I am guessing that if you are traveling to Italy, then you do too!

Both wine and food are cheap and plentiful in Italy, but here’s a little travel tip that you might not be aware of.

 

Aperitivo

 

Aperitivo takes place in bars generally between 7 – 9 pm. Think of it as ‘Happy Hour’ (I certainly was) in England but just with a touch more class.

If the bar is advertising ‘Aperitivo’ (we found this practice mostly happened in Northen Italy), then pop in, order a glass of wine, and enjoy the dishes of free nibbles that are placed in front of you. Olives, nuts, plates of cured meat.

At first, I was too scared to eat them as I thought we’d be charged a fortune, but no. Rest assured, they are all part of the price. For around 10 euros you can have wine and the best part of a meal!

 

 

Wine and food in Italy. Aperitivo. An Italy tip for those on a budget

This is what came out first, and then salami, and nuts and more olives…sheer bliss!

 

Wine

There are wine regions everywhere in Italy.

I think this is the reason why I love this country more than any other in Europe. I tell myself that the reason the Italian women are so beautiful is because they guzzle so much wine. That theory works for me anyway, so I’m sticking to it.

Know that you can pick up a bottle of wine in any supermarket for 2 Euros.

 

Wine in the supermarket in Italy. Travel tips to make a trip to Italy easier

A wine lovers dream, and the best part? You can pick up a lovely bottle of light Rosé for less than $3

 

Picnic Lunches

 

And the food.

 

We have taken our kids to some of the best cities in Europe and Italy is where they would have been happy to eat for the rest of their lives.

Food is incredibly cheap to buy in the Supermarkets. If you are traveling to Italy and are on a budget as we were, then you will love the fact that you can get a delicious picnic for four people for less than $20.

With wine. Of course.

 

A picnic in Italy. Italy travel tips

A picnic for four (greedy) people will cost you no more than$20 and what you get is divine!

 

 

Eating Out In Italy

 

Eating out in Italy is also a lot less expensive than I first anticipated.

While it’s true that we didn’t eat out often – we spent a good deal of time Housesitting in Italy  – if we weren’t housesitting we rented self-contained accommodation, both meaning that we cooked our own meals, but, when the kids did moan so loudly that I could take no more and submitted to their pleas of eating at a cafe, I was pleasantly surprised at the cost, and I think you will be too.

 

A cafe lunch menu in Italy. Travel tips to help you budget

Eating out in Italy is far less expensive than in other places in Europe. This is a lunch menu in that we ate at in Florence. Delicious too!

 

 

Ice Cream In Italy

 

I’m not an ice cream connoisseur, but my kids are, and so, everywhere we visited in Italy, they wanted ice cream.  The trouble with this little treat is that it can end up being pricey.

I’m not saying don’t treat yourself to a gelato while in Italy, of course not, just know that, like anywhere in the world, you can go to the local grocery store and buy a pack of six ice creams for the same price as one Gelato and my kids said they tasted just as good.

 

A boy eating Ice cream in Venice. Tips on how to save money in Italy

Eating ice cream in Venice. The budget way. Ignore my son’s miserable face; he was actually enjoying that ice cream very much.

 

Breakfast In Italy

 

Breakfast in Italy is a very sweet affair. In fact, Italy is pretty sweet full stop. Know that you won’t be getting a fry up for brekkie in Italy, more like a biscuit (if you are staying with an Italian host) or else a sweet pastry.

 

Breakfast in Italy. Coffee and a pastry. Travel tips on what to expect in Italy

Breakfast in Italy. A coffee and something small, sweet and delicious

 

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Cafés in Italy

 

Cafés are plentiful in Itay, and the entire country embraces the fantastic coffee scene. Expect to pay no more than €1.50 for a cappuccino and remember! DON’T order a Cappuccino after 11 am! (apparently, the Italians believe the milk messes with your digestion)

We didn’t have one lousy cup of coffee in Italy, but, the places where we found to have the best coffee and pastries were those that looked a bit rough from the outside.

Italy travel tip! Don’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to getting a coffee in Italy.

The places that look a bit dodgy are often the ones that give you the real Italian experience for the best price.

 

A family eating at a cafe in Italy. Italy tips on how to get the best coffee in Italy

This little bakery at the side of the road, leaving Florence was the BEST coffee and pastry we had for breakfast in Italy! Don’t just go to the places that have white table cloths – you’ll probably be ripped off.

 

 

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Arrive feeling beautiful. 10 Brilliant plane essentials that you won’t want to be without

9 Mistakes that could see you in jail in Venice

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Florence off the beaten track

Airport hacks that travellers don’t tell you about (but I will, ’cause I’m kind)

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Comfiest and most lovely pants for travel

 

 

 

# Italy Tips – The Seasons

 

What To Bring To Italy For Summer Travel

 

Italy is hot in the summer but don’t let this put you off. Read my post on what to wear in Italy and you will be good to go.

We were traveling around Italy for two months between May and July, so we saw both the shoulder season and the peak, and yes, it was scorching but if you are prepared for it then it won’t be a problem.

 

Umbrella

 

Everyone uses an umbrella to protect themselves from the scorching sun in Italy, especially if you are standing in line for something. Don’t risk getting burned, take a travel umbrella and know that you are protected and more comfortable. My favourite travel umbrella is this one. It is light to carry, easy to pack and looks rather lovely.

 

Poncho

 

There was a time when the lowly poncho was only for unfashionable tourists. Not in Italy!

There are some gorgeous waterproof ponchos that are a stylish and classy way to stay dry without carrying around a soggy, heavy coat.

If you are traveling to Italy in the shoulder seasons, there is a chance that you will experience a few showers. Take a poncho. they are light, small, cheap and super stylish – pair with some large sunglasses, and you’ll look (and feel) very Italian! 

 

Tourists in line at the Vatican City in Italy. Travel tips

I know you don’t want to look like a tourist, but honestly, you will thank me for telling you to bring an umbrella with you to Italy!

 

Related Posts That You Will Enjoy

 

What to wear in Italy so that you look (& feel)  totally gorgeous

 

Fauna & Flora in Italy

 

If you are a flower fan, then you will love all the wild poppies that grow wild throughout Italy in May. If this is your thing, then the month of May is for you!

 

Poppies in Italy. Italy tips for when to travel to see the best flora and fauna

The roads were lined with these beautiful red poppies that grow wild throughout Italy in Spring.

 

 

#Italy Tips – Souvenirs

 

If you are buying souvenirs in Italy, then here’s a tip for you.

If you want to buy one of those very swanky Italian coffee percolators and take it home for a gift for someone who loves coffee, then please don’t buy one from one of the many posh kitchen appliance shops that you see in Verona or Rome or Florence.

They sell the same thing, only a good deal cheaper, at any hypermarket. Don’t you just love me??

 

Coffee makers in a shop in Italy

Coffee percolators at the swanky kitchen shop in Florence

 

 

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Italy travel tips

 

 

# Italy Tips  – Places To Visit In Italy

 

Venice

 

Venice is renowned for being pricey and busy, but we found ways to make it neither. Here’s a tip. Put some comfortable walking shoes on and turn away from the crowds.

 

I’ve Included This little 13-second Video For You to See Exactly How Crowded Venice Can be!

 

 

Venice is a maze of beautiful windy lanes a mass with ornate bridges. Look for these bridges, and at the side of each one, you will see a set of shady steps used for the small houseboats of Venice to pull into.

Get a picnic from any one of the small supermarkets in Venice and take your seat.

Just to warn you! I was cautioned by the police in Piazzo San Marco for eating ice cream ( I had no idea). Make sure that you do your research and know the things NOT to do in Venice before you go.

To be honest, I quite enjoyed my run-in with the Italian law.

I don’t get much excitement at my time of life. 

 

A woman in Venice. Italy tips on how to enjoy Venice on a budget

Find the steps at the side of each bridge and settle down for a nice lunch spit and some gondola gazing.

 

 

Gondolas In Venice

 

Talking of Gondolas, unless you have a really strong desire to see Venice from a boat with lots of other tourists,  I’d avoid. They are pricey and, without being rude, a little bit tacky.

 

 

A gondola in Venice. Italy tips on what to do in Venice

If it has been on your bucket list of things to do in Italy, then go ahead, but I found that price w-a-y- too expensive for a quick ride with other tourists.

 

Cool off in Venice!

 

Rather than pound the hot streets of Venice, get down to the waters front where all the cruise ships are sailing past.

Take your sandals off and cool your feet in the water. We spent an hour people-watching –  it beats paying $100 for a gondola ride!

Remember though! One of the things you should never do in Venice is swim in the waterways. You will be fined, so unless you have more money than sense just stick to the toe-dipping.

 

A family in Venice. Travel tips in Italy

Take your shoes off and watch as the Gondolas glide past. Our favourite game was seeing how many people were actually paying attention or simply taking photos for Instagram! (we are easily amused…)

 

 

Take A Look At This Video We Made In Italy, And You Decide For Yourself If It Isn’t The Most Beautiful Place On Earth?!

 

 

Rome For Free (or Very Cheap!)

 

If you happen to be in Rome on the first Sunday of the month (as we were – Hurray!) you will be delighted to know that entrance to the Colosseum and other museums in Rome are absolutely FREE!

 

  • To avoid the long line that snakes its way outside the Colosseum, make sure you get your free ticket from the PALATINE HILL/FORUM entrance which is 5 mins from the Colosseum entrance. This ticket gives you admission to Palatine Hill, the Forum & The Colosseum.

 

  • Once you have your free golden ticket, go straight to the reservation entrance of the Colosseum and walk straight in!  You’ll walk past the unknowing line of people who think they have to get their free ticket inside the Coluusium. (should have read this Italy travel tips blog post!) Just scan your ticket at the gate and enjoy the Colosseum!

 

The Colosseum in Rome

Seeing the Colosseum for FREE! It doesn’t get better than that!

 

 

The 2nd Best way To See Rome On The Cheap (if you aren’t there on a Sunday)

 

Do not hesitate to get the Rome City Pass. It will save you an absolute FORTUNE. 

Rome is hot in the summer months and you do NOT want to be hanging around in line for the sake of a few Euros. Grab yourself a two or three-day pass and see the sights. The Rome pass offers a fast track to all Rome attractions – believe me, it’s so worth it not to have to line up.

If you have had enough of walking then the Rome Pass offers the hop on hop off the tour bus for FREE (and you know how we all like that word). Make the most of that. Check out the prices of the Rome Pass here.

We worked out that buying one of these passes we would have saved approximately €57 – That’s a few picnic lunches (with wine!).

 

 

Best Place To Picnic In Rome

 

  • If you are looking for somewhere lovely to have a picnic lunch while in Rome then I recommend this.

 

  • Come out of the Coluusium and turn left. Walk in an anticlockwise direction. You will see a small supermarket on your right. Go and buy all the delicious picnic ingredients you need. Come out. Turn  right (with the Colosseum on your left.) After about 100 meters you will see a  park on the hill to your left. Go to it, eat and enjoy the view!

 

Italy with kids. Taking a family for a picnic in Rome

Quite possibly the best view for a picnic in Rome!

 

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Italy travel tips

 

The Spanish Steps in Rome

 

The Spanish steps are a must-see when in Rome, and a fabulous place to people watch (my favourite activity). If you go in the afternoon, you will find everyone clinging to the side of the walls trying to get some shade.

If you haven’t done as I told you and bought a travel umbrella then you will need to do the same!

The Spanish Steps are a brilliant place to people watch. Don’t miss the rose sellers who try their hardest to sell their flowers to gullible tourists!

 

 

The Spanish Steps In Italy. A travel blog about iIaly tips

Get your place in the shade and watch as the flower sellers try and pounce on unknowing tourists!

 

The Trevvi Fountain In Rome

 

Know that the Trevi Fountain in Rome is at it’s busiest in the afternoon.

If you wish to see this iconic Italian beauty without the crowds so that you can throw a con in for a wish, then I suggest you try in the heading over there first thing in the morning or at around 5 pm.

 

The Trevi fountain. Taking Kids to Italy. Italy tips

Get to the Trevi Fountain early if you wish to get a good selfie! We found the crowds weren’t there early in the morning

 

 

Italy Tips –  More Places To Visit

 

Don’t believe everything you hear about Italy being mobbed in the summer and so should be avoided at all costs.

We didn’t find this to be the case at all.

There are many places in Italy where you can escape the crowds – we found a secret place in Florence that we spent heaps of time visiting.

It would be fantastic if you can hire a car and drive out to the country – that way you get to go at your own pace and find hidden places.

Check out my post on 21 common mistakes people make when planning a trip to Italy, I think it will give you some further insight.

 

The Wine Regions

 

Go into the hills of any wine region (Soave is our favourite)  and spend some time relaxing. You may come across a farmer, but you will find they all very friendly and will stop to chat (learn a little Italian!) they are often more than happy for you to walk (carefully) in the shade of their vines.

 

A girl walking through a vineyard in Italy. Italy tips on how to see Italy at its best with kids

Taking time to cool off and be under the gorgeous vines in Soave, a lovely wine region in Italy

 

Pisa

 

Don’t miss visiting Pisa while you are in Italy, but know that the leaning tower is pretty small!

We were expecting a giant tower, but in reality, it is relatively average-sized. Of course, it’s still impressive, but if you are traveling with kids like me, know how teenagers like to over exaggerate everything.

 

Leaning Tower Of Pisa. Taking Kids to Italy tips

Really? This is it? Don’t be surprised if the Tower of Pisa is a bit of a disappointment. We all thought it would be a lot bigger than it was!

 

Pompeii

 

Don’t be discouraged from visiting Pompeii by tales of crowds and Naples pickpockets. The day we spent visiting Pompeii was one of the most relaxing and calm days we had in Italy.  You will love Pompeii, don’t miss it if at all possible.

If you are driving to Pompeii, use the carpark over the road called ‘Ristorante Vesuvio’. It’s the cheapest and only charges you €10 for the day.

 

 

Pompeii in Italy. Italy tips on the best way to see the country

We spent a good deal of time alone in Pompeii. Don’t believe everything you hear about it being crowded.

 

 

Verona

 

If you manage to visit Verona, make sure you go to Juliet’s house a give her bosom a bit of a rub. It is free, and it is good luck! My teenage son rubbed it a few times – just in case.

 

The statue of Juliet in Verona

Do not miss going to see the house of Juliet if you are in Verona!

 

Football Fans In Italy

 

If you are traveling to Italy with a football fan, then know that you will be in good company. The Italians LOVE their footy, so you won’t have to go far in any city in Italy to find a bar showing a live game.

Personally, I would rather eat rocks, but the rest of my family are big Liverpool fans, so I have to be nice and play along. When we stayed in Florence, we passed a lovely evening watching a live game!

 

 

Football bars in Italy. Italy tips for travel

This is the bar in Florence where you can watch the best live football games. I sat outside and drank wine, but the rest of the family enjoyed it…

 

Housesitting In Italian Houses

 

We did a lot of housesitting in Italy, and so we got to see some beautiful homes.

Italian houses are every bit as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. Just gorgeous.

Try your hardest to get inside an Italian house, either through an Airbnb or sign up for Housesitting as we did.

Please. Don’t be thinking that because you haven’t done a Housesit before it is hard or it is just for seasoned travelers. It is super easy. Really. I don’t understand why more people don’t use this service.

You can grab yourself an apartment in Rome or Venice for two days, or you can apply for a farmhouse in the Tuscan hills for three weeks and pretend you are Julia Roberts – it’s up to you!

Once you sign up (I think it’s about $90), then you are sent two emails a day with hundreds of houses worldwide that need someone to come and look after their property and maybe a pet.

We saved ourselves thousands of dollars by Housesitting in Italy. I highly recommend it. If you need any info on anything whatsoever to do with housesitting, then please message or email me, and I’ll help you however I can.

 

An Italian house. Italy travel tips, the best places to stay in Italy

Italian houses are every bit as lovely on the inside as they are on the outside.

 

 

# One Last Secret Tip!

 

The Pantheon

 

Her’s one Italy tip for those of you who love wine and people watching as much as I do.

 

  • Do not miss the Pantheon. It is simply stunning. Of course, you won’t miss it. But.  Here’s what to do should you fancy an evening aperitive while enjoying the ambience and the buzz amongst the early evening crowds.

 

  • Come out of the Pantheon and look over your right shoulder. Here you will see a little shop that looks like a gift store.

 

A shop outside the Pantheon that sells wine. Italy tips.

The little shop that looks like a gift store outside the Pantheon.

 

  • Inside, amongst other things, you can buy half bottles of wine for a very reasonable price, AND, if you ask the lady behind the counter nicely enough, she will give you a plastic cup.

 

  • Yes, yes, all you save the planet people; I know plastic is evil, but it’s just this once. If it makes you feel better, take a paper cup in your bag.

 

  • Take your place on the wall with the view and watch the show! Enjoy!

 

A woman on the steps in Rome drinking wine. Italy tips for travel. Italy travel blog

Cheers! I hope you enjoyed this list of Italy tips!

 

Related Post that You Will Enjoy!

 

What to wear in Italy so you feel and look perfectly gorgeous

20 Mistakes that first-time visitors to Italy make (me included)

Pompeii. 15 Ways to see it differently

10 Brilliant airport hacks that you won’t want to share

 

My list of Italy tips that will hopefully make things a good deal easier for when you travel to the gorgeous country of Italy! I’m sure I have missed a few things out so when I think of some more I will add to this blog post, but until then, have a wonderful time in Italy, and remember, PLEASE share this post for me to any friends that you think would benefit!  Ciao!

 

 

 

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