Reading this post you will learn:
- How not to mess with the barista.
- How to avoid the never-ending queue for best tourists attractions in Italy.
- How to get a beautiful and memorable Italian vacation without committing a sin.
What springs to mind when you think about traveling in Italy? Well, let me guess… beautiful art-filled cities, gorgeous landscapes, majestic beaches with perfect sand and delicious authentic Italian food? If that’s your answer, you’re certainly right! Well, without any doubt Italy is the perfect choice for a memorable and spectacular holiday. But to be able to enjoy your trip to Italy to the fullest, indulging in delicious cuisine, exploring incredibly fascinating and rich in history places you need to avoid common mistakes tourists tend to make while traveling in Italy. You really don’t want to mess with the barista while ordering your “latte” or getting an expensive ticket for driving unauthorized in ZLT areas.
So let’s get familiar with Italian social customs, local habits, and of course some quite important rules.
1. The Midday Siesta - riposo means "to rest"
The midday siesta or “riposo” which in Italian means “to rest” is probably one of the most misunderstood social customs in BelPaese. Most of the tourist feel annoyed, confused or even frustrated when finding out that tourist sights, local shops, museums, groceries, bakers, post offices, pharmacies (except farmacie comunali), bars (coffee shops), customer service centers and many more small businesses are closed between 12:30 – 15:30. But the truth is that if you live in Italy for any length of time you would understand why this “extended lunch break” is so important or more precisely an integral part of Italian culture. There are two main reasons for closing businesses and tourist attractions for an extended lunch break. Firstly, in the hottest month in Italy, it gets uncomfortably hot what makes working in the midday of the day almost impossible (even with air-conditioning) and secondly, most of Italians prefer to have a nice home-cooked meal instead of eating something in a hurry in some local restaurant. Besides what’s better than taking take a few hours every afternoon to relax and enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal with family and friends? It’s all about spending quality time with your loved ones. It’s the quintessence of Italian “dolce far niente”.
Of course, some places, especially in tourist areas, do not close for “riposo”. If you want to know which ones remain open during the midday just look for “orario continuato” which means uninterrupted opening hours.
So if you see “chiuso per riposo” on the door of shops, museums, post offices, and other businesses don’t get frustrated just use “riposo” to relax and enjoy your life!
2. Strong Coffee Culture - don't mess with the barista
If your blood type is coffee, Italy is definitely one of the best places to visit or to settle down. The decision is yours. But first, you should know that Italian coffee culture is incredibly strong and carefully cultivated from centuries in the Italian Peninsula. In Italy drinking coffee is kind of a magical ritual based on mysterious rules repeated several times a day. There is nothing casual in this practice. Playing by these rules means drinking coffee as locals, in the Italian way. Here are essential rules to follow while ordering and drinking coffee in Italy:
- If you want to order a coffee with milk (cappuccino, caffè latte, caffè macchiato, latte macchiato freddo) do it before midday
- Drink your caffè espresso al banco (standing at the bar) otherwise, you will pay extra for a seat
- Lattè in Italian means “milk” so if you want to order an American latte just say “caffè latte per favore”
- Coffee with coconut, almond, soy, buckwheat or rice milk? I’m sorry, in most of the Italian bars (coffee shops), you won’t drink coffee with vegetable milk because it’s not how Italian drink their coffee. So if you’re lactose intolerant maybe you should stick to caffè espresso option?
- Try regional types of coffee. Go outside your coffee comfort zone and order something other than your favorite creamy cappuccino or strong espresso.
3. Basic Italian - Lost In Translation
The official language of Italy is Italian. While many people do speak English, it’s not a norm hence it’s not usual and should not be expected especially if you want to visit small countryside towns. So before you go on your Italian trip download translation apps and master your basic Italian (link for the post about best FREE Travel Apps below!) There are at least three great reasons to do that:
- You will avoid miscommunication
- You will be able to communicate with locals in their native language
- You will learn the basics of one of the most beautiful languages in the world! (learn Italian and read The Divine Comedy in original!)
And don’t forget to learn some Italian hand gestures before you come to Italy. Because, when Italians talk hand gestures o the talking. Besides, let’s face it sometimes words are not enough to describe the moment. If you saw “Eat, Pray, love” with Julia Roberts you know what I am talking about!
4. Italian Cuisine - What Fettuccine Alfredo?
No, spaghetti and meatballs, fettuccine Alfredo, Spaghetti bolognese, pepperoni pizza, chicken parmesan, Shrimp Scampi, Hawaiian Pizza, Caesar salad or Garlic Bread are not the dishes you will be eating on your trip to Italy. Unless, of course, you will be preparing your food by yourself. Because these popular Italian – American hybrid foods are quite unusual for Italians that actually considered them a crime to Italian cuisine. Which is why it’s not the type of food that is served in restaurants in Italy.
And yes, changing traditional recipes, putting ketchup on pasta or pizza or sipping cappuccino during the meal is a true culinary SIN hence you really want to avoid doing so. Unless you want to make a sacrilegious and profane horror show for waiters and other customers…
Besides, real, authentic and traditional Italian cuisine is a real a feast for the palate hence coming to Italy and eating an Italian-American cuisine would be a real sin. Also, there is a reason why real Italian cuisine is the best in the world. Just ask yourself a question: have you ever met anyone who really doesn’t like Italian food? I bet you haven’t. Italian cuisine is like an art characterized by simplicity, integrity, and harmony. And if you decide to spend your holidays in Italy you will be in foodie heaven. So prepare yourself for different specialities and finest seasonal delicacies strongly influenced by local history and traditions. Prepare yourself for a real feast for your palate.
5. Dress Code Is A Matter Of Respect
Avoid overpacking and bringing uncomfortable outfits that you probably won’t even wear because we all know that nothing can kill the mood during the trip as much as an uncomfortable outfit. I’ve seen many times women in high heels and miniskirts struggling while sightseeing ancient monuments in Rome. Not to mention that Italian churches and cathedrals have a strict dress code you have to follow otherwise you will be denied entry. The rule for visiting sacred places in Italy is quite simple: shoulders and knees have to be covered and you have to wear shoes. Just follow this rule and you will be fine. But don’t stress too much about it just dress modestly if you plan to visit churches and basilicas. And let e tell you, you really want to visit churches and cathedrals especially in Vatican city!
6. Ticket Validation Is A Real And Serious Thing.
Confused about this train ticket validation thing? Well, you’re not alone. Most of the foreign tourists have real trouble understanding this rule of using public transportation in Italy so they avoid traveling by public transport which is a big waste of time and money considering the quality and relatively inexpensive.
So let’s clarify this Italian ticket validation mystery. Here are the rules that you need to follow and you will be fine and free from paying a fine.
- Buy and validate your ticket before boarding public transport (except the bus or train ticket that has to be validated immediately after boarding)
- Keep your ticket until you get off because the ticket controller can check if you have a valid ticket at any moment of your ride
- A PAPER-type ticket must be always validated (cumulative, all-day, integrated ticket must be validated every single time you board on bus, train or metro)
- An ELECTRONIC-type ticket (the one that you purchase online) must be printed out but you don’t need to validate it
- If you can’t find a working machine to validate a ticket, you have to ask a ticket inspector immediately after boarding the train.
7. Travel By Train Like A Boss!
For some reason, most of the tourists avoid using public transportation during their stay in Italy. Maybe they think that it is inconvenient or badly organized? I really don’t now.
But the truth is that the public transportation network in Italy is widely available, well-organized and quite affordable. Getting around larger cities like Milan, Rome, Turin or Naples can be done by Metro, bus or tram and in smaller cities, you can get anywhere you want by a public bus. Tickets are also quite cheap and can be purchased online, from a tabaccaio, ticket booths or dispensing machines. So instead of paying lots of money for a taxi take a bus!
If you want to travel and get around Italy, the best option is to go by train just like locals do. Traveling by train is easy, extremely convenient and relatively cheap if we compare train ticket prices in Italy to other European countries. So if you want to visit Milan, Venice, Turin, Rome, and Naples during your 7-day trip to Italy, it’s totally doable by TRAIN! All you have to do is to purchase your train tickets ONLINE (link for the website where you can buy train tickets below) because doing so you will save lots of money. And remember to ALWAYS validate your ticket before boarding otherwise you will have to pay a fine.
Italian Railways Companies:
Trenitalia (Ferrovie Dello Stato) – the primary train operator in Italy – https://www.trenitalia.com/
Italo Treno (ITALO Railway Company) – a competing high-speed service to Trenitalia https://www.italotreno.it/en
Buying train ticket online in advance can save a lot of money
8. Credit Card or Cash Only?
If you don’t live in the Eurozone you will need to exchange your money at least you want to pay for anything by your credit card but it can be inconvenient for two main reasons. The first reason is that currency exchange fees can be extremely costly and the second one is that even if credit cards are accepted at most major attractions and stores in many places card payments are not accepted for a bill under €10 not to mention paying one euro for a coffee in a bar (Italian coffee shop) or using a public toilet.
So if travel to Italy remember that you will need to have some cash (euro) especially if your Italian bucket list includes not only big cities and most famous tourist areas but also small towns and rural places.
Get cash (euro) at an ATM or local bank and avoid currency exchange bureaus in airports or shopping areas because they charge A LOT!
Speak with your bank before you travel to Italy in order to be able to use your debit card without any problem.
If you’re planning to rent a car you need to have a credit card because rental car companies usually accept only credit cards.
9. Driving In ZTL Means Trouble.
If you’re planning a road trip to Italy be aware of ZTL (zona traffic limitation or limited traffic zone). ZTL is a restricted traffic area in the centers of most Italian cities where only drivers with the appropriate authorization can drive. However, this law does not apply for electric and hybrid cars.
The Italian government introduced these limited traffic zones to reducing traffic congestion and pollution in urban areas and to preserve historic city centers. So before you embark a car for your road trip in Italy get informed about ZTL restricted driving zones to avoid an expensive fine. The easiest way to know exactly where ZTL areas are is to download Waze Traffic and Carpool Apps for iPhone and Android here
10. Purchase Your Tickets Online In Advance - avoiding the never-ending queue.
Let’s establish something. There is ONLY one way to avoid the never-ending queue for the greatest architectural delights and most memorable tourist activities… you NEED to purchase your tickets ONLINE in ADVANCE! Otherwise, you will have to spend a couple of hours in a queue to visit architectural achievements of the Roman Empire such as Colosseum and Pantheon or to see priceless masterpieces of Italian art presented in Churches, Cathedrals, and basilicas.
So if you want to see as much as you can for an infinite number of possibilities and a huge variety of attractions offered by the land of pasta and wine without wasting your time in queues and going into bankruptcy just book your tickets online!
11. The sweetness indulgence - the sweetness of doing nothing
Wonderful life in a beautiful country pleasantly doing “nothing” written in quotes because this Italian concept has nothing to do with procrastination. “Il dolce far niente” – translated into “the sweetness of doing nothing” means celebrating the beauty of life, enjoying the authenticity of the moment, indulging yourself in some pleasant relaxation without feeling guilty, selfish or worried. This alluring Italian concept of enjoying yourself it’s not some fancy expression to describe procrastination or a strange way to talk about burnout or exhaustion. Because if you fall asleep unexpectedly after another day of hard work would you call it “enjoying yourself”? Or would you call “enjoying little pleasures” this moment when you grab your 5th coffee of the day and you drink it as quickly as possible hoping that it will help you survive till the evening?
“Il dolce far niente” it’s a real pleasure, not simple entertainment.
“Il dolce far niente” it’s a mindful ritual not mindless habit.
“Il dolce far niente” is this moment when time stops giving you the opportunity to indulge in the authentic beauty of the present moment, positive experience and real joy.
Cultivating “il dolce far niente” means that you purposefully engage yourself in some pleasurable and enjoyable activity to celebrate your life. So if you’re coming to Italy prepare yourself for “il dolce far niente”!
12. Free Opportunities - Embrace Them
What springs to mind when you think about traveling in Italy? Well, let me guess… beautiful art-filled cities, gorgeous landscapes, majestic beaches with perfect sand and delicious authentic Italian food? If that’s your answer, you’re certainly right! Well, without any doubt Italy is the perfect choice for a memorable and spectacular holiday but if you want to see as much as you can without spending an insane amount of money just think before act. Don’t follow in the footsteps of other tourists and don’t fall for every tourist attraction because it will cost you an insane amount of money. Just do your sightseeing wisely.
Do your online research and look for special offers in advance and visit museums, monuments, archaeological sites, palaces, and monumental gardens in Italy for free or on a reduced ticket! (most of the museum, cultural places, and tourist attractions offer free entrance days at least once a month and reduced tickets throughout the week) Plus, there are countless free opportunities for tourists who want to have a real and authentic Italian experience so before coming to Italy search for festivals, exhibitions, outdoor concerts, open-air cinemas and many more. All you have to do is to look it up online. (you will find all the information about free and reduced tickets in a post about traveling in Italy on a budget – link below).
And Last but NOT Least…
Make the most of your Italian trip with a Smart Travel Super Bundle 2019!
What is an Ultimate Bundle?
Ultimate Bundles is a company that gathers together the best the best digital learning products and tools on different topics (blogging, travel, health, fitness, homemaking, photography, money management, productivity & more) from content creators out there and sells them under heavily discounted prices (usually it’s over 90%) for a few days.
A collection of digital products (ebooks, printables, online courses, and bonuses) on a specific topic is called “an ultimate bundle” and it is usually available for a short time at a ridiculously discounted price. So as you can see it’s a crazy deal!
Honestly is one of my favorite companies because it delivers high-quality digital products for a steeply discounted price and has an extremely caring customer service that ALWAYS responds to the emails. But what I probably love the most about this company is that Ultimate Bundle provides a 30-day happiness guarantee which basically means that if you’re not 100% happy for your purchase, you just email them and you get a refund.
What is Smart Travel Super Bundle 2019?
It’s a COLLECTION of digital learning products and tools on how to make any TRAVEL more affordable on a RIDICULOUSLY LOW PRICE.
What You Can Expect From Smart Travel Super Bundle 2019?
Best resources on traveling on a budget with a positive mindset on a heavily discounted price.
5 printable packs
4 bonuses worth $72.49 that include
FREE Skin Care Travel Items from MadeOn Skin Care, $16.50 value
FREE pack of travel size items from Puro Co, $15 value
FREE 2oz bottle of Digest-Support Herbal Supplement, $15.99 value
$25 Credit to SaneBox, $25 value
Value: 30 products worth $1286.58
Who is it for?
This collection of digital products and tools is for budget travelers who want to experience luxury travel on a budget trip consists of digital products divided into categories:
- Camping, RV & Road Trips (7 products worth $547.92)
- Family Travel (7 products worth $216.44)
- Making Travel Affordable (6 products worth $276.98)
- Mindset (4 products worth $70.25)
- Planning & Packing (6 products worth $174.99)
Is It Really Worth$47?
I mean $47 is usually the price on ONE ebook. While in this bundle you have a collection of 13 eBooks, 10 eCourses, 5 printable packs & 2 workbooks. So even if you’re interested only in a few of the products, it’s still a great deal.
I don’t know about you, but for me buying all of these digital products on travel individually would not be economically feasible. Especially considering the fact that we are talking here about digital products on one specific topic.
30-day happiness guarantee
If you think about buying Smart Travel Super Bundle BUT you’re not 100% sure, I have great news!
The Ultimate Bundles Company provides a 30-day happiness guarantee which means that if you buy a bundle and you are not 100% happy with your purchase, just email their customer service within 30 days and they will get a 100% refund.
Resources I love the most:
- An Intentional Travelers Guide to Unconventional Budget Accommodations (eBook) by Michelle Chang
This book will help you crack the code to meaningful, impactful and low-cost trips by tackling one of the biggest trip expenses: lodging.
- Finance Your Detour: A Budgeting Program to Help You Travel More (eCourse) by Dan & Lindsay McKenzie
A budgeting program and tool that teaches the same strategies and budgeting process that allowed them to pay off debt, build a financial runway, and travel full-time.
- The Affordable Flight Guide: How to Find Cheap Airline Tickets and See the World on a Budget (eBook) by Jen Ruiz
A how-to guide for finding cheap flights.
- Overcome Travel Anxiety (eBook) by Lauren Juliff
Will help you eliminate anxiety from your life, give you the confidence to start planning an adventure, and support you as you take steps outside your comfort zone in order to explore the world.
- How to Plan a Trip (eBook) by Christen Nicole
Provides clear and actionable steps to plan the perfect vacation in 12 simple steps.
And Avoid These 12 mistakes while traveling in Italy