The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
There is so much to appreciate when travelling. The people, the cuisine, sightseeing, music… the list could go on forever. However, the truth is that it can often be hard to fully enjoy the beauty of a place if you are not well-versed with the culture of your destination.
Italy has been voted year after year as one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places to visit in the world. It is also a top tourist spot for people around the globe, with over 65 million tourists every year, according to multiple studies.
Italy is also one of the few countries with many famous places to see, foods to try, shopping to explore and beaches to lay on. The only downside? The average tourist has no idea how much planning goes into a trip to this European treasure. When I was visiting, there were many things I did not know about at the time which would have made my travels much easier (like being stranded on the streets of Napoli at 3 am).
Here are my top tips to keep in mind if you are ever travelling to Italy.
Learn about the food
A lot of North American foods are inspired by Italian cuisine, as it is a cuisine that has existed for thousands of years. There are the staples like pizza, pasta, burrata, and of course, the boozy limoncello. This extensive list is just one reason why etiquette is so important when dining in Italy.
1-1 Pizza ratio: At the average Italian restaurant, there is an unsaid rule that each person orders their own pizza.
Bread on the table? Absolutely! Most Italian restaurants will keep some bread on the table. Although it can be enjoyed with olive oil, butter or other condiments, there is an actual purpose besides having delicious free bread. While we may be used to eating bread before our main course, it’s actually meant to help finish off leftovers! Using the bread, any leftover sauce can be soaked up. The bread is meant to clear the plate, helping you not waste the magic left behind.
Amalfi Coast Lemons: If you were going for the picturesque views of cliffside villages and stunning beaches, you’ll be delighted to learn they have the BEST lemons in the world. My advice? Try the boozy limoncello, lemon gelato and other lemon-flavoured treats by taking your tastebuds to the Amalfi Coast.
There are many easily available transportation methods in Italy. However, there are a few regulations and rules around transportation to keep in mind. If you are aware of some of the basic Italian methods of getting around, the trip will be a lot smoother.
Trains: If you are travelling from region to region, trains are the best way to get around. A flight from Rome to Amalfi is much more expensive and time-consuming than taking a train.
Taxi Service: Did you know Uber is actually banned in Italy? This is to stop tourists from interfering with local taxi businesses, as a big part of the transportation economy heavily relies on tourist fares. Unlike in North America, where you call a taxi to your location, most Italian regions have designated taxi stands. During rush hour, lines can be 15-20 minutes long, so make sure you’re planning in advance.
Important Tip: In some regions like Napoli, where tourists are less common, taxi service shuts down as early as 11 pm. Make sure to figure out where you are going, how far you are from your accommodation and ways to get back before you leave (had I known this information, and done due diligence, I would not have been stranded till three in the morning finding a way back to my hotel.)
Story Time: Thanks to the help of a very friendly restaurant owner, I was able to get home safely! When I found out that there was no way for me to get to my hotel, I started to panic. However, the owner saw my face go pale with worry and guided me to the only open hotel, 30 minutes away from her restaurant. She asked the concierge to help call a taxi, but none were running. An hour later, we happened to see a taxi driver go by and frantically waved our hands for him to stop. She barely knew English, but somehow through the desperation I felt of being stranded and her kind nature to help me, she waited till I had a way back. Before I got into the taxi, she handed me a blue rose as a farewell goodbye. I hugged her and swore to never ever go out at night without researching transportation in a foreign area again. This is exactly why I am writing this information down, as I doubt the average person would think twice about how difficult it would be to get back at night.
Also, be careful with how much Taxi drivers charge. Some do not turn their metre on, call out a random fare, or sometimes double the price of what it would normally be. Always make sure the metre is on unless it is a fixed price.
Must-See Spots in Rome
Rome is one of the most popular tourist cities in Italy. It is only reasonable that I dedicate a whole section to this destination.
The Trevi Fountain: One of the most Instagrammed monuments in the world. If you are someone who loves photos, I suggest you visit the fountain early in the morning to avoid a crowd.
The famous Spanish Steps: I highly recommend it for everyone to get a cute view of the city. However, do not sit on the stairs or railings, as police WILL chase you down with a fine (it was a very close call).
The Colosseum: An iconic must-see and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. You will feel as though you stepped into a time machine back to the age of the Roman Empire.
Lastly, make sure to order an espresso martini at least once somewhere in this city. It will be worth it! (Espresso + martini = classic Italian vibes).
Dress Codes: Although the Vatican City is its own country, if you’re in Rome, I promise you won’t want to miss it. Just make sure to cover up as there is a strict dress code, meaning shoulders and knees must be covered. I also wouldn’t advise wearing leggings if I were you. Comfortable as they may be, they’re strictly gym attire in Italy!
There is so much more I could say about Italy, but the list would go on forever. With these tips and tricks in mind, I hope you can enjoy your stay and embrace the city with open arms!