Travel Tips

Here’s a list of travel insights we’ve compiled over the years of travel to and living in Italy. We hope they’re helpful to you!

Seeing it all
It’s tempting to want to see everything in Italy in one trip. The reality is: YOU CAN’T! Italy looks small on a map and it is when compared to the US; however, in reality it is expansive and the infrastructure and geography in Italy make getting around a challenge. Most people have 2 weeks or less and race through places without really experiencing or seeing anything.

Slow down! Rather than racing from one place to the next, take the time to really see where you are, experience the people, place and foods. Jumping from hotel to hotel and city to city leads to spending most of your holiday packing, unpacking and traveling to the next destination, rather than relaxing and seeing the sights. Soak it all in – the beauty and culture of Italy. You’ll be happy you did.

What to Pack – Not short shorts and sneakers. Besides being impractical, they mark you as an American and make it harder for you to slip into the Italian stream of life. Weather forecasts will help you not to over pack and bring the right clothing. Layering is always the best way to dress. In warmer weather, linen is a good idea as it looks fine wrinkled, is cooler and washes well. For women, looser clothing is highly recommended -especially on our food and wine tours! And a large pashmina scarf is a must as it is easy to carry in your purse or bag, provides an instant cover up for churches, and warmth on the plane or in a restaurant or museum. For evening meals in Italy, you may want to bring something a little dressier as Italians tend to dress up when going out. For women, slacks or skirt and top; for men, slacks and a nice shirt. Be prepared for some rain – a small umbrella or lightweight raincoat are available in styles that fold into almost nothing.

Remember to wear sturdy comfortable walking shoes. Many of the hilltop towns and cities have cobble stones and museums and restaurants have marble floors and stairs. Don’t miss out on sights and activities because your feet hurt!

Leave your expensive jewelry at home – or just bring the essentials. If you’ll be heartbroken to have something lifted off you in a crowded city street, leave it at home. Money belts and other secure ways of carrying cash are essential, especially when moving around near train stations and popular tourist areas.

Look Up! – the light pollution in Italy is less, especially in the countryside, and it is possible to see thousands of stars and the Milky Way when the sky is clear.  Be sure to look up into the night sky and appreciate the wonder!

Getting Money– EurosYou will get the best exchange rate when you use your ATM card across Europe. Traveler cheques are almost non-existent and no one will take them anymore so we recommend you don’t use them. Banking hours for exchanging money are time consuming and can be frustrating and exchanging money at the airport is expensive. Be sure that your bank and credit card companies know that you’ll be traveling overseas to avoid them putting a security hold on your account. Be sure to take their phone numbers – not the toll free numbers as they won’t work in Italy.

The Airport and Plane – Do you have Global Entry yet? When returning to the U.S. after your international flight, Global Entry allows you to bypass long lines at border control saving time and the frustration of waiting when you’re tired. It costs $100 and is good for five years and you’ll already be enrolled in another program – TSA Pre-Check. This allows you to skip the standard security line while in the U.S. and you can keep your shoes on and everything in your bag. Also, you pass through a metal detector versus the scanner.

Flying will dehydrate you. Bypass the alcohol as it makes you even more dehydrated and you’ll feel it when you land. We try to drink plenty of water in flight – they say 8 ounces for every hour you’re in the air. More is better!

Either planes aren’t as clean as they used to be, or we’re just more aware of the bacteria that lurks on surfaces – carry antibacterial wipes to use on your tray table, seatbelt buckle, arm rests and entertainment remote and monitor.

Minimize your Jet Lag- This is key to enjoying the entire trip. When you arrive from the US its usually a morning arrival, you can take a small nap at your hotel for an hour or so, then freshen up and get out and sight see! Stay up! Its key to stay up as long as possible that first day, then when you go to bed after dinner, you’ll sleep through the night and wake up refreshed and ready to take on your vacation! Drink water too.

Hire a tour guide – With a good tour guide, you’ll get so much more out of your destination than reading the tour book.  The tour guides in Italy are highly trained and eager to show you their town or region.  Give them the chance!

Passport – Of course, don’t forget this! Make two copies of these items. Pack one in your carry-on luggage separate from your passport. Leave a set of these at home with a family member or close friend.  You can opt to have the pictures or scans on your smartphone or thumb drive, but make sure you have a hard copy of your passport. That will be better if you have to replace your passport. Take the contact information for the local embassy or consulate. Also, take your driver’s license with you. It is another form of identification and you’ll need it if you’re renting a car.

 

Buon Viaggio a tutti!

Gina and Mary