You did it! You finally booked your trip to Italy! So, now what? Well, aside from remembering to pack your toothpaste, sunscreen, and maybe some aftershave, there is a lot to keep in mind while traveling through the beautiful and historical land of Italy. Here are 10 travel tips for enjoying your summer in Italy.
Prepare for the heat.
If you’re traveling to Italy in the summer, you better be someone who enjoys their warm weather! Italy has been known to reach temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in the peak summer months of July and August. Pack light, breathable clothing that won’t trap heat while you’re walking around. Also, make sure that wherever you are staying has air conditioning, as it is not always given in Italy.
Remember, it's tourist season.
As with anywhere in the world this time of year, summer is when you will see the most tourists and the largest crowds. Popular travel sites such as Rome and Florence will be bustling, and so will their most historic sites and museums. With that in mind, you may want to try visiting Italian cities and regions that are a little less overrun. The Emilia Romagna region, known for its capital of Bologna, is one of the more northern regions of Italy that has as much amazing Italian food and beautiful scenery to explore as any other.
Do your research.
Rule of thumb: Don’t go to another country without learning about it first. Do specific research on the areas you will be visiting so that you’ll know their customs and the best places to spend your vacation. Lonely Planet’s travel books are incredibly useful, comprehensive guides to not just the tourist destinations, but to the local culture as well. Be sure to have experiences that don’t end in a gift shop.
Attend a local sagra.
Sagre are small festivals held in Italian towns (another great way to escape flocks of tourists) and celebrate the best local Italian food and drink. No self-respecting foodie will want to pass this up.
Book your beach visits carefully.
At the same time that you are taking your summer vacation, Italians are also going on their month-long holiday. This means that some areas of Italy–namely, the beaches–will be more crowded than usual. August is particularly insane, as it is the month most Europeans take their holiday.
Take a walking tour.
The best way to get familiar with a new place is to have a local guide take you on a walking tour. Generally, walking tours are not expensive as they are more informal affairs than, say, museum tours. Taking a walking tour is a fun and practical way to get your bearings. This is perhaps one of the best travel tips there is.
Visit any of the hundreds of historical sites and museums.
There is absolutely no way you can visit Italy without checking out the country’s ancient ruins, world-famous monuments, and stunning museums. Sorry, you’ll just have to bear the crowds of tourists for these must-see travel sites. From the ashes of Pompeii to the Colosseum of Rome to the Galleria degli Uffizi of Florence, the trip will definitely be worth it.
Do some wandering.
Wandering around and happening upon things you didn’t expect is one of the best parts of traveling. For the sake of safety, you should probably not wander off alone, but strolling into local Italian restaurants and cafes without having an agenda is a wonderful way to develop a personal affection for the country.
Observe local customs.
Please, please don’t be the obnoxious American traveler. Learn and observe local Italian customs out of respect for the people who live there. Not only is it polite, but the locals will think well of you. Besides, this is literally the perfect time to say, “When in Rome!” One of the cardinal rules you must abide by, for example, is having a cappuccino with your breakfast, but never with any other meal. Cappuccino time ends at around 11 o’clock in the morning.
Always look your best.
It’s not just a stereotype–Italians really do dress well. While you don’t have to spend three hours doing your hair and makeup if you don’t want to, definitely don’t eat at an Italian restaurant or go walking around the piazza in sweatpants.