Tips and Tricks for Italy

A few handy tips and tricks to know on your next trip to Italy.

  1. TRAIN TROUBLE Always book your trains in advance! We thought booking on the fly would suffice, but we were left paying way more for whatever premium tickets were left available. If you have ample time, there are cheaper (slower) trains, but the high-speed ones can get you across the country in several hours. Make sure when checking the train station screens for your platform number that you are looking for the trains final destination rather than your stop. For example, we were going from Venice to Rome but our train number said Naples (which was the end stop). Don’t forget to validate your ticket if you don’t have assigned seats to avoid getting fined!
  2. SITTING FEES Ever heard of a cover charge to simply eat at a restaurant? Neither have we. It’s good to be aware that most restaurants in the touristy areas will have a cover charge, or “sitting fee.” Ask before sitting down to eat if you don’t want to be surprised by your bill at the end!
  3. HOLD ON TO THOSE BAGS Be weary of people trying to help you with your luggage or help purchase kiosk tickets at the train station. They will want a tip but could also run off with your things!
  4. FEEL THE BURN Haven’t done the stair master in a while? Don’t fret, you will be taking loads of stairs, as their typically won’t be lifts. Having a backpack instead of a rolling bag will definitely come in handy. I have used my 60 L Osprey backpack for 2 years and have absolutely loved it.
  5. KEEP GOING The further away you get from the touristy spots, the cheaper things get! This is true is most countries but especially in Italy. Make sure to not accept or order bread unless you want to pay for it along with water.
  6. TAKE A SHOT Cappuccinos are normally only for breakfast in Italy. If you want to fit in with the locals, just grab an espresso and shoot it at the bar standing up then go on your way! If you’re used to syrupy coffee drinks, wait until you’re back home for a Starbucks. Italian coffee is among the best, but it will not be sugary sweet.
  7. RABBIT FOOD Ordering a green salad or insalata verde? Think again. Unless you’re a rabbit, then go ahead. My brother, who loves food to say the least, was the opposite of thrilled when they sat a bowl of literally just lettuce leaves in front of him.
  8. GET MORE SPACE We are huge fans of AirBnb, for the three of us, we got three bedroom condos and houses for the same price as a small fancy hotel room.
  9. LESS IS MORE Pack super light, as we always recommend but barely have learned how to do so ourselves. This trip I packed one pair of shoes which took a lot of weight off of my backpack. Also pack light because you’re going to want to shop, seriously. Italy is one of the shopping meccas of Europe. Every single city we went to, even on the Isle of Capri, had endless streets of fabulous shopping. The leather markets in Florence are also a must-visit. We lucked out with it being right after the holidays and stores were having huge sales!
  10. GET AWAY Go behind the city walls, go to the “other side” of the bridge. One afternoon I got lost wondering outside of Siena in Tuscany and got a taste of the non touristy, quieter side of the country. Most times, its a much better experience!
  11. RAIN OR SHINE Watch the weather! I can’t stress it enough (especially as a photographer), how much the weather will effect your trip to a certain place. We carefully watched the forecast and unfortunately had to skip visiting Cinque Terre because of 100% chances of rain all day. You don’t want to go see a pedestrian fisherman village with a history of floods on a day that’s below freezing and rainy. Instead, it’s a good opportunity to fit in those museums your promised yourself you would see.
  12. EAT MORE THAN PIZZA Not every Italian town is known for its pizza. Certain regions and cities in Italy are known for certain dishes, cheeses, breads, desserts and wines. Naples has the best pizza, while Rome is known for its Carbonara, Florence its gelato and Chianti. Pesto was INVENTED in Cinque Terre, so you better go visit just for the pesto gnocchi. Do your research before you go so you can order wisely!