- Italians Take Siestas
Many Europeans, Italians being one of them, will take what is called a “siesta”. Siestas are when businesses will go home in the afternoon to nap or eat lunch. In some small towns in Italy even police stations will close down during the time of siesta from 1 pm to 3 pm.
When planning your trip to Italy, be sure to keep in mind that siestas are common and to always check operating hours of all business before. In case you like to eat lunch during that time, it may be wise to keep snacks on you just in case you can’t find a business that is open. In larger cities like Rome or Florence, you can almost always find a restaurant or street food available no matter the time, you just might not be able to pick and choose as easily during the siesta time.
- Language Barrier
While there are several Italians that do speak English, it’s not as common as it may be in other European countries. You will also find that the signage is almost always in Italian, on many trains however, they do a good job of trying to say the announcement in both Italian and English. It is good to note that on smaller trains and metros, they may only do the announcements in Italians.
It is wise that before you leave for Italy, you should try to learn some essential Italian phrases and words. This can help you communicate a little easier on the basic things. The app that I used to learn before my trip is Duolingo, it is very easy to use and simple to understand.
I would also recommend getting an international plan through your provider or a cheaper version is to purchase a local sim card, this will allow you to use Google Maps and help you find your way easier.
- Train System
Italy’s train system makes it very easy and affordable for anyone to get from destination to destination. It is reliable and has stops in almost every city throughout the country. Using the train system is the most cost-effective and results in the least amount of stress compared to other forms of transportation.
If you do decide to drive, remember to read up on the traffic rules and norms, and remember that if you can drive a manual then it will be cheaper.
For more tips on the trains system and how to get your tickets.
- Peak Season
Italy is one of the most visited countries in the world, with more than 50 million tourists each year. In order to avoid the mass amounts of tourists and crowds at the hottest monuments around Italy, it may be best to try to avoid going during the summer months.
During these months of June, July, and August because this is the peak season to travel, accommodations and flights tend to increase their price due to high demand.
- Plan In Advanced
Many tourists plan to visit the large bucket list attractions when they are visiting Italy, such as the Vatican, Pompeii, or the Colosseum, the big ticket attractions are often long quote lines or are booked up, especially if you are to visit during the peak season months.
To avoid waiting in long lines or potentially not being able to see one of your bucket list monuments, I suggest you plan your Italy trip in advance. It’s best to know where you want to go and what attractions you want to see before you arrive in Italy. Many of the main attractions, like the vatican for example, allow you to purchase tickets in advance and you also have the option to buy a skip the line ticket.
- Extra Charge On Bills
There are several things to note when eating out in Italy, the first is that it is common to have a charge on your bill that is called a “coperto”, which is basically a cover charge that the restaurant charges per person dining.
Coperto charges are almost always listed on the menu and can range anywhere from €1 to €5 depending on the city you are in, for example, in Rome or Florence you may end up paying on the higher end due to being a popular tourist location.
Another charge to take note on is called a “servizio”, which is more or less in place of a tip and typically ranges from 10-20% and is often listed on the menu. This charge is also more common in places that see higher amounts of tourists such as the Amalfi Coast or Venice.
Lastly, some Italian restaurants may charge what is called “pane e coperto”, this charge is for the bread that is brought out to your table and is typically a euro or two. Some restaurants charge for bread and some do not, but don’t be surprised if you get charged for the bread they bring out, it’s best to just assume that you will be and plan for it.
- Italian Breakfast
When visiting Italy, don’t expect a normal American breakfast. Some hotel breakfasts will offer what they call “american styled breakfast”, which then you can expect eggs and items we would eat in the states. However, the customary Italian breakfast consists of a cappuccino and a brioche.
A note on coffee, if you want a coffee with your breakfast, order a caffe latte. If you just say latte, they are going to give you a warm glass of milk, and not the milky coffee beverage you were expecting.
- Churches Have Dress Codes
Italians care about clothing and appearance when in religious places, they view it as a sign of respect. For this reason, churches and religious sites require appropriate clothing in order to enter, this attire includes covered legs and shoulders. You will typically see people wearing long sleeves shirts and long pants for guys and blouses and skirts or long dresses for women. This is especially true for attractions such as the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City or St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice