In this article we present common sense tips you can employ to ensure that you have a fun and safe vacation in Italy.
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
That’s an old cliche, but it’s true. When you travel to a different country you’ll come across different ways, different customs. It’s important to know a little bit about the culture before you visit, and of course there are common sense precautions you should follow where ever you travel.
Do you need medications of any kind? Always bring the medication – and the appropriate documentation to prove you need it – with you. You may be able to get the same kind of medication in Italy – but then again you might not. Better to be safe than sorry.
Do you plan to do any driving? Find out if you can drive in Italy using your regular car license, or if you need to get an “international driving license.’ If you are not familiar with international road signs – learn them before you go. While driving, check out your route in advance so you have some knowledge of where you’re going before you try to get there. Know the rules of the road in Italy and what to do in case of accidents.
Make a list of the places and things you want to see before you go, and do research into them. Some events or museum exhibits are time sensitive, so you’ll want to make sure you’re going at the right time to see everything. Now that practically every museum and art gallery is online you can easily check to make sure if there’ll be an exhibit you’ll want to see, or if a gallery will be closed while you’re visiting.
Can you get along without your cellphone? You may be able to get a special card in it to make sure it will work in Italy. Ask your service provider about that. Will you be bringing a laptop computer? Make sure you have transformers so that you can plug in batteries to recharge, not only for computers but also for other electronic devices. And not only will you need a transformer but also a converter – to make sure you don’t burn out your appliance. Just because a plug fits into the socket, it does not mean the right voltage is going through it!
You’re in Italy, and you’re seeing the sites. Depending on where you are, you will be in a crowd of other tourists. If you’re traveling with family or friends make sure that you have contingency plans in case you get separated. Distribute your money in such a way that if you lose a wallet you will not lose your vacation.
Be aware of the rules for each site you visit, and make sure you follow them. Not all of the sites you visit will allow you to take pictures, for example, and if you are inside buildings such as art galleries or museums you will certainly not be able to use a flash.
If you enter a church, be as quiet and respectful as possible. Even if there are famous for their architecture and open to tours, worshippers are still there and should not be disturbed. Be careful about using a camera in this instance.
Dinning Out in Italy
It’s a good idea to drink bottled water instead of the tap water, at any time of day. It will save you from any stomach unpleasantness.
There are some countries where you can go into a restaurant, order food, and get it “your way.” This is not the case in Italy. Don’t insult the chefs by making special requests to substitute or leave off an ingredient.
As you travel from country to country you’ll find that different regions have different table manners. You may look odd, for example, if you cut your spaghetti with a fork – the Italians wrap the spaghetti around a spoon and eat it that way. However, so many tourists travel in Italy with so many different customs that it won’t invite that much comment – you’ll probably just be considered a tourist. If you are traveling on business – that is the time to make sure you eat your food the way the Italians eat it.
Italians like to linger over their food. You will not be presented with a check – you’ll have to ask your server for it. Tipping is an accepted practice, and should be done in cash. Most of the dining restaurants in Italy are the sit down type with several different courses. If you want “fast food,” a pizzeria is your best bet.
You’ll enjoy your trip to Italy much more if you are familiar with the customs in advance, have plans to take care of every contingency, and know what you want to see and when you want to see it. Avanti!
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I’m a passionate traveler, writer, and Italophile. My fascination with Italy’s history, art, and culture has led me on countless adventures across the Italian landscape. Through “I Live Italy,” I share my love for this extraordinary country and aims to inspire others to explore its boundless beauty.