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  • Writer's pictureEllie Friese

Tips on Preparing for your trip to Italy

Italy is without a doubt a magical place. One of the reasons is because of how diverse the country spans from region to region. Different cuisines, environments, views, customs, etc. For example, Pesto originates from the Cinque Terre region close to Florence. Rome has their own style of pizza compared to the birthplace of the famous dish in Naples (Napoli). Not to mention Ravioli, Lasagna, Cacio pepe, etc. all come from different places, too! This makes Italy the perfect place to come back to ;). Not to mention that the East Coast looks completely different to the West Coast!

 

There are so many things to note on what to expect when traveling to Italy; when to eat, how to tip, what's offered in the area depending on the time of year, how to navigate trains, and so much more!


DINING


  • There is usually a cover charge at most sit down restaurants which can range from 1-3 euros per person

  • Water does cost money and they will ask you if you want still or sparkling. This ranges from 3-5 euros on average PER BOTTLE

  • Servers do not come attend to you unless you call them over. They typically stand back and scan the crowd, waiting to catch your eye.

  • If you would like to eat somewhere that does not require a reservation, you are welcome to sit down where you would like. No need to go ask the host :)

  • When traveling with a group, it is unlikely for the restaurant to split checks

  • Restaurants are typically open all day in popular areas. Dinner service typically starts between 6-7:30 and most Italians will eat dinner around 8:00pm

  • Aperitivo is an important part of Italian culture and typically starts between 4-6, depending on the location and is essentially a time where you can have a glass of wine or a spritz, have a couple of bites to eat to “open your stomach” for your main meal. This is a must!



  • Rome and Florence: 10-14 euros for a pasta or pizza, 2-4 euros for coffee, 5-10 euros for a cocktail, 2-6 euros for gelato depending on size

  • Amalfi/Positano: 14-22 euros for pasta or pizza, 10-15 euros for a cocktail, 4-8 euros for gelato depending on size, 4-6 euros for a coffee

  • Capri: 18-30 euros for pasta or pizza, 18-25 euros for a cocktail, 5-8 euros for gelato depending on the size, 5-8 euros for a coffee

  • Puglia: 8-12 euros for a pasta or pizza, 2-4 euros for coffee, 5-10 euros for a cocktail, 2-6 euros for gelato depending on size

  • Venice: 12-20 euros for a pasta or pizza, 3-6 euros for coffee, 8-20 euros for a cocktail, 3-8 euros for gelato depending on size


TRAINS


  • The trains in Italy are often delayed. Be cautious planning anything within 2 hours of your scheduled arrival

  • There is luggage storage at the entrance doors for your larger luggage and space overhead for you smaller luggage and personal items

  • There is typically wifi on board but it can be finicky and never works when going through tunnels ;)

  • While some trains in Europe have a concessions, trains in Italy typically do not

  • There is a bathroom on board!

  • It is important to get to the train station at least 20min prior to your scheduled departure to ensure you have enough time to board and find room for your luggage as the space is first come first serve

  • Be sure to buffer some extra time when using public transportation or the metro incase of delays



TIPPING


  • Tipping is pretty straight forward in Europe, meaning Italy as well

  • A good rule of thumb for dining out is to round up the bill or leave 5-10%. For example, if I got a meal worth 20 euros, I would leave 1 euro for a tip

  • For tour guides, the same rule applies ; 5-10% or 2-5 (1-4hrs) euros per person for a half day and 10-20 euros for a full day tour (6hrs+)

  • For a driver, 5-10 euros depending on the length of the drive is appropriate

  • For porters and luggage attendants, 1 euro per piece of luggage 

  • If your concierge is especially helpful, tipping 5-20 euros is a nice gesture as well




USING THE W.C.


  • It is common for toilet seats not to have a cover on it. Ladies… you can expect some squatting #justbeingreal

  • There are some instances that public restrooms do not have toilet paper so it is advised to bring a small pack of tissues with you

  • It typically costs between 1-2 euros to use a restroom, even in a train station (there are toilets on the actual train!)

  • If you want to use a restaurant’s toilet and you are not a customer, you can usually buy something small like a water bottle or pastry

  • If you are out and about and want to find a public toilet, you can type it into google or apple maps and it will take you to one



SORRENTO & POSITANO


  • Sorrento provides a better base than Positano/Amalfi because of the proximity to Naples, Capri, and Ischia if you are wanting to explore the peninsula 

  • Capri has a very small downtown area and the prices on the island are one of the highest when visiting the coast. This island has a very upscale, posh feeling with plenty of luxury shopping. 

  • The streets in Positano are winding and busy, especially in the summer when it gets super crowded. There is a nice beach area near the port with a public and private beach where you can rent chairs and umbrellas. 

  • Plan on bringing some motion sickness medicine. If you are planning on a boat day, even if you don't have a history of motion sickness, bring some medicine just incase as the water can get really choppy! In addition to this, the roads through the mountains are very windy as well. 

  • In the shoulder season on the coast, the water and weather can be very unpredictable. Boat excursions and ferries typically have a 50/50 chance of actually operating due to water conditions. It is always best to plan ahead but manage your expectations that if you are able to get out on the water, consider yourself lucky!

  • Taxis and transportation should always be pre booked for the best rates. Typically your hotel can get you a great deal with local suppliers or your travel advisor ;)

  • Traffic can be intense in the high season. What may normally be 45min to an hour can easily take 1.5 hours to go to the airport, train station, or port from Sorrento. I would definitely recommend budgeting 2 hours for the transfer!



FLORENCE & ROME


  • Preparing for Florence and Rome really entails pre-booking the experiences you really want to do

  • When going out to eat, to avoid the tourist traps, walk away from any large touristic spot and you should be good

  • Most great restaurants won't be standing outside trying to pass you a menu as you walk by. Go around a few corners, look for Italians eating there, and plop down

  • To see the statue of David, you NEED to prebook your tickets months in advance.

  • I always recommend a guide for the Colosseum and The Vatican - I promise you get way more out of the experience than you would on your own + even if you've been before, I have ZERO doubts you will learn plenty of new things

  • These two cities are fabulous to travel to year around but watch out for Rome in August as it gets HOT HOT HOT

  • In Rome, there are hundreds of fresh water fountains where you can fill up your water bottles. The water comes from the Roman Aqueducts and stays pretty cold, which is a life saver in the summer heat




That's all for this time, travel bugs. Still feeling like you could use more preparation for your trip? When you work with us, you get en entire destination guide in your itinerary with packing recommendations, tipping information, transportation guides, and more!




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