1. PLAN AHEAD FOR TRAIN TRAVEL
Point-to-point train tickets are a popular form of travel, especially on the popular circuit connecting Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome. Rail offers an affordable and flexible form of transportation, often costing less than $50 per ticket, but requires planning ahead. Many trains require a seat reservation that is not guaranteed by purchasing a ticket. Plus, if you are purchasing an overnight ticket, be sure to specify Mr. or Mrs. — public compartments are separated by male and female.
2. COVER CHARGE
Be sure to read the menu before sitting down for a meal. Some restaurants include a per-person cover charge, il coperto, that is often listed at the very top or the bottom of the menu. The small cover charge of one or two Euros covers things like still tap water and bread for the table that is usually on the house.
3. RESTAURANT TRADITIONS
Experiencing Italy’s culinary traditions is one of the country’s greatest treasures, with no shortage of restaurants to choose from. Italians take great pride in their food and requesting a substitution in your meal is considered an insult to the chef. If you have an allergy, ask the waiter for help to find an alternative dish. Drink the restaurant’s house wine — it’s cheap and delicious — and take your time to enjoy your meal. When you are ready to go, ask your waiter for the check to be delivered.
4. COFFEE RULES
There is proper etiquette when drinking coffee in Italy. Typically enjoyed during the morning, espresso (caffè) is the main form of coffee that locals quickly take at the counter or bar before leaving the shop. American-style drip coffee is hard to come by and it is rare to find Italians carrying to-go cups.
5. CLOTHING MATTERS
Fashion in Italy is important but it is important to dress smart. When visiting, wear shoes that are comfortable for walking on older streets cobblestone streets. Religious sites including St Marks, St Peter’s Basilica and Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) have staff enforcing dress codes requiring covered knees and shoulders.
It is also wise to purchase a body wallet to prevent your passport, money, and other valuables from being stolen by professional pickpockets. Carrying a small crossbody bag, worn to your front, zipped shut and held with one hand, can prevent theft.
6. BE WISE WITH YOUR LUGGAGE
Part of Italy’s charm is its ancient steps, cobbled streets, narrow hotel staircases, and train travel. Don’t be stuck with impractical luggage. The proper bags can make for an easier trip.
7. BE MINDFUL OF MEAL TIMES
There is no such thing as an early bird special in Italy! Dinner in Italy is usually not served in restaurants before 7:30 p.m.
8. AVOID MUSEUMS ON MONDAYS
Many museums in Italy are closed on Mondays so plan to do something else on those days.
9. USE A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE
Rather than having to purchase plastic bottled water which is expensive and bad for the environment, bring your own reusable water bottle to retrieve fresh potable water from one of the many water fountains around Italy. Clean drinking water from the local mountains is readily available across most regions in Italy.
10. BE PREPARED TO WALK
Italy's quaint piazzas and iconic landmarks are known for their beautiful cobblestones, iconic staircases and historic architecture. While your bus will bring you as close as possible to the locations you want to explore, many of these extremely old locations only allow vehicles to get so close — meaning you will need to walk the rest of the way. If you experience mobility issues, you may benefit from using a mobile cane chair to allow you to steady yourself as you walk over cobblestones, or offer you a seat when you need to rest. We recommend wearing comfortable, sturdy shoes as you may encounter stairways without railings and other somewhat challening pathways to navigate.