44 Tips for Traveling in Italy

I get lots of questions about living in Florence and emails asking for tips for traveling in Italy. So I finally decided to put all of my tips and advice together in one place! I hope you find them useful and please share any tips you have. And don’t worry, I update this list and its links regularly!

1. Plan and Pre-Book major sights and attractions whenever possible, especially if you are traveling in mid-March (spring break) or between May and July.

2. Don’t use third party booking websites or companies. 
Companies like TickItaly will charge you an arm and a leg for a reservation you could easily make on the official museum website (or officially sponsored website) yourself. Here is a list of official museum/gallery websites:
Vatican Museums
Roman Forum and Colosseum (combo ticket)
Borghese Gallery (Rome)
The David (Accademia, Florence)
Uffizi (Florence)
Last Supper (Milan)
Doge’s Palace (Venice)
St. Mark’s (Venice)

3. Avoid restaurants with pictures of the food.
You can read more of my tips for selecting restaurants in Italy here.

4. Make the most of the high-speed train. 
It is only takes an hour and a half to get from Florence to Rome or Florence to Venice, and only thirty minutes to get to Bologna! Plus the trains are comfortable and reliable. They are my preferred way to travel around Italy. You can purchase tickets online or through a local travel agent in Italy. But the easiest way is through the kiosk at the train station (and yes, an English option is available). If you are in Florence, the lovely staff at FlorenceForFun can help you get great discounts!

Important Train Tips – The high speed trains called “Frecciarossa” (which goes from Turin – Milan – Bologna – Rome – Naples – Salerno), “Frecciargento” (Rome to Venice, Verona, Bari/Lecce, Lamezia Terme/ReggioCalabria), and “Frecciabianca” (Milan to: Venice, Udine e Trieste; Genoa and Rome; and down to Bari, Lecce) require you to pre-purchase a ticket and reserve a seat before boarding (you must also sit in your assigned seat. These tickets are like airline tickets and are only good for the specific journey purchased. 

Regional trains (including the Leonardo Express from the airport in Rome to the main train station) have open seating (within each class of ticket) and can be used at any time. You must, however, VALIDATE regional tickets (or any train ticket without a seat assignment) by inserting it into the yellow box located at the train platform.

5. Don’t let anyone help you put your luggage on the train or take it off.
This is a scam (mostly by gypsies) to force you to tip. If you are fine tipping, go for it, but be warned they are not the most upstanding characters.

6. Watch your bags as the train arrives and departs the station. 
Just incase somebody tries to hop on and steal something at the last minute.

7. Be prepared to lug all of your luggage down cobblestone streets and up stairs (and on and off trains). 
If your bag is too heavy or large to do this yourself, you need to rethink what you have packed! There are lots of streets and squares taxis can’t go down, so even if you cab it, you still might have another block or two to haul your stuff. Elevators can also be a rarity and you will often find random small sets of steps you have to navigate.

8. Bring a portable luggage scale, especially if you are traveling via discount European airlines. 
They are serious about bag weight.

9. Get up early every once and a while. 
Many cities, like Rome and Venice, have a completely different feel without the hoards of tourists. It is worth it to get an early start (especially in the hot summer) to get a different perspective of the city and to see many of the monuments not littered with people.

10. Always carry cash. 
Most places will not let you use your debit or credit card for smaller purchases and restaurants don’t split bills.

11. Wear comfortable shoes.
I can’t stress this one enough!

12. Look up if your bank has any affiliations in Italy (i.e. Bank of America and BNL) to avoid service charges and fees.

13. Unlock your phone and pop in an Italian SIM card. 
If you have an iPhone that is out of contract (i.e. over two years old) this is fairly easy to do and Italian SIMs are inexpensive. You can read more about how to do this here.

14. Don’t forget sunscreen.

15. Don’t put cheese on seafood pasta. 
Despite how delicious the cheese is here, Italians do not put it on everything.

16. Leave valuables at home. 
Flashy jewelry says “rob me because I have money.”

17. Carry a copy of your passport instead of the original and leave the original locked in your room safe (or hidden in your room).

18. Separate your debit and credit cards. 
In case you are pick-pocketed, it is best to separate your debit/credit cards. I never keep mine together, so that if the worst happens, I always have a fall-back card.

19. Exchange money via your debit card at the ATM. 
This is the easiest way to get euros and ensures the best exchange rate.

20. Call your bank before leaving the country.

21. Bring a copy of your health insurance card.

22. Don’t put your shoes or feet up on chairs or seats on the train. 
This is considered rude.

23. Don’t sign the petition against drugs!
It is a scam to get your email and then sell it, or to get you to donate money.

24. Hold your wine glass by the stem. 
The heat from your hand changes the character of the wine when you hold the glass. Learn more tricks for tasting wine like a pro here.

25. Limit the amount of skin you show. 
This is for practical reasons, like entering churches, and because in general Italians show less skin.

26. Bread is not served with oil and balsamic vinegar. 
Although some places have started capitulating to American expectations.

27. You have to call a taxi, you can’t flag them down.

28. Drink the house wine, it’s delicious and cheap.

29. Start at the Roman Forum instead of the Colosseum. 
There is rarely a line at the Forum. Pick up or purchase your tickets there and when you are done, you can skip the line at the Colosseum, since you will already have your ticket.

30. Sneak into St. Peter’s Basilica (Shhh!). 
If you are not on a guided tour but want to visit the basilica without waiting in another 3 hour line, you can “sneak” in. There are two ways to exit the Sistine Chapel (the end of the Vatican Museum tour). If you take the door in the back right corner (if you back is to the Last Judgment) you will head straight to the church without exiting the complex. This is how all the guides do it, so just blend in and if anyone asks, say you’re on a tour.

31. Visit the Vatican Museum at night. 
They now offer night tours, which can be reserved on the Vatican Museums’ website.

32. Skip the Vatican Museum line. 
If you find yourself in Rome without a reservation for the Vatican Museums and facing the typical 3-hour line, don’t worry you can pay (double) to skip the line. Find a shady looking gentleman hawking tours and a “skip the line” pass. These companies reserve blocks of entrance times and then sell them for double. It stinks that you will have to pay double, but it is still better than wasting 3 hours of your day. If you don’t want the tour, tell them you just want to skip the line.

33. Eat as far away from major attractions as possible.

34. Drink the water. 
The public drinking fountains throughout the city spew fresh spring water that is still brought to the city by the ancient aqueducts. The water is delicious, clean, and free!

35. The Roman Forum has zero shade, bring an umbrella or hat in the summer.

36. Opt for an aperitivo instead of dinner every once in a while. 
Aperitivi are typically served from 7ish to 9ish. You pay for the drink, usually around 7 to 10 euros, and get to enjoy the complementary buffet. Trust me it is a ton of food. You get to try new Tuscan dishes and save money.

37. Walk everywhere. 
Florence is small and the best way to see it is on foot.

38. Invest in the Florence Pass/Firenze Card. 
You get to skip the line and save money. But this only works for 72 hours, so group your activities accordingly. Click here to learn more.

39. Try new foods. 
As gross as cow’s stomach and chicken livers sound, the Florentines consider them delicacies and they are delicious.

40. Climb the Duomo’s cupola.

41. Get lost.
You will get lost so why not embrace it?

42. Spend the night. 
So many tourists only come for the day and Venice is very eerie at night.

43. Take the Vaporetto down the Grand Canal (for a much cheaper tour).

44. One Venetian gondola seats six. 
To save money, pack in as many as possible, since the price is per gondola not person.

Finally, learn how to drink coffee like an Italian!

For more on traveling in Italy:
How to Make the Most of Your Semester Abroad
The Best of Italy 12-Day Itinerary 
Everything You Need to Know Before Traveling in Italy
A Day Trip Through the Amalfi Coast
Best Rooftop Bars in Florence
Rome Hippest Neighborhoods
Cinque Terre in a Day
What You Need to Know Before Buying Leather in Florence
20 Tips for Traveling the Amalfi Coast
Road Trip Through Tuscany





121 thoughts on “44 Tips for Traveling in Italy”

  1. Thanks for the tips! I've been going back and forth on a money belt for a three week trip to help keep cc/cash separate. Or Is keeping them in separate purse compartments or Locked up back at the hotel sufficient? Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thank you

  2. 45 – in Rome, some of the best art isn't in museums, but in churches or in public and is free.
    46 – everywhere – If you find a restroom, use it, because who knows when you'll find another one. McDonald's often has well maintained bathrooms and it is easy enough to breeze by the lines of customers to use it without buying anything.

  3. Love your tips, totally pinning and sharing now because I think they're great. When I was in Venice I got so lost but it was wonderful. I loved wandering around aimlessly, it was luxuriously relaxing.

  4. Just came home from Rome and I thought I was being smart buying tickets ahead of time. Boy was I wrong. If you visit the Colosseum, I would recommend just showing up as those lines were empty! I couldn't believe it.

  5. Hi!

    My name is Olivia, and I manage Student Ramblings (https://ramblingstudents.wordpress.com), a blog for students interested in Study Abroad. One of the things I’m trying to do is interview students who travel abroad and talk to them about their experiences. I was wondering if you would be willing to participate! I’d love to hear about your point of view!

    In addition to sharing your answers, I’ll link to your blog!

    If you’re interested, I’d love to hear your answer (email me at deceptivelyblonde@gmail.com) to some of the following questions 🙂 Then I can share your good advice with my readers!

    1. Where are you in Your Education? (Sophomore, Junior, Etc.–Highschool/College)
    2. What have you decided to/are you interested in studying? 

    3. Why did you decided to study abroad; what sort of things did you consider?

    4. What program did you choose, where are you at, and how long will it last?

    5. How did you pick this program; what made it stand out above the rest?

    6. Is the program well planned; Are things running smoothly?
    7. How do you like the classes/educational/employment parts of this program? Have you learned a lot?

    8. What is the country like? Does it meet your expectations?

    9. What has been the best and worst part about your experience traveling abroad?

    10. Would you make the same decision to study abroad with this program now, as you did before?

    Thanks! Have fun in Europe; looking forward to hearing more about your adventures!! I really like your articles and point of view about life – you are definitely making the most of your trip.

  6. This article was INCREDIBLY helpful! My fiance and I are considering a honeymoon in Italy and exploring everything — this provided great things to consider and keep in mind. Thanks!

  7. I've been to Italy only one time in my life. It was Venice. I totally agree with article #41, We got lost and went to absolutely amazing places , there was no tourists (except us haha), quiet, no rush. About food and restaurants: before our trip we booked a gastronomic tour of Venice on http://vivaster.com/ . We tried different types of wine and ate cicchetti (small italian snacks). It was bautiful Italian evening, we were chatting and spending a lovely time together. An English speaking guide helped us to understand different flavors of wine. So if anyone of you guys will ever be in Venice again – try it!

  8. It will be a good idea to exchange your currency before leaving your home country. ATM’s are the best ways to exchange your money while you are in Italy but may be airport ATM be empty so you might not be able to exchange the money at one of the most expensive currency.


  9. Thanks for sharing all of these great little tips! It is good to know where to go for food when you want to have that real, authentic Italian experience. I’ll be sure to know where certain dishes originated, and then get that food in those places. If I am going to be experiencing Italy, I want to be sure I experience it in the best way possible.
    Best cities to visit in Italy

  10. We are planning a 10 days trip to italy this sept n ur tips just came in so handy n well equipped us in advance. Thank you so much for all ur hard work and compilations!! ����

  11. We just got back from two weeks touring Italy and your tips came in so handy. Especially the one about lugging around a heavy suitcase – on and off trains, dragging it along numerous stretches of narrow cobblestone streets and all those stairs! I still wound up leaving things behind in every hotel we stayed at – a hair dryer, umbrella, pair of heavy shoes, two extra tops – anything to lighten the load! You can travel with far less than you think. Thanks so much.

  12. It is not that you aren't allowed to go this way (you aren't breaking any Vatican rules), it is just a secret tour leaders keep to themselves. Guides are very protective of their secrets, they don't want you to know that you can go this way too.

  13. Great tips. Our first trip to Italy is only 50 days away. We are trying to figure out the best way to get from Rome to Sienna. I was told to take the train to Florence and rent a car from there. Any advice? The other option is a bus to Sienna directly and rent a car once there. We are told we need the car to tour vineyards.

  14. Yes, take the high speed train from Rome to Florence. From Florence your best option is to either rent a car or take the bus (http://www.sitabus.it/en/florence-siena-bus/). Renting a car is very nice because some of Tuscany’s most beautiful landscapes and wineries are outside of Siena. You will need are car if you want to explore wineries. You might even consider staying in an agriturimso (which will have vineyards) outside Siena.

  15. Thank you@ I took a leap of faith and did this ahead of your comment. Now my only worry is driving the rental car out of Florence. I am told that can be difficult. We are in a villa outside of Siena and we think we will need a car.

  16. Hi,

    Thanks for your helpful tips! We are planning to go to Italy for the first time end of this year. While we plan to explore mostly Rome and Florence, is there another country that we can visit conveniently from Italy?

  17. Hi, Thanks for all your helpful tips! We are planning to go to Italy end of the year, mainly Rome and Florence.
    What is the closest and most convenient country to cross over and visit from Italy?

  18. Hi, I'm traveling to Tuscany first full week of November with a tour grouo. We are staying in Monticatini. We have one free day. Is it possible to go to Rome for the day or would most of our time be spent on trains to and from?
    Also, is Nov typically rainy? Thsnks in advance.

  19. Hi Pam,

    Rome from Montecatini is tough, but not impossible. The problem is that the high-speed train doesn’t go there, so you would first have to take a local train to Florence and then the high-speed train (about an hour and a half) to Rome. My advice would be to extend your trip a day or two at the end and stay in Rome. It really is worth it and there is so much to see! If you travel from Tuscany and only have one day, you will only get a couple hours in Rome. Hope this helps!

  20. I live in Italy and I can agree with most of these tips. The only thing I must disagree with is suggesting tourists take the vaporetto as pleasure cruise. It is public transportation. We get 30 MILLION tourists a year. And residents are already late for work and picking up their children from school because they are too crowded. As it is we are pushed and shoved on the vaporettos because tourists are trying to take pictures. There are many options as a tourist to see the Grand Canal without using public transportation.

  21. oh wow! i couldn't even imagine that Italy is so thieves country! i've been always travelling by cars so i haven't dealt with keeping an eye on luggage or something like that. btw renting cars is not as expensive as we fancy especially if you are travelling with friends (one more tip 🙂
    we usually rent cars in Italy on this website https://rental24h.com/italy

  22. I am doing a study abroad in Florence this semester and these tips will be very helpful!! I was wondering if you have an suggestions on calling a taxi especially from the airport when I first arrive? Thank you! I look forward to exploring the rest of your blog!

  23. Hi Kelly, at the airport in Florence there is no need to call a taxi. There is a Taxi que to the right of the airport after you exit baggage claim. Simply wait your turn in line and tell the drive where you are headed! Once you are in the city you can grab a taxi at a que, or call one of the main companies to your location. I always use Radio taxi +39 055 4242. Hope this helps and have an incredible semester!

  24. Hi Ashley! My husband and I are visiting Italy in June. We are flying into Naples because we have family living there temporarily. From my understanding we can take the Frecciarossa from Naples to Venice. We will be spending a 2 nights in Venice. From there we would like to head to Cinque Terre, can we take a train from Venice to Cinque Terre? Do you know where I can buy tickets so we are guaranteed entry? We would love to hike and I read that they are limiting tourist. We will be staying the night in Vernazza. After Cinque Terre we are heading to Pisa then Tuscany for a night onto Siena for a night. Is the order I am planning this all wrong? I have no idea, just trying to follow lots of peoples opinions on Pinterest. Your blog has been incredibly helpful, thank you!

  25. Hi Natasha,

    Yes, you can easily take the high speed train from Naples to Venice. Getting to the Cinque Terre from Venice, however, is a bit more complicated. It is actually easier to get a train from Florence to the Cinque Terre, so I would do Florence (Pisa and Siena are easy day trips from Florence) before heading to Cinque.

    Hope this helps, and have an amazing trip!

  26. You can do either. Parking in Cinque can be tricky, so I prefer the train. For the train you travel from Florence to La Spezia (with one train switch in Pisa, don't worry, it is easy) and switch to a local train that will take you through the towns. Just be warned this local train can be very crowded in the summer!

  27. I've been to Italy once before and traveled between Verona, a small village called Este, and Milan for one day. In October, I'm traveling with my husband and daughter to Rome and want to escape the city to the smaller cities and villages as that was what I loved most on my trip last year. These tips are wonderful and so helpful to keep in mind as I make our plans. Originally I was wanting to go to the Amalfi area, but I'm thinking of changing our direction and going toward Umbria and Tuscany instead. I'm hoping to stop in Orvieto and maybe Siena, though the idea of an Italian coastal town is so attractive sounding.

  28. Wow dear, I'm kinda sad that I have found your post now. I have came back from Rome a few days ago. I can relate to theh Forum queu is quite more shorter, restaurants are incredibly expensive and the fountain's water is really good.

    Petons 🙂

  29. Hi there I am so happy I found your web site, I really
    found you by error, while I was searching on Aol for something else,
    Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thanks
    for a remarkable post and a all round enjoyable blog (I also love the theme/design), I
    don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but I have bookmarked it and also
    included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the
    fantastic jo.

  30. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog?
    My blog is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would truly benefit from some of
    the information you provide here. Please let me know if this alright with you.

    Thanks a lot!

  31. I appreciate your effort. I must say that you have shared a really nice and useful information about this fabulous destination with all of us which is really good. I would like to way of talking. I hope so that your shared information would be useful for all visitors which who have a plan to go there in coming up days. I also visited there for having enjoyment. I would love to go there again if I get any chance.

  32. Hello!
    I’ll be traveling with my husband in May but I have a big question!
    The number 25… How short is the dress allowed in the churches?
    Above the knee, 4 fingers above the knee? …

    1. Unfortunately, it depends on the church and how strict they feel like being. For the Vatican (the most strict) your skirt needs to come to your knee. The smaller churches are often more lenient. You can always cary a light-weight scarf and wrap it around your legs if needed.

  33. Thanks for all the great tips! As a first time visitor to Italy in a couple weeks, I’m not sure if I should purchase tours (Viator) which include skip the line benefits, or just purchase skip the line tickets when we get there. Suggestions? Thanks!

    1. HistoryinHighHeels

      Viator definitely charges a premium. For many Italian cities, if you purchase their “card” (i.e. RomeCard, Firenze Card, etc), your entrance fee is included and you get to skip the line. You can also reserve a ticket and entrance time for most museums directly through their official websites, no need to go through a third party like Viator.

  34. Pingback: inflammation

  35. Pingback: lymphedema therapy

  36. Pingback: get more info here

  37. Pingback: lymphedema treatment centers houston texas

  38. Pingback: lymphedema clinic houston tx

  39. Pingback: lymphedema diagnosis

  40. Pingback: wedding dj bozeman

  41. Pingback: treatment for lymphedema

  42. Pingback: lymphedema exercises

  43. Pingback: lymphedema cure

  44. The less your post is praised, the less such a post gets to see so that I get to learn something, I am very happy to see your post and I will also go to write good posts in life like you. Inspired.

  45. The less your post is praised, the less such a post gets to see so that I get to learn something, I am very happy to see your post and I will also go to write good posts in life like you. Inspired.

  46. Pingback: lymphedema clinic houston

  47. Pingback: lymphedema diet

  48. Pingback: lymphedema clinic in houston texas

  49. Pingback: lymphangitis

  50. Pingback: lymphatic massage

  51. Pingback: lymphedema clinic in houston tx

  52. Pingback: lymphedema causes

  53. Pingback: Lymphedema Therapy Specialists

  54. Pingback: lymphedema cure

  55. Pingback: wedding djs bozeman

  56. Pingback: lymphedema obesity

  57. Pingback: a fantastic read

  58. Pingback: more info here

  59. Pingback: lymphatic drainage

  60. Pingback: houston lymphedema clinic

  61. Pingback: printing and mailing services

  62. Pingback: lymphedema treatment centers

  63. Pingback: lymphedema treatment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *