When considering a trip to Italy, there are a few things you should keep in mind. From the food, to the culture, and everything in between, I’ve got you covered with what you need to know about Italy before you go!
Coffee in Italy
The coffee cups in Italian hotels are much smaller than their American counterparts. The small size of the cup is due to a cultural preference for drinking espresso or other strong drinks with one hand, while holding onto something delicate with another. The Italians love their coffee – nearly everyone drinks an espresso, called a “caffe” or cappuccino. Iced coffee is served as a dessert instead of an afternoon drink. It’s typically made with sweetened condensed milk and lots of sugar, which turns it into something similar to ice cream. It is darn good. I suggest you try an iced coffee while in Italy.
(Travel Tip: If the hotel doesn’t provide coffee in your room, be sure to pack instant coffee.)
The differences between Italian cuisine are as diverse and colorful as the country itself. While there is some overlap in flavor profiles between regions, each with its own unique contribution, certain flavors can only be found in specific cities. Knowing what region in Italy you are visiting can help narrow down the cuisine you need to try. For example, if your destination happens to be Milan, try Osso Bucco (braised veal shank), Risotto alla Milanese (a creamy yellow risotto flavored with saffron), or Cotoletta (breaded veal cutlet). However, Italian food may not be everyone’s cup of tea because the cuisine can sometimes be bland and the pasta may seem too “al dente” for some American’s tastes buds. Shocker! American bloggers seem to never talk about their dislike for authentic Italian food. I personally do not care for it. Comment below if you have had the same experience or the opposite experience.
(Travel Tip: There is more to Italy than pizza and pasta. You should take the time to research the food by region.)
The Italian way of doing things is different than in America. For one, they don’t like to split checks–the full bill is always paid by someone at the table regardless of how many people were there or what was ordered. So you may want to figure this out beforehand if going with a group, so that there aren’t any surprises when it comes time to pay.
(Travel Tip: Bring cash too, so you can pay your portion if you plan to be in a group setting.)
The Italians love their Aperol Spritzer. This refreshing drink has been around for centuries and it’s safe to say that this will now forever be one of my summertime favorites. This alcoholic beverage is a must try when in Italy.
(Funny Story: I thought this was just a soda and it took me a few days of day drinking before I figured why it was putting me in such a good mood. Yes, I have my blonde moments. )
Water in Italy
The tap water in Italy is some of the cleanest around, with thousands upon thousand of old-fashioned fountains dotted across cities like Rome. You can fill up your bottles at one such fountain and be on top form for everyday activities. The water tastes delicious and I can be a water snob. It is easy to find a fountain because you will see a crowd lined up around the fountains filling up their bottles.
(Travel Tip: Bring a reusable water bottle.)
Do not Order a Peperoni Pizza
Do not order a peperoni pizza in Italy unless you want a bell pepper pizza. I told this to my husband several times and he still was always confusing the server by ordering a peperoni pizza. Peperoni means bell peppers in Italy and salami means peperoni. So if you want an American peperoni pizza order a salami pizza and save your server from complete utter confusion. Plus do you really want to wait another 30 minutes for another pizza. lol
Restaurants do not open for Dinner until 7:30pm
If you are like me and eat dinner at 5pm than you are totally going to starve, so be prepared to eat snacks, because dinner doesn’t start until 7:30pm. It will be almost impossible to find a restaurant open before 7:00pm. The majority of restaurants close after lunch and remain closed until dinner time. They take Riposo break from 1pm-4pm, but restaurants seemed to be closed from 2pm-7pm.
I always thought of Croissants as a French delicacy, but it turns out that Italians seem to enjoy them just about as much. You can find these yummy pastries on any street corner in the country and they go great with morning coffee or afternoon tea. You will literally find them everywhere, even passed out on trains with coffee.
Italy and the United States have different currencies, so it’s important to know how much money you’ll need for your trip. Italy’s currency is the Euro and if you need cash quickly, there are ATMs all over. In America though it may be cheaper to take out money from your bank. Most places take credit card, therefore, $200+ is all that may you need depending on your spending habits.
(Travel Tip: If you’re traveling to Europe, don’t get Euros at the airport because of their high exchange rates. A 50% fee is common.)
After shopping in Italy, citizens of non-EU countries can enjoy a tax refund up to 15.5%. The amount you pay on most goods is 22%, but you must make a minimum purchase amount of $154. You are required to have your passport with you at the time of purchase, and you must get the proper tax paperwork back from the sales representative. If you’re leaving on a plane, it’s easiest to do your claiming at customs while at the airport. The customs officer will inspect your documents to make sure you’re eligible for the tax refund. You must show them an original boarding pass, passport, and invoices in order to get paid back. This is why Milan is the shopping capital of the world; the prices are amazing when it comes to luxury items and the tax refund is a huge bonus.
Masks are Required on the Trains
The Italian train system is one of the most advanced in Europe, but still requires passengers to wear masks. If you plan on taking trains throughout your trip, then it’s best that everyone has their own mask with them at all times or they might not be able to board the vehicle. In the States, they pass out masks like they’re candy. However, in Italy they will not provide you with a mask. You are Sh@t out of luck if you do not have one! lol
Trains vs Metro
Traveling by train and metro is super easy. The difference between trains in Italy and metros is huge. Pictures say it all.
You are squished like sardines on the metro, therefore, masks are not enforced. Literally, employees can not and do not walk around to enforce the law because they can’t.
Train Stations Equal Pickpocketing
The more crowded the train station, the higher chance of getting pickpocketed. Make sure you keep your purse securely zipped when walking around railway platforms or purchasing tickets at ticket machines.
Cover up When Visiting a Church
When you go into most churches in Italy, it is required for men and women to cover up. You cannot show any skin above your knees or shoulders while inside the building. You must follow the church rules if you want to enter.
Rome is for History Lovers
I am going to say something that can be controversial, but Rome is not beautiful. Rome reminds me of New York City. It is a massive city that smells like pee, where you are surrounded by trash and people who live on the streets. However, this city is for people who love architecture and love history. If you fall into that category you will LOVE Rome.
Buy Attraction Tickets in Advance
Tickets to Last Supper and to the Michelangelo David statue can sell out months in advance. I suggest buying the tickets as soon as you can.
Public Restrooms Cost Money
Need to use the restroom in Italy? Don’t be surprised if it costs a small fortune. That’s why you’ll want extra euros on hand. They do not accept credit cards.
Air Condition in Italy
Italy is hot in the summertime, but it’s not always easy to escape. The Italians don’t seem as obsessed with air conditioning like we are here in the United States- they just keep their windows and doors open while barely running an AC unit. Be prepared to sweat.
Now that you know a little more about what to expect on your trip to Italy, are you ready to book? Glam Escapes would be happy to help make all the arrangements for you. We specialize in travel and will work with you to create an unforgettable experience. From start to finish, we’ll take care of everything so that all you have to do is enjoy your vacation. Ready to learn more? Contact us today and let’s get started planning your dream trip. Click on the service tab above.
What we wore:
Suggestions for Italy:
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- Two Weeks in Italy with Glam Journey: My Hotel, Restaurant, and Sightseeing Recommendations
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