Italy has something for everyone and is a destination that takes many visits to fully appreciate. Travelers have been spellbound by its mountains, art, landscapes, people, and food for many years. Below I will outline some important Italy travel tips you should know before going.
- Many tourist attractions do not allow photography – particularly museums.
- It is considered rude to walk around towns in bikinis, beachwear, short shorts or skimpy outfits.
- American and European DVDs use different formats, so what works at home may not work in Italy. This is becoming less of a problem with the rise of Multi-Region DVDs.
- Returning or exchanging an item, even if it is flawed, not common in Italian stores so make sure you check things thoroughly before you buy.
- Some stores will not allow you to try on shirts and blouses.
- Wheelchair access to restaurant bathrooms is rare, as are ramps and elevators in old buildings. Buses are also generally not wheelchair-compatible.
- Topless sunbathing is common on the northern and central Italian beaches, however, it is not advised in the more conservative and traditional south.
- Hotels often don’t have pools or video games, while virtually nothing on the radio or television is in English.
Health and Safety
- Olive oil and wine are a fundamental ingredient in Italian cooking. They are also natural laxatives and so can cause problems for those with sensitive stomachs.
- In an emergency, dial 113.
- If you are in trouble and need the help of passers-by, yell AIUTO (pronounced ay-you-toe), which is Italian for HELP!
- Serious crime is rare, however, pickpockets and purse-snatchers are more common in the larger cities.
- Stick to bottled water as Italian tap water is sometimes heavily chlorinated
- Italians usually take their food as it is listed, seldom making special requests, such as “hold the mayo.”
- Don’t wait for the check – ask for it.
- Tip with cash. A ‘Servizio’ charge is usually included but a small tip is appreciated.
- Breakfast is usually served from 7-10:30am, lunch from 12:30-2:30pm, and dinner from 7:30-10pm. Peak lunch and dinner hours are 1 and 9pm.
- There are almost no restrictions on alcohol. It can be purchased at any time on any day and there is no minimum drinking age.
- Kids menus are almost unheard of so ask upfront for a half portion if required.
Opening Times and Holidays
- Banks are open weekdays 8:30am to 1:30pm and sometimes for an hour in the afternoon.
- While some major churches are open all day, most are open from early morning until noon and then close for three to four hours, before reopening again and close at 6pm.
- Many museums are closed on Monday.
- Most shops are closed between 1pm and 3:30pm for lunch. Due to Italy being a Catholic country, many stores are closed on Sunday.
- Try and avoid traveling to Italy in August as most of the locals are on vacation and everything is closed.
- Apart from Christmas, New Years, and Easter, Italy also celebrates: Epiphany (Jan. 6), Liberation Day (Apr. 25), May Day (May 1), Festival of the Republic (June 2), Farragosto (Nov. 1), All Saints Day (Nov. 1), Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8), Feast of St. Stephen (Dec. 26).