Italy Travel Tips

Planning your first trip to Italy but don't know much about the local culture? We've got you covered! Based on our own travel experiences, here are some tips to help you get a better understanding of the do's and don'ts of traveling to Italy.

Café

  • Never order a cappuccino after 11am. Italians only drink them at breakfast. It has to do with all that hot milk on an empty stomach...
  • Italians don’t order “double espressos”; they prefer to drink multiple espressos during the day instead of one “double.”
  • Drink your coffee at the bar or counter (al banco) or expect to pay more to sit at a table.
  • Some of the best coffee is served in places you’d least expect, like railway stations or bus terminals. So don’t be afraid to explore!

Hotel

  • Hotels in Italy are required by law to register your stay, so don’t be alarmed if your hotel takes your passport overnight.

  • If you choose a hotel rated with less than three stars, be prepared to go without luxuries such as towels and air-conditioning. Italians have their own star-rating system.

Shopping

  • Italian shopkeepers are really protective of their merchandise – sometimes, you even won’t be allowed to touch anything unless you’re trying it on!

  • Exchange policies are rare-to-nonexistent in Italy. If you buy an item and later decide you don’t want it anymore, you may not get a refund. So make sure you really want something before you buy it.

  • Beware of buying fake goods on the streets – it is illegal and you can be fined heavily!

Restaurant

  • Breakfast (colazione) is a very small meal, usually consisting of coffee and a pastry. In contrast, lunch (pranzo) and dinner (cena) are much larger meals that feature several courses and often last more than two hours.

  • Wine and mineral water are standard beverages for an Italian meal. Italians don’t drink tap water.

  • Italians usually leave any change from the bill as a tip for service.

  • Pane e coperto, literally meaning “bread and tableware,” is a small service charge added to the bill for each guest. 

Some generic tips that might come in handy...

  • Look out for billboards that say feste or sagre, street fairs usually dedicated to one kind of food. If there’s one nearby, you can’t miss it!
  • Markets are often the best places to find great bargains and negotiation is always welcomed and expected – but watch out for fakes floating around!
  • Be careful about the amount of cash you carry with you, and avoid showing it in public places.
  • Although taxi rides are metered, it’s still a good idea to ask how much you are going to be charged before you get into a taxi.
  • Senior citizes (aged 65 and older) can get free tickets to museums and galleries with proper ID.
  • Take some tissues with you! Toilet paper is rare in public restrooms, so it’s best to keep your own stash on hand.
  • Remember to dress appropriately when visiting holy places – no shorts and tank tops when walking into a church!
  • Dates are shown as day-month-year. Always.