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ITALY TRAVEL GUIDE
Hello, my name is Gwen, and here is my Italy travel guide for over 40 solo travel, including budget, safety/female and eco-travel tips, photographs and interesting posts for your Italy travel planning.
BENVENUTO IN ITALIA!
Italy – the 5thmost populous European country that is home to a capital, Rome, founded in 753BC, Vatican City (the world’s smallest country), Europe’s only active volcanoes, the basis of many Shakespeare plays and Renaissance art and architecture, multiple wine regions, opera, fashion, and pizza (invented in Napoli), pasta and gelato (yum!). Italy is really called Repubblica Italiana (Italian Republic) – the nickname is “Bel Paese” meaning beautiful country. It surely is.
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LANGUAGES IN ITALY
The official language is Italian, but the younger generation learn to speak English, French or German in school.
How's Your Italian?
Brush up on your Italian before your trip to Italy.
Italian history goes way back. Its Western society is home to the Roman Empire and is steeped in the arts and architecture. Italians place high importance on the family and the extended family. Italians are predominantly Roman Catholic (90%), and there is a growing Muslim community.
POPULAR ITALIAN ACTIVITIES
Outdoor activities range from hiking volcanoes; boating on Lake Como; lounging at Cinque Terra on the Italian Riviera, skiing in the Italian Alps; or wine tasting in multiple wine regions.
Home to endless basilicas, museums, high fashion stores, restaurants and bars, indoor activities are countless. Italy has world-class cities like Rome, Venice, Florence, and Milan.
Italy uses the Euro (€). Exchange rates are usually favorable for Europeans but could fluctuate in the other direction.
Italy has all modern forms of transportation, including Uber, although it could be quite expense. Research in advance if Uber is in your destination area. In short, getting around Italy, and booking transportation in advance, is no problem.
TIPPING IN ITALY
Traveling in a new country is easier when you know the country’s tipping etiquette in advance as each country has its own rules. That said, country rules and norms can shift, so here is an international tipping resource for over 70 countries to use as a general guideline that I have found is constantly updated.
What’s not on there is how to tip a concierge, beauty salons or spas, travel or tour guides, etc. For these extras, it is acceptable to tip 10% at minimum. Remember, tipping is for good service only.
Additionally, you should always tip in the local currency (if tipping in cash), and do not be offended if your tip is refused as it may not be the norm. I feel it’s always better to offer a tip for good service than not, unless I know it will be considered offensive, like in Japan.
A key activity to do in your early planning stage is to know, at minimum, the national holidays. I so suggest also looking into the local holidays. It’s a complete bummer to spend time and money to take the holiday of your lifetime and when you show up at one of your key attractions, it’s closed due to a holiday. It’s also not fun trying to travel and have a hard time accessing travel or other essential resources when no one is around because, yes, it’s a local holiday. So, take just a few moments to look at Italy’s holidays.
ITALY ELECTRONIC ESSENTIALS
Besides money, required ID and your ticket, Italy’s voltage is 230V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz so bring at least one of each of Type C, F and L adapters (I recommend bringing 2!), just in case, for Italian sockets and research if your electronics require a voltage converter, if not already included in the adapter; or, you can bring electronics already adapted for Italian outlets or wait to purchase them there (I recommend just bringing the adapters with converter). Remember, most smart phones, tablets and laptops don’t require a converter, but double-check your device(s) before you leave home. If you are going to another country on your trip in addition to Italy, you can check the global adapters list to make sure you’re prepared. I have also provided suggested adapters below for your convenience!
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TRAVEL DOCUMENTS FOR ITALY
From the U.S., you will need a valid passport. No visa is required. Make sure your passport expiration date is greater than 6 months from your return to the U.S. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to to Australia. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
VACCINATIONS FOR ITALY
There are normally no vaccinations required for Australia. The U.S. State Department always has their link up to date with pertinent information when traveling to to Italy. It is advised to always check there during your planning stage and again before you leave. If you are not from the U.S., please check your government’s website.
SAFETY / FEMALE TRAVEL TIPS
ITALY TRAVEL SAFETY
The U.S. State Department has continually placed Italy on a Level 2 alert as “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Italy”. However, these “terrorist” activities could simply be demonstrations. I’ve never felt unsafe traveling in Italy.
Theft or pickpocketing, which could happen in most places to be honest, is typically the normal tourist concern, which could happen in most places to be honest. Beyond that, there is nothing I can recall from Italy making it more of a “safety concern” than traveling in my own home country, so my standard tips for female and solo travelers are:
- always carry photo ID with you; if you don’t want your passport on you at all times, at least carry a copy of it.
- always be “street wise”.
- always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you feel the need to imbibe or feel the need to “let loose” – you’re on vacation so have fun!
- never leave your food or drink unattended.
- keep your belongs on your person, or at least in your view in close proximity, at all times.
- be open to meeting and talking with new people – that is where a lot of the travel experience lies – but be careful on how you divulge personal information.
- research places in advance, if possible, so you know what to expect (i.e., “have a familiar view” – I like to Google the street view of new addresses I’m going to first).
- if something, someone or someplace makes you feel uncomfortable, go with your gut – leave.
BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
BEST TIME TO VISIT ITALY
Like other countries in Europe, Italy’s high, tourist season, and most expensive time, is the summer (June and July). Crowds are not as heavy in the spring (April and May) and Fall (September to October), and prices in these months are better than the summer season. The least expensive time to go to Italy would be November to March. Keep in mind, however, if you are going to a ski or winter sport area – prices could be high and you may want to book in advance. If you want good weather and prices, try booking well in advance for Spring or Autumn, or you can try in August when most Italians take vacation and crowds tend to drop.
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SUSTAINABILITY / ECO TRAVEL TIPS
It is very easy to do your part for the planet and implement environmental sustainability into your travel. If you would like to learn more about how you can implement environmentally sustainable, or eco-friendly, travel measures into your travel, please see my 10 Easy Eco Travel Tips and suggested Eco Travel Resources.
Additionally, if you are flying to, or within, Italy consider purchasing carbon offsets through your airline or through a third party, like MyClimate.org, Carbonfund.org, or terrapass. Carbon offsetting allows you to buy a certificate to reduce carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change, which in turn contribute community projects across countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There are several ways to go about this to help reduce your impact to climate change through your travel. Check it out!
I love the Mediterranean climate and landscape of Italy. It’s no wonder – I loved living in California also. Italy’s people are as warm as their environment. Every Italian city I go to, I am welcomed by all I meet, and conversations unfold easily. The countryside and architecture feel like home. I’ve been offered to stay in Italians’ homes so they can show proudly show me their town or just cook for me. You lend an Italian an inch in their language, and they will go a mile to help you. I’m also big into art and wine, so Italy really has it “all” for me. There never seems to be enough time to wander Italy – there is so much to see. If there is a European country I’d choose first to live in, Italy would be it. I could happily get lost there.