Even for Europeans, the South European countries can sometimes place us in bewilderment. I noticed this in March on our trip to Portugal; not everything works quite like we’re used to up in the North. Of course not!
So when preparing for our weekend trip to Milan I was already aware of couple little things that are good to bear in mind. I also read a lot of articles and blog posts about “things to know when traveling to Italy“. And oh boy, there is a lot of bullshit that ain’t got no truth about it circling the internet.
Things like “pizza in Italy is bad” (excusi??), “not everybody is fashionable” (really… I mean, really!?) and “service is bad” (I would take a good look into the mirror, if that really was the case!)
In all honesty, I couldn’t agree with any of those articles, but I guess just like in tabloids also in blogging negative connotations “sell”. But I found this super unfair, because Italy is an incredible country.
So, I decided to write my own tips and things to remember for those traveling to Italy for the first time. Some people may find things like needing to bring cash or having to accommodate one’s schedule according to local customs annoying, but that’s just the thing;
If you travel with a negative mindset, your trip is going to suck. So, let’s keep a positive mind and embrace the different customs and lifestyle with open arms and #positivevibes. Here are my
Top Tips To Know When Traveling To Italy
Siesta is a thing that is perhaps most often thought of as a Spanish custom. But in fact every country in Southern Europe practice siesta from 1pm to 7pm. We learned this the hard way on our trip to Portugal.
But when you remember that from 1 in the afternoon to 7 in the evening it might be difficult to find, for example, sustenance you’ll be just fine. There will always be some places open anyway, if not the one that you had on your city break bucket list.
On our trip to Milan we embraced siesta completely on our second day and joined most of the city just launching about in a park accompanied by some wine and a light lunch.
And that’s what I encourage everyone else to do as well; enjoy the time there to the fullest and do as locals do instead of fighting against age old traditions; embrace the slow living.
Mondays are Sundays
Many big cities in Italy earn enormous amounts of money from tourism. But nobody can go on 7 days a week, 365 days a year. So, since Sundays are still quite busy days tourism-wise, many galleries, castles and restaurants are closed on Mondays instead of Sunday.
In our case this unfortunately meant that we didn’t see the Last Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, because we left it for a Monday. The museum was closed.
Also a restaurant we visited on a Sunday told us that as much as they wanted us to return there the next day, they would all be having a day off. But just like with siesta, there will always be some places that are open.
Italy is a Catholic country, and Catholic often means conservative. Many tourists at a beach destination consider walking in the city center wearing nothing but bikinis completely okay, but in fact it’s not.
Imagine if your children had to see half naked tourists running around when they come home from school. Not cool, right? Remember that the locals are living completely normal lives there. Also, some sites still have a strict dress code:
When visiting churches you must cover your shoulders and your knees. Some churches provide you with a raincoat-kind of a sack to wear in case your outfit is too revealing for visiting the construction, but in some churches you just won’t be allowed to enter.
Use Public Transport
Uber is everywhere, as we know, but for eff’s sake it’s expensive! We didn’t even consider ordering Uber in Milan, no matter how much our feet were aching, because the prices were just ridiculous.
Instead, we discovered a really handy application, ATM, that you can download on your phone for free. With it you can order tickets, plan routes, see all the transport links, etc.
You can pay for the ticket in the app either with a text message or with your credit card. Don’t forget to validate the ticket before entering a vehicle! The app was super handy and brought us that much closer to the ‘local experience’, which I love.
Have Some Cash
In biggest cities it’s possible to pay in most places with card but it never hurts to have some cash as well. For example, when visiting a church you might want to light a candle, and for that you need 50 cents in cash per candle.
Also, the buses driving between airport and the city don’t accept cards, so to avoid unnecessary running in pursuit of an ATM it’s good to prepare.
But don’t go overboard with it. If you decide to take hundreds, maybe thousands in cash, you’d do well to store it in different pockets, leaving just some of it in your wallet, in case somebody steals your bag.
Eat Where The Locals Do
Nobody knows where to eat better than the locals. A fact that holds true for all big cities is that the restaurants in the vicinity of the most popular tourist attractions are over prized and low in quality.
So, my suggestion is to venture a bit further away from the busiest areas and choose a local diner at random, or ask Google what might be close by. On Google maps you can immediately see each restaurant with a rating.
We used this every evening when locating a good restaurant near by our AirBnB. Google did not fail us! We found places with amazing food and with the most amazing crowd, that sprung into song all of a sudden. If not for food, just go for the feeling of unity; nobody does it as well as Italians. ♥
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