35 Tips for My First Trip to Italy.

35 Tips for My First Trip to Italy.

I asked and you answered. These tips were compiled via comments and emails I have received over the last week. I’m still nervous (LEAVING FOR ITALY IN 3 DAYS!!) but reading through these fun, practical tips helps me prepare mentally for my first international trip.

  1. Bring really comfortable walking shoes
  2. No matter how much you will want to sleep during the day on Day 2 – DON’T. Do whatever you have to do to make yourself stay awake all day and you should end up with a great night’s sleep and fairly caught up with the jet lag.
  3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!!
  4. Be flexible. Guided tours and sometimes the people on them can be a real eye-opener.
  5. Don’t do the backpack thing, you look like a tourist.
  6. Don’t order a latte! You’ll get milk. Starbucks vernacular doesn’t work there.
  7. They only take cash in Vatican City.
  8. Take earplugs or noise canceling head phones.  (Great for the plane and on noisy buses when you need to tune out.)
  9. Expect narrow highways.
  10. Carry toilet paper with you just in case.
  11. Utilize grocery stores and make picnics on the cheap.
  12. Eat pizza!
  13. Wine is cheaper than soda!
  14. Pack a mini-first aid kit with tylenol, nasal spray, pepto, etc.
  15. Bring extra memory and batteries for your camera.
  16. Be weary of cab drivers, they may charge more in bad weather.
  17. Be extra careful of your wallet and possessions.  Petty thievery is a real problem in Southern Europe.
  18. Don’t buy Euros or travelers checks in the USA – use ATMs in Italy
  19. Have a back-up bank/ATM card
  20. Use your credit card.  (See if you can find one with low/no foreign transaction fees.)
  21. Don’t use your American phone plan
  22. Carry adapters for plugs.
  23. Make sure your chargers are dual voltage.  Italy runs on 220/50 (Not 110/60).
  24. Bring a power strip to get the most of your adapter.
  25. Don’t pack a hair dryer.  (Most sold in the USA are single voltage and hotels supply them.)
  26. Use public transportation
  27. Remember Italians like to eat food separately rather than bundling flavors.
  28. Try fresh porcini. 
  29. Try Prosciutto di Parma – especially if it is freshly cut. Remember Prosciutto means ham.  If you ask for a prosciutto sandwich, you are likely to get plain old ham rather than the delightful prosciutto di Parma.  (You have to be specific!)
  30. Eat a gelato
  31. Drink an espresso
  32. Remember that in a full Italian meal, the pasta is not the main course.  It is served before the main course.
  33. Don’t expect your pasta to be drenched in sauce.
  34. Drink wine.
  35. If you see microbrew beer, drink it.  (Italy’s best kept secret!)

Feel free to keep them going in the comments. I have no shame and will accept any advice you’re willing to share. :)

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