2 Girls. 1 World. A Whole Lot to See


35 Tips for My First Trip to Italy.

11 Comments 76589 views

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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There are 11 comments so far. Join in on the conversation.


    January 9, 2013

    Good tips! Cafe macchiato is an espresso with little bit of milk. Americano is kind of normal coffee. I am sure you will enjoy the trip. Have fun ! Reply

    Tara Sherlock

    January 9, 2013

    Soooo after my trips to Italy - look for where the locals are eating - going to be cheaper than tourist traps and soooo tasty! I know healthy bla bla bla but seriously you need Italian pizza, pasta and gelato in your life and anyway aaaalllll the walking is going to help you loads. If I can recommend some tours I'd recommend Dark Rome Tours - incredibly qualified tour guides that really, really know their stuff. If you're going to Rome make sure the taxi driver turns the meter on. If you have time see things in night and day - the main monuments are spectacularly lit up at night and no crowds, makes for some amazing moments and a memories. Whatever you do HAVE FUN!!!!! Italian culture is to be soaked up and immersed in, enjoy it :o) Reply

    Elizabeth J.

    January 9, 2013

    take benadryl with you, just in case. I couldn't find anything like it over there without a prescription (in case of food allergy). HAVE A GREAT TIME!! Reply


    January 9, 2013

    Eat good gelato--don't bother with the touristy carts. The best gelato that I had in Rome is San Crispino. The original location is right near Trevi Fountain. There is a second location near the Pantheon, I think. Siena has a great gelato place near Il Campo, Bar Il Camerlengo. Vivoli is my favorite in Florence and is near Piazzo Sante Croce. Reply

    Lyn @ Life Lyn Style

    January 9, 2013

    Hi Roni, I've been to Europe 3 times now, including 4 days in Italy. I agree with most of the comments above. Bring an empty water bottle. You can fill it in the airport, airplane and at many public drinking water spots throughout the city. Also, call your credit card companies and let them know you are going out of the country since you will be using your card there. Make sure your pins are ok. Some ATMS only take 6 digit pins and others won't take zeros. Exchange a copy of your passport and important numbers with your mom in case one of you loses a purse or something. Leave a list of all credit card number, camera serial numbers etc with your husband just in case. Have a great time!!!! Reply


    January 9, 2013

    You'll find that many Italians speak English, at least enough to get a point across. And menus often have English translations at least in larger cities. If you studies at least a few yrs of Spanish in high school you'll get by. Also, Italians like to linger over restaurant meals. You're not expected to finish, pay, and leave like at American restaurants. You order several courses, drink, stay, visit, etc. You'll have to ask for the check, it won't be offered right away. non alcoholic drinks - sodas, water - aren't served with ice. Ever. You can ask for it and maybe get it. Carbonated water is popular and you'll prob be given it unless you ask for flat water. You'll be asked "Acqua gasa (carbonated) o acqua sensa gasa (flat)?" Reply


    January 9, 2013

    Don't forget to bring hand sanitizer too... I've been to Italy - loved Rome, but wished we had toured the colosseum... :( Reply

    Ana Myre

    January 10, 2013

    since my parents in law come visit us in central america, I have thme take two table spoons of olive oil with a pinch of salt (I put in a small sauce pan two cloves of garlic and olive oil and let that cook at los heat for 15 minutes)This has help them not go get sick of their stomach. My mother in las sister has a timeshare in Honduras and she will always get a bug in her stomach and be sick most of their vacation so she pass on the olive oil recipe and she has been doing it for two years and no more bugs!!! you could do it the day you leave, and if you have the chance to do it in italy try too. I dont know if its a old wife tale from my country (Guatemala) but it works like a charm. Reply

    Laura James

    January 14, 2013

    At the Vatican, when you are facing the actual building, head out to the left through the colonnades and up around the corner and through the under pass (it's not very long). Cross over the road to a beautiful little restaurant called "Via Vittoria". They have THE best seafood pasta. It was one of the best meals I had in Italy. The snack bar/gelateria next door is good, however if you go for a little more of a stroll up the street you will come to a fantastic gelateria called "Chiottonerie 33". They have the yummiest coconut gelato. Enjoy Roma! Reply


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    January 2, 2015

    Microwave uncovered onn Medium (50%) 60 tto 90 seconds or until melted. This provides you with more hojrs tto a target what must be done plus the day is a lot less stressful. Small cookies will bake more than a higher temp when compared to a fll cak would. Reply