• Rosa Spatola

Tips To Consider When Visiting Italian Cities....


1. Make sure that your hotel is centrally located. Often people go for cheap hotels only because they are 4 or 5 star however the fact is that you may be too far from where it is all happening which means that you spend a lot of time going back and forth and relying either on public transport or taxis, which add to the cost, and also add to the limited time you may have available. Stay outside the city if you are after a pool perhaps, or want to chill out in their gardens, or you are after a bit of peace and quiet or a day at the spa ......

2. Buy tickets in advance for popular places like the Accademia or the Uffizi in Florence, the Vatican in Rome. Try to get skip the line tickets as you will be saving a lot of time, but apart from that, you do not have to spend the day queuing or having to get up early so that you are right at the front of the queue. Remember that there are other people out there who have the same idea as you do. If you only have the weekend, which seems to be the norm now, (go out on a Friday and come back on a Sunday), you really do not want to be standing in a queue and those queues get very long.

3. Take an organised tour with a guide, either in a group or private. You really get to appreciate it more and you also learn so much more. Yes, you can buy a guide book but when you have someone bringing it to life for you, it is a completely different experience. Also if you are with children, make it interesting for them and bring history to life which the right guide can do.

4. Make sure that before you head off to Italy, that you have a good pedicure and comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking. Try not to bring your stiletto heels!

5. Try not to head out when it is a public holiday, for example, Easter. It is just so busy as everyone is on holiday, the whole of Europe is there and the rest of the world is also travelling. Easter in Rome is even busier as it is a major religious event. There are crowds everywhere during public Italian holidays and every city is just inundated. To be honest, Italy is crowded most of the time, however, at these times of year, the crowds seem to multiply.

6. Avoid the cities in the summer, far too hot. Sometimes it cannot be helped so consider hotels with pools or air conditioning as you will need it. I know I said above to be central but in the summer, I will allow you to stay outside the city. What a great way to freshen up by throwing yourself in the pool after a day of sightseeing. The other option is to stay central but see if there are any public pools close by. Hotels with swimming pools which are centrally located are very rare, and if they do exist they will be very expensive, however, it is low season at this time of year so there are lots of special offers available.

7. Avoid the 15th August, as you will find that everything is closed including some of the places you wish to see. There also seems to be a mass exodus from the city because of the stagnant heat.

8. Be sensible when deciding to visit an Italian city, 2 days to see and fully appreciate a place like Venice, Rome, Naples, Turin, Milan to name but a few are completely impossible, and to be honest, there is no point. If you go there for 2 days just bear in mind that you will just have the time to scan the city. If you decide to do a lot more, then just don't go to bed. You will only get a tiny flavour of the city.

9. Try to be adventurous with the food. Try not to eat what you can eat back home and cook yourself. Try the local food, in Florence try La Fiorentina, in Venice sarde in saor, baccalà mantecato, Venetian fried mixed seafood, in Rome Saltimbocca alla Romana, Bucatini all'Amatriciana, Coda alla Vaccinara or Pizza, Sfogliatelle, Struffoli in Naples, Risotto or Cotoletta alla Milanese in Milan, and let us not forget the local wine. Ask your waiter to recommend the best wine to accompany your dish, and ask your waiter to recommend the food you are eating. Italian waiters love it when you put your trust in them, well at least the ones I met!

10. Try and look at things with your eyes rather than via your mobile. The number of tourists I met on my journey with one of those selfie sticks, shocking. You also have to be careful just in case you get poked in the eye.

11. Try the experience. Most people refuse to do the touristy thing as they think it is far too tacky (their words), like a gondola ride in Venice, throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain..... just do it as it can be fun and it is just one of those things you can tick off your list.

12. Be prepared to spend money and to treat yourself, after all this is a holiday. Try to avoid perhaps the central locations when eating out, head slightly off the beaten track. You can find some lovely places and you will still be central, you have just ventured down one of the many alleyways. Treat yourself to a private tour perhaps, a private transfer from and to the airport rather than taking a bus or a train with a suitcase in tow.

13. Take some time off to relax for an hour or two. A picnic in the park, people-watching over an aperitif in one of the many piazzas, or just sit in a gallery and enjoy Botticelli's masterpieces!

14. Ensure that you stay hydrated as with all this walking and rushing about...

15. Try not to take too many risks and try not to do what you definitely would not do back home. Make sure that you apply the same rule here. Do not walk about with your shirt off, showing your six-pack; don't jump in one of the many fountains because it is too hot; don't go swimming in the sea in Venice; wearing shorts or skimpy clothes when visiting a church; not dressing appropriately, just be respectful.

16. Try not to annoy the locals. They are so inundated with tourists that their city is changing in front of them. More cars so they have problems parking; tourists who block the streets and walk slowly and then stop and just seem to get in the way. Just bear in mind that they are not on holiday so if you need to stop to take a few pictures, make sure that you are out of the way.

17. Get lost for a day, you will discover some amazing places which are not on your guidebook.

18. Bear in mind that you are in a different country and Italy has it own ways of doing things so try not to compare it with being at home. Italians are relaxed and laid back and have a different way of dealing with things and it can sometimes be quite frustrating.

Last but not least, don't forget to book your bespoke Italian City break with The Italian Connection & Spirito Italiano

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