Italian Travel Blogs to Read Before You Visit Abroad

Italian Travel Blogs to Read Before You Visit Abroad




Italian Travel Blogs my first trip out of North America was to Italy. I was in college and my (overly kind) mother booked us a 10-day trip through Venice, Florence, and Rome. Sure, I had seen plenty of movies, but I still didn’t know what to expect when traveling to Italy for the first time.

In fact, it is probably those very movies that color so many expectations for first-time visitors. Italy is indeed a beautiful country full of art, history, food, and wine, but it is still somewhat different from the Hollywood version.

Instead, here is what you should know before traveling to Italy for the first time:

Dreaming of perfectly

Some of the “Italian” menu items you love are not actually Italian. I arrived in Italy dreaming of perfectly fresh pesto coating my pasta.  What I didn’t realize is that Italian food is incredibly regional and unless you find yourself in Liguria, you probably won’t find much pesto on the menu. Also not on the menu? Classics like spaghetti and meatballs. There is spaghetti, and there are meatballs, but they are served separately as a first and second course. If you are traveling to Italy for the first time, I highly recommend researching the local specialties or asking the waiter to suggest a plate of the day so that you can sample some of the more traditional food.

Dreaming of sipping

Even if it IS on the menu, it’s probably not available “to-go.” Dreaming of sipping your grande cappuccino while seated on the edge of the Trevi Fountain? I hate to be the one to tell you but: that is literally impossible. First, eating and drinking is simply not done in public. I figured this out the first time I popped open a bag of potato chips while walking in Venice. Non si fa – it is simply not done. Same goes for coffee, which is usually enjoyed while standing at the bar.

(Or please be aware that it will literally cost more if you have it while seated at a table – another thing that I didn’t expect!) However, aside from the cultural dining differences in Italy as a whole, it is literally illegal to eat near any monument in Rome.  Better to find a restaurant with outdoor tables if you want to enjoy your (sit down) meal al fuori.

it’s probably not available “to-go.

Mealtime is sacred Italian Travel Blogs

Mealtime is sacred. Some people think that Italy observes “siesta” time, Spanish-style. This is not the case. However, many shops and businesses do close between 1 and 4 pm.  Rather than time for napping, this is time for eating, meeting friends and family, and relaxing. One thing you should except is that mealtimes in Italy tend to arrive slightly later – 1 pm for lunch and 8 pm for dinner. In fact, many restaurants only open at 8 pm, so if you get hungry before then you can partake in the Italian custom of ‘aperitivo’ – a drink and small snacks to ready your appetite.

Customer service is different. Though greeting people is 100% essential, one of the things I realized early on during my first trip to Italy (and again when I moved to Rome full time) is that customer service is very very different. There are no waiters fawning over your every need, nor do they present the bill to encourage you to move on. In fact, you might have to physically wave someone down when you are ready to pay. This different attitude can be interpreted as brusque, but it is simply the way service works in Italy – which means that gratuity varies as well. Here is a guide to tipping in Italy so you know what to expect on the bill and how much to leave behind.

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2. Avoiding the Most Common Travel Mistake on Your Trip to Italy

The main problem for anyone planning a trip to Italy is that it’s impossible to see everything you want in one trip! This leads to the biggest travel planning mistake that most people make in Italy: They try to see too many things in too short a time. We hate to be the bearers of bad news but overloading your itinerary is a recipe for stress. 

We understand why you do it and we sympathize, but let us repeat: rushing your Italian vacation is a surefire way to ruin it. Luckily, the solution is easier than you think: narrow down your focus and divide your time accordingly.

How long you spend Italian Travel Blogs

The rhythm of any trip to Italy, that is, how long you spend seeing what you came to see and experiencing what you came to experience, is just as important as what you see and experience. In fact, you could simply book a trip to Rome and spend two weeks hanging out there without ever getting bored. In order to help you get an idea of how to budget your time in some of Italy’s most popular regions, we have written three sample itineraries.

After many years of traveling in Italy and interacting with other travelers, we have honed the rhythm of these itineraries to perfection. Feel free to crib them as is, or use them as a base to create your own custom itinerary. In this case, the where isn’t important; it’s the when that matters. As always, we’ll be waiting in the comments sections for anyone with questions.  

The Major Cities Trip 

The Major Cities Trip

Italy has more major tourist cities than most countries. Of course, the capital is a must, but cities like Florence and Venice are big draws and, honestly, must-sees. This sample itinerary is perfect for the first-time visitor who wants to “see all of Italy” but can’t choose between zones. It gives a great overview of the most historically significant parts of the country. As a bonus, it will also help you plan where to focus your sightseeing during your return trip to Italy. 

Sample Itinerary: Italian Travel Blogs

The Major Cities trip is a great introduction to Italy for those who want to see the most famous art and architecture in the country. It includes the Colosseum, the Duomos of Milan and Florence, and the canals along St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. To avoid packing in too much, we budget a minimum of two weeks to travel Italy. If you have anything less than that you should take a more leisurely trip (see below).

Two weeks:
Rome: 4 days
Florence: 3 days
Venice: 3 days
Milan: 4 days

For anything less than two weeks you can make the following amendments:

10 days: Cut one city entirely or one day from Rome and one day from Florence. But don’t cut more than one day from each city.

One week: Cut a city. Rome and Florence have the most to offer the majority of visitors to Italy so they should probably remain on your itinerary. Choosing between Venice and Milan depends on the time of year and what you are looking for. Venice has more tourism draws like the Doge’s PalaceSt. Mark’s Basilica, the Bridge of Sighs, and of course, all those canals. However, it is also packed with tourists in the high season. Milan is not as pretty and has fewer attractions but it’s cheaper, less crowded, and has better food. If going in the summer we would recommend Milan. On the other hand, an autumn or winter trip to Italy would have us favoring Venice.

Choose one of the major cities

5 days: Choose one of the major cities that you are dying to see and stay there. Seriously, one is enough. even in a city as small as Venice you will have more than enough to keep you occupied as long as you take your time and really immerse yourself. 

Insiders’ tips: When you plan your trip to Italy, consider no fewer than 3 days in Rome. As both the ancient and modern capital of Italy, it’s a hub for a lot of things you’re going to want to see. The history, sights and feel of the city can hardly be seen with less time.

Venice can be visited in a day trip, and many people do it that way, but they miss out on the fantastic nightlife, the feel of Venice with fewer tourists, and the beauty of the city by night. If you really can’t give it three days, you should at least try staying for one night. Take the next day to visit the Venetian islands of Burano and Murano.
Know Before You Go: Dedicate all of your time to each major city and don’t stray, there’s no time on this Italian travel plan to visit small towns; plan your travel days in advance: you can book high-speed train tickets between cities at TrenItalia or ItaloTreno; If you have only one week but don’t cut a city, you’re still committing the biggest mistake travelers make in Italy.

The Regional Trip

The Regional Trip

A regional trip is perfect for those who have already visited the major Italian cities in a previous trip to Italy and want to really take some time in one area to experience it like a local. It’s a great way to fully immerse yourself in Italian culture and avoid the crowded, tourist routes. Though you can choose any region that interests you, Tuscany is probably the most popular region in which to base yourself.

Sample Itinerary Italian Travel Blogs

It offers a great mix of history, culture, cuisine and natural beauty with the added bonus of being close to transport hubs like Rome and Florence. If your Italy trip takes you farther afield you can apply these same time frames to any region but you will need to choose your own destinations. 

Though you can always base yourself in Florence and see Tuscany with multiple day trips, we’d suggest splitting your stay. Try a few nights in Florence with a day trip to Pisa and a separate day trip to the walled-in city of Lucca. Then, pack your bags and head into the countryside to the red-brick town of Siena. From there, you can take day trips to San Gimignano and nearby Volterra, or south to Montepulciano and Pienza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just don’t forget to try the wine!

Two weeks Italian Travel Blogs

Florence: 4 full days. From Florence, take a day trip to Lucca and schedule about a half day for Pisa, with the rest of the day spent in Florence.
Siena: 2 days in the city, with a further 8 days using it as your base to travel to other areas of Tuscany. From Siena, dedicate day trips to Montepulciano, Pienza, San Gimignano and Volterra, with a half day dedicated to Monteriggioni

This leaves you with 1 day of extra travel time and one day to return to your favorite town or simply take a well-deserved rest. 

10 days: Combine San Gimignano and Volterra and/or Montepulciano and Pienza.

One week: Cut a day from Florence or cut two of the towns farthest from your accommodation. Take a bit more time to explore the towns you do see.

5 days: Base yourself only in Florence. Take 2 full days to see the city, then take a day trip to Siena and another to any nother city on the list near Florence, such as Pisa, Lucca or San Gimignano.

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3. 25 Best Things to Do in Italy

Spectacular Italy needs almost no introduction and is one of the most popular travel destinations in Europe. Italy’s impact on the world can be seen all over the country, in the beautiful artwork, crumbling ruins, and impressive palaces and castles that dot the horizon.

As well as vibrant cities like Rome where old and new mingle seamlessly, you can also enjoy the less crowded coastal areas where you can relax on sandy beaches and swim in limpid seas. In addition to exploring Italy proper, you can also hop over to neighboring Sicily and enjoy a different side of life that also offers some of the best food and drink in the region.

Here are the best things to do in Italy:

1. Visit the Valley of the Temples

Visit the Valley of the Temples

Source: Shutterstock
Valley Of The Temples

If you are going to visit charming Sicily as part of your travels then your first stop needs to be the Valley of the Temples which is located in Agrigento.

Here you will find a huge archeological complex that has some of the most intact Doric temples that were built here in the 5th century.

One of the best things about the temples here is that they overlook the town below and you can take in the stunning views as you tour the historical site.

2. Climb Mount Vesuvius

Climb Mount Vesuvius

Source: Shutterstock
Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is one of the most famous mountains in the world, not least because of its famous eruption that covered the unsuspecting town of Pompeii in volcanic ash.

Nowadays Vesuvius is mostly considered safe to climb and you can trek to the crater of the mountain which looks like something you would find on the surface of the moon.

Needless to say the views from the top are breathtaking and the hike is suitable for a range of abilities.

3. Cinque Terre Italian Travel Blogs

Cinque Terre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as being designated as a national park.

Nestled in Liguria, the ‘Five Lands’ is made up of five distinct villages that sit atop craggy cliffs overlooking the famous Italian Riviera.

The five villages include Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore, and Monterosso, and each has its own unique charms and sights.

The area of Cinque Terra sprawls between La Spezia and Levanto and you will find romantic olive groves, traditional eateries, and azure sea views all the way along the coast.


4. 20. Things Everyone Should Do in Italy

Everyone Should Do in Italy

When it comes to travel, I’m not one of those people who says stuff like, “You can’t visit Italy without seeing [fill in the blank].” I know that everyone’s “must-see” lists are going to be a little different depending on their personal preferences, and trying to impose my idea of what they can’t miss is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Yes, I’ve told you what I think the perfect 2-week itinerary in Italy is for a first-time visitor, but even there I couldn’t just come out and declare what you should do for your two-week trip. I built in all kinds of alternatives along the way so you could tailor it to your own personal whims.

Which is why it’s hard

Which is why it’s hard for me to sit down and write a list of the 20 things that everyone should do in Italy without some kind of disclaimer. And the disclaimer is twofold. First of all, I’m not saying you should try to cram all of these things into one visit to Italy. If you want to give it a try, then knock yourself out – and in bocca al lupo (good luck) – but this list isn’t meant to form some kind of crazy itinerary.

Second, if something on this list doesn’t appeal to you, don’t do it just because it’s on someone else’s list of what you have to do. And that goes for any other “must-do” list you ever see. Ever. Take what you like and leave the rest. And tell them I said you could.

Also, for first-time visitors to Italy especially, be sure to read through my Italy first-time visitor’s guide – it’s a must-read for those who’ve never been to Italy before, but all Italy travelers can find something helpful in there!

Take a night Italian Travel Blogs

1.Take a night ride on the #1 vaporetto in Venice – I know plenty of these lists include a Venice gondola ride on them, but if you’ve been paying attention to this site for awhile you know how much I think they’re unnecessarily expensive and not the romantic experience they’re made out to be. Instead, one evening before or after dinner, hop on the slow-moving #1 vaporetto at one end of its run and ride it to the other end. This is preferably done with a serving of gelato in hand and someone to cuddle with in the dark. And be sure you can snag a spot with a view, so you can see the moonlit sights of Venice as you glide past.

2. Spend 15 minutes with “The Last Supper” in Milan – Most tourists skip Milan, and that’s probably fine, but this is the only city where you can see Leonardo’s masterpiece of “The Last Supper.” It’s a heavily regulated 15-minute time limit, and you’ll need to get your tickets well in advance, but it’s worth it.

The Uffizi Gallery Italian Travel Blogs

3. Overdose on Renaissance art at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence – The Uffizi Gallery is on just about every must-do list for Italy, and there’s a good reason for it. Nowhere else on earth will you see such an amazing collection of Italian Renaissance art, all contained in gorgeous buildings once roamed by Medicis. The artists on display here are like the rock stars of Florence.

4.Get a guided tour of the Vatican Museums – You could walk yourself through the Vatican Museums, but for everyone but the hardcore art historian it’s probably better to follow a guide who’ll point out the truly important pieces and keep you from spending too much time on the rest of it. And as a bonus, with most tours you’ll get a guided visit to St. Peter’s Basilica as well.

Climb Florence’s Duomo

5. Climb Florence’s Duomo – This is perhaps not for those with fear of heights or small spaces, but for a spectacular view of Florence’s historic center and an interesting lesson in architecture and engineering, you could do worse than to climb to the top of the dome of Florence’s Duomo. If you’d prefer to have the dome itself in your rooftop view, then climb Giotto’s bell tower instead.

6.Eat pizza in Naples – There’s nothing like eating something as universally well-known as pizza in the place where it was born, and for that, you’ve got to go to Naples. I’ve heard that the pizzeria which claims to actually be the very place which invented pizza is turning out less-than-lovely pies these days, but you’ll find plenty of great restaurants ready to take its place.

7.Visit the Greek ruins in Sicily – When you think of Italy, you probably think mostly of Roman ruins. But on Sicily, you can branch out a bit by touring both Roman and Greek ruins, and the stuff the Greeks left behind is even older than the stuff from ancient Rome. A walk through the Valley of the Temples is highly recommended.

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5. These Are the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy

Italy is home to some of the most spectacular, art-filled cities out there, but the country’s true charm lies in the countryside, where life revolves around the piazza and the sweetness of doing nothing reigns supreme.

Overflowing with old-world romance and handsome medieval architecture, these delightful little spots seem made for meandering along time-worn cobbled lanes framed by blushing bougainvillea, feasting on sublime pasta and local wine in tiny, unpretentious trattorias, and watching the world go by in picturesque wisteria-shaded squares.

From hilltop medieval borghi frozen in time to gelato-toned fishing hamlets spilling down to the sea, these are the most beautiful villages in Italy:

Marzamemi, Sicily

Marzamemi, Sicily

A Sicilian fishing village with an exotic flair, Marzamemi centers around an ancient tonnara (tuna production factory) built by the Arabs around the 1,000 A.D. Located on the island’s southernmost tip, the hamlet is a cluster of old fishermen’s cottages and crumbling low-roofed sandstone buildings, with narrow cobblestone streets and sunny piazzas opening out to the bright blue sea.

Stilo, Calabria

Stilo, Calabria

Part of I Borghi più belli d’Italia list, Stilo is Calabria’s Byzantine jewel. Terraced on the slopes of Mount Consolino, a few km inland from the Ionian coast, the small town is full to the brim of wonderful monuments, centuries-old churches, and castle ruins overlooking the sea. Its main attraction is La Catolica, a striking Byzantine church with tile-covered domes dating back to the 9th century.

Manarola, Cinque Terre

Manarola, Cinque Terre

One of the tiniest of Italy’s Cinque Terre, Manarola is a rainbow of brightly colored homes piled one on top of another above the indigo Ligurian Sea. Perched precariously on a rocky promontory and surrounded by steep terraced vineyards, the seaside village looks straight out of an old Italian movie, with postcard-perfect sights at every turn.

Santa Maria di Leuca, Puglia Italian Travel Blogs

At the southernmost tip of the Salento peninsula, on a promontory washed by two seas, lies Santa Maria de Leuca – an elegant port town frequented by Puglia’s elite for over e century. Palm trees and noble Art Nouveau villas frame the seafront promenade, and its emerald stretch of coastline is interspersed with dramatic grottoes and hidden sandy coves.

The panoramic drive from Leuca to Otranto, one of Puglia’s most wonderful towns, is among Italy’s best.

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