Planning a Trip to Italy: 20 Common Questions
UPDATE: JULY 2012
Looking for answers to some of the most common questions about visiting Italy? Check out the Most Common Questions When Planning a Trip to Italy for 2012.
Nailing down the fine details of a trip can be a breeze if you have a few experts at hand. Fortunately, our Europe Forum is teeming with travelers who have recently been to Italy's many popular destinations, including Rome, Florence, Venice, and the Amalfi Coast. Expertise is always being solicited and shared. Upon their return, many members often write reports highlighting their trips' biggest successes-- and words of thanks to fellow members whose advice proved so helpful.
Below are just a few typical questions from members in the middle of planning their trip to Italy. We encourage you to add your own advice!
Have a question about your upcoming trip to Italy? Post it in the Europe forum.
What are my car rental options?
"Thank you so much for the suggestion to rent a car through Hertz Italy. We went to that website and got a much better rate than what we were quoted through the Auto Club and Auto Europe. For the exact same car and coverage, the rate through Hertz Italy was 79,32 Euro less than the other two companies' rates. " -- SCFoodie | View all responses
Will a trip to Italy in August be miserable?
"I live in the Rome area. It is usually very hot in August, and sticky. Not ideal for walking around sightseeing. The heat reflected off the pavements is tiring to say the least. If you do come, make very sure you have air conditioning (not all hotels in Rome have it)." -- Cymreag46 | View all responses
Is Pisa one big tourist trap?
"I went on a whim and I thought it was breathtaking. I just ignored the kitsch and carts around it and looked at the trio of buildings for what they are themselves (stunning, IMHO) and I really enjoyed it. I did it as a half day from Florence and would do it again if I had the chance." -- amyb | View all responses
Should we use the luggage handling services offered by porters at our destination?
"We expected to have an easy time with porters, but there weren't any around when we came into either port for our hotels. I would email your hotels and let them know specifically when you are arriving and from where so you make sure you get help. I'm not sure you can do it without! " -- amyd | View all responses
Do you have a suggestion for a cooking class in Tuscany?
"I can recommend Accidental Tourist. They took a small group of us on a tour of a family run winery and olive oil business that operates from a gorgeous villa then we made our own pasta." -- thegilbeys | View all responses
Do I need a converter to charge phones, ipods, or even a hair dryer?
"Look at each appliance for the voltage markings (110 or 110-240). If your chargers and appliances are dual voltage (110-240v) then you will only need a plug adaptor, not a converter." -- kybourbon | View all responses
Should I reserve tickets in advance to view Michelangelo's David in Florence?
"The easiest and cheapest way to get reservations to the Accademia (David) and other museums is to e-mail your hotel and ask them to get the reservation. We always do that in whatever city we are going to and they are always happy to do it. No phone calls, no extra fees and no problems." -- Ann1 | View all responses
Where should I begin my search for a villa rental in Tuscany for a large group?
"This villa (on VRBO.com) is within your price range, has 10 bedrooms, 2 pools (1 inside and 1 outside), etc. It is located near Todi. Easy access to Montepulciano, Florence, Assisi, Orvieto, etc. We are trying to get a family reunion planned and will book this for our family." -- granbury | View all responses
Would staying in Trastevere or the Vatican area put us too far away from Rome's action?
"We recently stayed in the Piazza Navona area, and it was lively but touristy...I much preferred the Trastevere area, and if we return, that is where we will stay. The walk to historic Rome is certainly longer, but also certainly doable. I believe the northern end of Trastevere would be best - more active, and closer in." -- butnotrmpt | View all responses
Should I buy my train tickets in advance?
"I have never had a problem buying my tickets ahead of time on Trenitalia.com. The ticketless option is great. They will send you an email, which is your confirmation. Print it out and take it with you. No need to validate a ticket. When the conductor comes around, just show him the confirmation." -- SusanP | View all responses
Any advice for planning a trip to Italy with a reluctant spouse?
"Your husband will probably like Italy but maybe he just doesn't like traveling. If that is the case, I'd follow the advice of the posters above and make the travel stuff as easy on him as possible - direct flights, centrally located comfortable hotels (in Rome try near the Pantheon rather than the Spanish steps), traveling when it isn't too hot (April seems fine), not moving around among too many places." -- Sally30 | View all responses
Do you have any advice for touring wineries in Italy?
"On one tour (Fonterutoli) we were the only people on the tour. It was awkward but we had the full tour. So much history! Be aware of your appointment times and distances from each other. We were forced to cancel an appointment because the distance was further than we expected." -- ricerco | View all responses
What do we do with our rental car in Venice?
"We've been to Venice three times, each time driving directly to the large carpark which is located right where you will be able to catch a vaporetta to your hotel. It's ever so simple and stress free." -- caroltis | View all responses
Do you have any advice for traveling with older parents in Italy?
"Be flexible enough to adjust your plans if they should tire... if they are not walking regularly, they should start now to build stamina - work up to at least 2 miles in comfort. It will make a real difference in their enjoyment. Pompei will most likely be the most challenging because the of the uneven footing, distances you will cover and lack of shade - carry water when you go there." -- basingstroke2 | View all responses
How many nights is ideal to stay in the Lake Como area?
"The longest I've stayed just on Lake Como was 4 days, but one year I did a tour of the Northern Italian Lakes and spent a total of 14 days among the 5 largest lakes and never tired of the beautiful scenery and lovely peace and quiet. You could do a week on Como with day trips by car or train to some of the other lakes, but..." -- JulieVikmanis | View all responses
Can we visit Capri and Pompeii on the same day coming from Naples?
"We did a tour as part of a cruise ship itinerary where we left from Naples (by coach) toured Pompei, had lunch in Sorrento, went to Capri and returned on the last hydrofoil to Naples. On your own, I wouldn't risk it." -- John_T_Cuttino | View all responses
What do I need to pack to ensure that my toddler is happy and well fed?
"I would definitely buy baby food there. Yes, they do have lamb, rabbit and veal flavored food, but they also have standard apple, pear, blueberry, apricot, etc. Plus, you can always buy bananas and just feed those to your baby. Same with oatmeal, etc." -- dexters | View all responses
What's so great about Sicily?
"I walked off some of the calories by exploring the southern end of the island, finding access to the castle at the very tip completely blocked off. The more time I spent on its back streets, the more I liked Ortigia. Yes, there were tourists around, but not that many. Yes, there were tourist shops, but not whole streets of them. Yes, the buildings were often baroque, but not aggressively so. Mostly, I think I liked the town because of the variety." -- thursdaysd | View all responses
What should I wear to be able to entire Italy's churches and duomos?
"Shoulders and upper arms covered (t-shirt sleeve length is fine), knees covered (so no shorts, capris are fine)." -- quokka | View all responses
What should our itinerary be for our first and ONLY trip to Italy?
If that's the case, I suggest you pick the 3 places you REALLY want to see, and arrange your itinerary around them. Otherwise, plan on the basis that you will come back and do the other bits, and try to make your life as easy as possible. As Rome and Milan are the easiest airports for you, it makes sense to use them and plan your travel accordingly." -- annhig | View all responses
Photo credit: Photo by Glen MacLarty
Member Comments (4) Post a Comment
i am planning a trip to italy in june. i would like to go from venice to the dolomites to travel the grande strada and then to lake como and back to venice. how long would it take to go from venice, over the dolomite road and arrive at lake como? is it reasonable to do this in one day and stay in lake como overnight? thank you.
Im traveling to Italy in November and flying in to Rome, and out of Venice. All the return flights have a lay over in Paris, is it better to take a train to Paris and spend a few days instead of departing from Venice?
on Sep 27, 11 at 09:15 AM
Hi flosaul and Reneesway, You might get a quicker response if you post your questions in the very active Italy forum of our site: http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/italy/
When in Rome do as the Romans do..
Tips for visitors to Italy who do not like to stand out…
1. Drink your morning coffee, standing at the nearest "Bar"
Italians do not drink their coffee leisurely in long meetings.
Coffee in Italy is not a supplement, it is an existential need.
You get to the bar, sip it up and move on.
Most of them do not drink their coffee at home, but at the bar nearby.
They drink it several times a day, as part of their daily routine.
(and yes, the tables are usually full of foreign tourists...)
BTW, the coffee is served lukewarm, not hot as usual,
as it is necessary for the Italians to drink and move on without waiting.
So, If you like your coffee HOT, ask for it explicitly (in Italian: Bollente!).
2. What to drink & when?
Your first morning drink will be cappuccino. But this will be your last one for today.
You can have it with a croissant (Cornetto) or a triangular sandwich (tramezzino).
However, in the afternoon or evening, the Italians do not drink coffee with a lot of milk
(which makes total sense) because it is too heavy, so they order an espresso or a macchiato.
For Espresso just ask for "coffee."
3. During lunch and dinner order Mineral water and wine only,
as ordering a can of Coke at lunch or dinner is almost an insult to the restaurant.
I cannot guarantee you will not see young Italians ordering coke, but they can get by with it.
You can order sparkling water, called frizzante or water without gas (called Naturale).
Beside water orders, the house wine (vino della casa), is a simple and tasty wine in most cases.
4. Plan ahead... if you plan on visiting Italy, book your stay in advance. the best area's will be near the historical centers of each town, or in an Agriturizmo outside the city. the best place to find and book a farm house or hotel would be the booking site: http://www.booking.com/country/it.html?aid=362187
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