Woman Traveling Alone in Italy

Mar 24th, 1999, 05:49 AM
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Woman Traveling Alone in Italy

I am planning a trip this summer and wondering if I am crazy to think of going to Italy by myself. Has nayone had any recent experiences or advice. I am 45 whihc maybe in this instance is a plus versus being in my 20's! Thanks.
Mar 24th, 1999, 06:06 AM
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I travelled alone in Italy when I was in my 20s and had very few problems. Other posters on this forum have said they did. (As I recall, one suggested that one's level of difficulty was proportional to one's attractiveness. I don't want to get into a debate about who's babetudinous and who's not, but it seemed to me that Italian men respond pretty well to polite-but-icy rejection; in my experience, the same cannot be said of Northern European men or American construction workers.)
Go! Enjoy!
Mar 24th, 1999, 06:39 AM
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First of all, you are not alone. Although you may not be traveling with a companion, Italy is brimming over with travellers & tourists during the summer. Although I've never gone solo for an entire trip, I've had days in which I've gone off to do my own thing while my travel companion does theirs. During those times, it's very easy to meet & join other visitors if you're in the mood for company. For instance, I sent to Rome in Oct. 97 to visit a friend. She'd done the Vatican Museum several times already & so, suggested I sign on for a guided tour on my own. On the bus jaunt around the city, I met Barbara & Mickey (2 women from New Jersey). After the tour of the museum & Sistine Chapel was concluded, I joined Barbara & Mickey in a walk thru St. Peter's basilica. I'd heard you could get to the top of the dome - I suggested we do so. After the elevator to the first tier, you must walk the remainder to get to the top level. And so I dragged these gals up 300 something flights of stairs. We had a great afternoon!
So go - be bold - enjoy!
Mar 24th, 1999, 08:43 AM
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Couragous women travle alone. I did it last year for 2 weeks in Italy from Naples to Verona. I was never lonely. I made friends with travlers all over the world, and Italian men loved to help you resolving problems on the road. I'm doing it again this year to Europe.
Mar 24th, 1999, 09:58 AM
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I did a month on my own in Italy at age 32. I'm guessing you're wondering about male harrassment. Here's what happened to me. I'm definitely in the lower half of the babe scale, and I dress conservatively.
Italian men in general are polite and helpful. Shopkeepers and tradesmen will be courteous and accommodating.
I had a couple odd experiences with men wanting me to get into their cars (not recommended) --one guy was so persistent he had a big backlog behind him as he was on a one-lane road from Assisi hilltop. If you walk outside a city, THIS WILL HAPPEN.
I got propositioned a lot in Venice. At first it was comical but it did get tiring and annoying. The object seems to be to screw up enough nerve to proposition you, not to score. I do'nt think it was personal; I get the impression the Venetians would proposition a marble statue if they met in San Marcos plaza. It got very old very fast. I noticed eating in public seems to be an invitation for unwelcome attention, so I stopped doing that. If you eat in public in Venice, THIS WILL HAPPEN.
I found, without exception, if I pulled a map out of my bag, Italian seniors of let us say WW II vintage would rush up to help me get to where I was going, sometimes escorting me there. The men were all kind and helpful. You'd think pulling out a map would be an invitation to harrassment but oddly this never happened.
On the train, I decided one of the men was very suspicious, and I didn't like the way he was looking into my compartment. Here I would have reported him immediately to the conductor, but there I couldn't because I speak no Italian. It was all very frustrating (and in hte back of your mind you're aware that if you have any safety problems, you're screwed because of the language barrier). I wandered out into the corridor (I'd rather scream for help in a corridor than in a private train compartment), not something I relished doing. Staying put didn't seem a safe option. Fortunately for me, the train corridor was lined with men, so I didn't have to engage in hand-to-hand mortal combat. But what I am trying to say is that the language barrier makes you vulnerable and does compromise your security to an extent. As your would-be malfeasants are all aware.
Parts of Pompeii are a bit embarrassing to solo female travelers. I wandered unwittingly into a room muraled with what can only be described as pornographic wallpaper. It has to be seen to be believed. Not only was I shocked at this, Italian men in the vicinity were greatly amused at my expense and I took some harrassment from them. Somehow wandering into the room made me a target; I haven't figured that one out.
My friends were very disappointed to hear no one pinched my bottom!
In summary, you will get a lot of attention from men, more than you are used to. Some good, some bad.
I took it all in my stride, but not everyone could do that. It's a Know Thyself thing.
I found the fact I couldn't have a normal conversation (language barrier) more of a problem than the men. As I said, there's a safety exposure. You have to keep your wits about you.
However, if you think you can handle the attention, go for it. Avoid eating in public. If you find you can't handle the male attention, just hop on a train and head north.
Good trip!
Mar 24th, 1999, 10:07 AM
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I went to Italy for the first time last fall on an 11 day trip and I was alone in Venice for the first half. The only real problem I had was handling my luggage by myself: e.g., there was no one to leave it with while I went to check on my train or plane departures.
So, I urge you to travel light, have a suitcase on wheels, and have a wonderful time. You can email me if you want any specifics.
Mar 24th, 1999, 10:17 AM
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Solo makes a good point--learn the phrases for "That man is bothering me," etc. "Help" is "aiuto" (eye you toe, as Berlitz would probably spell it).
Solo, you don't mean not to eat in restaurants, do you? I got befriended by a lot of elderly waiters in Italy; one of my favorite memories is being steered to the fish soup the restaurant staff was having for lunch.
Mar 24th, 1999, 12:08 PM
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Well, my problems with eating alone were when I was what Rick Steves calls 'picknicking'. Since I was having so much trouble, I took to eating in the loo (not as grim as it sounds --for 1500 you can rent a very nice private loo cubicle with a private sink), at the Youth Hostel. I did a solo meal in Florence, al fresco, at a restaurant --no one bothered me. To tell you the truth, I came to associate eating alone with harrassment so strongly that eating became a furtive activity. Fortunately, I met a friend in Rome and he took me to some nice restaurants so I did not miss out on Italian restaurant cuisine --now that would be a tragedy!
I have to contradict myself, though, and say one place I could eat and drink alone was a coffee bar at breakfast. In case you don't know, 'bars' are where you can buy a cup of coffee and maybe a pastry or bread for breakfast. Breakfast is a busy time for Italian men and I guess they have the office on the mind. You should make at least one breakfast coffee bar visit, just for the experience.
About the language. Not to discourange anyone, but actually I worked through a Berlitz-type tape before my trip and I speak Spanish anyway so actually I was better prepared than the average tourist. I could do very routine things like buy groceries, book rooms, and buy train tickets. But trying to express a thought like 'I don't like the way that guy is looking into the compartment' is pretty complicated for one who doesn't speak the language. Try it yourself and you'll understand what frustration is.
Mar 24th, 1999, 03:59 PM
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I spent 2 weeks traveling through Italy on my own and it was the trip of my life. I easily found someone to talk to if I ever was in the mood, and if not it was easy to walk away. I loved to eat alone - I used that time to write in my journal or send postcards - and most of the time the people at the next table and/or the waiter would strike up a conversation with me before the end of the meal. They felt compelled to ask if I was alone and why -- especially since I was in my mid-20s but looked years younger. Have the best time!
Mar 26th, 2011, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 4
I too am traveling alone in Italy this summer. I would also like some suggestions on the best way to do this. I feel safe enough, but my hesitations are more for where to stay and how to travel around Italy. Maybe we could share ideas.
traveling_teacher is offline  
Mar 26th, 2011, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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traveling_teacher - you are looking to share ideas with someone who posted in 1999?

Perhaps you should start your own thread and give some details. Asking for a place to stay somewhere in Italy is not going to be helpful to you. Where are you going?

The traveling method depends on where you are going. From city to city the train or bus is best. If you want to visit the countryside then renting a car is definitely the best way (or take a local tour).
adrienne is offline  
Mar 26th, 2011, 07:23 AM
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I agree with Adrienne. Posts from 10 years ago will be out of date especially ones about public transport.
kybourbon is online now  
Mar 26th, 2011, 07:34 AM
Join Date: May 2006
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I suggest the online travel magazine www.journeywoman.com/SoloTravel. its all travel tips and advice from women travelers to women travelers from around the world. Very helpful.
bdgirls is offline  
Mar 26th, 2011, 07:39 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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There are quite a few people who've done that, including me, with trip reports.
sheri_lp is offline  

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