Top Tips for Travelling in Italy

Dont leave for Italy without taking these top travel tips into consideration
Don't leave for Italy without taking these top travel tips into consideration | Roberto GRAMELLINI / Unsplash
Gethin Morgan

Content Editor

La dolce vita is something everyone should experience at some point in their life, but there are a few things you need to know before reaching Mediterranean bliss. These top Italy travel tips will ensure your Italian adventure is one you’ll never forget.

Plan your itinerary

Sure, the laid-back lifestyle of Italy, with amazing coffee on every corner and endless beauty spots that make the hours wilt away, does mean that you can rock up pretty much anywhere on the boot and riff your way through an Italian vacation. If you want to travel around Italy like Rick Steves and dig a little deeper under the surface, discovering hidden gems along the way, then you’re going to need to do some planning ahead. If anything this is just to figure out where you actually want to go. Italy is a more diverse nation than many realise, from the alpine peaks of the Dolomites to the arid heat of Sicily, via Tuscany’s rolling hills and Puglia’s dreamy coastline. Picking your poison is the first step, but luckily getting around is pretty easy here, so you should never restrict yourself to just a beach holiday, or only visit the one city. Plan ahead and you can see the many layers of Italy’s beauty without blowing the budget.

This is where Culture Trip comes in. Our experienced Travel Experts have curated a collection of incredible small-group trips in Italy, pooling together their years of knowledge to ensure our Culture Trippers get to experience the very best of Italy. We put a focus on immersive, authentic travel – no tacky tourist traps here – so you’ll get to take cooking classes, visit local businesses and see a lesser-known side to some of the country’s most famous cities. On the ground our Local Insiders offer a level of lived-in knowledge you simply cannot replace, whether that’s cultural insights or a recommendation for the best gelato in town. Book with us and your itinerary is taken care of by professionals and led by a local, so all you need to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the good life.

Take advantage of the high-speed rail network

Not many people are aware that Italy boasts one of the fastest and most efficient high-speed rail networks on the planet. This makes getting around the country, particularly from city to city, surprisingly easy. That’s the inspiration behind our Classic Northern Italy by Train itinerary, a nine-day Rail Trip that uses Italo trains to combine Rome, Florence, Bologna, Milan and Lake Como into one single trip. There’s even time for detours to the rolling hills of Tuscany and the foodie wonders of rural Emilia-Romagna. There really is no excuse for spending your entire holiday in just one Italian city.

Explore beyond the cities

No country in Europe boasts as many iconic cities as Italy, from the ruins of Rome and the tiled roofs of Florence to high-end fashion in Milan and food heaven in Naples. For every urban wonder, however, Italy throws up an equally joyous slice of natural beauty. From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the tranquility of Lake Como and Lake Garda, not to mention a ridiculous selection of coastlines, from the Amalfi and Puglia to the Cinque Terre and Sicily. Rural areas here bring you closer to the real meaning of la dolce vita – slow days, good food, a pretty view and no worries at all. The perfect Italy itinerary, then, blends the serenity of countryside with the thrill of city exploration.

Italy’s countryside is not to be missed

Enjoy the “dolce far niente”

Another Italian idiom worth carrying with you throughout any trip to the country is dolce far niente, which roughly translates to “the sweetness of doing nothing”. Whether you’re sipping coffee on a picturesque city side street or sprawled across sand on a sun-soaked beach, you’ll soon master the art of savouring the moment. There’s no better country on Earth to do a spot of people watching, so you shouldn’t think your vacation is being wasted when you while away hour number three at the piazza – that’s the beauty of this place! Meander, have a coffee, meander some more, have a gelato, more meandering, pizza, meandering, wine, meander your way all the way to bed. Bliss.

Learn some Italian

Italian is one of the most joyous and expressive languages around, so picking up a few handy phrases is absolutely essential if you want to get a little closer to the place and its people. You’re also more than likely to come across your fair share of characters, and a bit of good communication could open the doors to some fascinating conversations with locals. Luckily the basics aren’t too hard, especially if you have some Spanish or French in your back pocket. Even monoglot English speakers should manage “buongiorno”, “grazie mille” and “buonasera” easily enough. Don’t forget to master the art of hand gesturing too – that’s halfway to fluency – but be careful not to accidentally offend…

Stick to authentic local cuisine

We think food is the quickest, purest way to the heart of a destination, but nowhere is this more famously the case than in Italy. It’s most people’s favourite cuisine, but forget everything you think you know about pizza and pasta. The real education begins when you’re here, and the best way to learn is by dining at really authentic, family-run restaurants. Visit the century-old pizzerias of Naples, experience the best Bolognese of your life in Bologna and go straight to the source for your hit of Parma ham. Our trips – especially the ones in Italy – place huge value on foodie experiences. Our in-the-know Local Insider will take you to the best, most authentic eateries in town, and our itineraries include guided market tours, cooking masterclasses and tasting sessions – from wine to balsamic vinegar and parmesan.

Travel with Culture Trip!

If you really want the full Italian experience – with sightseeing, culinary treats and dolce far niente in equal measure – then the best thing you can do is book a holiday in Italy with Culture Trip.

If you’re looking for Northern Italy travel tips, then look no further than our Classic Northern Italy by Train itinerary. Starting with a deep dive into Rome’s most incredible sights, we’ll hop on the train to Florence, as well as taking a detour to rural Tuscany to see Siena and San Gimignano, stopping for olive oil tasting and lunch at a local winery. The foodie theme continues in Bologna, the culinary capital, where we’ll go on a gourmet food tour, before day tripping around Emilia-Romagna, stopping at a balsamic vinegar production house, a Parmigiano Reggiano dairy and Parma, for a slice of the city’s famous ham. The final stop of our Rail Trip will be Milan, where you’ll get a guided tour and a classic Milanese dinner, as well taking a day trip to Lake Como, hitting the waters to hop from Como to Bellagio. Not bad for nine days work!

Will you join us in Rome?

If coastal road trips and days on the beach are what you’re looking for, then check out our 10-day Seductive Southern Italy trip. This is one of our most popular itineraries with good reason. It starts in Naples for pizza and pastries on a stunning street food tour, before we wind down the Amalfi Coast on land and sea. Then it’s time to venture from the west coast to the east, stopping off first at Matera, the surreal hillside cave town made famous by James Bond in No Time to Die (2021). We’ll e-bike through the vineyards of the Itria Valley and see the adorable trulli huts of Alberobello in Puglia before reaching the Adriatic Coast in Polignano a Mare. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy some of Italy’s finest beaches, as well as exploring caves, olive oil farms and the region’s most old and beautiful towns. Our trip ends in Lecce, the Florence of the South, and wraps up with an unforgettable Puglian farewell dinner.

If the mainland is old news to you, then how about joining us on our Spectacular Sicily trip? Spend eight days exploring the largest island on the Med, from ancient cities to volcanic islands and undiscovered beaches. We start in Palermo for a street food tour and Sicilian cooking class, before heading inland to the Madonie Mountains – wine tastings hit different after an afternoon hiking in the hills. We’ll take a detour to the Aeolian Islands of Lipari and Vulcano before getting back on track with a hike on Mount Etna, followed by lunch on a local farm. Next up is Taormina, as seen in season two of The White Lotus, to visit the ancient Greek Theatre and take another cooking class. Foodie experiences continue in the markets of Syracuse and Ortigia, before we head back inland to the Unesco-listed Val di Noto region – a series of gorgeous hilltop baroque towns famed for fine chocolate and the best gelato on the planet. Reminisce on an incredible Sicilian adventure over an Aperol spritz in Catania.

Sold on a trip to Italy? Browse our collection of itineraries and choose your dream summer retreat.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

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