The best way to get the most out of your trip to Italy is to prepare a bit in advance. That said, I know we’re all busy people and sometimes our trips sneak up on us before we’ve even had a chance to buy a guidebook. Let me help you. Below are some of my favorite articles, tips and resources for traveling in Italy, curated from my own blog and beyond.
You have to research before traveling to know what the hell you’re doing!
Start with Italy’s Tourism Board: a site good for planning itineraries, transport, sightseeing and cultural background. But if you want more, read on.
All of Italy’s Public Holidays and Festivals (2017 – 2018)
Read more in-depth about some of my favorite travel resources
You’ll likely want to explore multiple destinations in Italy. For this, you’re going to need to choose an Italian transport. Milan has an excellent subway system and buses run in the big cities (water bus in Venice) but you have multiple options to get from one city to another.
My best advice on choosing your form of transportation is to use Rome2Rio (I’m not affiliated with them, though I wish I was, I just love the service). The site will tell you every form of transport possible to get from one destination to another, as well as an estimated time and price and the distance of each. Compare your options and go from there.
There’s nothing like car travel to give you complete freedom of exploration. Road trips tend to be the simplest way to explore smaller towns and the Italian countryside as well. But renting a car in Italy can be intimidating. Here’s what you need to know to make the process as painless and simple as possible.
Wikipedia’s page on Italian Road Signs
Tips on driving Italian Autostrade or toll roads from the Italy Beyond The Obvious blog
Rules to Drive in Italy from Italy’s Tourism Board
Train travel is a great way to get around Italy, but can be slightly intimidating for first-time visitors. Most travel between major cities will be on a high speed train. These are via Trenitalia or Italo Treno. Seats are assigned and limited, so it’s usually best to purchase these in advance. Tickets can be purchased online. Travelers with a highly flexible schedule can purchase tickets directly from the station at the time they want to leave, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll get a spot at that specific time. All other trains (namely, regional) can be purchased as you please.
Want to know more? Here’s my Complete Guide to Train Travel in Italy
Your exact itinerary will likely be based on which airport you fly into and out of.
The most common international airports for flights from the US are Rome and Milan, but Italy has dozens of international airports.
Travel throughout Italy is probably best done by train or car, but flights may make sense if the distances are long or you’re heading to an island (ferries tend to be costly). Flights in Italy are predominately served by the country’s airline, AirItalia, as well as Europe’s two low-cost carriers, Ryanair and EasyJet.
Italy is a hiker’s paradise, with thousands of kilometers of trails, few private lands and a variety of absolutely gorgeous landscapes. From the mountains to the sea to the rolling hills of central Italy, there’s something for everyone. Maybe the best way to get around Italy is by foot.
Why Getting in Walking Shape is the best way to prepare for a trip to Italy.
Though not all of the website is available in English, you can find a detailed list of mountain huts.
Cinque Terre is a favorite Italian hike, but the information can be confusing. In the past ten years entire sections of the trail have crumbled into the sea after a series of floods and mudslides. The park is rebuilding and many trails are still open, but it’s best to check online to see which trails and sections are open before your trip.
This blog has a very complete guide on Trekking, Wandering and Hiking in Italy, with articles on specific hikes throughout the peninsula.
Some fun posts of my personal hiking experiences:
Micro-travel: Pilgrimage to San Pietro al Monte Pedale
You likely have some idea of what there is to see, but it doesn’t hurt to do some research. You don’t want to fly thousands of miles to see St. Peter’s Basilica and miss out on the Vatican Museums just because you didn’t know about them, or get lost in Venice only to miss St. Mark’s Square simply because you didn’t know it is the most important square of the city.
Besides that, check ahead for opening and closing times of sites and museums (they can be arbitrary) and consider reserving visits and tours in advance to save time.
Italia.it’s Museum Websites and Reservation Services
Italia.it has a great list of major cultural sites and museums throughout Italy that can be booked ahead online. Besides this just try searching the name of the specific site – many now have advanced booking to help you skip the line, ensure a spot or simply plan ahead. This is also useful to know the opening and closing hours of any place you plan to visit. It’s not so obvious in Italy, where many places close for a lunch time that varies by region, or don’t open on Monday, or maybe Tuesday, or maybe are simply closed for the month. Look it up ahead of time to avoid being put out by a closed door.
CoopCulture is “a cooperative operating in the heritage and cultural activities sector in Italy.” With nearly every Italian archeological site, library, monument and museum listed, you can find opening and closing times, contact numbers AND book tickets in advance to most.
Check out the guidebook author’s free audio tours to certain parts or sites in Rome, Florence, Venice, Assisi, Siena, and Pompeii.
If you’re going to Italy, there’s obviously something that attracted you there. Whether the food, the history, the language, the art or archeology or just the idea of falling in love with a passionate Italian (hey, it could happen!), there’s a lot to draw people to Italy – and a lot of cuture! Before you go, get a brief idea of what to expect with some of the articles below. (For a more thorough idea, peruse the posts on this blog!)
A Short Manifesto For Travelers in Italy (or, how to be the best tourist you can be)
Tips For Tourists: How to Do Italy Right
Multiple resources and guides for our longer-stay travelers.