Travel Tip Tuesday: Five Tips for Prepping for an Italian Vacation

This website is filled with tips directed at people traveling to Italy. However, most of them are from my perspective … it is my blog, after all, and I realize that after living here four years you can forget some of those early Italy-travel experiences. I think it is a good idea to step back every now and then and get the perspective of someone who just started traveling to the bel paese.

With that in mind, I welcome my Travel Feeder friend, Cecil.


Many people travel to a new country without giving thought as to what they’re going to see, where they are going to go and what they hope to “get” out of the trip. While it is possible to travel to a country like Italy-and still fall in love with it-without much prep, a little pre-planning can enhance your experience. Here are five tips for prepping for your southern Italian vacation.

1. Learn some History. You don’t necessarily need to know the thousands of years of Italian history to be able to appreciate what you are going to see, but knowing more about Rome’s Coliseum, Campania’s Pompeii and Matera in Basilicata, for example, will help you appreciate what you see in a whole new way.

2. Learn the language. I had some problems when I traveled to Italy because contrary to what many travelers might think-all Italians don’t speak English. Learning some important Italian words and phrases, especially coffee terms, menu items, numbers and basic directions will help you have a better experience in southern Italy.

3. Pick up some culture. It is more fun to travel to Italy when you have an idea about how Italians dress, what and how they eat, the type of music or movies they like and how they enjoy spending their evenings. While it is true that many traditions are regional, reading blogs or guidebooks written by people who live or travel often to the country will help prepare you for your trip.

4. Prepare to fight mix with the locals. Italians are generally outspoken and straight-forward when they speak, so while us foreigners might not be used to yelling, it is perfectly normal in Italy. Be prepared to “fight” back and have fun speaking (loudly) to the Italians.

5. Pack your telephoto lens. This is the most important thing I missed out on during my Italy trip. Instead of packing a telephoto lens, I planned to travel light and missed some really great shots. The architecture, monuments and sculptures in Italy are amazing and every minute detail is worth a shot. Without a telephoto lens, I could only capture the big picture and I missed out on details.

What else do you do to prepare for a trip?

Cecil Lee is an avid traveler who is also a passionate travel blogger and travel photographer living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

Traveling to southern Italy? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip to Calabria or southern Italy.

Photos: Cecil Lee

2 Responses
  1. Something I’ve been doing to prepare for my “I’m going to Italy in 2012 if it kills me” trip is getting to know my family’s history and roots. I am also trying to make some connections now so when I get there, I am not a stranger to my family. I have relatives that travel yearly to Campolieto so I am going to talk with them as much as possible in my trip planning. We are also trying to plan a smart budget by watching the economic news of Italy and USA.

    Great tips, Michelle! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Matt

    I found that, as long as you know the Italian name for common items, many people speak enough English that you can get by – what they don’t understand necessarily are words like coffee, sandwich, hotel, beach, etc.

    Also very helpful to me was to learn a bit about how to pronounce certain sounds in a general sense – even if I’d never seen a word before, I could guess the sound of it (or close to) most of the time.

    One of the exceptions to this was sfogliatelle – never would I have guessed that it was pronounced very much like ‘sfoyatella’, but glad I learnt it đŸ˜‰

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