Travel Tip Tuesday: Four Tips for Choosing an Italian Vacation


Travel Tip Tuesday

Last week we discussed how to choose a European vacation. Let’s take it one step further and assume you chose Italy … and why wouldn’t you? There is a lot to love about this place.

I get an email at least once a week from people asking for tips to help them plan their Italian vacation.Very often my response  includes asking them clarifying questions and offering a few basic tips.

So I’ll save you the two-minutes it takes to shoot me a message and share those tips with you today.

1. Consider time restraints
The first question I ask Italy-bound travelers is how long they will be in the Bel Paese. This is important because although Italy is much smaller than many of the US states-it’s more than a hop, skip and jump from one city to the next.

If you only have one week in Italy, it isn’t wise to expect to visit Venice, Florence, Naples and Sicily. You’ll spend all of your vacation time on the road.

2. Choose a region/area
If you are on limited time, focus your attention on one or two regions. Since many first-time visitors want to see the Eternal City, I suggest they start in Rome. From there, either work up and see Tuscany, Umbria or Liguria or work down and visit Naples/Amalfi Coast, Calabria, Puglia or Sicily.

Think about whether you’d prefer to see several areas more quickly or if you’d enjoy digging deeply into just one or two cities. This is a personal choice and I’m making no judgments on your preference. But if you have time constraints-you do have to choose.

If you only have one week in Italy, you can’t know Rome like a local, travel down the canals in Venice and eat cannoli in Palermo. But don’t worry if you can’t make it all in your first trip-we’ll let you come back.

3. Look for cheap flights around the country
Last week I received a message from my mom’s friend who lives in Kuwait. She and her husband want to see Venice but they’d also love to visit me in Calabria. What should they do?

Considering the 13+ hour train ride would not only consume a valuable travel day, but would also drain their energy and be mentally stressful, I recommended she look for low-cost flights. Depending on where you are going and when, you can sometimes find a flight that is less expensive than the train. If you aren’t sure what low-cost airlines are available, visit the airport’s website and search from there.

4. Sleep on the train
When all else fails and you just have to get from Cefalù to Florence, consider booking an overnight cabin and sleeping on the train. This is an easy and somewhat inexpensive way to see a lot of the country without wasting valuable travel days. Be sure your train doesn’t have an extended layover in the middle of night-train stations, regardless of the city or country-aren’t the safest places to spend the night.

What other tips do you have for people planning to visit Italy? How do you recommend they split their time?

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

3 Responses
  1. Cherrye these are great tips. Italy is a small country but there is a lot to see.

    Once they zero in on the area, they can check out the guidebooks and websites like yours, etc.
    Thanks! You are right-there is SO much to see. I’m still making my way around Calabria!
    nyc/caribbean ragazza’s last blog post..Spring in Rome.

  2. I’ve been visiting Italy for nearly 40 years and lived there for one year too and there’s still a lot I haven’t seen. Your ideas are very valuable. I would also recommend someone to spend a week in a rented apartment, rather than in a hotel. Not only is it cheaper, but you will also have room to stretch out, and you can really shop, not just oogle, at the local markets. You won’t have to run out every morning for coffee and cornetti (not that they’re not great) and you’ll be able to have occasional meals at home, saving you money and giving you a chance to cook with all that wonderful produce that’s available.
    Good idea on the apartment, although IF anyone is down here, we’d love them to be here at our B&B in Calabria!
    Ciaochowlinda’s last blog post..Le Matte Hit The Road For Pasquetta

  3. Great tips, and I’d agree those are the most important top ones to consider when planning an Italian trip.

    I have found a lot of people focus on where they want to go and not necessarily how long it will *actually* take to get there, including checking out of the hotel, locating a cab, factoring in the cab ride, unloading and possibly storing luggage, buying a train ticket, waiting for the train, etc etc. Expectations can be reset when people realize that a 2-hour train ride actually takes 4 hours door-to-door.

    I lived in Italy for 5 years – one as a tour guide – and before we moved we still took 2.5 months to explore more of Italy. And we STILL feel like we have so much more to cover!
    You are *so* right about the time. It seems everything takes so much longer here than you expect it to and I can’t quite figure out why. Great point. Thanks.
    MadelineJ’s last blog post..Top 15 Ways to Experience Family Friendly Italy

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