Travel Tip Tuesday: Italy Travel Myths Debunked

Travel Tip Tuesday

For many people, Italy constitutes their dream vacation, that once-in-a-lifetime trip they’ve waited their whole lives to take. They save money. They research their trip. They are ready to go. Yet, I am always surprised to see how many travel myths still plague the bel paese.

Here are three Italy travel myths … debunked!

Takayama train station photo credit: Aschaf

Italy Travel Myth #1. Train are the cheapest mode of transportation in Italy

While this may have been the case back in the day, low-cost airlines such as EasyJet, RyanAir and blu-express have changed the way people travel throughout Italy. As a quick example, I checked EasyJet’s website and compared the cost of a one-way flight from Lamezia Terme to Milan to the price of a train ticket for the same day on

The results?

Flight – €30.00 (including all taxes); 1hr, 45 min

Train – €110.00; 10hr

On a side note, even I was surprised at this difference, but it just goes to show … train travel, no matter how quaint and exotic it might seem, isn’t always your best transportation option in Italy.

and speaking of transportation …

Italy Travel Myth #2. Everyone uses public transportation in Italy – you don’t need to rent a car

This might be true for people living in the heart of Italy’s largest cities, but most Italians I know have-and use-a car. In fact, the farther south you travel in Italy, the more unreliable public transportation becomes. We often recommend that guests who visit our B&B rent a car so they will have easy access to restaurants and attractions that might be hard to reach with public transportation.

It is also worth noting that public transportation-even on its good days-can quickly eat up valuable sightseeing time. If you are unsure if you will need to rent a car, ask the proprietors at your hotels or B&Bs and check for train times and options.

Italy Travel Myth #3. You don’t need an IDP to drive in Italy

If you plan to drive in Italy, be sure to visit your local AAA and purchase an International Driver’s Permit. While you aren’t required to have an IDP to rent a car in Italy, you could find yourself in trouble if you are stopped by the Police or Carabinieri … and for $15, is it really worth the risk?

Hey, Italophiles, what other Italy travel myths have you seen out there? Leave a comment to debunk your own myth about traveling in Italy.

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

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11 Responses
  1. I think you need to look also at time and money getting to and from airports. These days early check-ins and the fact that Ryanair, for example, does not actually go to the city listed but somewhere sort of nearish, can make a lot of difference.

    There are some fascinating bus travel opportunities, too. I am going to try some of them and then write an article about it. Thing is, foreign tourists have an entirely different list of destinations the first few times they come. After a while, they are more interested in second and third tier destinations where they may find trains or may not, but rarely planes. That’s where the car comes in quite often. It’s hard to see vineyards and oil presses from a plane or a train. IMpossible to visit small archeological sites and countryside restaurants. I can get TO dinner in some surrounding cities, but I couldn’t get home again.

    Good point about getting “to” a place, but not being able to get back. I’ve seen our guests run into that several times. I can’t wait to read your writeups on the buses! Enjoy your next trip.
    .-= Judith in Umbria´s last blog ..Spam attacks =-.

  2. I do love me some low-cost airlines, but the costs can quickly add up to equal or more than a train ticket – and there is the added hassle of schlepping, which for me to avoid is priceless.

    That ticket might be 30 euro on a good day, or even less – but those prices can fluctuate greatly. Then there can be fees for checking in, extra baggage, flight insurance, etc.

    Also, these airlines are cheap because of two reasons –

    1. They use lesser-known airports that can be out of the way. For example, albeit not in Italy, low-cost airlines flying into Paris actually fly into Beauvais, over an hour and a half away from the perifique. I’d pay extra to get on and off the train in the city center.

    2. They fly at odd hours. Not always, but often enough that a cheap flight can mean going so far as to stay in a hotel near the airport the night before, or missing the day’s last public transport into the city center. Again, sometimes this can be a false economy.

    The difference for me, though, is being able to look out the window of the train and see the landscape.

    Look at me, all rebuttalling! LOL Baci!

    Great points, MissE. You definitely have to do the math and add up the costs before you make your decision. I think it is important for people to know about these options, though, especially the ones who have limited time in Italy. Even with getting to the airport early and taking a train to the center of town, you could cut your time in half, especially if you aren’t checking luggage.
    .-= Miss Expatria´s last blog ..Passport, Luggage, Money… List of Foods to Eat =-.

  3. I would most definitely recommend renting a car unless you plan to spend all of your time in the centre of the larger, or more touristy, cities. Do NOT depend on public transport exclusively, or you will miss out on so much and waste so much time. That is especially true in the south, where for example, most bus stops do not even list a time schedule…you can end up waiting a long time, or a bus might not even pass on that day of the week!

    The only other myth I can think of to debunk is that Italian men pinch women on their bottoms!

    That reminds me of when we were in Palermo waiting on the bus for what seemed like hours, then it just passed us by …
    .-= saretta´s last blog ..The Vacation Workout =-.

  4. We have always rented a car in our Italian travels, and (usually) not regretted it. (Two occasions of real regret: trying to get out of Milano in rush hour traffic while jetlagged, and trying to return the rental car in Rome. Oh, really three: trying to find a friend’s home in Verona Centro. What a nightmare!) Anyway, having a rental car provided us with spontaneity of itinerary and also the ability to visit places where public transportation is pretty spotty. The mountain villages above Carrara come to mind.

    We were stopped once. We weren’t paying attention and didn’t realize that the police were trying to pull us over on the road from Milano to Alessandria. They followed us for a long time, lights flashing. In our jetlagged state we just wondered what they were doing! Anyway eventually we did stop. I was driving. DH said – just speak English, and give them your US passport, and play dumb. Which wasn’t difficult for me at that moment! They took both passports and retired to their car for quite a while. When they came back they explained that the problem was we didn’t have our lights on in the tunnels. And gave us a lecture for not paying attention. But they let us go with no citations, and by the end we were all smiling at each other. It was instructive.

    By the way, the whole point of this narrative was to say – we didn’t have an international permit but they didn’t hold it against us. Fortunately!

    Ooh, so glad to hear that!
    .-= AmyEmilia´s last blog dad =-.

  5. Anon

    I think the car tip really applies only to people not going to Italy for the first time. That dream vacation to Italy for Americans (and most Asians I know) includes Rome, Florence and Venice. Occasionally Pisa or Milan will be added. Just imagine if all the tourists rented cars in Rome! What a nightmare!!

    But if it’s not your first time in Italy and/or if you want to see something other than the traditional great sights, a car’s a great idea. Especially for the south, which doesn’t have the same options for transport. Which reminds me of another myth (or is it true?) — be very careful on trains in the south since there’s at least some chance you’ll be gassed and robbed. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that!

    I agree the car tip is best for people who are traveling outside of the main three cities, unless they are staying for an extended time and would like to get out of the city by renting a car here and there. As for the “myth” about the trains … I am sorry to say, it is true. Although, from what I know it isn’t limited to the south, but trains in Italy, in general. We’ve heard from several guests about problems even north of Rome and my Italian friends from Naples warned me about their fair city years ago.

  6. What about the visitors that expect to zip around on Vespas? Can you imagine a tourist navigating Rome traffic on a Vespa? Although the bottom pinching is pretty outdated but Italian men never fail to fall into the flirty, sexy sterotype!

    That they do, Fly Girl … that they do!

    .-= Fly Girl´s last blog ..A Special Cozumel Celebration =-.

  7. Is that true about the int’l. driver’s license? I’ve been stopped by Carabinieri several times. They look at my license from the US, stare at me, then wave me on. I was told by my insurance company here that I no longer needed one. What to do?

    You are “supposed” to have one, but I, too, have heard many stories from people who don’t have it and get stopped without a problem. I’ve also heard stories from people who didn’t have it, got stopped and had a tough time. I always drive with one. 🙂

    .-= Lisa at Wanderlust Women´s last blog ..Where will Cupid’s arrow wander for Valentine’s Day? =-.

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