Jul 26, 2012

Guest Post: Eleven Italian Travel Tips

I'm heading to America today, but while I'm soaring overseas I wanted to leave you with something to read. Today's post is from Melissa with New Girl on Post and it's packed with fantastic advice about Italia. Melissa actually just moved back to good the good ol' US of A, and to be completely honest, she wrote this post for me almost a year ago. I just...uh...forgot to post it. Shame on me, I know. Lucky for you, I still had it saved, so now you get to enjoy it. Take it away, Melissa! 

When Jessica asked me if I would mind guest blogging for her, I told her I'd love to do it. I've been reading Jessica's blog for the last couple of years and it's one of my favorites daily reads. Jessica has such a way with words and takes great pictures too, so you can't help but love reading her blog.

Italy is a top destination in Europe for travelers from all over the world. Often, people who I know through blogs or in real life ask me for some travel tips for Italy. I lived there for more than three years and although I'm not an expert, I do have some tips for those that are traveling to Italy or plan to in the near future.

Melissa, New Girl on Post

1. Don't come in August. For starters, it's pretty steamy in Italy in August. Secondly, August is when Italians typically go on vacation. That means lots and lots of people at the beaches and it also means that if you're visiting some of the smaller towns and even some of the larger cities, that restaurants and hotels are likely to be closed for most of the month.

2. Choose one or two of the larger cities in Italy and then choose a few smaller areas to visit too. You get more of the "real" Italy when you do that and not just the "touristy" version of Italy.

Melissa, New Girl on Post

3. If I had to rank the big cities of Italy it would go like this:

To be honest I was not impressed with Milan at all. The Last Supper is there and the Duomo is beautiful, but to me it lacks a lot in the way of things to see.

Melissa, New Girl on Post
4. My favorite place in Italy is Cinque Terre, followed closely by the Amalfi Coast. I happen to like the west coast of Italy more than the east. The seafood on the west coast tastes better to me as well.

5.  If you can, steer clear of places in the big cities that have an English menu and never, ever eat near a tourist sight like the Coliseum, Vatican, etc.  Often it is way overpriced and the food is subpar. That's true in all of Europe though.

6. I know a lot of people like to use trains while traveling Europe, but you can find a cheap plane ticket with EasyJet (if you book enough in advance) from Rome to Venice for 19.99 euro. Much, much cheaper than taking the train and much faster too.

7. Pack lots of black clothes. For real. Even in the summer the Italians love wearing black clothing. If you would rather look like a tourist then by all means pack those hideous white American sneakers.

8. Learn a few words of Italian before you come. Yes, in most of the big cities they will switch over to English, but it's always good to know a few words to be polite. Also, if you want to order a sandwich or pizza and you want it to go, just say Da portar via. It means for the road. Very helpful!

Melissa, New Girl on Post

9. Unless you are driving someplace that isn't very populated, like Tuscany, I wouldn't drive in Italy if you never have before. I get frustrated every single day by the ridiculous driving that I see. Driving in Italy can be very nerve-wracking if you don't know what you are doing.

10. Set realistic goals for yourself. Do not try to see Venice, Naples, Rome, Tuscany and Cinque Terre in one trip. Ask someone who lives here or has visited here if your itinerary sounds doable. You will not enjoy yourself if you're running all over Italy and not stopping to enjoy la bella vita.

11. Lastly, if you are traveling here and have any questions on where to stay, what to do, transportation, etc. Feel free to ask me or one of the other lovely mil-spouses stationed in Italy. We'd love to help!


  1. What great tips! 5 Terre is also my favorite, I was so sad to hear about the mudslides. And I LOVE driving (pretty much everywhere) so if you're up for an adventure, I suggest driving in Italy - but outside of the city and with good insurance!

  2. Aaaaah Italy...certainly one of the best places in the world to travel! So rich in art and history, just beautiful! Great food and wine as well.

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  4. Great post, I'm actually going to Italy next month! I'm definitely going to share these tips with my travel companions. Thank you for sharing your story with us Jessica!

  5. Wow! Italy just looks amazing! Thanks for the travel tips, it will definitely help me on my travels.

  6. I agree with your list of big cities, however I would also consider Turin and Bologna. I would probably drop Milan from the list, although the Duomo is absolutely fantastic. So hard to choose, Italy has so much to offer!
    Great post

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  9. Thanks for the post Jessica! I myself have always wanted to stay in one of those beautiful Villas in Tuscany Italy. Do you have any experience traveling there?


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