Italy Travel FAQ 2019

ViaHero · July 10, 2019

Questions about traveling to Italia? We’ve got answers to all your pressing questions, including information about transportation, safety, cities, prices, food, and more. 

We know a thing or two about Italy, but not NEARLY as much as someone who actually lives there. That’s why you should have an Italian local plan your trip. For only $30/day they’ll answer all your questions, build you a personalized itinerary based on your interests, and show you gems you’d never find on internet lists like these. Learn more

Q: I’m in Italy and I want to see everything! What’s the best way to get around? 

A frequently asked question about Italy is how to get around—fortunately, the country provides a lot of transportation options
Milan train station | benfuenfundachtzip/Pixabay

A: Good news! Like most big European countries, Italy offers tons of great transportation options. Here we’ll cover transit within Italian cities as well as traveling throughout the country. 

Within Italian cities

Many, but not all, Italian cities have metro trains. You’ll definitely find metros in bigger cities like Rome, Milan, and Naples. Buses are another good, common, cheap option, but do be aware that bus stations can be hubs for pickpockets (as in most big cities). Download an app like CityMapper to make navigating the city a breeze. 

Otherwise, you have the ole reliable options: Uber and taxis. Yes, Uber does exists in Italy! It is pretty rare, but you can find it in big cities like Rome and Milan. If you choose to take a taxi, keep in mind that some visitors to Italy report getting scammed. To make sure you don’t have any problems, you can try an app like MyTaxi, have your hotel call cabs for you, or just ask your local how they get around town. 

Between Italian cities

Traveling between cities in Italy is quite easy. You can, of course, rent a car, but Italy’s train system is extensive and simple to use. You’ll have a choice to use the national railway, Ferrovie dello Stato Italiano, or one of the privately run companies, such as Italo, which offers high-speed train travel. 

 Depending on where you’re going and how fast you want to get there, your local trip planner can offer advice on the best train companies to use. They can even help you book your tickets!

Pro tip: Before you get on the train, be sure to validate your ticket. You’ll see plenty of validation stations at the train station. 

Q: Is Italy safe? 

A: Yup, Italy is an extremely safe place to travel. Italy ranks 17th out of 162 countries for safety, and most crimes concern pickpocketing or other scams. So anyone traveling by themselves can rejoice—solo travel in Italy is doable and totally safe.

Q: When is the best time to visit Italy? 

A common Italy FAQ is about the best time to visit—Italy is wonderful to visit all year round
Cinque Terre | Kookay/Pixabay

A: In our opinion, there is no bad time to visit Italy—the country is amazing all year round! But here are some good things to know: 

  • Peak season: Peak season in Italy is in the summer, usually from late May to August. The weather is gorgeous, but you’ll find more crowds at Italy’s main attractions, as well as on the beaches.
  • Low season: Low season for travel to Italy is in the winter. Although it can be cold and rainy in some cities, it’s a great time for the budget-minded to book a trip. Plus, Italy has tons of museums and other great sights that make it easy to dodge raindrops. 

  • Shoulder season: In between peak and low season, shoulder season in Italy is in the late spring and early fall. With good weather and fewer crowds, this is a pretty excellent time to visit! 

Still—Italy is wonderful no matter the time of year. You’ll find all sorts of different festivals and holidays, and always plenty of things to do, eat, and see. Do keep in mind that certain activities are seasonal—if you want to tour wineries in Tuscany, remember that many are closed in the winter. 

Pro tip: Italy’s event calendar is packed—so have a local clue you in on which festivities may coincide with your trip. 

Q: What’s the best city in Italy to stay in? 

A: Where to stay in Italy depends entirely on you—your budget, what activities you’re most interested in, and what kind of food you’re curious to try! Ask an actual Italian local which city will match your travel style—they’ll know best. Some of our favorites include:

  • Rome: For unparalleled history and amazing Italian cuisine classics like pasta carbonara, Rome is the ideal destination. Check out incredible ruins like the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, and dip into one of the city’s many great restaurants for a meal you’ll never forget. 
  • Venice: With its classical architecture, winding canals, and calming sea breeze, Venice is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities in the world. The seafood is incredible, as are the cultural sights—Saint Mark’s Basilica and Saint Mark’s Square are simply gorgeous. 

  • Naples: If you’re looking for pizza that will make you cry it’s so good, go to Naples. You’ll find tons of unique experiences in Naples, like driving down the Amalfi Coast, taking the ferry to Ischia, or checking out the doomed city of Pompeii

Q: You mean it’s worth visiting other places besides Rome?

People going to Italy frequently ask if they should visit other cities besides Rome. Definitely, yes!
Varenna on Lake Como | travelspot/Pixabay

A: Heck yes. There are so many amazing cities in Italy besides Rome (and other big, popular destinations). For example, Padua, near Venice, is an amazing place to visit in Italy if you want the romance of Venice without the crowds. 

Don’t leave it up to chance—local trip planners in Italy can suggest other awesome, less-visited cities—as well as neighborhoods within big cities that will fit your style. 

Q: What if I want to travel on a budget? Is Italy pretty expensive? 

A: Here’s some good news for our budget travelers to Italy—Italy is generally less expensive than countries like the United States. Of course, you can find expensive meals and lodging (hello, Milan is one of the world’s most glamorous cities). But taking the train isn’t that expensive, and it’s easy to find cheap meals—a pizza in Italy is about 8–10, beer can be found for less than 5€, and you can often find espresso for only 1€.

Pro tip: You don’t need to tip in Italy. If you had a good meal at a restaurant, you can leave 1€ per diner or anything under 10%. Although tipping 15%–20% is normal in the United States, this is considered rather exorbitant in Italy. 

Q: Good to know. Speaking of food… is Italian food all pasta and pizza?

People frequently ask if Italian food is just pasta and pizza. Nope, there are a lot of other things to try
Aranchini | nelson suarez/Flickr

A:  The pizza and pasta is out-of-this-world delicious, but Italy offers way more culinary choices. With a million internet lists about the best Italian foods to try, you should just ask a local to get the real scoop (that’s not a gelato pun, but they can help with that too!). Here are some of our top choices: 

  • Aranchini: Popular in Sicily but found throughout Italy, arancini are deep-fried balls of deliciousness, stuffed with some combination of risotto, mozzarella, and peas. They’re one of our favorite Italian street foods, especially at the end of a late night. 

  • Burrata: If you love mozzarella cheese, you’ll simply adore burrata. It’s made by combining mozzarella and cream: the perfect way to start a delicious dinner. 

  • Anything with truffles: Although truffles can be expensive—over $100/ounce—they’re served as a garnish on pasta in some Italian restaurants. It’s a delicious and fairly affordable way to taste one of the world’s delicacies. 

Q: Italy has so many great cultural sites. What’s absolutely worth visiting? 

A: You’re right, Italy has so many great cultural sites—churches, ruins, art galleries, old palaces—so it can be hard to pick. Basically, you should visit the sights that align with your interests (and someone who actually lives in Italy can help you narrow this down). 

If you love history, spend time exploring the Roman Forum. If you’re all about art, be sure to visit the Gallerie Degli Uffizi. If you dream about brightly colored, cliffside houses near the sea, be sure to visit places in Italy like the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre. 

Q: Are there any tourist attractions I should avoid? 

People going to Italy frequently ask if they should avoid certain touristy spots. No way! They're worth the crowds
The Trevi Fountain | Court Prather/Unsplash

A: We’ll be honest—even if they can get crowded most of Italy’s big sights are amazing, especially if you love history, art, or gorgeous architecture (all of which you’ll find in abundance). 

But we’ll give this piece of advice—after seeing a popular sight like the Trevi Fountain or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, walk a few blocks for your espresso or end-of-day drink—you’ll find cafes that are less crowded, less touristy, and less expensive! Psst—get tips from someone who actually lives in Italy on avoiding less-than-authentic cafes and other tourist traps. 

Q: What are the big airports in Italy? 

A: Although Italy has over 130 airports, you only really need to know about the big, busy, international hubs: 

  • Leonardo da Vinci Airport/Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO)
  • Milan Malpensa International Airport (MXP)
  • Milan Lanate Airport (LIN)
  • Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE)
  • Bergamo Airport (BGY)
  • Sicily Catania Airport (CTA)

Where you fly into will depend on where you plan on visiting first. Once you arrive, many of the big airports (FCO, MXP) offer an easy train connection to the center of town. 

Q: Are there any Italian phrases I should know? 

It’s always helpful to know a few phrases when you travel. The local planning your trip can definitely help with translations or suggestions of words to know. Here are a few that we think may come in handy: 

Hello: Buongiorno (formal)/ Ciao (informal)

Goodbye: Arrivederci (formal)/ Ciao (informal)

Please: Per favore 

Thank you: Grazie

You’re welcome: Prego

Where is...: Dov‘è la/un...

How much is this?: Quanto è?

Q: Will I need a visa to travel to Italy? 

A: It depends. If you’re traveling from another country in Europe, no: Italy is part of the Schengen Zone. In the past, Americans traveling to Europe also did not need visas—however, starting in 2021 U.S. citizens will need to apply for a visa to travel to Europe

Q: I hope this doesn’t happen, but what if I get sick while I’m in Italy?

A: You’ll find farmacias (pharmacies) all over Italy where you can get medication. Pharmacists are used to answering questions. Of course, if you run into issues, you can also call your local trip planner. They’ll provide 24/7 phone support. 

Q: Can I use my credit or debit card in Italy?

A: Sure! As long as your card has a chip. 

It’s always good to have some euros on hand, however. And be sure to tell your bank about your travels—otherwise, they may put a freeze on your account. You can withdraw euros from ATMs like you would in the US, but you may be charged an extra fee—and be aware that if your pin number is longer than 4 digits, European ATMs may not accept your card. 

Q: What about my electronics? 

A: Italy uses different outlets than the United States. Fortunately, it’s easy to order a converter from somewhere like Amazon before you go (you’ll probably find them at the airport, as well—they’re the standard European 2-round-pin ones).

Q: Easy! Anything else I should know?

Here are some more answers to common Italy Travel FAQs
Florence | Jonathan Körner/Unsplash

A: Here’s a couple of additional travel tips: 

  • You probably won’t find a Starbucks while in Italy (and that is ok. Italian coffee is out-of-this-world good).
  • Saying thank you (grazie) goes a long way with the locals 
  • You may have to pay to use public restrooms—this is the norm in Europe
  • Having from someone who actually lives in Italy plan your trip will result in an authentic, unique, amazing experience (so take that Steve and Marcia, who are still following Rick Steves’ advice). 

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With these basic Italy questions answered, you’re ready to start planning for an incredible trip. For answers to even more questions—like the best places to get Aperol spritz, where to stay in Rome, or how to travel to Cinque Terre, have an Italian local design your trip. Not only will they answer all your questions, but they’ll design a custom itinerary based on your interests, budget, and travel style. That means you’ll experience Italy like a local, instead of a tourist! Questions? Send us a message!

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