Read Part II about Italy afterwards, what to do in this fascinating country!
Ring-ding. As you enter the little bar to get your daily coffee, the bell announces your entrance. The smell of freshly brewed coffee hits you and there are dishes clinking. All these sounds are yet predominated by a beautiful and vivid language. People are greeting each other, quickly finishing their espresso before hopping onto their Vespa and rushing off. In that moment, a smile begins to enlighten your face and you feel so alive, standing in this small little coffee bar in the middle of Italy.
That is a typical morning in any Italian town – no matter if small or big. No matter if Monday or Sunday. These moments fill you with such happiness and positivity? Well, your day could just not have started any better. It is the “Dolce Vita” – translated into the ‘sweet life’.
To most people, Italy is basically a country full of big squares, old houses and vineyards. I thought so as well, despite already having been in Italy a few times. But that is wrong. The full beauty unfolded itself to me on a road trip down south. To experience what the boot-shaped country has to offer, you must travel from the top to the bottom. Believe me, it is worth it.
When traveling to Italy, you must pay attention to the streets and especially buildings. Due to Rome, the Italian capital, being the most ancient city in all of Europe – it was founded in 753 B.C., you can still find some very old houses and facades scattered throughout the country. Furthermore, the Renaissance also started in Italy. It is a leading country in arts, with the most famous artists such as Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci and poets like Dante. Most of their masterpieces are still kept in museums to gaze at. So you will mostly find two types of cities: old but charming cities, where you can still sense the ancient town and the influence of the era of the kings; and the inspiring, colourful cities, coined by the Renaissance. 😍
If you want to find a hotel rooms which suits a low-budget, you will be able to find rooms for 30 – 50€ in Italy. Nevertheless, I must admit that these cheaper accommodations do not offer a lot of comfort or luxury. But hey, if you only need a bed, go for it! That’s what traveling is about, right? Being adventurous! If you want normal and higher standard rooms, you should expect to pay around 70 – 90€ per night. In Italy, AirBnB is a really good and cheap alternative.
In general, Italy is no victim of terrorist attacks, gun violence or whatsoever. Yet, you should always (not only in Italy, but in every country worldwide) have your belongings close to you and safe – pickpockets are everywhere. I have often heard that a lot of people get robbed in Naples. Avoid keeping your bag open. If you keep it close to you and always have a stay grip of it, nothing will happen to you.
Transportation is quite good in Italy. The regional trains are well-connected throughout the country and they cost you about 5-25€ per trip, depending on how long the distance is. The fast-lane trains cost double. Of course, Italy has – just as France does – a system of buses, such as the FlixBus. If you compare it to the train fares etc., you can say that it costs about half the price but takes double the time. Public transports in cities will costs you around 2€ for a single ticket. And if you prefer traveling by plane, airlines such as EasyJet or RyanAir offer cheap inbound flights.
You can create such a simple but unforgettable memory in Italy by ordering pizza (god, those pizzas are seriously made in heaven with their super thin crust and melted cheese) and maybe even a good bottle of red wine. Find yourself a spot on the cliffs and watch the violent but calming ocean or sit on the top of a hill and overlook the green fields of the Italian countryside while the sun is setting. My point is: live. In Italy, you will not be able to experience – let alone understand – the culture and mentality if you rush through it. Take your time, invest in quiet moments and dive into the local life, which is a bit slower than that of Americans, Germans or Britains. Italians are not too keen on this consumer society we sadly tend to act out. You have to wait 5 minutes to get a seat in the restaurant? So what, who cares? Take the time and look around – you will happen to see what an amazing opportunity you are given.
- Restaurants: 5 – 10%
- Taxi: None – 5%
- Guides/Staff: 2-3€
- Italians appreciate openness and sincerity. They are passionate people – do not be afraid, but be honest.
- Friends and family kiss both cheeks as a greeting. They start with the left cheek.
- Maintain eye contact when talking to people.
- You should have proper table manners.
- Don’t attempt to kiss cheeks with an acquaintance, simply handshake.
- Don’t be mad at someone if they arrive late. If Italians say they will be there at 4 p.m., don’t worry showing up before 4.30 p.m.
- It is considered poor manners if you show up intoxicated.