Italy Tips and Tidbits

There are a few thoughts rolling around in my mind that are good Italy tips and tidbits (some informative, others funny) that I couldn’t make fit in any other blog entry, so I decided to lump them all together in this final post about Italy:

  • At least 50 percent of everything you want to see in Italy will be under restoration and not viewable
  • Vespas (motorbikes) can go anywhere with impunity – on sidewalks, through red lights, and even down one way streets the wrong way
  • The mounds of delicious-looking Gelato displayed in the front cases of all the cafes are, in actuality, plastic
  • In Rome, if you plan to visit the Colosseum (and you’d be crazy if you didn’t), buy your ticket down the street at the entrance to the Palatino. This one ticket gains you entrance to the entire Roman Forum, including the Palatino and Colosseum. When you are done at the Palatino you can bypass all the lines at the Colosseum with this ticket – just look for the “reserved tickets” line. It will save you hours of waiting.
  • All around Italy, public fountains run continuously, providing pure drinking water that is safe to drink. So buy one plastic bottle of water initially and save the bottle when empty, filling it up at any one of these fountains.
  • If you are only gong to Italy (or to Switzerland, for that matter), don’t buy a Eurailpass because both the Italian and Swiss trains are extremely cheap – much cheaper than the Eurailpass
  • Swiss trains are always on time and never break down. On the other hand, unless you are taking a Eurostar train in Italy, it’s a better than average bet the train will be late
  • Italians are loud. Get used to it, it’s not gonna change
  • In Italy, museums, churches, and other historic sites often close during the middle of the day (usually from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM) so plan your day accordingly. Italians love to take long, leisurely lunches, so find a piazza with an outdoor cafe and while away the mid-afternoon hours over a four-course meal. Also, most sites are closed on Mondays.
  • Restaurants do not open for dinner until 7 PM at the earliest – I found many that didn’t open until 8 or 8:30 PM. Of course then they eat until midnight or 1 AM. Also, you must call for your check – a waiter will never present a bill until you signal that you want it, as the idea of rushing a meal is unheard of.
  • In order to become a cop in Italy, you must first pass a drop-dead-gorgeous test
  • Wherever there are narrow sidewalks, people will be walking four abreast, arm-in-arm, forcing you into the street and oncoming traffic
  • Pasta, bread, and cheese – how DO these people stay so skinny?
  • Bus tickets are good for three days from purchase and must be validated by the machine at the front of the bus, so that the ticket cannot be passed on to someone else. On the day of use, you can hop on and of the bus as many times as you wish, as long as you are stopping along the route between the place you boarded and your final destination.
  • On the journeys that do not require reserved seats (Florence to Pisa, for example), train tickets are good for two months from purchase. Upon use, you must validate the ticket at one of the yellow boxes found all over the station immediately prior to boarding the train. From this point, the ticket is good for six hours and you can hop on and off the train at will along your route, as long as you reach your final destination within six hours of the validation time shown on your ticket.
  • Despite reports to the contrary, ATM’s (Bancomats) in Italy work just fine with Visa, MasterCard, Star and Cirrus cards. Just ask my bank balance.

That’s my mind dump about Italy, other than to say – DO go there if you have the opportunity. Italy is fabulous!

Author’s note: If you’re considering a visit to Italy, my favorite site for finding the best prices on accommodations is I earn a small sum if you book by clicking on this link to accommodations in Rome, which helps keep this blog free for you to read.

6 thoughts on “Italy Tips and Tidbits”

  1. “buy your ticket down the street at the entrance to the Palatino” Unfortunately, I did not know that and I waited three hours to get my ticket.

  2. It is well-nigh impossible to travel in Italy without seeing something historic – Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the planet, and there are plenty of things that UNESCO doesn’t trouble listing that are probably more ancient than anything you’ve encountered before. Italy is a nation with history.


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