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I wish I had known...

We're pretty excited about going to Italy in late September. Thanks to this forum we're feeling much more prepared: tons of good information in one place. But for all of you who have been there, how would you finish this sentence: I wish I had known...

Posted by
1021 posts

... that bus number "7" and bus number "7/" are not the same.

Forced me to change bus in the middle of nowhere - but the bus driver had called his colleague over the radio (this was before mobile phones) and he picked me up without problems. Bit of a scare at that time, but a fond memory now.

Posted by
381 posts

The trains are wonderful and so don't feel like you need to drive everywhere. Ditch the car mentality!

Posted by
11154 posts

...that in a bar (what we would call a cafe), it's a major faux pas to buy something at a counter like a gelato or beverage, then take it to a table. Bars have two prices, one for counter service (you take it away or consume it standing at the bar) and one for table service. If you want to consume at a table, sit at the table and wait to be served.

...just how much I would love Italy. Not the "sights," though they're great, but just the experience of being there and soaking it in.

...that Rome is much nicer if you aren't running around, but instead try only to see a one or two major sights per day, with the time in between spent wandering, napping, and wandering some more.

Posted by
59 posts

... how to speak more Italian. I think making an effort to converse with people in their own language, while you are in their county, is polite and respectful. I felt like our interactions with people were a lot warmer and genuine when we at least tried to speak Italian instead of assuming right off the bat that they could speak English.

Posted by
11573 posts

...that it's dangerously addictive. That our Italian adventures would become the benchmark against which all other trips abroad would be measured and which (so far) have not reached that bar. It's a sickness that makes it difficult to want to go anywhere else, dagnabbit.

Posted by
1573 posts

that when things go awry, which they will, I can cope! I really gained confidence after spending time in Naples on my own for 2 days! You will have a wonderful time.

Posted by
46 posts

We are also going in late September and are so excited, as well! What a great question to ask and I'd love to hear more responses! My first and only visit to Rome was 14 years ago and I had a wonderful time touring with my mom. This time I'm taking my husband for his first time. I agree with what people have said...plan to hit spots, but also plan to soak it all in. I loved Rome & can't wait to go back!

Posted by
614 posts

The full impact of transit time between cities on me and my travel companions, especially those that were out of the country for the first time. Train travel was particularly challenging, tight connections, and lots of stairs. We had a wonderful time, but if I had realized the full impact of seeing Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence, Tuscany, and Rome in 16 days, I would have opted to drop one of the cities.

One of the things that I am glad that I did to offset travel time is to not overload the “tourist schedule”, from booking our flat in Venice for an extra day so that when we arrived, we could check in at 10:00 a.m. instead of 3:00 to book-ending our main siteseeing to give everyone time to rest in the middle of the day, less is more worked best for us.

Have a great trip,

Posted by
11573 posts

The full impact of transit time between cities on me and my travel
companions, especially those that were out of the country for the
first time.

Sandy, that is such valuable advice! Honestly, a lot of us flog that horse to death on the forums and too often for naught, it seems. Every location move eats TIME, and much more of that than first-timers realize. It's not just the transit time itself but the entire process of packing up, checking out, getting to a station, finding the right platform, getting to the next accommodation, settling in and then getting acclimated to new surroundings. More moves= more time and energy spent doing that than having fun, eh?

Posted by
24 posts

We are traveling late September also... I have tours booked for major sites in each of our cities. Each tour is booked early with the afternoons free for wandering, “winging it” or even a nap if necessary. We don’t want to ruin this experience by trying to do it all. The planning and research has been overwhelming but I’m taking a lot of my cues from the great advice offered on this forum! Thanks everyone!

Posted by
11970 posts

Different prices at the counter or at the table are not the norm everywhere. It applies only to some bars/cafes in major tourist areas, like Florence, Venice, and only in establishment that offer table service.
Even in my old neighborhood in Florence, outside the historical center, at any bar you can pick up anything at the counter and sit at the table.

Posted by
9421 posts

...that it's dangerously addictive. That our Italian adventures would become the benchmark against which all other trips abroad would be measured and which (so far) have not reached that bar. It's a sickness that makes it difficult to want to go anywhere else, dagnabbit.

LOL Kathy! Some of us even end up moving there. Now I cannot imagine a year without visiting Italy.

Stayclose as to your original question

...that things will happen you did not expect to have happen and a schedule is just an idea slow down and not pack the days full of "must dos"

...that it is OK to change plans when you see something more appealing

Buon viaggio! Maybe we'll see you there!

Posted by
43 posts

Kathy, simply by asking that question assures me that you have a great attitude and will have no problem enjoying your holiday.

Posted by
197 posts

The good thing about RS's guidebook and following this forum before our trip, is that the 'I wish I had known' possibilities were greatly reduced!

Posted by
1655 posts

I wish I had known that driving in Italy wasn't nearly as complicated and frightening as the internet and some people on RS make it out to be. All the horror stories about Tudor, speed traps and ZTLs had me second guessing our plans to rent a car at the Rome airport and tool around Tuscany.

Luckily cooler heads prevailed at some other internet sites and I was able to put the naysayers in perspective. I boned up on signage and traffic rules and learned some tricks of the trade (stop at the Autogrill on the Autostrada for a delicious lunch). When I got there, I found out that if you are a defensive but confident driver, willing and able to follow and obey simple traffic rules and can understand "ZTL" in huge letters surrounded by cameras, you can not only survive driving in Italy but actually enjoy it!

I found that overall the RS travel forum was a wonderful resource to help plan. I was able to benefit by other's "I wish I had known..", including some advice from Rick himself that he shares in his planning videos.

The most useful bit of advice was to embrace "La Dolce Far Niente", the art of doing nothing. Frequently I see posts here from first timers who live in fear that they will never return to Italy. They try to plan to see everything in the 7-10 nights they have and in so doing risk seeing nothing of the real Italy. Our original plans were overly ambitious. We cut Lucca, Pisa, Cortona and Assisi from the list. We replaced it with one free day to just ramble and one day to choose to head either to Montepulciano or San Gimignano/Volterra. We chose the latter. By keeping our schedule flexible (only our day in Florence was set in stone), we were able to take advantage opportunities that presented themselves without guilt or pressure. When my wife had to travel to London and Paris on business a year later, we planned even more loosely and had a wonderful time.

Posted by
3382 posts

I wish I had known the Italian dining culture. We thought our waiter the first evening was avoiding us and SO SLOW! Two more couples could have eaten during that time at our table - ha! We soon learned how wonderful it is to not be hurried at dinner and miss that behavior when we’re eating out at home. Just give a hand signal of signing a paper in the air when you’re ready to leave.

I wish I had known to leave the camera in our hotel room (or leave your phone in your purse) for at least part of each location. Take photos the first day at a location and then just enjoy being there without feeling like everything needs to be photographed. It really helps us concentrate on enjoying those moments and experiences. Even as a person who really loves photography, I value this method.

I wish I had known how much we would love the trains!

I wish I had known how light we could travel! I’m down to 4 outfits now, and it makes it so easy to travel...and more room for a few souvenirs.

Posted by
33 posts

We are taking our first RD tour - heart of Italy - at the end of September and adding 8 days in Tuscany after. This forum has been helpful for our first trip to Italy. I do agonize over details and it's nice to read to not do that!! I've wanted to go to Italy for years, and an looking forward to soaking it all in!!

Posted by
12 posts

(forgive me if maybe a little TMI) to bring Gold Bond powder. Lots and lots of walking which is wonderful but that can lead to chafing. Tried to buy some in Siena but language barrier led to baby powder - which was ok. Otherwise - don't over plan and ENJOY!!

Posted by
16847 posts
  • That Track 1 is not the same as Track 1A, 1E, 1N, etc.

  • That it's OK to wander over to the bar to pay your restaurant check if your server seems to have disappeared.

Posted by
303 posts

This is going to sound crazy, but I have a small bladder. I had to learn to always have some coins on me to use the bathroom facilities in Italy. As inconvenient as it is, some Italian laborer depends on that to put food on the table. One young woman monitoring the pay facility in Amalfi asked where I was from. I replied, "The U.S." She quickly responded, "You are lucky." Yes, I am. Now I realize just how much.

Posted by
55 posts

What Kathy and Laurel said. I recently returned and am already thinking about next year. I had no idea that I would feel the need to return to Italy every year. I thought the first trip would be the only one but more than 10 trips later, I still haven't tired of this beautiful land.

On a more practical note, I wish I had known how to request "ice" on that first trip. I was traveling with my somewhat elderly parents in the summer and had to use pantomime and the minimal Italian I knew to try to obtain some ice from the hotel for my mom who struggled with the heat. Now I have learned to communicate more in Italian - and of course translation apps are more readily available.

Have a wonderful time!

Posted by
11573 posts

This is going to sound crazy, but I have a small bladder....

😂 Not crazy at all!!! We're forever stopping for cappuccino or beer to use some cafe's facilities? That just means we have to make ANOTHER stop a couple hours later to do the same thing!!!

(It's a dandy excuse for another beer, tho.)

Posted by
7735 posts

That there is graffiti almost everywhere. Don't let it ruin your trip. After all, it is an Italian word.

Posted by
8 posts

I wish I had known that the reserved Belvedere Level Colosseum tour booked on coop culture needed to meet at the opposite side of the main ticket booth. We waited and waited in the hot sun at the booth for "Reservations" only to have the ticket girl tell me she had no idea what I was talking about and that I had paid money for tickets that were supposed to be free. We found someone who told us to go to the complete opposite side of the Colosseum. We missed our tour, took a tour two hours later and it messed up our entire planned day. Now I'm trying to change my trenitalia tickets for later so we can see our missed sights. :'(

What if I can't change/delay my train tickets for my party of 7 to Florence? Everyone is so disappointed we missed the Piata and Mamertine Prison because of the poor instructions at the Colosseum that held us up for 3 hours.

Posted by
11970 posts

.....bus tickets and regional train tickets need to be validated (date/time stamped) at the machines.

Posted by
1491 posts

And it's not a bad idea to always have a couple of "servings" of toilet paper in your pocket...

Posted by
691 posts

I LOVE your question, and I am enjoying all of the answers.
I wish I had known.....
when [especially German] train schedules state 12:00 departure, they mean 12:00 and ONE second, NOT 12:00 and 59 seconds,
how much easier a LIGHT carry-on was,
I don't need to carry a purse [instead I have Exofficio and Scottevest jackets/vests with inside pockets,]
how fast one has to move for a 3 minute connecting train on the other side of the station,
how incredible it is to do NOTHING sitting in a piazza !!!

Posted by
444 posts

How physically prepared you need to be before the trip. We average 10 miles a day when travelling on our first two trips. For our third trip, we moved so we did not have time to take long walks and we all got tired and grumpy toward the end of each day. If your body is not up to the challenge you will be tired and not enjoy the trip as much. This meant we had to scale back our planned sites. Don't forget the endless steps.

Also, carry toilet paper. Know blister care and prevention. Take well tested clothing.

Posted by
995 posts

OMG, I adore Italy. How to answer this question...

I wish I had known that I would return to Italy more than once.

I wish I had known that it's best to carry change (for restrooms) and toilet paper (same) and that not every women's restroom will have proper seats.

I wish I had known that while things may not go to plan, the trip will still be amazing!!!

And I wish that I could have known that eating food/drinking wine anywhere in Italy is vastly more enjoyable and relaxing than any any dining experience in the US.

Posted by
2235 posts

I wish I had known ... to reserve some funds for a periodic "splurge". As in, sometimes you can get three times the hotel room for 1.5 times the cost, and sometimes it makes sense to take even a lengthy tax ride, instead of taking three times the time and 5 times the energy and hassle to use public mass transit (as in the taxi I arranged to take me door-to-door from Naples to Sorrento, instead of lugging my luggage through changes of public transit).

Posted by
1741 posts

I wish I knew where you find all these toilets that need coins to be used. I've seen them only in train stations and now I'm quite curious.

Posted by
8631 posts

You have gotten some great advice. Let me add some:

1) Don't expect it to make sense. Italy does things its way and that is one of its charms. Italy runs on Italian time. It's a much slower pace than the U.S. Enjoy it.

2) Don't over schedule yourself. Don't be a "checklist" traveler seeing how many sights you can cover in one day. Give yourself time to just wander, sit in a cafe with a coffee, absorb the culture. At times, put the guidebook down.

3) If a restaurant has either " meatballs and spaghetti" or "spaghetti bolognese" on the menu, get out of there. It's a tourist place.

4) Eat gelato. Just make sure it is real. To see, look as the Pistachio. If it is bright green it has food coloring added to it. It should be a more grayish/beige/green color.

5) Always drink the local wine. Don't ask for Chianti outside of the Chianti region.

6) No trip goes exactly as planned. That is the nature of travel. Be flexible and you will enjoy your trip so much more.

7) If at times you feel overwhelmed, repeat #4.

Posted by
4026 posts

I second Frank II's comments on food and wine. Many Americans (most, including me) are very surprised to find that most of what we here in the States call "Italian food" is not common in most of Italy. Most food in Italy is light, simple, and fresh. And indescribably delicious.

And we've never gone wrong asking for the house wine, vino della casa. It's almost always cheap and tasty, and often comes by the half-liter or carafe. Get it.

Posted by
13968 posts

. . . how much useful, practical info and tips you get on walking tours

Posted by
4168 posts

Italy is great in September, you will love it.

I suggest that good planning makes the most of a vacation of foreign travel. It doesn't eliminate Murphy's Law, but limits it.

For example, without planning, we once showed up in a city that was completely full (no hotel rooms for 40 miles) due to a festival that we did not know about.

Also, planning allows your to know in advance of what you really want to do and to find out if you can do it yourself or need a tour. If you need a tour, you can find one that meets your price and has excellent reviews.

It allows you to find a hotel or B&B in a great location. Further, some key palces are not open every day. For example the Doumo cathedral in Florence is closed one day a week on a week day.

Also, going to Italy, you must protect your key belongings like passports, credit cards and money. For men, wear a money belt, or neck wallet or hip wallet that is under your trousers and attached to your belt. Pickpocketing is a problem in Italy.

Posted by
179 posts

... that Eddie Bauer shirts and shorts are great. But Eddie Bauer shoes are not. I threw out a pair of EB hiking shoes because they hurt so bad.. Now I just go with Nike running shoes!!!

Posted by
1655 posts

How physically prepared you need to be before the trip. We average 10 miles a day when travelling on our first two trips.

This is an excellent point from a fellow Georgian. Since going to Italy, we have been to Germany and the Netherlands on one trip and to London and Paris on another. We are in our late '60s and averaged walking 10-12 miles a day, mostly by choice. We could have taken the Tube from Saint Paul's to Westminster but we have missed a wonderful walk through London. We had a great Fall stroll from the Arc de Triomphe along the the Champs Elysee to the Musee d'Orsay. Walk when you can.

Posted by
3263 posts

So many "wish I had knowns," so little time. much better it is to see the Sistine Chapel very early in the morning much fun it is to see St. Peter's Basilica early when the "zambonis" are cleaning the floor and the priests in their long cassocks are carrying bright red Nike bags over their shoulders miserable it is to go through the Vatican museums later in the day with thousands of other people herded along like cattle long you have to wait for a taxi at Trastevere late on a Saturday night much any experience is enriched by a good guide much fun it is for that guide to be driving a Vespa with you riding on the back

Posted by
172 posts

To wear shorts in the summer. When it’s 90+ degrees every day, even if you never wear shorts at home, it’s so much more comfortable in that heat. I had been planning to wear capris every day but caved fairly early and have the tan lines to prove it! But I felt so much better once wearing shorts and tank tops.

To eat off the main Piazzas but also to eat (or at least have a drink) on them. Restaurants on the Piazzas are more expensive with much more mediocre food but sitting in the Piazza Navona or under the Pantheon was an amazing experience. Same with the Duomo area of Florence and any of the smaller Tuscan towns.

To always have a few spare coins and some Kleenex or toilet paper for the bathrooms.

That traveling by train isn’t scary and is honestly so easy and smooth compared to virtually any other kind of transport. And on that note, the Circumvesuviana is just fine to be on.

That if you like something, buy it because there is no rhyme or reason to the hours shopkeepers sometimes keep.

How worth it pursuing the smaller (and usually free) churches are. So much beautiful art, decoration, and architecture. Perfect for a girl who is passionate about all three like me. We saw many of the recommended but I’d still love to see more of them. And lastly, on that note, perhaps going twice to the Borghese is worth it if you have that passion, haha. I could have used more than the two hours.

Posted by
1107 posts

That Italy offers more than big cities and famous landmarks. Seek out smaller cities like Cremona or San Remo or Piombino. Visit the natural wonders like the Dolomites or the Foresta Umbra or Carrara's marble mountains.

Posted by
1720 posts

I'll chime in on two topics from upthread--

'Pack light, pack right'. All know it, relatively few heed it, especially first-timers. Our 2nd (17 nights) and 3rd (13 nights) trip, we had it down to a 22" Samsonite hard/soft spinner apiece, weighing under 20#. Checked it through both ways, even though it probably was small enough to be considered a carry-on. Then I had my CPAP (which stored both our meds), and wife had a soft Vera Bradley bag, both of which we carried on. Oh, and a 'Don't Tell Rick' tote bag for souvenirs that folded flat in our bag. Waited until last destination to buy souvenirs because I couldn't stomach carrying that stuff around, exception being leather jackets for daughters bought in Florence on trip #2, pack-muled down to Salerno and home from Naples. The things we do for our kids!

Secondly, spending. Our first trip 8 years ago, we spent far more than we needed to. This last trip, while we kept saying--especially during our week in Rome--we'll splurge somewhere sometime, we never did. It was incredible. We spent less on a daily basis in Rome than we did at home in Chicago! Cheap public transport (weekly pass for 24 Euro, we went all over) store-and-market-bought fruit, cheese, prosciutto, salami, coffee for our breakfasts at our apartment over a market at 80 Euro/night, usually an inexpensive panini or pizza slice for lunch, then dinner where we had to try to spend more than 50 Euro for the two of us combined. Museums/churches were either reasonably-priced or quite often, free. So unlike Paris, London, or anywhere in Switzerland!

Posted by
16 posts

...not to overplan because some of your best and most memorable experiences will be the people and places you stumble across. And always have coins for the toilet!

Posted by
43 posts

We made our first trip to Italy 16 years ago. We've pretty much learned every lesson above. However, the first lesson from the first trip was that just because the airline offers a free checked bag doesn't mean you have to use it. We usually go for a month and only use carry-ons. Choose a color theme for the trip, and you'll be able to mix and match outfits. Your travel partner is the only person who sees you in the same garb all the time. He/she may get tired of it, but you can say the same for him/her.

Posted by
605 posts

. . . how crowded the popular cities would be.

Posted by
1720 posts

. . . how crowded the popular cities would be.

The big 3 (Venice, Florence, Rome) have always been gridlock in June & July, and sometimes part of August, even when the locals go on holiday themselves.

But in the last 3-4 years--coincidentally when the dollar became almost par with the Euro--it's definitely gotten worse from a tourist standpoint, I would say from May 1 right through September and into October. They say Asian tourism to Italy--specifically Chinese--is way up. This is the by-product of thriving economies.

To combat this 'scourge'...all I've said, numerous times on this to go 'when they ain't or where they ain't.' As an example to scratch both of those itches...we're looking at a trip by train down the Adriatic Coast next April, ending in the heel of the boot, near Lecce.

Posted by
725 posts

all good stuff
... the coins and toilet paper and that many "toilets" are holes in the ground. I forgot to warn my friend and it did sort of freak her out
... ask about ordering and sitting
... our first trip was to "small" towns and our first host encouraged us to just ask the waiter to have the chef prepare something rather then ordering off a menu

...know what wines and cheeses are LOCAL Italians are all about local
...the most bread is unsalted's ok to ask for TAP water if you ask for still water you will be brought & charged for bottled water
...Italian women are amazing and can walk in high heels even on cobbles and it's ok to wear comfortable shoes - they already know you are a tourist

Posted by
154 posts

Go to where/Look and see if the pizza is cooked in a wood burning oven . So much better than metal oven

Posted by
132 posts

That it is likely a mistake and waste of time/energy to schedule a one-night stay in order to see a particular museum or garden or whatever. By the time you get to your destination and find your lodging, the window of time to visit the attraction will probably have passed.

Posted by
360 posts

Visit all the monuments in Rome in the day and the night (the lights at night make it look different) -- tip from our Airbnb host.

Don't always trust American reviews of restaurants online -- ask the locals where they eat.

Visit St. Mark's Square at night to hear the orchestras -- avoid during the day when the cruise ships day-trippers are there.

Reserve what you can online in advance (or get city passes with separate entrances), as it's just time away from your vacation to stand in a ticket line for an hour.

Make the vacation you want, not what others think you should do -- if you only want to spend two hours (or all day) in a museum, go for it.

It's okay to eat gelato every day because it's no where near as good in the US.

Give your time stop to have a drink in the afternoon and just take it all in.

Find the time to get "lost" in cities/towns and go down that street that no one else is on. You'll be surprised by what you can sometimes find on the other end.

Hit the restroom in any public facility that you're visiting and plan to pay for a coffee/soda/beer otherwise to use a cafe's bathroom.

Posted by
9 posts

I wish I had known......that learning the language opens all kinds of new doors. In fact studying in Italy may be one of the most exciting things you can do. It is also something you can do with or without a partner, so you don't have to wait to find a travel companion.

There is nothing like connecting with people through language.....
Italians who are excited to see others loving their language and culture.
And the non-Italians you will study with because of your common interest.

Posted by
148 posts

Love the post...

  • that Italy is so easy to travel in. I worried needlessly.
  • that Venice would steal my heart (for the seond time)
  • that the markets would be so much fun and that i should pack half the clothes and just visit a market
  • that (since we are discussing toilets openingly) no one seems to lock the men/women washroom doors - and men dont seem to care
  • that a Spritz is as good as it is!!! Don’t wait till day 3 - try one right away!
  • the tours that are “free” are not the same quality as the costly ones (and I have done some great “free” tours elsewhere)

Have a fantastic trip!

Posted by
691 posts

I heartedly disagree about having gelato once a day- I think three times a day is a more reasonable approach. As you said, there is NOTHING like it stateside!

Posted by
4026 posts

Victoria, I don't know how many times we had been to Italy - 7, 8? - before we finally tried a Spritz. What a waste!

Posted by
105 posts

I wish that I knew not to order at a restaurant that has no prices. We went to breakfast across from the Vatican Museum. We figured how much good breakfast be? It ended up being over €119 For eggs!

Posted by
6 posts

...That if you are on the crowded #3 tram in Rome and a helpful girl offers to validate your ticket (because you can't reach the stamper machine) that her mother is behind you going through your purse - anything that is not "locked down" is gone. Rick Steves warns of this, but I was over-confident and got careless....losing your debit card when you are overseas is a real pain...losing cash is only an inconvenience. Make sure your debit card is in a safe place - like with your passport.
...Italian language study is worth every second - if nothing else to help understand the train station announcements and to say please and thank you.
....A coffee and a cornetti is only a couple of euro at a local bar - never pay for a hotel breakfast. is safer than traveling in the US.
....don't panic when you get lost in'll eventually find your way.
....always stay at least 2 nights.
...have some euros with you when you arrive - it's a panic-inducer when you get to the airport in Rome and the ATM isn't working
....if you can arrange a driver or taxi when you land in Rome, it is probably worth it - you will be exhausted and it's hard to deal with transit when you're exhausted.
...find a bar in an off-the-path piazza, order a spritz and don't have to see and do everything.
...have a handy coin holder...make a point of collecting 1 and 2 euro coins - vendors prefer not to make change. is preferred Florence the bread is's a point of pride relating to a long-ago taxation protest...don't be surprised aware of the local dining schedule - you don't want to find yourself starving at 3 PM when nothing is open - you'll end up eating pizza at a place that caters to desperate tourists.

...they have Kit-Kat bars made with dark chocolate - carry a couple in your bag for emergencies - like when you have forgotten about the local dining schedule.
....carry some "stall wipes" or other emergency toilet can be iffy.

Posted by
211 posts

How truly wonderful and inspirational Italy can be and how personable the people are. Most people in the States that live in tourist towns don't go out their way to be hospitable. Not so in Italy. They are genuinely warm and helpful.

Posted by
363 posts

Something I learned during a recent trip: some cafés have outdoor seating with 2 different types of tables: tables with tablecloths if you are planning to order food; if you're planning to order drinks only, sit at a table with no tablecloth. Luckily our server was very kind and explained this as we were ordering. It was early and there was only one other client so it was easy to change tables. However I have heard others who experienced some really cranky service because of their mistaken choice of table.

Posted by
120 posts

To bring my own conditioner! I didn't even give it a second thought. Venice, no conditioner. Florence, no conditioner. Siena, nope. Milan, last night in Italy...ahhhhh my hair was happy.

Posted by
674 posts

An afternoon sitting on the plaza with wine and a small plate is not wasted. Take time to just sit and watch...

Posted by
11970 posts

Katie, I know why you couldn’t find conditioner in Italy.
You were probably going to a hair shop or “profumeria” and asking for a CONDIZIONATORE (Air Conditioner).
The word for “hair conditioner” is BALSAMO (per i capelli).

One more tip: Food Preservatives in Italian is not PRESERVATIVI PER ALIMENTI. “Preservativi” is a whole different product that has nothing to do with preservatives.

Posted by
326 posts

To ask for VAT receipts/paperwork at every place you shop- especially for clothing- if you spend alot of $$, you can get all the tax back at the airport when you leave. You must have the proper paperwork tho.

Do not worry about packing shampoo and conditioner- every place Ive stayed from hotels to apartments to BnB’s had them-

pack very lightly- no one cares what you wear, but cover up and be respectful in Churches- they know we are tourists- you can find laundry mats in every town, leaves more room for souveniers.

Dont rush from place to place, take it all in, say “Per Favore” and “Grazie” with a smile- and download a translation app to your phone. Talk to locals, its a wonderfully warm Country and Culture.

Happy Travels💫✨

Posted by
32 posts

Watch the restaurant bill for overcharges. Don't let anyone help you at train station buy your tickets . Also very few speak English at train ststion. It is humid on rome even in the fall. Rick steves audio tour saves you a need to book tours but hard to switch from audio app to camera. All of the planning and reading pays off. It was our first trip overseas and we loved every minute of it. No has signal at times and few street signs added extra walking

Posted by
668 posts never make a travel plan that takes the last of anything. Don't plan on taking the last boat, last train, or the last bus. pack eye rinse if you wear contacts. Eye rinse is only sold in Pharmacies. Same for Sunscreen. always save small change and always try to break large bills in to smaller bills and coin. use every restroom when available.
.... to never dine on a main street. Go three or four streets off, menu in Italian only.
.... to be wary of unattended children, particularly young girls with a piece of clothing draped over one arm.
.... to expect museum, "Sitters," "Watchers," to be cranky, unfriendly and unhelpful. Its not you... they are just cranky and unfriendly to everyone.
.... to never depend on something mechanical, ie, an escalator, to be in working order.
... to go somewhere, anywhere, at least once, that is not in any guide book.
...that gasolio is diesel. Unleaded Gasoline is benzina senza piombo.
... that pedestrians do not have the right of way: Ever.

...that you are not allowed to touch anything in a food market.
.... that you need to keep your ticket, if on a train or subway, until you exit the station.


Posted by
1741 posts

Eye Rinse and Sunscreen are not sold only in Pharmacies. Sunscreen is sold almost everywhere in summer, including Tobacconists and Newsstands.

South of Florence, if you stay on the curb like a pillar of salt no car will stop. Start walking and every wheeled mean of transport will flow around you. It's called mutual trust: you trust they won't run over you because they know how to drive, they trust you won't change pace and/or direction because you are not trying to suicide yourself.

Posted by
4026 posts

When we did the RS Best of Rome tour some years back, our guide Cecilia gave us a lesson in crossing the street. She said look the driver in the eye as you cross, and he/she will always stop for you. It's worked so far!

Posted by
390 posts

HAHAHAHA when I lived in Italy, my friends came from Spain to visit. When the street south of Piazza Venezia was open to the Colosseum, I was in front of Vittorio Emmanuele, and I stepped into the street to cross. My friends FLIPPED OUT because they thought I was going to die.....apparently crossing the street in Spain without a crosswalk is a death Italy, like y'all long as you make sure they see you, its all good! haha