Fill in the blank!
make sure you know the big holidays and make reservations on these days. you can be creative on other days, but small towns on big holidays will require reservation or you'll have to pay a lot.
That 2nd class train travel is just as good for my purposes as 1st class, and a good bit cheaper. And you're more likely to meet Italians in 2nd class than in 1st.
That restaurants and cafes one or three streets in fromthe main street are often half the price with food twice as good, as the tourist joints on the mainstreets
How to say in Italian "I apologize for those loud obnoxious Americans over there. We're not all like that." :-)
Before asking in a about a dozen different shops for one pannini, I wish I would have known that you should ask for one pannino. I amused quite a few people asking for one sandwiches.
---that I would not need 2 years of Italian lessons--- I'm glad I took them, but I was expecting to get to use them more.
...that Italy is 'Italy'...
To me (and many others) Italy is a foreign country in the midst of a bunch of foreign countries (to a non-European, of course). Things are a bit, let's say, 'slower' and 'less efficient' than most Western countries. It's definitely a different mentality, and there are many books that try to prepare you for that, but you just have to experience it for yourself. There's an awful lot of electricity strung b/n the buildings, but none of it is powering an A/C and probably not a (ceiling) fan. And it's HOT there, People LOL! And I'm used to Very Hot...but the rest of us have A/C! And if you think you got a shrug of the shoulders in France,...the Italians can outdo the French ;-) Imagine going to the Louvre and it's closed; no one knows why, it's supposed to be open (says so in the guidebooks and on the door), yet it's not. Welcome to Italy!!! Now, having said that...
I Love Italy!!! After getting whacked upside the head on a few trips, I've finally learned to accept it for what it is. Kind of like my husband ;-) (kidding!) Do/See what is very important to you ASAP, because it may be closed later. Plan extra time b/n train connections; this isn't Germany (or France, or Belgium, or Austria, or...). And if you travel to Italy after Germany or Austria, you're going to be mighty disappointed in the breakfasts (what is it with the plastic-wrapped melba toast?!?). But the people are great (even the shoulder-shruggers), and the art and history are too much to discuss here. Everyone should be required to travel there at least once in their lives...having been properly prepared, of course ;-)
Like with "panini" (which is indeed plural), I've heard about Americans who order a "latte" at a coffee bar and are surprised when they're handed a glass of milk. And, fwiw, "bruschetta" is pronounced "broosketta". No "shh" involved.
... when in Rome, sites are a lot closer then I thought and I probably could have seen and done more simply by walking a couple of blocks (but I was with a tour and they kept us pretty close). So study maps and become familiar with the layout so you don't miss out on seeing something truly awesome.
I wish I would have known_______ before my trip to Italy
that I should listen to a hotel review that says rooms facing the street are loud
that there is a con artist that pretends to be looking for an embassy, but is out of gas and wants to trade you a fake leather jacket for some money
to pack eye wash and sunscreen
that you shouldn't stand on benches in the Vatican museum to get better pictures
that Italians like to be paid in exact amounts of money and in cash
that you should buy a few extra metro tickets while you are at a tabacchi shop
that Gasolio is really diesel and Gasoline is called either senza piombo or benzina verde
that motorcycles are not entirely exempted from parking in traffic zones
that Italians don't use route numbers when giving driving directions
that "Boiled Meat" isn't an Italian dish
to buy the best and most comfortable shoes and break them in
...that tickets for violating a restricted zone can occur even in the smaller towns and cities and may arrive as much as 2 years later.
That "meat" on a menu item prob means horsemeat.
Most americans may be shocked at this but so far I have never gotten ill fom having meat lasagna or something similiar. that cheese/diary products are not usually pastureized
I wish I would have known how much I would have fallen drop down head over hells in love with Italy before my trip to Italy. I would've stayed longer. But it's ok, I just have to keep going back :)
Not to worry that so much about what I was going to wear. Just to be tasteful and not stand out too much.
Not to worry quite so much about how to order meals correctly. We were always free to order the courses and amounts we liked.
Getting around Italy is so easy. They have transportation done correctly. Listen up USA.
What is your favorite gelato flavor?
Everyone wears jeans. Everyone.
Take fewer clothes than you think. Really! 3 slacks/jeans, 4 tops/shirts, a vest or sweater to layer, a rainjacket. Basta cosi!
You can get an entire suitcase full of clothes laundered in one day at Campo Dei Fiori LavaSecco for 20 Euros. No more hanging laundry in my bathroom to dry for two days. And no more hour-and-a-half spent talking to Americans in the laundromat.
You can have the Trevi Fountain all to yourself at 0730. Piazza Navona too. Gorgeous!
enough to take my GPS and obtain the European maps since I was driving all week
...not to order a cappuccino in the afternoon...
Always go a few blocks away from touristy piazzas and sites to find better food. I'm always amazed when people come back and complain that they paid so much for blah food at restaurant in one of the main piazzas. Of course this applies to just about anywhere, not just Italy.
that the Spanish Steps are REALLY slippery when they get wet..fiancee' took a digger on them our last day in Rome.
That Italy is one big safety code violation. Watch where you step.
I can't bite my tongue anymore:).......there's no root beer!
That two night's in Venice is not enough. And I would certainly agree with MatthewD that a day trip to Venice is not doing Venice justice. On our next trip to Italy, we will be spending five night's in Venice, as it is a city that deserves some time...time to relax, to discover, and soak it all in. Venice was one of the highlights of our trip, even though it was only for two nights.
That you will have a hard time finding a road sign. If you're driving take a good GPS. Like Eileen said, Italy is Italy. You can see it as either a relaxed "come what may" attitude or that no one gives a rip - your choice. Your enjoyment of Italy, however, depends largely on which one you choose. It is one giant safety code violation - and no one cares. Everything is in need of maintenance - and no one cares. Things are closed when they should be open - and no one cares. I would think it would be maddening to people who insist on staying on schedule but fun for people who just want to wander and enjoy. Which are you?
You can't and shouldn't try to do Venice as a day trip from Florence.
That if you do a daytrip to any popular location you will be arriving and leaving as part of a mass wave of tourists. The best time to enjoy almost any place without feeling overrun by fellow tourists is in the morning and in the evening. And that's hard to do as part of a daytrip.
Not to waste a day (and the money) going to Capri; it was a huge disappointment. I LOVE Italy and this was my 5th trip and we've traveled all over. This trip we decided to do a day trip to Capri from Positano. On arrival I felt like I was at a county carnival or a gritty eastern USA shore boardwalk. As we walked vendors yelled out to us "cafe, cappuccino, gelato." There were cheap souvenir shops everywhere and garish billboard type paintings on the buildings. Our lunch was one of our most expensive in Italy and of poor quality- though we relied on a recommendation.
The historic church was beautiful, and there were a couple of streets with Rodeo Drive shops- also beautiful if you were looking to do that on Capri.
Do note that we did not do any grotto- maybe for those who go for that it is a different experience.
Not to carry large bills. I can't stress how important it is to have small change. Once you hit an ATM, make sure you break down your larger bills in larger shops or grocery stores. You will be glad that you did.
that the yellow boxes at the train stations are where you validate your train tickets
to get a good bus map...busses were plentiful, cheap and easy to take but just using RS's book for route suggestions wasn't enough.
I wish I had known about Ron's great website at www.roninrome.com
It's LOADED with useful information, and it's not a front for some business. Just a labor of love by Ron, a frequent poster here. Check it out if you haven't already.
Also, I wish I had known about tripadvisor.com back then. It would have saved us from some lousy lodging that we ended up with. That's also a good place to double-check on Rick's recommendations.
I've got another one. I wish I had known that it's always a good idea to call ahead to confirm your reservation a few days in advance. When you arrive at your first location, ask them to call your next one for you confirm the details. I discovered especially with the mom and pop places that the concept of a reservation can be a little tenuous. The first time we went to Italy three of our seven reservations had problems that could have been avoided had we called ahead. Eventually we learned.
not to worry if you get lost....some of my favorite times have happened when I was "lost". Enjoy every moment.
I second the sunscreen comment (I paid $20 US for a small bottle of very minimal SPF lotion!!). Also, that gelato is technically a food group (fruit!) and you should never feel guilty eating it more than once a day (unless you don't have elastic waistband pants, then be careful)
In response to the sunscreen comments, I'll add this bit of counsel. I disagree with the many posters who blithely advise that since it is possible to get everything in Italy, don't bring much. I once misplaced my dental floss and had to pay $8 for a small package. Also, I had to find a pharmacy for it. I say bring along a supply of drugstore items that you commonly use: e.g., bandaids, aspirin or other pain reliever, immodium, etc. In Italy, they are sold only in pharmacies, most of which are closed on Sunday. It's easy to find travel sizes here in Walgreen's, CVS, and other big drugstore chains.
Excellent point about pharmacy items. I wish I had known that it's impossible to buy Benadryl in Italy. I had to have friends back home FedEx me a bunch when my pollen allergies flared up. And I thought of another one: I wish I had known that gelato scoops get smaller the closer the gelateria is to a major tourist site. And the brighter the gelato color, the more artificial it is.
enjoyed reading this thanks