44 Tips for Traveling in Italy

“44 Tips for Traveling in Italy”

by History in High Heels.

 

I get lots of questions about living in Florence and emails asking for tips for traveling in Italy. So I finally decided to put all of my tips and advice together in one place! I hope you find them useful and please share any tips you have.

1. Plan and Pre-Book major sights and attractions whenever possible, especially if you are traveling in mid-March (spring break) or between May and July.

2. Don’t use third party booking websites or companies. 
Companies like TickItaly will charge you an arm and a leg for a reservation you could easily make on the official museum website (or officially sponsored website) yourself. Here is a list of official museum/gallery websites:
Vatican Museums
Roman Forum and Colosseum (combo ticket)
Borghese Gallery (Rome)
The David (Accademia, Florence)
Uffizi (Florence)
Last Supper (Milan)
Doge’s Palace (Venice)
St. Mark’s (Venice)

3. Avoid restaurants with pictures of the food.
You can read more of my tips for selecting restaurants in Italy here.

4. Make the most of the high-speed train. 
It is only takes an hour and a half to get from Florence to Rome or Florence to Venice, and only thirty minutes to get to Bologna! Plus the trains are comfortable and reliable. They are my preferred way to travel around Italy. You can purchase tickets online or through a local travel agent in Italy. If you are in Florence, the lovely staff at FlorenceForFun can help you get great discounts!

5. Don’t let anyone help you put your luggage on the train or take it off.
This is a scam (mostly by gypsies) to force you to tip. If you are fine tipping, go for it, but be warned they are not the most upstanding characters.

6. Watch your bags as the train arrives and departs the station. 
Just incase somebody tries to hop on and steal something at the last minute.

7. Be prepared to lug all of your luggage down cobblestone streets and up stairs (and on and off trains). 
If your bag is too heavy or large to do this yourself, you need to rethink what you have packed! There are lots of streets and squares taxis can’t go down, so even if you cab it, you still might have another block or two to haul your stuff. Elevators can also be a rarity and you will often find random small sets of steps you have to navigate.

8. Bring a portable luggage scale, especially if you are traveling via discount European airlines. 
They are serious about bag weight.

9. Get up early every once and a while. 
Many cities, like Rome and Venice, have a completely different feel without the hoards of tourists. It is worth it to get an early start (especially in the hot summer) to get a different perspective of the city and to see many of the monuments not littered with people.

10. Always carry cash. 
Most places will not let you use your debit or credit card for smaller purchases and restaurants don’t split bills.

11. Wear comfortable shoes.

12. Look up if your bank has any affiliations in Italy (i.e. Bank of America and BNL) to avoid service charges and fees.

13. Unlock your phone and pop in an Italian SIM card. 
If you have an iPhone that is out of contract (i.e. over two years old) this is fairly easy to do and Italian SIMs are inexpensive.

14. Don’t forget sunscreen.

15. Don’t put cheese on seafood pasta. 
Despite how delicious the cheese is here, Italians do not put it on everything. . . . .

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Book Review: “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss! “

“Italy Travel Guide:

Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss! “ 

by Manuel de Cortes

A handy tour guide gifted to visitors of Italy.

 

Manuel de Cortes’s recent book, “Italy Travel Guide: Top 40 Beautiful Places You Can’t Miss” is an resources for travelers or students interested in visiting Italy.  At 125 pages, the book is small but still contains quite a bit of useful information on locations worth checking out during your trip.

I’ve never been to Italy, so I cannot actually tell you if the places he recommends are truly the best. But I looked up some reviews and pictures of the spots, and I would definitely want to check them out if it were me. I’m planning my dream trip to Italy one day, and this book gave me some great ideas 🙂

There are seven Chapters, including the introduction and conclusion. He has divided the country into a general overview, North Italy, Central Italy, South Italy, and the Islands.  Each gets its own description and list of recommended locations.  In addition to brief descriptions, he also throws in the fun fact here and there  to spice up your trip.

The book is a little simple, and he doesn’t include directions or tell you how to reach these spots. And it’s usually recommending a larger area (this city, that pot), so specifics like where to find dinner or shop aren’t here.  That will be up to you. But it is a good place to find ideas if you want to get a good look at all the different areas in the country.

Writing style: Pretty good. Some of the writing could have been edited better, but I feel that with a decent editor it would read like a professional.  Mr. Cortes has written several other books, and is obviously familiar with the writing process.  The book is self-published, and you can tell in some places. But overall, I really liked the flow and all the information he includes. A lot of people seem to have really appreciated his use of pictures – he has one for almost all of the major locations. It certainly helps you find them on the streets. 

If you are planning a trip to Italy, I recommend checking his book out.  You can find it on Amazon as a cheap E-book ($2.99) so you can carry it with you as you tour 🙂

 

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Furman University: TRAVEL WRITING THROUGH ITALY MAY EXPERIENCE 2015

Furman University

TRAVEL WRITING THROUGH ITALY
MAY EXPERIENCE 2015

Host(s)

  • Furman University

Countries:

Five Life Lessons Studying Abroad Taught Me

“Five Life Lessons Studying Abroad Taught Me”

by Hannah Tattersall via “Huffington Post

A wise man once wrote, “Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest of chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” I am so lucky to realize how true these words are after my experience abroad last month.

For the first five weeks of 2015, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Italy. My 36 new friends and three adult supervisors traveled by bus throughout the entire country of Italy. We stayed in Venice, Siena, Florence, Rome, and Sorrento with day trips to Pisa, San Gimignano, the Amalfi Coast, and Pompeii. As you can imagine, the trip truly was a dream come true.

I knew coming to the University of Delaware, which was the first school in America to institute a study abroad program in 1923, that I wanted to study abroad at some point during my tenure as a student here. What I didn’t know was just how life-changing studying abroad would be and how much I would learn while I was there. While I did take six credits of class, the learning that I will remember the most is the learning I experienced outside of the classroom: what I learned about myself, about my life and about living on my own in a completely unknown and foreign place.

Since I stayed in five different cities for five weeks, I decided to compile a list of five life lessons I learned during this seemingly magical time in Italy:

1. Don’t think. Say yes to anything anyone asks you to do.
This piece of advice came from my sister who also studied abroad her junior year. I relied on these words for the entire trip as it allowed for me to a) not get bored and b) open my eyes to new experiences and different groups of people. “Want to ride a gondola?” “Sure!” “Let’s go climb to the top of the Duomo!” “Count me in!” Not only did I get to really experience Italy, but I also was able to really get to know everyone on my trip, which was one of my main goals coming in.

2. Even the best fall down sometimes (literally).
I am a dancer, so I like to think I am a graceful person who is not very clumsy. However, the uneven, cobblestoned streets of Italy can get the best of us, especially when you are so enamored with the beautiful sights surrounding you that you don’t watch where you are going. Regardless, I saw my falling as a type of blessing in disguise since I got to venture to the Siena Emergency Room with my professor, his wife and my friend who also hurt herself. Let me tell you – you never truly visit a country until you have to deal with their medical care system. However, it turned into an unexpectedly good day and a memorable story.

3. Experience and feel each moment.
Italy has been on my list of countries I wanted to visit for as long as I can remember. From the first step off the plane to my last day, it felt absolutely surreal to be there. I could not believe I was walking through these beautiful streets and seeing all of this remarkable art and architecture. I remember I even started crying when I got to Florence and saw that my hotel was near one of my favorite churches I studied in Art History in high school! Those moments, the ones where I looked up in disbelief and awe, were plentiful. It was like I was in a movie. I truly felt like an Audrey Hepburn living her Roman Holiday.

4. It is perfectly fine to miss your family.
My family is the most important part of my life. Clearly, I missed them the second I said goodbye. I have never gone five weeks without seeing one member of my family, and thankfully I did not have to in Italy since they came to visit me in Rome! I loved showing them how much I had grown already and how comfortable I was with the Italian culture. As the youngest person in the family, I loved being the person they turned to if they had questions, too. Until they arrived, all I wanted was to have them there and experience the country where we came from with them. When they finally did come, it just enhanced my experience that much more and provided memories for all six of us. . . .

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Emory University: Emory Chemistry Studies Program

Emory University:

Emory Chemistry Studies Program

Host(s)

  • Emory University
  • The Department of Chemistry
  • University of Siena

Countries:

Study Abroad: Budget For Italy

“Study Abroad: Budget For Italy”

by Majorie Cohen via “Investipedia”

Study abroad in Italy is a popular choice for U.S. students, and it doesn't have to break the bank. Plus, the career payoffs for study abroad can be huge.

When it comes to the popularity of study-abroad destinations for U.S. students, Italy takes second place only to the U.K. – 10% of those who study abroad go to Italy. Why is it so popular? Just take a look at the photos on the tongue-in-cheek Buzzfeed post:  “39 Reasons Studying Abroad In Italy Ruins You For Life.”

Seriously, though, study abroad can be a great career booster, according to research by the Institute of International Education (IIE), a leader in the field of worldwide study. Two hundred senior-level U.S. and international business executives who responded to an IIE survey reported that most of their HR departments took into consideration their recruits’ international experience when hiring, promoting and determining a new assignment. Thirty percent did so even when deciding on a starting salary. “Students who study abroad understand how to communicate across cultures, work on multinational teams and think in a global context,” according to IIE deputy vice president Daniel Obst.

And in an era of rising higher-education costs, here’s a nice surprise: “Study abroad can cost less than a student’s home university, depending on where they choose to go and what type of program they select,” Obst points out.

What’s the Best Program for You?

IIEPassport lists more than 800 study programs in Italy. Abroad101 ranks its 547 listings, from no stars to five stars, based on student evaluations. Three of its 2103 “Top 10 Study Abroad Programs” list are in Italy.

The critical question to ask is: “Which program will best serve my personal and career goals?” Will it be one sponsored by a university or consortium of academic institutions, or by a stand-alone study-abroad organization? Or should you opt to study independently or be an exchange student? For help finding the answer, consult the study abroad counselor at your school, students on your campus who have just returned from studying abroad and the bible of the field,“A Student Guide to Study Abroad,” published by IIE and the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS).

For students who want to pursue a do-it-yourself study plan in Italy, the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research website has a search engine of programs organized by area of study and choice of city.

Whichever program you choose, make sure your U.S. college or university will give you academic credit for your work; your school may not accept every option that’s available to you.

How Much Will Study in Italy Cost?

Sponsored programs have wide-ranging price tags; independent study may be cheaper than joining a program but takes lots of fancy footwork and a great deal of time – balancing academic calendars, sorting out credit systems and arranging courses. According to StudyCostCompare, the annual cost of studying for a bachelor’s degree in Italy is about $12,500 including tuition, rent, food, books and so on.

As an example of a sponsored program in Italy, let’s take a look at AIFS’s program in Rome, a popular destination for foreign students in Italy. For 2015–2016, each semester costs $14,695, or $15,995 with a meal allowance. This includes tuition for courses taught in English and Italian at the Richmond Study Center in Rome, housing, local excursions and trips to Venice, Naples and Pompeii, a two-week language prep and cultural orientation in Florence, and the 24/7 services of a resident director.

Can You Get Financial Aid?

U.S. universities and colleges are required by federal law to continue dispensing federal funds to students enrolled in approved study abroad programs. Your financial aid officer is the best person to answer your questions about carrying over a scholarship or other financial aid. For information on scholarships and grants specifically for study abroad, consult IIEPassport Study Abroad Funding.

The program you choose may have its own source of scholarships, and more and more aid is being directed to students who have been traditionally underrepresented in education abroad. A leading example of this is theBenjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Is Italy an Expensive Place to Live?

Don’t be frightened off by stories of travelers reporting that they had to pay more than $7 for a cup of coffee in Italy. Prices in tourist hot spots are always higher than in neighborhood spots; live like an Italian and take your cues from local students when you decide where to live, shop and travel.

According to the Big Mac Index, a lighthearted comparison of purchasing power around the world created by The Economist magazine, a Big Mac hamburger in Italy costs $5.18, compared to $4.80 in the United States. Broader cost-of-living comparisons can be found on sites like Numbeo and Expatistan. Numbeo reports that consumer prices, including rent, in Rome are about at par with Chicago – and 10% higher than in Florence and 2.4% higher than in Perugia.

Students in Italy are entitled to more discounts than you may be used to in the United States. Showing an ID from your study abroad site should get you discounts at museums, gyms, bookstores and more. Consider, also, an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) that includes travel and medical insurance as well as access to discounts throughout the world.

Another savings tip: Find a good travel credit card – one that offer generous travel points and/or no foreign transaction fees – with the help of a site like NerdWallet. (Also, see 4 Tips For Using Credit Cards Overseas.)

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Viewpoint: Why You Should Act like a Tourist During Your Study Abroad Trip

“Viewpoint: Why You Should Act like a Tourist During Your Study Abroad Trip “

by Kara Sherrer via “USA Today College

(Kara Sherrer)

“You know that looking up at the tall buildings totally gives you away as a tourist, right?”

My father gave me this gem of traveling wisdom during my first trip to New York City. Even though I was almost 18, I still walked around with my neck craned to the sky, in awe of the towering buildings I had seen so many times in movies.

At least, I walked around like this until my father told me that I looked like a tourist. Then I quickly dropped my head, put away my camera and tried my best to keep my eyes on the ground like “real” New Yorkers apparently do.

Acting like a tourist is pretty much taboo in my family. We eat in sketchy dives that serve the best food in town and avoid any spot that attracts swarms of out-of-staters.

As someone who worked as a teenager in the Walt Disney World parks — a tourist town if there ever was one — my father is now the anti-tourist. Everywhere we travel, his ultimate goal is to play it cool and blend in with the locals, and I’ve adapted this same mentality even when I’m traveling alone.

Without a doubt, there are many advantages to acting like a local, such as discovering great yet unknown restaurants, or reducing the odds that you’ll be marked by a pickpocket as easy money.

In fact, one of the major reasons college students study abroad is to immerse themselves in a different culture and to learn to live life like the locals do. And of course, no one likes ignorant, obnoxious tourists, whether they’re traveling here in the U.S. or abroad (the “ugly American” stereotype exists for a reason).

But there’s a time and a place for everything, and sometimes, it’s all right to act like a tourist.

I realized this during the spring, when I took a road trip to Florida with my roommate, then turned around and flew to NYC again for a conference. When I got back from NYC, my father ironically asked me to send him photos of my trip, but all I had was a photo of a colossal sandwich from Carnegie’s Deli.

I immediately regretted that I had spent my trip pretending that visiting NYC was no big deal rather than making a record of my travels, and resolved to do better on my upcoming summer study abroad trip to Italy. . .. .

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