Planning to visit Italy for the first time? Don’t worry, it can be daunting (much like any other country) but Italy is surprisingly hard for newcomers to embrace. This is usually because of the differences between how Italy is perceived in other countries and how it actually is. For instance, many of the meals eaten in Italy have similar names to dishes in other countries, but can be completely different once you order them. It’s for this reason (and a couple of others) that you should follow these first-timer tips if you plan to visit Italy.
Study a bit of the language
A few phrases will get you far, but a brief understanding of the language itself will get you even further. There are many fantastic restaurants in Italy that won’t be translated, more specifically some of the lesser-known places that are further away from the tourist attractions. Since there’s no English menu, you’ll have a hard time ordering the right thing and you may even decide to tell the waiter that you want what the person next to you is having just because it looks nice. Make sure you brush up on your Italian language skills. If you plan to stay for a while, then consider a language course from an institute such as Ellci. It’ll help your language skills in the long run and there’s the added bonus of actually being in the country of the language you want to learn.
Embrace the local cuisine
Most people associate pizza and spaghetti to Italian cuisine, but there’s so much more to be had and you need to learn some of the dining etiquettes in order to get by in Italy. First of all, although there is no shortage of famous restaurants in Italy, most of them only open up during the late hours of the evening. For instance, restaurants usually start offering dinner meals after 7 PM. A full Italian meal comes in several different parts. There’s a starter, a pasta or risotto, the main course, a side dish and then a dessert. While this is the standard, it doesn’t prevent you from skipping one or two out. Also, try and be mindful of Italian customs, such as only eating spaghetti with a fork and always having it with wine, never beer.
Use public transportation
Most cities in Italy can be explored without the use of a vehicle, but they usually all have bustling transportation networks that can be tricky to get to grips with. However, while it can be slightly frustrating to navigate without much assistance, it’s actually the fastest way to get around and you won’t need to rent a car or a bike to move around. If you’re going to be in one city for a long period of time, then it might be worth learning the maps, understanding where the buses and trains go and also purchasing a travel pass in order to save money.
Remember to carry cash
While most of Italy accepts cards, ATMs are abundant and you’ll get by with carrying cash as opposed to just plastic. Just remember to exchange as much money as possible at the airport to avoid the premium currency exchange fees that you might run into.