Italy is one of the world’s most popular destinations, and rightly so. With a dramatic history of art, music, architecture, and religion, and its very popular cuisine, fashion, climate, and scenery, it’s not surprising 2.5 million Brits visit it every year.
Of course, knowing the language, or at least having a good grasp of it, can make all the difference to your holiday – even if most Italians can get by on basic English, they really appreciate some effort made by you.
To make your trip to Italy one to remember, here are a few hints to make it smooth sailing – not a rough ride.
1. On the Road
If you’re driving in Italy, be careful! No, it’s not that bad at all, they’re very good drivers, just quite fast, and not very patient, so drive like they do – with confidence and gusto!
Of course there are the standard road rules, and it’s always a good idea to have your driver’s licence, international permit, insurance, and car documents handy, but there are some different laws that apply in Italy.
Check out the driving regulations before you leave - the key ones are that you’re always required to have a reflective safety vest and a warning triangle in the car, and have headlamp beam deflectors fitted on the vehicle at all times.
2. Take a Wad
Although credit cards and cash machines are available all over the country, there are many retailers and restaurants that don’t accept them, so it’s always good to have a back-up of Euros.
Also, keep an eye out for counterfeit Euros too. In the likely event that you don’t have an ultraviolet light handy, the next best option is to check there is a clear holographic band on the right side of the note – these are virtually impossible to replicate.
"...nearly every traveller to Rome has an anecdote about being robbed, or almost robbed, on the #64 bus to the Vatican"
3. Belt Up
Unfortunately Italy is well known for thieves, but it’s easy to deter them – just be vigilant, don’t wear expensive jewellery or watches, and use a money belt. There are some hot spots, mainly the major cities, trains, and parked cars, and nearly every traveller to Rome has an anecdote about being robbed, or almost robbed, on the #64 bus to the Vatican.
4. Off Piste
If you’re planning a skiing trip in Italy, firstly, take me with you! Secondly, be aware that Italy has a new law that requires skiers and snowboarders to use a tracking device if they’re going off the beaten track. It’s also compulsory for children under 14 to wear a helmet when on the slopes.
5. A Cover-Up
The Italians are proudly religious, and they expect visitors to respect this, so having an easy to carry, light wrap or shirt to cover up sleeveless arms in cathedrals and churches will demonstrate this.
6. Don’t be a Heel!
Leave the spiked heels at home – have you seen the cobblestones in Italy? A good, comfortable, pair of shoes will soon become your best friend!
So, with these handy hints in mind, surely it's time to see how good your Italian is?