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What to expect when visiting Italy

Home to some of the most iconic cities that Europe has to offer, Italy is a one-of-a-kind destination – especially for students. From historic hotspots like Rome and Florence, to the more contemporary cities like Milan and Reggio Emilia, there’s more than enough to keep young minds engaged and active.

When visiting Italy for the first time, there’s a few things that you should bear in mind. Although a lot of Italian cities do cater for groups and tourists, it’s always worth taking note of the culture, and making sure to adhere to the Italian way of life when and where you can.

The below guide should give an idea of what to expect when heading to Italy on a trip.

 

Transport

If you’re not a fan of walking, getting around Italian cities can be notoriously tricky. Lots of Italian cities are almost fully walking cities – aside from those that are more cosmopolitan – so it’s always best to take a comfortable pair of shoes with you wherever you go. You should also be aware that, when it does come to using transport, there are often strikes on the networks, although most of these are announced in advance meaning you can plan your journey around them.

 

Food

A country notorious for its love of all thing’s food related, Italy is the ideal place for epicureans of all ages; however, there are a few things to remember when it comes to the way the Italians approach their meals. Start the day with a delicious local breakfast , which is generally a sweet pastry and coffee or fresh juice, as it’s rare that a restaurant or café will serve a savoury or cooked breakfast.

After lunch, from around 1pm-4pm, many shops and restaurants may close due to Riposo – a mid-afternoon rest that’s similar to a siesta. It’s also worth noting that lots of restaurants, especially the more high-end ones, won’t reopen until 7pm or later.

If you are heading out for a meal, you will often find bread or nibbles on the table. Eating these will incur a cover charge, known as Copero, which can also go towards your waiter. Tipping on top of this is not required, but is greatly appreciated – particularly in cash.

 

Safety

As is the case in any city, always be mindful of your bags – especially when using public transport or in tourist areas.

Italian drivers are notorious so please be careful when crossing the road. Italian cities have lots of scooters so make sure you watch out for these too, even if the traffic is stopped, scooters will still sneak through! 

 

General manners

Well known for their passionate nature, Italians don’t waste time in sharing the love. Upon meeting a new person, it’s common courtesy to forgo the handshakes and give two kisses, one on each cheek.

Another important thing to remember is to dress modestly in religious places. Being home to the Vatican makes Italy a highly religious country – so you’ll be sure to visit a church or two during your time here. When entering a church, or another sacred place, women’s shoulders should be covered, and skirts should fall to or below the knee, while men should wear long trousers, or knee-length shorts.

 

Rome

Although the capital of Italy, visiting Rome can feel like a completely different country. Its mass of tourists means the city abides by its own set of rules, so it’s worth thinking about these when you visit.

When heading to one of the many tourist attractions Rome is famed for, consider booking a fast pass or a queue jump ticket – it’ll mean less time waiting in line and more time inside the attraction. If you’re looking to save a little money on attractions, Rome’s state owned museums, galleries, archeological sites, parks and gardens are free on the first Sunday of every month.

When it comes to getting around, you can purchase bus tickets from any tabaccheria, or convenience store, in the city, or hop on the metro quite cheaply. Metro tickets can be purchased at any metro station, newsstands and corner shops. In Rome, transport is 24hrs, with the Metro running until 11.30pm, and trams running from 5.30am until midnight when they’re replaced by night buses.

 

At FHT, we’re dedicated to delivering trips that are guaranteed to educated and inspire sixth from, college and university students. Get in touch today to discuss how we can help create a bespoke tour to Italy, or any of our other destinations, for your students.