If you or someone you know is traveling to Italy, this is a read you don’t want to miss that can save you and your loved ones time, money, frustration and discomfort during your time in Italy.
- Save money and enjoy a better trip to Italy by booking early! Those who book early, usually pay less and enjoy better hotel rates, less stress during their time here and an overall much better stay.
Unlike other destinations which may offer ‘last minute’ discounted rates, Italy is no such a place since it is in high demand and it pays to book early, literally. Hotels, villas and various accommodations fill up sometimes years in advance and train fares can not only double but triple in cost. Flights to Italy, usually the longer you wait go up in cost.
Though, it is not only this and perhaps this is the most important piece of advice we can impart:
It is very difficult once you arrive in Italy to book services like last minute day-trips. You may think you can do these easily yourself, but in most instances it is very problematic given the logistics of what are involved.
Many guided tours where tickets are included also work on a supply/demand ratio, and the best guides usually get booked up quickly, so for the best quality of services including accommodations, drivers, rail fares and much else it really makes economical cents to book early. Take Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast or the Cinque Terre coast in the north. These places have a finite number of rooms and as supply goes down, prices go up. The same thing is true with rail, airfare and many other activities, so make sure to book early!
2. If You are going what the guide books say, take what you read in the guide books with a grain of salt and often go where the guide books don’t to get the most authentic, least expensive and often-times, best experience!
The author Rick Steves doesn’t live in Italy and neither do most of the writers for most of the guide books like the Lonely Planet , Fodors and many others, yet millions upon millions of people are reading these same books that struggle to keep up-to-date with the changing times here in Italy.
Most members of our team live and work in Italy and we have noticed that a lot of the material published in guide-books is really out of date. Take for example, tipping. Many guide-books say that tipping is not necessary at restaurants and the cover-charge is what compensates the waiters. This could be further from the truth. Most waiters and service people in Italy live by tips and even if it’s a small gratuity, it’s most appreciated by local waiters and hotel staff.
3. Consider alternative accommodations like farm estates, country cottages or others which often offer organic food and excellent service, but buyer be very ware of Air B&B.
There are a variety of alternative accommodations to consider in Italy that are not necessarily hotels to consider. These include: Castles, Farm-Estates, otherwise known as ‘Agriturismo”, old mills that have been refurbished and ‘Alberghi Diffusi’ which are usually town centres where old structures have been made into lovely dwellings all with private breakfasts. Not to mention this, there are some incredible and unique eco-friendly smaller inns known as pensione which are truly gorgeous, clean and often in breathtaking positions.
These facilities are not for everyone, but for families with young children and for those looking to really enjoy a unique Italian experience that doesn’t necessarily cost a lot, the myriad of accommodations available in Italy are numerous.
One thing we have cautioned people of in the past however is using AirBB, for we have had many calls from people who have been in bad situations and don’t forget they are a third party booking engine with no liability or emergency number if you need help. Buyer be very aware so to speak and even for those with high ratings, do not forget the enormous socio-economic implications of booking these accommodations which are driving locals out of cities and often leaving visitors with an uneasy sense about their stay.
Have a look at our section on Accommodations in Italy, here:
We have an entire article dedicated entirely to the topic of Air BB here:
4. Take an honest look at your mobility issues or those of those in your party.
Most everywhere in Italy require visitors to walk at least short distances and for specific destinations you need to be physically fit to visit them as they will require walking, sometimes up steep stairs.
We recommend that unless you can walk an easy 5 miles a day, that you get in touch to look at alternate forms of transportation, since sites like Vatican City, the Uffizi gallery in Florence and many city centres themselves particularly Venice, require a good fitness level.
Make sure to read our Blog dedicated entirely to this issue:
5. Consider alternative destinations in Italy to those suffering from mass-tourism issues and be aware of the pit-falls of certain destinations
Mass-tourism in Italy, mostly due to cruise-ships is a major issue in many Italian cities.
6. Learn about the best transportation methods to use and where
Trains are great between some destinations, but private transportation will be needed in others. You can also use private transportation to experience a number of places en-route between destinations that you would otherwise need to pay an additional tour cost for.