To say that traveling to Italy for the first time is overwhelming would be an understatement. With that being said, it's also an exciting, thrilling, and incredible experience, especially if one knows where to go during their first time there. Every city brings with it advantages and disadvantages for a European newcomer, and Italy, especially, holds plenty of attraction for those seeking a true cultural experience.
Rome is rich in history while the Amalfi Coast is rich in luxury and decadence, and Naples offers cuisine in spades with a bit of tradition on the side. So, how does one decide which city is the best, and most first-time-friendly?
Where Should A First-Time Traveler Visit In Italy?
When visiting Italy, it's recommended to not overwhelm the itinerary. Italy is a large country with plenty to see and do and first-time travelers can become so caught up in that fact, that they rush and try to accomplish too many things in one trip. The best part about travel is that it can be done multiple times - and the second time a traveler comes back to a beloved country, they'll build upon the knowledge of things they've seen the first time. The Bell Voyage recommends sticking to no more than three places during the trip, all within the vicinity of a traveler's home base.
For example, choosing a city such as Rome, from which the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany are easily reachable. The same can be done with the city of Florence, which is also within traveling distance of Cinque Terre and Bellagio. All four of these travelable cities are small enough to be seen with only a few days whereas Rome and Florence will take up the bulk of a traveler's time. Hot tip: These are also very first-time-travel friendly.
Advice For Visiting Italy
While Italy is a popular European destination, it's also one that brings with it its own unique features that travelers should know about before going. These tips will help any potential traveler navigate this big country and make the temporary transition easier, even if it's only a week-long venture.
What To Look For When Booking And What Not To Forget
It probably goes without saying that when booking any lodging in Italy, it's good to first consider the weather before doing so. Rome and Florence, especially, see very hot temperatures during the summer. The first sign of a super hot day will be the locals heading down to the beach for the day to enjoy coastal breezes - the second sign will be a traveler sweating profusely. With such long days of sightseeing and simply walking around, booking someplace with AC (they're not as easy to find as one might think) is a necessity for comfort alone.
When it comes to taking a siesta, or mid-day rest, as it's referred to by Europeans, having a comfortable place to come 'home' makes all the difference. Both a siesta and air conditioning are recommended for first-time travelers. Speaking of air conditioning (somewhat), something travelers should not forget is a power adapter. Even it if means purchasing a small fan abroad - it's nice to be able to plug it in with an adaptor that fits a European outlet.
What To Know When Dining In Italy
The rumors are true - wine is cheaper in Italy than a pitcher of water. The price difference is pretty steep, as well; eight euros for water versus three euros for a carafe (small serving) of wine. With that being said, it's best to purchase bottled water or get it from a hotel or resort (some Airbnbs may even stock their fridges for guests). That way, when dinnertime rolls around, travelers will be well-hydrated, as it's a good idea to be drinking water while sightseeing, as well. A small serving of wine at dinner is a great way to relax and unwind, all without breaking the bank ordering glass after glass of water. If wine isn't an option, it's just good to know how much to budget for.
Guests at restaurants should also be aware of the coperto charge, as well. This is a small fee that diners pay simply for eating at a restaurant, basically a cover charge. The most a traveler will likely pay for a coperto is three euros per person, which isn't that expensive - but can be if dining out happens often throughout the trip. This coperto is also separate from a tip and comes up as a separate charge on the dinner bill.