ITALY IRL

Mistakes Indians Make When Traveling To Italy

Indian Tourist

Italy is one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations and for good reasons. Famous for its high quality of life, known locally as the ‘Dolce Vita’, its excellent cuisine and remarkable cultural heritage, Italy is any traveler’s dream destination.

Lots of people from India are beginning to travel to Italy in the recent years. Unfortunately though, many Indians who visit Italy make some common mistakes that can take away from the joy of exploring the country and even end up ruining the holiday. So to discover what to do and what not to do, read on to learn about some of the biggest mistakes that you should never make when visiting Italy.

Exchanging Money At An Italian Airport.

Currency exchange is a racket all over the world. Italian airports all have a Foreign Currency Exchange desks but the rates are extremely bad compared to other options. Therefore, to save yourself the costs of a huge commission, you should arrange to exchange your Rupees into Euros before you arrive. Alternatively, you can bring traveler’s checks with you so that you don’t run the risk of losing large quantities of cash en route. Either way, you should never change your currency at an Italian airport. Sometimes you get the best rates when you simply withdraw money from an ATM in Italy.

Keep An Eye On The Weather Forecast!

While Italy is a great year-round destination, the weather can be very changeable, particularly during the winter and in the Northern parts of the country. During the summer you can be fairly sure of bright sunny skies and warm weather in the South but in the North, especially near the mountains, the weather can change on a dime and you could find yourself getting drenched to the bone in a sudden rainstorm.

On top of the changeability of the weather, in recent summers the temperatures in some parts of Italy have been much higher than usual. Many of the older apartments and hotels are not equipped with proper air conditioning and can be very uncomfortable as temperatures rise to unprecedented levels. This means it’s always a good idea to check with your accommodation before you make your reservations to ensure that they have adequate air conditioning and climate control features if you’re visiting during the height of the summer.

Book Tickets To Attractions In Advance.

The lines for Italy’s historical and cultural attractions can often be very long, leaving you waiting to buy your ticket and enter for an hour or more. In fact, major attractions such as the Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel often have lines that stretch further than the eye can see. The easiest way to avoid the long lines at tourist attractions is to buy your tickets in advance.

This allows you to skip the lines and save valuable time on your vacation – remember, you didn’t travel all the way to Italy to wait in lines. This does mean you will have to plan ahead but since you can book tickets online you can simply reserve your tickets from your hotel as you plan your itinerary for the coming days of your vacation. Websites like Viator are great for booking museum tickets and day trips.

Alternatively, you can sign up for skip-the-line tours which, as the name suggests, let you skip the lines at attractions. You’ll also have an expert local guide who will be able to point out interesting details and explain the historical and cultural significance of the sites you visit.

Italy Is More Than A Summer Destination.

It’s a common misconception that the only time of year to visit Italy is during the hot summer months. Of course, if you want a sunny beach vacation then you should book for the summer but in cultural terms Italy is a fantastic year-round destination. If you visit during the winter months you’ll avoid the main tourist crowds which flock to the country during the summer and you’ll save a lot of money on hotels and flights.

There are also big celebrations and important cultural events throughout the year during which you can experience a very authentic side of Italian life. For instance, the nationwide Christmas and Easter celebrations include a huge range of interesting parades, festivals and cultural events around which you can plan a truly unique vacation.

Packing Way Too Much!

Overpacking is one of the most frequent mistakes that Indian visitors to Italy make. Not only do modern airlines charge significant fees for extra baggage but once you arrive in Italy you’ll find it difficult to get around the cobbled streets, hotels without elevators and busy public transport if you have several suitcases full of clothes and other personal possessions in tow. Note that many historic areas of Italy are mostly pedestrian only or limited to local traffic.

While it’s certainly wise to bring the essentials with you on vacation, you really don’t need to bring spare shoes, dozens of outfits and a vast array of toiletries. Instead, pack the minimum that you know you’ll need and if you do find you forgot something you can always buy it once you get to Italy.

Take Advantage Of Free City Tours.

Italy’s cities have numerous free walking tours that you can join. While it’s true that tours are free to join, you are usually expected to show your appreciation by giving the guide a tip at the end. However, the amount that you tip is entirely discretionary.

As well as free walking tours, museums and galleries all over Italy are free to enter on the first Sunday of each month and many of the cultural attractions put on free events throughout the year. You can also visit a lot of the churches and cathedrals for free at any time of the year although the top attractions, such as the Vatican for example, always charge an entrance fee.

In some situations, there are various discounts available for students and sometimes for retirees as well. You can find out about the free tours, events and potential discounts on the local tourist information website or by asking at the reception desk of your hotel.

Hiring A Taxi.

Although jumping in a taxi in India is a regular part of daily life, taxis in Italy can be very expensive, especially for a journey of more than about 30 minutes. This means that it’s better to take public transport from the airport to your hotel – such as the airport shuttle bus or train – instead of hailing a cab outside the arrivals gate.

Equally, in the cities, it’s much cheaper to use the Metro system or the local buses and trams instead of relying on taxis. What’s more, in most cities, you’ll discover that you can quite easily walk from one attraction to another in a matter of minutes.

Don’t Try To See Everything At Once.

It’s tempting to plan to see absolutely everything when you get to Italy but because there is just so much to see and do it’s not only impossible but will spoil your vacation if you try. Every town and city has so much to offer that you’re going to have to take a moment to narrow down your itinerary and decide exactly what you really want to see and do.

You should also leave yourself a few hours each day to simply relax, wander around the area and do a little shopping. Often, it’s during these moments of downtime that you’ll have the most magical experiences that you couldn’t have planned for in a strict itinerary of activities. If you overfill your itinerary you’ll also end up feeling tired, moody and you won’t enjoy the things you do manage to see. Don’t forget, you can always visit Italy again in the future!

Try The Famous Italian Cuisine.

Italy is, naturally, most famous for its pizza and pasta but the nation has an incredibly diverse selection of cuisine that ranges from fresh seafood to vegetarian dishes, superb Florentine steak to sweet pastries and delicious salads. In fact, every region and city has its own specialties and seasonal dishes. So during your time in Italy don’t be afraid to try the local specialties and dishes, especially if you’ve never heard of them before! I have noticed that Indians who are visiting Italy as part of a group tour, tend to stick to Indian restaurants when they are in Italy.

If you’re not sure about what to try, you can always ask the waiter to give you advice about the seasonal specials or to explain how a particular dish is made. By being a little adventurous when it comes to Italian cuisine, you’re bound to discover some truly remarkable dishes that’ll really add a wonderful element to your vacation.

Research The Neighborhood That You Stay In.

The vast majority of Italy is extremely safe but just like anywhere else in the world there are certain neighborhoods that are definitely worth avoiding, even if the hotels are cheap. As a general rule, it’s best to stay as close to the historic center as possible so you can walk to the main attractions but if you want to save money on your accommodation you may want to stay in a more suburban part of the town or city. If you do stay in a suburban neighborhood, do a little research before you book your accommodation to make sure that the neighborhood is safe and will make a pleasant location to base yourself in.

Validate Your Train Tickets.

In Italy you need to validate some of your train tickets after you’ve bought them in order to avoid being fined. For instance, if you’re traveling on a regional train and have bought a ticket that doesn’t have a specific date and time printed on it, then you need to validate the ticket before you board the train.

To validate your ticket you simply put your ticket into the machine beside the platform and it will validate it for travel. After your ticket has been validated you can travel on any train during the next 4 hours. If you fail to validate your regional train ticket, you may be fined up to 200 Euros! So this is definitely a mistake that you don’t want to make during your vacation in Italy.

Sometimes, even if your ticket has the correct train number, you might not be able to pick a seat and sit if you do not validate your ticket. I once purchased a ticket from Bologna to Salzburg (Austria). The ticket that was issued to me only had all the train details and I boarded the exact train. But I was not allowed to sit for the entire 7 hours because I did not validate the ticket. I was not alone, there was at least a 100 people standing and traveling in a train that was traveling at times at 300 Kilometers/hour!

Avoid These Common Mistakes Is Important.

Visiting Italy is an unforgettable experience for many Indian tourists and so it’s vital that you don’t make the common mistakes that can spoil your time in the country. But now that you know about the mistakes that many Indian tourists make, it’s going to be easy for you to avoid them! This will allow you to relax and enjoy an enchanting holiday in the magical land of the Dolce Vita.

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