9 Essential Things to Know Before Heading off to Bel Paese


Are you heading off to the beautiful country for a vacation? It helps to be prepared. Click here for essential things you need to know before visiting Italy.

Have you ever heard Italy referred to as Bel Paese? “Bel paese” is Italian for “beautiful country” and we tend to agree!

It’s one of the most breathtaking countries in the world. Italy is a multi-faceted jewel with varying terrain. 

Each new mountaintop or seascape will leave you in awe.

So, what do you need to know before visiting Italy? How can you adequately prepare to enter into paradise?

Take our hand. Together, we’ll walk into those saturated sunsets and live the dream—even if only for a moment in time. 

1. The Train Is Your Best Bet

The train system in Italy is phenomenal. They’re on-time; they’ll get you where you need to go; they’ll offer stunning panoramas in the process. There are two train lines to keep in mind.

The first is Trenitalia, a state-run train system. The second is Italo, a privately-owned operation. Both run high-speed trains and are about as efficient as can be. 

2. Bathroom Breaks Will Cost Ya

If your Chianti kicks in and you need to make a pitstop, know that most public restrooms come with a charge. If you’re waiting to catch your next train or walking through a colorful city, that porta potty is going to cost ya. 

Most public bathrooms require 1 to 2 Euros for entrance.

We know. An entrance fee for a bathroom?

The truth is, though, you’re paying for cleaner facilities, generally speaking. And, anyway, when you gotta go, you gotta go. So, be sure to keep a few Euros jangling in your pocket, should an emergency arise. 

3. Yelling Isn’t Bad

In America, we tend to perceive yelling as a sign to head for the hills. In Italy, however, yelling isn’t always a bad thing. It’s not a cliche that Italians are passionate people.

As such, yelling (accompanied by hand gestures) can mean any number of things.

It can be a gesture of camaraderie and friendship. It can be a heated debate that’s just that – heated, not volatile. It could mean anything under the sun.

Just don’t spring into a panic when you hear elevated voices. 

4. Most Cities Are Walkable

Most of the cities in Italy are highly walkable. When you consider all that time and money you saved traveling via train, it would be a shame to waste it all on an expensive taxi ride. 

Instead, save it for that moment when you savor your first gelato and wander aimlessly down the tiny, colorful streets of Rome or Milan. There are so many things to do in Italy and the best news is, all that’s required is a comfy pair of walking shoes. 

5. Respect the Riposo

Especially in your smaller villages and towns, know that the Italians take their riposo very seriously. This is their midday siesta.

Technically, you can see some establishments shut down from 1 – 4 pm. Other shops and cafes won’t go quite that long. 

Still, if you’re out in the midday sun, don’t be surprised if you come across a few locked doors. Italians take this time to go home, eat a fine meal with the family, and savor life before returning to the grind. 

What a magnificent concept. 

6. You Don’t Have to Tip

Another European concept that hasn’t made its way to America yet is the fact that you don’t have to tip. It’s not that the Italians don’t love and respect the folks who keep their service industry alive. It’s that they’re already taken care of with a built-in “coperto.” 

It’s kind of like a service charge to eat. But, when you consider you’re about to salivate over some of the best dishes in the world, it’s kind of worth the cost, isn’t it? Plus, the coperto saves you from having to do the math on the 15-20% tip you’re going to want to leave for those delectable dinners you’re about to devour.

7. The WiFi May Be Iffy

Even though Italy is a metropolis of modernity, we did find their WiFi to be just a tad lacking. You might have to suffer through some rough patches in your hotels and AirBnbs, depending on what city you’re in.

In 2017, the Italian government launched an app that allows residents and tourists to connect to WiFi all across the country. It’s pretty handy and definitely works as a patch to the country’s once-limited capabilities. 

8. Don’t Forget About the Islands

We tend to live within “the boot” when we travel to Italy. But, don’t forget about all its surrounding islands. 

You’ve got crystal blue waters surrounding little islands like Sicily, Sardinia, and Elba. 

These require quick little boat rides that will make every ounce of seasickness worth it once you touch down on these little snippets of Heaven. 

9. Don’t Rush Dinner

In Italy, the clock is not ticking. No one is in a rush. And it’s almost rude to push your waiter to drop off your meal, immediately clear your plate, and return with your check. 

Dinner is never rushed. People use this as a time to come together as family and friends.

They’re looking to savor every bite and every conversation. Don’t try to rush people in and out of a table, and don’t expect the waiter to be trying to “turn over” his tables quickly. Enjoy every slow and easy moment that comes with a true Italian dinner. 

Start Visiting Italy Today

By “start visiting Italy today,” we mean you can begin your vacation from your “Bel Paese” Pinterest board today.

Pin your favorite cities to explore. Plan to hop on a boat and sail out to Sardinia. Pin your new pair of walking does that’ll take you through Milan until the soles of your feet sing. 

Looking for more great travel ideas? We have you covered with offerings of the finest travel tours in the world’s hottest destinations. Keep coming back to visit our blog for the best tips on all your future travel delights. 

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