Italy is a wonderful country that, unsurprisingly, is on many people’s bucket list. Who could resist spending a bit of time in this romantic oasis of culture, good food and spectacular vistas? Verona is the home of Romeo and Juliet. The art galleries, museums and theaters of Rome and Venice are magnets for culture lovers. Plus, Italy is the birthplace of pizza, pasta and many other classic dishes that are enjoyed the world over.
There is so much to love about Italy, so it is not surprising that every year 420-million tourists stay there. Many of them are Americans; in fact, 16% of the 27 million visitors to Rome are US citizens. So, here are some tips that Americans need to know when visiting Italy:
- Buy the right travel insurance
You are a long way from home so you need to make you are fully covered by a good travel insurance policy. Italy travel is usually covered by Schenghen medical insurance, but it is better to check that this is the case for you. It is also wise to make sure that all of the activities you are planning to do are covered by your policy. For example, if you are planning to take a short Italian river cruise or want to go climbing in the Orco Valley, you need to double check to be sure that coverage is included in your policy.
- Visa requirements
Provided you have an American passport that is valid for at least 3 months you do not need to apply for a visa. However, to enter the country your passport actually needs to be valid for a further 6 months. It also needs to have at least one blank page available for stamping.
- Is there a language barrier?
In most places you will be able to find people who speak English, but you should not rely on that being the case. It is wise to download a translation app before you travel. Learning a few simple phrases is also a good idea. Italians really appreciate it when people make the effort to speak their language.
- Book in advance
As you can imagine with over 400 million visitors a year, Italy gets very busy – especially the main tourist destinations like Rome and Venice. So, if there is something you really want to see or do, it is usually best to book the tickets in advance.
- Be prepared to get up early
In some places, like Vatican City, getting up early is the best way to beat the crowds. For example, the first tour of the Sistine Chapel is at 7:30am. You have to pre-book this tour. Being able to see this beautiful place before it is flooded with tourists is well worth the effort. In the early morning it has a special ambiance that you just do not get when it is full of noisy tourists.
- A little food-related tip
Italians love their coffee, but if you want milk in your coffee after 11 am, you will need to ask for it specifically. This is because most Italians do not take milk in their coffee after that time. Bars and cafes tend to automatically serve it without milk almost regardless of what type of coffee you order.
Following these simple tips should help to make your trip go a little more smoothly. Hopefully, your experience will be so good that you will want to return to this beautiful and fascinating country.