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5 Top Tips to Travel well in Italy

Enjoying la dolce vita in Italy is easy for the Italians. They know just how their system works, what to do, where to go and how to go about things.


1.  Behave like a good guest.

Even if you speak a few words of Italian, rest assured, everyone will instantly know that you are not Italian.  To travel well in Italy, you don’t need to desperately try to look and be Italian, it just means you should be yourself, as a good guest. Being a good guest means playing things by the Italian rules.  One of these would be to not touch things in stores like you normally would in North America.  It’s not done.


2.  Adapt to local circumstances.

Expect to experience Italy in Italy and not North America in an Italian setting.  There is no two ways about it: the Italians do things in their own peculiar ways.  E.g. You have to go to this counter to pay and to that counter to pick up your meat or bakery goods. One handles the money, the other the food.

Just when you think they are extremely good with hygiene, don’t be surprised if you find no toilet paper, soap, nor a toilet seat in many public places, cafes and restaurants.  Don’t bother complaining about it. Just bring your own gear along.

These two examples might be easy to fit in with. Much harder on the American mind is the fact that shops and restaurants have their own set hours. Shops open in the morning and close at 1 pm for lunch. Restaurants start lunch at 1 pm till 3 pm, and are close till 8 pm when they open again for dinner. Set an alarm clock to wake up early so you can get things done and bring a few snacks along to help you manage this rather rigid restaurant schedule.

Overall, enjoy rather than get annoyed when things are arranged differently than they are at home. After all, this is why you are in Italy. To experience something new.  Relax, and enjoy some more gelato as you find something else to do because whatever you planned is closed, and none knows when they will open again because someone is on strike.


3.  Be polite.

Italians are generally courteous and polite and certain manners will open doors for you.  Italians say ‘buon giorno’ when they walk into the shop, and not only the shop keeper but also the other clients greet them back. Just participate in this by saying ‘buon giorno’ when you walk into a store.  Observe local politeness and follow suit.


bracciano_viterbo_italy4. Practice walking before your trip and bring sensible shoes. 

I always advice guests to take their smaller children for long walks for a few weeks prior to coming for a visit to Italy.  Italy means walking.  And bring and wear comfortable, flat shoes while here. 

Between uneven cobble stones outside(see photo) and slippery marble floors inside, Italian flooring is a challenge.

While you will see young Italian fashionistas wearing super high heels,  realize that they usually are not walking very far, i.e. just from their little scooter to the coffee shop.   They are certainly not going on a 5 mile sight-seeing tour through Rome like you may be.  So, be like an Italian grandmother instead: wear flat, comfortable shoes and you’ll be so happy that you did.


5.  Relax.

Italia is best experienced rather than raced through. Yes, it’s true: Italia is one big giant outdoor museum and there is just soo much to be seen.  However, to get the best out of your Italian trip, you have to actually slow down, have fewer plans and go with the flow. In practical terms that mean that you should spend at least 3-4 days in each location and do a lot fewer sights than are on offer. Just pick a top 3 and add if you have time.  Remember that the best thing about visiting Italy is simply being there.

Enjoy Lago di Bracciano’s Calm Presence

To best enjoy Bracciano lake (Lago di Bracciano, in Italian), visit the lakeside town of Trevignano Romano, just 1 hour North of Rome, Italy.

I love my walks along the recently upgraded and beautifully refined waterside at Trevignano, where gigantic pine trees filter the sun above your head as you stroll along. Under the trees are park-like patches with flower beds and benches, alongside the path of beautiful pavers keeping you right along the water’s edge.

The views of Lago di Bracciano are expansive and unobstructed. It is a calm lake where, more often than not, the other side disappears, being shrouded in a mist just above the water surface. Making you more aware of the swans which swim together right in front of you.

It is that sense of calm and softness of color which transport me back to the Boardwalk in West Vancouver, Canada, where I went in prior years. There, the view of the water is of an ocean instead of a lake the size of a volcanic crater. But it does not matter, as both waters are equally misty and shine with the same amazing color scheme of blues and harmonious calm hues. They ooze tranquility.

Bracciano Lake

And there, where the serenity and the beauty of the lake captures you, often, rainbows or cloud-rays remind you of the omnipresence of the Divine.

What a miracle place we live in.

Bernini in the Vatican

Bernini in the Vatican

Bernini’s art can be found all over Rome, with some of his most spectacular work in the heart of the city, that is, the Vatican City.

Every Sunday the pope addresses the crowd on his St. Peter’s Square. The crowd sees him as a tiny speck in a window way up high above a monumental piece of Bernini’s art: the square flanking St. Peter’s colonnade. The crowd even stands on Bernini’s art. Being both an architect and a sculpture, Bernini designed the entire Piazza di San Pietro.

bernini collonade st peters church Vatican Italy


Bernini was also commissioned to design one of the most prominent element inside of the basilica, i.e. the grave of St. Peter’s with its bronze columned canopy, called baldachin, which roofs this central high altar.



St Peters grave Bernini Vatican Italy


For a long one, one could also find my personal favorite work by Bernini, the sculpture called Ecstasy of St Theresa, within the St. Peters church.   That sculpture can now be found in the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria, another church in Rome.

Credit for images within St Peters: Hadi

Orvieto, Italy

Orvieto in Umbria is one of those Italian dream cities. It’s located on a large volcanic flat, high up in the air. City walls on the edge of the flat hold together a maze of small old city streets.

Orvieto’s ancient Etruscan origins are everywhere, mostly underground, and subtly on the surface. In contrast, its magnificent Roman Catholic Duomo cathedral, built in the 14th century, is its most visible treasure.



The cathedral’s golden façade gleams in the sun, year-round, and adds tremendous splendor to an otherwise already darling central city square. 

Other Treasures in Orvieto

Veer off this central square and be enthralled with other unique specialties offered by Orvieto: nationally-celebrated eateries featuring Umbrian delicatessen; and Ceramic shops filled with colorful ornaments, kitchen and table ware.


Day Tours of Rome

Touring through Rome – A Journey Through Time

These 1-day tours will lead you on a journey through centuries of time, all within 1 day. Rome is a city full of architectural and cultural treasures of incomparable charms. On these tours of Rome, you will see the most ancient pagan and religious sights, which comprise the rich heritage of Rome.

Each day tour will take you approximately 9 hours to complete. You have three options for undertaking: buy a seat in one of the coach buses and they’ll drive you around all day. You can hire an independent guide who seems to be available everywhere. Arrange your price upfront and make sure you’ll know what is included. Or, simply bring your guide book, put your running shoes on, buy an inexpensive bus/metro day pass which you can buy at the many local kiosks throughout town, and if one is not included in your guide book, buy a bus map.

Tour Route Through Rome Featuring Important Religious Sites

PART I: This tour starts with the Vatican museums. Be aware of long lines in the summer. Start your track at crack of dawn and you will be fine. There will still be lines, but they are bearable. Other sites to visit right here include the Vatican galleries, Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Library Hall. Then it is time for (a late) lunch.

After lunch, head over to another part of time to do part II of your 1-day in Rome tour. Part II of this tour includes the Basilica of St Mary Major, the Basilica of St John in Lateran and The Catacombs of St. Callixtus.

Leaving from Piazza San Bernardo, crossing Piazza della Repubblica, you can go along Via Nationaleto visit the Basilica of St. Mary Major. This sites is built uponthe Esquiline Hile in 352 AD.

Following this, you will visit the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, which is the cathedral of Rome and the world. AT this site, you can go up the Holy Stairs, climbed by Jesus Crhist to reach Pilate’s Palace.

Next, hit the bus and Cross Piazza San Giovanni and Via Latina. If you shirt around the Mura Latine, you will pass through the Porta di San Sebastiano toarrive on the ancient Via Appia. This is where you will find the Chapel of ‘Domine Quo Vadis’. Beyond this you will arrive at the catabombs of St. Callixtus. It is worth spending some time here.

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Trevi Fountain, Rome, Lazio, Italy.
Panoramic Images

Rome 1-Day Tour Route Visiting The City’s Main Historic Sites

Part I:
Trevi Fountain
Piazza Navona
Vatican city: St Peter’s Basilica
From the Trevi Fountain continue along Via Quattro Fontane to see the gorgeous fountains of the four seasons.

Part II:
Roman Forum
Basilica of St Paul’s outside the wall

With this tour you will get to enjoy sites of the classic Rome Empire, in all their splendour. Leaving Piazza San Bernando, adorned by the Moses’ Fountain, you will head for Piazza della Republicca. When you go along the Via Nationale, you will arrive in Piazza Venezia. On the square you will find on one side the memorial to Jubg Vittorio Emanuelle II, and the famous tomb ofthe unknown soldier.

Your next destination is the square of the Capitol, where you get to enjoy the architectonic genius of Michelangelo. The suare is the seat of the Rome’s town hall. It offers an unique sight of tyhe Forum and of the Palastine Hill, complete with a view of the world-famous Colosseum. Walking over ancient pavement, you will cross the Roman Forum. Ride along to go th the Aventine Hill to visit the Basilica of St. Paul’s outside the walls.

Route through Rome – Half Religious, Half Historian

Of course, you can devise your own tour, and mix and match sites. I would choose the first 4 sites of one tour with the next 4 sites of the other tour, so as to create feasible sightseeing days.

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Sepia Map of Rome
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An alternative Day Tour: An Audience with the Pope

If you want to do something really special and of religious significance, you can arrange an audience with the Holy Father.

Every Wednesday (when he is in town), the Pope holds a public audience in front of the St. Peter’s Basilica. While it is free to participate, reservations have to be made a week or more in advance, and you will need to pick up your ticket the day prior to the audience from a nearby cathedral. Newly weds have a special section assigned to them. Details are on the website of the Vatican.