The recent pandemic had many side effects, and one of the weirder ones was cabin fever. As people remained home to avoid getting sick, many realized that there was more to life than the daily grind. Now that restrictions are being lifted, people want to get out and enjoy the world. If you are thinking about your next vacation and have Italy as a possible destination, you are probably wondering, is Italy worth visiting?
Between its beautiful beaches, majestic mountains, and ancient ruins, Italy is one of the most beautiful and romantic European cities to visit.
However, what might be right for one person may not be another person’s cup of tea, so let’s look at some of the most asked questions about Italy to decide if it is a good vacation destination for you.
Is Italy Safe for Tourists?
Most people who think of Italy think of its gorgeous seaside views and ancient ruins, but what they don’t think about is Italy’s reputation for organized crime or terrorism. However, it is important to understand how to navigate a destination safely when visiting overseas.
According to SmaterTravel, Italy is generally safe for tourists. However, just like any other location, you need to know where to go and what areas to avoid. For example, Naples is a known Mafia hotspot, and visitors are more likely to find themselves the victim of fraud or theft in large, crowded areas such as Rome, Florence, and Milan.
Additionally, according to Travel.State.Gov, the recent terrorist level was a level two (exercise increased caution) as of April 25, 2022. The website claims that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in Italy and these attacks may target busy tourist locations. While this might not be enough to delay your travel plans, make sure you prepare for emergency situations, remain alert, and check local media stations for alerts.
Is a Visa Needed to Visit Italy?
Once you decide to visit a location, you must start making travel arrangements, and this is where things can get a bit complicated. The last thing you want to do is spend a bunch of money on a trip only to be denied entry to your destination.
According to Travel.State.Gov, citizens of the United States and Canada can visit Italy without a visa for up to 90 days (about 3 months) for tourist or business reasons. However, they must have a passport that is valid and will remain valid for at least 90 days (about 3 months) from the time of entry. Additionally, you will have to complete a declaration of presence.
This is also true for Schengen Countries such as:
- Czech Republic
If you live outside of the United States, or you don’t live in one of the countries listed above, you can find more information about whether you need a visa and how to get one here. Additionally, it is a good idea to do some independent research into the current laws surrounding entry into Italy to ensure you are not held up while traveling.
Will I Be Able to Communicate If I Don’t Speak Italian?
Although it should not stop you from visiting the many beautiful countries of the world, communication can become an issue if you don’t know how to speak the native language. How much of a problem is this in Italy?
Italian is the native language of Italy. Although many of the younger generations will know a few words in English (or speak English), the older generations typically won’t, but this will not stop them from trying to talk to you!
For the most part, people who work in the common tourist locations (hotels, attractions, airports, etc.) will either speak English or speak enough to communicate with tourists about their specific needs. However, it is recommended that you learn at least a few common words and phrases if you hope to get the most out of your visit.
Before visiting Italy, it will be helpful to learn some words/phrases, such as:
- Greetings—hello/goodbye/your name
- Common Questions—where/when/how/what
- Directions—left/right/names for locations
- Shopping—how much is/do you have
- Food—food/drinks/I would like
- Courtesy—please/thank you/excuse me
You can find a great guide, complete with phrases you should know, pronunciation, and a printout here.
What Is the Culture Like in Italy?
Home of the Roman Empire and the birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy has a rich history with deep roots in religion, art, architecture, and cuisine. Some of the best words to describe Italian people are confident, bold, formal, and polite.
When visiting a different country, it is important to understand a bit about the culture to avoid offending someone unintentionally. Below, you will find a list of some of the things you should know about Italian culture before visiting this charming city.
Tipping Is Not Expected
If you work in an industry where tipping is commonplace, you may have noticed that many Italian people do not leave a tip. This is likely because tipping is not expected in their country. You can leave a tip if you feel as though the service was exceptional, but it is not expected and there aren’t any set rules around tipping.
Digestion Is Important
This might sound foolish, but digestion is something that is taken pretty seriously in Italy. So much so that there are certain “rules” that have become embedded in the Italian culture. For example, you should never sit in a draft while eating and you should ALWAYS wait at least three hours before swimming after you eat.
There are no formal dress codes in most areas of Italy. However, dress codes are enforced in the Vatican. As a self-governing city/state, the Vatican can enforce its modest dress codes and visitors can be denied entry by the guards if they are not following the guidelines listed below.
- No clothing that exposes your shoulders (sleeveless shirts/dresses/tank tops)
- No clothing that exposes your knees (shorts/skirts/dresses)
- Cover offensive tattoos and religious symbols
- No hats
- No see-through clothing
- Clothing should not be ripped or torn (discouraged but not always enforced)
You can find more specific information here.
It is considered rude to place money directly into someone’s hand, even if they are a cashier. Instead, there will be a small tray next to the cash register where both people will place the money that is to be exchanged.
Affection is a large part of Italian culture, and Italian people are not afraid to display their affection through hugging and even kissing. Expect to see people kissing on the cheek when they both greet each other and say goodbye. If you do not know the person well, a handshake is common.
Is Italy a Family-Friendly Travel Destination?
There is so much to do and see in Italy that it really is one of the better family vacation destinations. Just keep in mind that while there are some amazing kid-friendly attractions, Italy is less of an amusement park destination and more of a historical spend-time-with-family destination.
Although Italy is family-friendly, we would be amiss if we did not point out some of the challenges of traveling in Italy with children, including:
- There are a lot of slopes which means a lot of uphill or downhill walking
- It can be difficult to push a stroller through the streets of Italy
- Summers temperatures can reach up to around 95 degrees in the north and up to 107 degrees in the south
- Many tourist destinations are extremely crowded, which can be scary when you have a toddler that likes to wander
- Restaurants open late for dinner, as late as 7 pm in most places
- It can be difficult to find take-out
- Smoking is common in Italy
- Long lines can be boring for children
Is Italy worth visiting? With so much to do and see, we think it is worth the visit. However, it really depends on your interests. If you are the type of person who finds beautiful coastal villages and beaches, museums filled with amazing art, historical architecture, and ancient ruins worth the trip, then Italy is absolutely for you!
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