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Travel Tips for Italy: What I Wish I'd Known Before My Road Trip

Guest Post by Mara Loera

bright yellow old Fiat car parked at a mountain overlook on a sunny day

Last summer I had the fortune to travel around a country that, after those 16 days, became one of my favorite countries around the world; the lovely Italy. But that doesn’t mean everything flowed flawlessly–I learned a lot about taking road trips in Italy that I wish I’d known. In this post, I would like to share my experience as well as some useful travel tips for Italy that will definitely help you avoid some inconveniences.

Travel Tips for Italy: What I Wish I'd Known Before My Road Trip

I’ve always dreamt of taking a road trip through Italy. I guess a lot of movie scenes have stuck with me, so I really wanted to see myself driving a small car on all those narrow streets that seem too charming to be real. So there I was, in Rome's airport, about to rent that tiny car I’d envisioned. It's exactly at this point, standing at the car rental desk, where my travel tips for your road trip in Italy begin:

Tip 1: Get an international license if you plan to drive a car in Italy.

grey convertible fiat car parked in front of a mountain view

If you want to take a road trip in Italy, you'll be able to drive with your country’s driver’s license. However, if for any reason, you get involved with cops and you don't have an international license, you’ll have to pay a hefty fine. It's easy to avoid this stressful situation by visiting your nearest AAA location where they’ll quickly set you up with one. Click here to learn more about how to get an international driver’s permit

Tip 2: Go for all the insurance coverage that the car rental company suggests.

Narrow cobblestone street in Italy with tall stone buildings on either side

Remember the narrow cobblestone streets from my daydream? They’re real–and they’re even narrower than they seem in the movies. The chances of damaging the rental car during your road trip in Italy are, I would say, around 90%. It could easily be your fault, or someone else's, but the point is, sooner or later it's gonna happen. It's better to pay for the insurance in advance and have the peace of mind. Otherwise, you might end up with a surprising bill when you return the car.

Tip 3: Choose a small car and a tiny suitcase.

light blue Fiat car parallel parked in Italy

If you don't want to ruin your road trip in Italy, I highly recommend you think small, starting with the car. I already warned you about the narrow streets, but also think about the parking spaces that measure exactly the same size as your car. You don't want to spend hours of your vacation time looking for a parking spot that you can fit in.

But why a tiny suitcase? Well, first, because if you’re doing things right, your rental car will be small, so you’d better think about a tiny suitcase that fits in your little car’s trunk along with the suitcases of your travel companions. Second, because lots of the amazing places you will visit on your road trip in Italy, won't be accessible by car. Which means that you’ll need to park the car outside the city where you're staying, then walk to your hotel or Airbnb with your suitcase. And third, because Italy is all about stairs, steps up steps down, steps back up again... you really don't want to do this with a large, heavy suitcase.

Tip 4: Arrive in Italy with almost nothing in your tiny suitcase.

a father and daughter smiling behind their table of homemade products at a farmers market in Italy

Yes, sounds painfully challenging, but this is one of the best travel tips for Italy that I can give you. This country is full of good fashion, amazing handcrafted treasures, and delicious gourmet food products. You’ll be glad to have some space for all of this inside your tiny suitcase because trust me, not being able to shop in Italy is more painful than traveling through Italy for two weeks with only a pair of shorts and 3 shirts. In the end, some of the things you buy will probably be clothes, so don't fear traveling light.

Tip 5: Want to know how to travel in Italy on a budget?

quaint Italian stone buildings on a sunny day

Well, first of all, avoid hotels and stay in Airbnbs instead. In my experience, it was a lot cheaper, more comfortable, they had a lot of interior design details, and the best thing is, you can always go to the grocery store next door and cook at home instead of spending money in restaurants. Nightly rates add up fast–Do you know how much money you can save by doing this? A lot! Of course, going to a restaurant on a vacation in Italy is a must, but you don't have to go every day. Instead, save some money by cooking at home and then treat yourself to a really good restaurant. Sounds good right?

So let’s recap…

  • Get an international license if you plan to drive a car in Italy.

  • Go for all the insurance coverage that the car rental company suggests.

  • Choose a small car and a tiny suitcase.

  • Arrive in Italy with almost nothing in your tiny suitcase.

  • And save money by staying in Airbnbs and cooking at home.

These are all things I really wish I’d known before my two week road trip from Sorrento to Milan! I hope you find these travel tips for Italy useful and don't forget about the most important one... Enjoy, enjoy, and enjoy! Italy has so much to offer; it's full of great people, great food and delicious coffee, gorgeous nature spots, amazing little towns, design, fashion, and on and on... Italy is definitely one of my favorite places on Earth and I’m certain it will be for you, too!

woman with glasses and a bun smiling with a panoramic view of Tuscany behind her

About the Author: Mara Loera

I’m Mexican, one of those people who dance when they eat and I love to party. Being in crisis is my normality, I'm constantly solving the existential issues that I bring myself and try to transcend while enjoying my daily life. Every day more spiritual, connected with nature and living the present moment. I fully trust my instincts. Graphic Designer by profession and Creative Producer by conviction, focused on developing all kinds of creative concepts, landing and bringing them to reality in a world that needs open-mindedness and more responsible ideas. Traveling is what fills my heart, music is my passion, and writing is my fascination. Follow me on Instagram or head to my blog to read about travel, design, food, and my reflections on society in both English and Spanish.

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