10 Tips for Backpacking in Italy
A country of ancient history, fascinating culture, gorgeous landscapes and pizza! Italy is one of Europe's most beautiful countries and tops many people's bucket lists. But what is it really like to backpack across this incredible nation? Below is a list of the do's and don'ts of backpacking in Italy.
Even if you don't see yourself as a culture vulture, Italy is filled with fascinating art museums and archaeological sites that few countries can rival and it would be a travesty to leave without exploring Italy's remarkable cultural sites. Italy is home to some of the finest artists the world has ever seen including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael and much of their work is still on display in museums and cathedrals across the country.
Book tickets in advance
If you're travelling in Italy, chances are you'll want to check out some of its many iconic sites from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, to Pompeii, St. Mark's Cathedral and the Colosseum. One thing you'll quickly learn is that booking tickets to these places in advance saves a lot of time and money. Discounts are often offered online and you'll be able to jump straight into the 'pre-booked tickets' queue - guaranteed to be much shorter than the regular line.
Indulge your taste buds
Italy wouldn't be Italy without its signature dishes and there's no shortage of restaurants that offer some of the world's most delicious pizza and pasta! It was in the city of Naples in 1889 that the classic Margherita Pizza originated to honour a visit by the queen of Savoy.
Experience the nightlife
Italians certainly know how to have a good time and one of the best ways you can experience this for yourself is to party in one of Italy's many vibrant clubs and bars. Each city has its own exciting places where you'll escape the tourist hub and get to dance into the night.
Remember to relax
Backpacking is an extraordinary experience but it can be extremely tiring a times. Luckily, Italy is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe so if you ever feel like you need a day to soak up the Italian sun, head to one of its many islands or coastal towns. The Amalfi Coast is famed for its sandy beaches and stunning scenery but don't neglect lesser-known beach resorts such as Tuscany (better known for its hillsides and vineyards), Venice and the Italian Riviera. If you willing to travel further afield head to Elba Island, Sicily and Sardinia.
Stick to the guidebook
Of course, as we've previously mentioned, there are many famous sites in Italy than no traveller should ignore - but travel is also about losing yourself in another country and way of life. Never let your backpacking adventure turn into a checklist of guidebook recommended cafes, shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.
Visit at peak times
It can be difficult to avoid this, especially since it is often most convenient to travel during the summer and cities like Rome are busy all year round. But no one who wants to experience the real Italy can do so when their surrounded by crowds of tourists. If you can't visit outside peak seasons, try and get off the beaten track as much as possible. You'll be amazed how many quiet streets and undiscovered spots you'll find even in Italy's most well-known places.
Refuse to learn the lingo
No one's expecting you to be fluent in the language, but knowing the odd phrase or perhaps keeping a dictionary tucked in your pocket can save you a lot unnecessary hassle when it comes to booking bus and train tickets or finding a room for the night. You could also book an Italian language course in Italy.
Fall into the tourist trap
Something you'll find travelling in a popular country like Italy is that there are many people waiting to take advantage of starry-eyed travellers with sweet deals and before you know it you've spent precious money on something pointless.
Forget to explore lesser-known attractions
Referring back to an earlier piece of advice - never stick rigorously to the guidebook! After you've explored the Colossuem and the Vatican, check out Rome's modern street art or mysterious underground city. Once you've explored every inch of Venice, set sail for one of its lesser-known districts. And if you're planning to visit Pompeii don't forget to check out Herculaneum, an ancient Roman town that was also destroyed by the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD.
By Amy Horsfield