Italy is a popular tourist destination, known for its beautiful architecture, rich culture, and delicious cuisine. However, many of the popular tourist hotspots can be overcrowded and overpriced. To truly experience Italy and all it has to offer, it’s best to venture off the beaten path and explore the country like a local. Here are some tips for exploring Italy beyond the tourist hotspots in 2023.
1. Visit the lesser-known cities and towns
While it’s true that Italy is home to some of the world’s most famous and iconic cities, like Rome, Florence, and Venice, there are many lesser-known cities and towns in Italy that are just as beautiful and interesting. Here are some reasons why visiting lesser-known cities and towns is a great option when you want to travel to Italy.
One of the biggest advantages of visiting lesser-known cities and towns is the opportunity to experience the authentic culture of Italy. Smaller towns and villages often have a stronger connection to their cultural roots, and you’ll find a more authentic experience with provincial traditions and customs.
Avoid the Crowds
Popular tourist destinations like Rome and Florence can be crowded and busy, especially during peak tourist season. By visiting lesser-known cities and towns, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy a more relaxed and peaceful experience. You’ll have more space and time to explore at your own pace without the stress of navigating through large crowds.
Italy is known for its stunning natural scenery, from rolling hills and vineyards to rugged coastlines and pristine beaches. Many lesser-known cities and towns in Italy are located in areas of outstanding natural beauty, offering incredible views and breathtaking landscapes.
In general, visiting lesser-known cities and towns can be more affordable than visiting major tourist destinations. Prices for accommodations, food, and activities tend to be more reasonable in these areas, allowing you to stretch your budget further.
2. Stay in a local neighborhood
When traveling to a new destination, it can be tempting to book accommodations in the heart of the tourist district. However, by staying in a neighborhood, you can gain a more authentic experience and get a glimpse into everyday life in the city you’re visiting. Here are some reasons why staying in a neighborhood is a great option when traveling.
Experience Local Culture
Staying in a local neighborhood allows you to experience the regional culture and way of life. You’ll be surrounded by residents going about their daily routines, giving you a chance to observe and learn about their customs and traditions. By staying in a provincial neighborhood, you’ll also have access to local markets, restaurants, and shops, where you can try traditional foods and purchase souvenirs that are unique to the region.
When you stay in a tourist district, it can be difficult to meet locals who aren’t working in the hospitality industry. However, by staying in a neighborhood, you’ll have more opportunities to meet and interact with citizens. You may strike up a conversation with your Airbnb host, meet people in the neighborhood coffee shop, or join a provincial event or festival.
Accommodations in tourist districts can be expensive, especially during the peak travel season. By staying in a local neighborhood, you’ll likely find more affordable options, including apartments and rooms for rent through platforms like Airbnb. You’ll also save money on food and transportation, as local restaurants and markets tend to be more affordable than those in tourist districts, and public transportation is often more accessible and affordable.
Staying in a local neighborhood can also be safer than staying in a tourist district, where pickpocketing and other tourist scams are common. Local neighborhoods tend to have a stronger sense of community and are often quieter and more peaceful than tourist districts.
3. Eat where the locals eat
Italian cuisine is world-famous, and there’s no shortage of delicious food to try in Italy. However, many restaurants in tourist hotspots can be overpriced and cater to tourists rather than locals. To truly experience Italian cuisine, seek out restaurants and cafes where the locals eat. Ask locals for recommendations or use apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor to find off-the-beaten-path eateries.
4. Use public transportation
When traveling to a new destination, it can be tempting to rent a car or rely on taxis and ride-sharing services to get around. However, using public transportation can be a more affordable and convenient option. Here are some reasons why using public transportation is a great option when traveling.
Using public transportation is often more affordable than renting a car or relying on taxis and ride-sharing services. Many cities offer daily or weekly passes, making it easy and cost-effective to use public transportation for the duration of your trip. In addition, public transportation tends to be more affordable in comparison to the cost of parking and gas associated with driving a car.
Public transportation is often more accessible than other modes of transportation, especially in urban areas. Many cities have an extensive network of buses, subways, and trains that can take you to all the major tourist destinations. Public transportation also tends to be more accessible to pedestrians, with bus stops and subway stations often located within walking distance of hotels and tourist attractions.
Using public transportation is also better for the environment. By using public transportation instead of renting a car, you can reduce your carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future. Many cities are also investing in eco-friendly transportation options, such as electric buses and subways.
Using public transportation can also be a cultural experience. By taking buses, subways, and trains, you can interact with locals and experience the city like a local. You’ll have the opportunity to observe everyday life and learn about the city’s culture and way of life.
5. Learn some Italian
While many Italians speak English, learning some Italian can go a long way in helping you connect with locals and navigate everyday life in Italy. Even just learning a few basic phrases like “Buongiorno” (good morning), “Grazie” (thank you), and “scusi” (excuse me) can make a big difference in how you’re perceived and how well you’re able to communicate.
In conclusion, exploring Italy beyond the tourist hotspots can be a rewarding and memorable experience. By visiting lesser-known cities and towns, staying in local neighborhoods, eating where the locals eat, using public transportation, and learning some Italian, you can immerse yourself in Italian culture and truly live like a local.