Italy had always been a dream destination for me and my visit was nothing short of amazing. I took a lot of time to prep for my trip, so I thought I’d share with you some general tips! There is so much to see and do in Italy, so you really need to plan well if you want to make the most out of a short trip. I was there for only six nights and visited seven different cities. I will warn you…it was hectic, but so worth it!
Things to Know
- Renting a car is only necessary if you want to visit secluded areas and vineyards
- Major cities have limited traffic zones where you must have a permit to drive in that designated area. The signs aren’t always easy to see, so it’s best to just avoid it all together
- There are trains to take you from city to city
- Get rental car insurance if you do rent!
- International license is needed
- $15 from AAA
- Fill out a quick form and have a passport photo handy
- Process takes about 10 minutes
- Download Navmii Italy for GPS
- No data usage necessary!
- Book regional train fares the day of. If you aren’t an Italian resident then you won’t be able to purchase online in advance
- Faster/direct trains (Frecce) can be purchased in advance online. Prices can go up, so it’s advised to purchase beforehand.
- Don’t forget to validate your ticket before boarding!
- Looking up routes and stations prior to arriving in Italy will be very useful. The system is simple, you just need to know which stops to look for.
- Website to book or look up routes: http://www.trenitalia.com
- Brush up on your Italian! Most people speak English, but many do not. Please at least try to speak some Italian to those serving you.
- Duolingo is a great app to use
- Google Translate or iTranslate for translation assistance
- Exchange your money in advance. Of course the airport exchanges charge crazy fees. So, exchange at your bank if possible and then go to an ATM in Italy if you need more cash.
- Plan your cities that you want to visit and map out the transportation to and from each destination
- Don’t be scared to get a little lost
- Having a plan is great, but do not try to stick to a set schedule
- You’ll discover some of the best restaurants by wandering around
- Most importantly, keep an open mind and have fun!
My Travel Costs
- Package including airfare from JFK to Milan, 5 nights in Montecatini, 1 night in Milan, Rental Car (automatic): $872.78 priced with single room (cheaper for double occupancy)
- Airline: Emirates
- Hotel San Marco in Montecatini
- Hotel Ibis Milano Malpensa Aeroporto in Milan
- Rental Company: Enterprise
- Flight from DCA to JFK roundtrip: $183.20
- Transportation including gas, water taxi, and the following train routes: $180.00
- Montecatini to Cinque Terre (RT)
- Montecatini to Venice
- Venice to Florence
- Florence to Montecatini
- One night in Venice (Airbnb): $62.00
- Hotel San Marco: Viale Carlo Rosselli, 3, 51016 Montecatini Terme PT, Italy
This hotel is located in a small town in Tuscany called Montecatini. I really enjoyed the location because it was close to the train station and many restaurants. Also the location of Montecatini itself is very central providing short travel times to vineyards as well as major cities such as Florence and Siena. Parking was included, which was perfect because we hardly used our rental car during the trip. I stayed in a single room which to be honest was reminiscent of a college dorm. The décor was dated and do not expect the toiletries to be replenished regularly. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful. Breakfast was provided every morning until 9AM, which offered your traditional simple Italian items such as breads, meats, hard boiled eggs, and fruit. Overall, it was a pleasant stay at an affordable price.
- Hotel Ibis Milano Malpensa Aeroporto: Via al Campo, 100, 21010 Milano Malpensa
Hotel Ibis is located near the Milan-Malpensa Airport, so it is convenient to stay here if you are flying out the next morning. The décor of this hotel was definitely more modern and similar to hotels I’ve stayed at in the US. The room was spacious with a queen size bed for a single booking. The location was far from the city center of Milan or any public transportation to take you there. I drove to a little city about 20 minutes away and then took the metro from there to the Duomo station in Milan. I decided to go that route to avoid any limited driving zones in the city. We also ordered food at this hotel, which wasn’t great. The breakfast; however, was standard and enjoyable with a variety of pastries to choose from.