Summertime in Italy can either be heaven on earth, or if you are not careful, a living hell. There are however some ways to avoid having a bad summer vacation in Italy. Read on to check out our Do's and Dont's for a perfect Italian summer.
Avoid spending too much time in big cities like Rome, Florence, or Venice. In these places you will find hoards of crowds and tour groups that make navigating city streets and visiting popular tourists sites a pain. Not to mention that many places in Italy do not have air conditioning so being in a big, hot, crowded, sweaty city can often be a nightmare, and finding a quiet place to cool off can be a challenge. Make time for small cities and towns in the countryside or by the coast where wide open spaces and fresh air can serve as a welcome respite.
Leave restaurant planning to the last minute. Though it can be fun hitting the town at night not knowing where you will end up eating and ducking into a little trattoria for a tasty meal, it is important to know that during the summertime when Italian towns and cities are flooded with tourists and out of towners it is a good idea to plan ahead by making restaurant reservations. In big cities or coastal towns, it is especially recommended to make reservations for Thursday through
Saturday nights as well as lunch on Sunday. In places such as the Amalfi Coast or Sicily, it is also advisable to make beach club reservations so that you can ensure a table for lunch and/or beach chairs for relaxing under the sun. These days, most institutions in Italy either take online reservations or speak suitable English to complete a reservation for you online. So if you're hoping to finally try the famous spaghetti alla nerano at Lo Scoglio along the Amalfi Coast, make sure you plan ahead!
Spend time on the coast, but know which regions to avoid. Of course, summertime in Italy means sunshine and beaches. But since everyone has the same idea, popular coastal destinations can often feel overwhelming during peak months. Places like Positano on the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre in Liguria for example get very crowded during the summer due to their global notoriety relative to their small physical size. If you are on the Amalfi Coast try heading to larger or lesser known destinations such as Sorrento, Praiano, Minori, or Maiori. If in Sicily, you may be drawn to the beauty and allure of Taormina, but don't be afraid to head for some of the picturesque natural reserve beaches on the east coast near the Noto Valley south of Catania, or catch a ferry to the breathtaking Isole Eole for a more intimate and rustic experience. But remember, as discussed above, it is still recommended to try and make beach club and restaurant reservations whenever possible.
Book flights with a lay-over in Europe if you are checking bags if you can avoid it. The high volume of travelers passing through Europe during the peak summer months puts you at an increased risk of delays, cancellations and lost luggages. Try to book either a direct flight to an international Italian airport such as Milan MXP or Rome, or if you do have a lay-over, try to get one at an eastern US airport hub with outbound international routes such as Dulles International, Atlanta, New York or Chicago. If you are checking bags, we recommend putting an AirTag or similar remote tracking device in them so you know where you bags are at all times.
Try to be flexible with your dates! Traveling to Italy in April, May, September, or October can still offer amazing weather but at a lower cost. Not to mention the crowds tend to be smaller during these shoulder seasons giving you less chaotic taste of Italy.
Forget to check for Italian holidays. Throughout the summer there are some national holidays that may interfere with your trip due to some shops and restaurants being closed, or road and transportation delays due to street festivities celebrations. Here are some major holidays to look out for:
June 2nd - Day of the Republic: you can expect many parades and fireworks, especially in Rome, as well as some restaurant and shop closures. The beginning of June also marks the end of the school year meaning young Italians will start to flock to beaches in crowds.
August 15th - Ferragosto: Officially marks the start of high summer holidays for all Italians. For the rest of August, expect major cities like Rome and Milan to be deserted as locals head out in search of southern beaches. This means some local shops and restaurants will be closed, and also means that beaches along all coasts and of Italy will be packed with Italian holiday makers. Basically, wee would recommend trying not to visit Italy during the month of August.
Be prepared and pack your summer essentials. Though Italy gets very hot during the summer, remember that it is still required to adhere to a dress code when entering many churches and cathedrals, which means clothing choice is important. When in cities where you plan to walk around all day and check out some famous churches, try thinking loose and long, this means you can still breath and be comfortable in your clothes but are not at risk of not being able to enter a holy site.
Also when talking about cities, remember that throughout Italy you can often find small faucets with running water in the streets or in parks that are perfectly fine to drink from. For this reason, we suggest bringing a re-usable water bottle with you when you travel so you can fill up whenever you like instead of having to pop into a store to buy bottled water multiple times a day.
Of course make sure to pack other standard essentials such as a pair of comfortable shoes, some study sandals, a swim suit, sunscreen, and a couple nicer outfits for wearing out to dinner. Remember, Italians are a well dressed population so it is important to have nicer clothes for a night out.
Looking to head to Italy for a well deserved vacation? Let the travel experts at Isarti Travel help you plan the trip of a life-time