One of the biggest attractions of traveling to mainland Europe is that if you’re clever with your schedule and you travel light, you can see many different countries within two weeks. Take a backpack around Europe, and you can take in the sights and sounds of France, Germany, Austria, Spain, and Italy within the same vacation. You can even get across to the United Kingdom so long as you’re happy to take a short flight or jump on a train in France! We have enough backpack travel tips for Europe to publish a book, but today we’re going to focus on Italy.
Few countries in Europe – or elsewhere in the world, for that matter – can lay claim to the sort of history and culture that Italy can. This is the place from which the Roman Empire grew and dominated half of the world during its peak years. Ancient Rome was a favorite subject for many of us in school – a fact reflected today by the many online slots that feature its iconography and style. Online slots companies know that the fascinations we had as children follow us into adulthood, and so they try to appeal to those fascinations with games like “Rome: Caesar’s Glory” and “Shields of Rome,” to name but two. You can get a pinch of Roman flavor by playing those online slots on an UK slots website, but to get a real taste for it, you have to go there in person.
If you have aspirations of going to Italy in the near future and you intend to do so as a backpacker, here are some tips you can’t afford to ignore.
Book Tickets For Major Attractions In Advance
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can walk up to any of the major attractions and walk right in – especially when you’re in and around Rome. Even during the quieter months of the year, there will still be queues for the most popular places, and on some days they’ll be so busy that you won’t even be able to join the queue. Pompeii is an obvious example. It’s the most incredible archaeological site in the world, and no trip to the country is complete without seeing it, but you’ll end up disappointed if you don’t book well in advance. The same goes for St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Colosseum. Seeing the Colosseum from outside is one thing, but you’re selling yourself short if you don’t book a ticket with a tour guide and head inside to find out all of its ancient secrets.
Use The Trains
Backpackers are generally budget-conscious and generally won’t want to hire cars in the place they’re staying. Plus a car is probably no good to you if you’re moving between cities. Fortunately, Italy has an excellent two-stream rail network. If you want to spend a little more than average, you can jump aboard a Eurostar train and get between major cities for around forty dollars per trip. If you’ve brought a good book with you and you’re happy to sit on a slower train for a few hours, prices drop as low as six dollars and rarely go above fifteen. Keep an eye out for trains run by Trenitalia or Italo if you want to avoid premium prices.
Learn A Few Basic Phrases
Nobody would expect you to learn a whole language ahead of a vacation, but as a backpacker, you’ll probably need to rely on local knowledge for directions or general information more than the average tourist would. For that reason, it would help if you learned a few key phrases – and also the responses to those phrases so you can comprehend what you’re being told. Fortunately, Italian is one of the easiest languages in the world to learn (honestly, that’s a carefully-studied scientific fact). It shouldn’t take you too long to get the essentials in your head. After all, most of us already known “Buongiorno” for hello, “Arrivederci” for goodbye, and “Grazie” for thank you. If you’re really stuck, and you can’t think of the phrase you’re looking for in Italian, try asking a few people, “Parla Inglese?” It means “do you speak English,” and it will hopefully help you find someone who can assist.
Be Wary Of Tourist Traps
Like anywhere else in the world that’s popular with tourists, Italy’s cities are full of tourist traps. You’ll find them anywhere that tourists spend time or money, but they’re especially common in Rome. If people mark you out as a traveler, you’ll be approached by people who’ll strike up a conversation in English and then try to persuade you to buy something. In some cases, children will stop you because they want to take a photograph with you, only for you to discover later that they ran off with your wallet. Keep your valuables close to you in zipped pockets at all times, and don’t feel rude about breaking off a conversation if your gut tells you something is amiss. It’s not like you’re ever likely to see any of these people again.
Look out For City Tourist Cards
It’s always worth your while to visit the tourist office of every city you visit in Italy. That’s because they offer ‘tourist cards,’ which provide deep discounts on many of the activities that you probably already had planned on doing. In Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, and some other cities, tourist cards offer money off dining, shopping, public transport, museum entry, guided tours, and entry to some of the attractions. If you’re planning to spend a whole day in one of these cities and you have four or five things on your ‘to-do’ list, it’s not out of the question that you’ll take between one third and one half of what it would have cost you to pay for everything separately. You can also get some suggestions for things to see and do while you’re in the office picking up your card.
Italy is glamorous and cultured, but that doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. With good planning and an eye for bargains, your backpacking trip doesn’t have to cost you any more than it would anywhere else in the world – and the more money you save, the more you can relax. That’s the whole point of being on vacation!