Travel blogs have helped improve experience of travelers like us. Aside from the usual where-to-eat-what-to-do features on the internet, most people nowadays highly rely on travel bloggers’ truthful narration of their epic or failed encounters.
So as a single woman and traveler, I feel inclined to share my stories and some note-worthy bits with you, my fellow solo lady traveler, and help you have an extra memorable trip in Italy.
14 Things You Must Do When in Italy
1. Overdose on Italian coffee goodness
The most fascinating experience of a worldly coffee culture for me was in Italy. Which is why it’s at the top of my must-do list. Italy has an impeccable selection of coffee depending on your daily needs/cravings. You can order it with milk, ice cream, grappa, brandy or ice!
You must know that if you are attempting to blend in with the locals, skip any milky form of coffee after 10am. Italians wince at the idea of hot milk mixing with the undigested food you had for lunch (pasta and coffee, ulk). Order caffè (this is served espresso-style but Italians simply call it caffè since it’s the default coffee in Italy) after meal instead.
And while you’re at it, why not order your coffee in Italian?
Italian: “Buongiorno/Buonasera, un caffè per favore.”
English: Good morning/Good afternoon, one coffee please.
2. Check out all the piazzas and fountains in Rome
Thick with Italians and tourists alike, performance artists, food stalls, fountains and churches; piazzas are the best place to rest your legs, have a snack, people watch and be entertained all at the same time.
Piazza Navona, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is undoubtedly the most elegant piazza there is in Rome. A little bit north of the designer shopping district in Rome is the brownish ochre- colored buildings that surround the Piazza di Espagna (Spanish Steps) and few blocks away from the Spanish Steps, you will find Fontana Di Trevi.
3. Toss coin/s in Fontana Di Trevi
Have you seen the 1954 romantic movie Three Coins in the Fountain? That movie popularized the coin tossing tradition in Fontana De Trevi though it has been a tradition even before the movie’s release. Legend has it, if you toss one coin, it ensures your fast return to the city. Toss two coins and it might lead to new romance. Three coins will ensure marriage. Guess how many coin/s I tossed? 😉
Proper way of coin tossing in the fountain: Have your back to the fountain, hold the coin in your right hand and toss it over your left shoulder. Make sure it lands in the basin!
Ever wonder where the coins tossed to the fountain go? Read about it here.
4. Have a dolce far niente moment at the Spanish Steps
My breakfasts were consistently spent people watching at the Spanish Steps. I started my day by buying a coffee to-go with 2 pieces of cornetti. While I mentally plotted places I still had to see and the flavors of gelato I still had to try, I walked my way to the Church of Trinita dei Monti, and pensively descended the Spanish Steps.
There was something oddly pacifying about being invisible amongst a sea of crowd walking past me. I secretly wished I was born around the same time John Keats lived in Rome.
5. Wear dark colors… and of course, SHOP.
Woman, you are in the fashion capital of the world and Italy’s the perfect place to show off your perfect OOTD ensemble!
This doesn’t mean that you can go crazy with your outfits. You may or may not be fashion savvy but it’s a basic skill requirement to blend in when traveling. How to blend in in Italy, you ask? Simply avoid elaborate fashion pieces and stick to dark colours like dark green, brown or black.
What to Wear for Winter: Bring 1 perfectly fitted overcoat and 1 jacket with gloves, scarf, bonnet/beanie, and flat-heeled knee high boots.
6. Create an itinerary ripped off from a movie set in Italy
Instead of prancing around Italy ala- Julia Roberts in Eat.Pray.Love, why not create an adrenaline-filled day and create an ‘Angels & Demons’ itinerary or recreate shots ala-Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday?
7. Participate at the Papal audience at the Vatican
Catholic or otherwise, there’s still a thrill that overthrows that cynic in you when you see the Pope with your own eyes!
The Pope is normally around for Angelus on Sunday noons when the Pope speaks from the window overlooking St. Peter’s square (best to bring a binocular) or during Wednesday mornings for general audience, though you will need a ticket for this. I heard somewhere that the Swiss Guards slip you tickets every once in a while (?). Ask nicely.
P.S. For Catholics, you may want to bring a rosary or anything that you want to be blessed by the Pope.
8. Make Friends
Let’s admit it, you’re a single girl, traveling alone and you have been feeling like a hobo because you haven’t slept well for days, heck, you might have skipped washing your hair three days in a row. Though you have convinced yourself that you loved being on your own, at this point, you’re probably quietly craving for genuine human connection.
How to Make Friends: Sit at a bar/cafè and order a drink, ask for directions, deliberately bump into someone in the museum, or join walking tours- any of these will work just fine. 🙂
9. Eat Freshly Made Pasta-in-a-Box
Have you tasted a freshly made pasta? Not yet? Meander around the streets east of Piazza San Marco when in Venice until you find Dal Moro, a hole-in-the-wall to-go restaurant that serves freshly made pasta with your chosen sauce and toppings. I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this hidden gem not too far from the busiest place in Venice. Oh, did I mention, the cooks are all hotties? You’re welcome.
10. Have a glass or two of an aperitif (alcoholic drink before meal)
It’s easy to get lost in all the things going on around you: the crowd, the breathtaking Venetian sunset, the fine Italian men hitting on you, the seagulls and pigeons at Piazza San Marco pestering you for food and not to mention, your legs buckling on you.
Help yourself with a glass or two of Aperol Spritz, a wine-based cocktail made with bitter liquor and a splash of soda. It is a refreshing cocktail to help you recharge and gain focus.
11. Visit churches and galleries-big or small- in Venice
In Venice, there are churches and galleries every 10 minutes of stroll. They are all worth seeing.
12. Spend a Day with a Person You Just Met
This is a complete 360 statement from what we have been told as kids. That ‘do not talk to strangers’ warning will not hold nicely in a foreign country. Forget all that “I Spit on Your Grave” paranoia and take a chance. Who knows, maybe like me, you’ll end up having the best time with a local who’s a perfect gentleman. 😉
13. Visit Italy on A Winter Season
Italy is busy year-round but winter is a little less busier than usual. There aren’t much queues in the museums and train tickets are a lot less costly. Sure, you can wear your trendiest boots and coats.
But most importantly because it’s the perfect time of the year to have a daily cup of the thick, creamy, decadent cioccolata calda, the world-famous Italian hot chocolate.
14. Walk. A LOT.
How else can you experience being cat-called by young Italian men? JK. Seriously. Italy must be experienced on foot. So wear your most comfortable pair of shoes and be sure that you’re all psyched up for all the walk you’d be doing.
Just set some money aside for a massage and a spa at the end of your trip.
Ci vediamo dopo! Ciao, Bella!
Next, I will be posting about places to include in your sight seeing list, authentic Italian eats plus cafès and bars.
Keep visiting Wander Jungle for more travel tips and stories!
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