A friend of mine recently emailed and asked for any tips about traveling in Italy.  Here are some of our hard-won pearls of knowledge:

  • Bancomat = ATM machine
  • When ordering things sold by the pound, you will often see prices listed in Euros per L’etto/a.  This means ‘per 100 grams.’
Lots of por L'etto options here

Lots of per L’etto options here

  • In the shower in your apartment or hotel room, there will probably be a long cord coming out of the wall, attached to something that looks like a light switch.  You may be tempted to pull it, just to see what happens.  But know that if you do, the owner of the apartment/hotel manager will assume that you have slipped in the shower and hurt yourself and cannot get up, and so your shower will probably be interrupted by the arrival of an Italian ambulance crew.
  • If you buy fruits or veggies in the grocery store, you will need to put them on the nearby electronic scale and punch in your item number.  The scale will spit out a little sticker that you have to put on your bag. If you forget to do this and make it all the way to the checkout, the cashier will look at you blankly while you run all the way back to the produce section like an idiot just to get your little sticker. The cashier will not be amused, and neither will all the people who are in line behind you. 
"What do you mean, you didn't get a sticker for your bananas?"

“What do you mean, you didn’t get a sticker for your bananas?”


  • The Italian train system website is unspeakably bad.  Just buy your tickets at the station and save yourself a lot of aggravation.
  • Buy a few subway passes at a time; they don’t get used until you swipe them and then you don’t have to wait in enormous lines at popular subway stops.


  • If you are trying to purchase something online and you have to enter your address with one of those little drop-down menus and you can’t seem to find the US as a country option, it is probably listed under ‘Stati Uniti.’
  • Go to Siena.  It’s beautiful. Try to stay overnight so you can be there when the buses of tourists leave and the locals all come out to stroll around.
Siena is always wonderful, but especially at night

Siena is always wonderful, but especially at night

  • On your last day in Rome, go to Eataly.  A cornucopia of Italian food awaits for you to try and fit in your luggage. Just remember that when coming back into Stati Uniti, Customs will confiscate your sausage and soft cheese. 
Filling your suitcase with wine, however, is encouraged

Filling your suitcase with wine, however, is encouraged

  • In a bar or a cafe, sitting down with your drink/food costs more than just standing at the bar. Save yourself money and just stand there.  Also, there are usually free snacks at the bar.


  • WC = Gabinette = Toilet
Or, like this pigeon, you can just go on the nearest statue

Or, like this pigeon, you can just go on the nearest statue