This post is all about what NOT to do in Italy. Want your trip to Italy to go smoothly? Here are some of the most common Italy mistakes that tourists make that can be easily avoided. Note: One of the biggest mistakes you can make on ANY trip is not getting travel insurance. Travel insurance gives you protection in case of any type of travel disaster: medical issues, stolen passport, lost luggage, cancelled trip, and so on. For this reason, I recommend that everyone gets travel insurance. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind when you travel.
For many regional trains in Italy, you must validate your train ticket after purchasing it before you can board the train. This isn’t always clearly communicated and it can be hard to find the validation machine, so take a look around and see what other people are doing first. Typically, there will be a little validation machine in the station that you put your ticket into. Be sure to do this before boarding the train because if you forget to do it and a conductor checks your ticket, you will be charged a large penalty.
This is one of the most annoying tourist scams out there, and it occurs all over Europe. However, it’s especially common in Italy. I have seen it most frequently in Rome, but be on the lookout for this scam in any major tourist spots in the country. What happens is this: A man will come up to you and offer you a “free” gift like a rose or a bracelet. However, once you accept it, he will demand payment for his “gift.” When you see these people, just ignore them and keep walking to avoid getting into an uncomfortable situation.
Italy has some of the cleanest and most drinkable water in the world. You can even fill your water bottle up from any public fountain or water spigot! Because of this, there’s really no reason to waste money on buying bottled water during your trip to Italy. I just keep a water bottle with me at all times and fill it up with tap water. If you’d like an extra-safe option, I recommend the LifeStraw self-filtering water bottle. It’s a reusable water bottle that automatically purifies any water you put into it. Great for traveling to places that aren’t Italy where the water isn’t as clean!
Almost all the most popular museums, churches, and historic sites in Italy have skip-the-line tickets you can purchase online in advance. The Colosseum, Vatican Museum, Uffizi Gallery, Michelangelo’s David, and the Doge Palace are just a few of the places in Italy that offer skip-the-line tickets. During peak season, wait times for popular attractions can be up to two hours long. It doesn’t cost any extra to pre-purchase tickets online (and in fact you can sometimes save a little money!) and you will be incredibly glad you did it as you walk past the mile-long line to enter a museum.
Tipping servers is not a customary practice in Italy, and all servers are paid a regular living wage so they do not rely on tips to survive. If service is excellent, you can round up a couple euros on the bill to show your appreciation, but it is not expected or necessary. The exception to this is if you take a free walking tour in Italy (which I highly recommend.) You should always tip your guide, since they do actually work for tips only.