Getting ready to travel to Italy? Here are 10 tips that will help you make the most of your trip to this lovely country and ensure you get to experience the real Dolce Vita.
1. One major reason to travel to Italy is to sample the wonderful cuisine. However, the locals dine late so be prepared for dinners at 8.00 p.m. or later.
2. Forget bacon and eggs; tuck into an Italian bar breakfast and snack on a sweet cornetto and frothy cappuccino. Just the thing to power you through a morning's sightseeing.
3. Italy is refreshingly free of the tipping culture, so you're not obliged to add on something extra for service. Plus, many establishments tack on a cover charge so tipping is not needed.
4. If it's your first time in Italy, bear in mind that many shops shut between noon and 3.00 p.m. and many restaurants don't open until 7.00 or 8.00 in the evening.
5. Especially during summer Italy can get hot and sightseeing involves a lot of walking, so be sure to dress comfortably. However, remember that some religious sites require decorum in the form of covered shoulders and knees.
6. Italy's cultural heritage is justifiably a big draw and that means queues. One smart move is to book your museum tickets online in advance. Then you can breeze past the lines and make the most of your time.
7. Bars are not just for alcohol. Try doing things the Italian way and order a stiff espresso instead -just don't do this during main meals.
8. Italy's historic cities get truly crowded, so avoid driving whenever possible, but by all means rent a car for trips out into the countryside.
9. One thing to remember about Italian public transport: all tickets for buses and trains need to be validated otherwise you might get fined.
10. To really connect with the locals, learn a smattering of their language. It's sure to bring a smile and you'll be able to read the menus like a native.