Thursday, March 28, 2013

Italy Summer Travel Tips

I studied abroad during Italy's tourist season. Rome's narrow streets were crowded with walking tours and we had to deal with insane lines to enter sights such as the Coliseum and St. Peter's Basilica. Some trattorias in the historic district/city center promoted "tourist specials," which I discovered months later were not really specials. However, I highly recommend experiencing summertime in Italy. 

Here are my top three reasons why: 

1. Coastal beaches - BEAUTIFUL!! It's breathtaking, the water is amazing, and although it gets crowded, it is paradise. 
2. The word "saldi" in store windows - summertime is sale season in Italy, so if you are interested in Italian shopping, June, July and August are perfect timing. 
3. Gelato. Yes, you can have gelato at any time of the year, but it's better in the summer. 
4. Leisurely walks outside, enjoying the "avenues, vias, streets or stradas" (thanks, Dean Martin!) in...
5. Gorgeous weather. It only rained once when we were in Rome, on the day the program ended. 

Since summer is peak tourist season, it is important to do your homework before visiting. 
Some quick tips are: 

1. Book your flights and hotels/hostels early. It's cheaper to travel during the week, especially from the U.S. to Europe. is a great resource. 
2. Get to tourist sights earlier in the day so the line to enter is not as long. It is shocking to see how crowded it gets at places such as the Coliseum, Trevi Fountain and St. Peter's. Sightseeing in the morning and exploring the city in the afternoon/evening is the plan I recommend. 
3. If you are a student, take advantage of discounts. University cities such as Rome, Florence and Padua occasionally offer student deals at bars, hostels and cafes. There are usually specific areas in which both Italian and international students hang out. In Rome, Campo dei Fiori is popular with college students, especially those from the US, UK and Ireland. 
4. Try to immerse yourself with the locals. If you're in central Italy and want to go to the beach, I recommend Sperlonga over Capri. Check out the side streets, markets and small shops. Wandering around and learning about Rome was one of my favorite parts of my trip. 

Summertime anywhere is great, but Italy is beautiful year round (and flights are less expensive in the off season). No matter what time of the year you plan to visit Italy, I guarantee it will be a fabulous experience! 

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