We help you with 10 tips to explore Italy's true soul and atmosphere. Hopefully without too many tourists around you. Allow yourself to be captivated by the discreet charm that characterizes the small things in everyday life.
Here are our 10 best suggestions, based on our experience, to make you not fall into the trap of stereotypes and "cultural experiences" invented specially for visitors. The list is not exhaustive, though we believe it will give you an idea of the "little things" you should do or not do.
1 - Select a small resort
The well-known holiday destinations have even been influenced by local culture and charm. Though, since tourism has been increasing to these destinations, so the atmospheres changes. Do you stay in the middle of Taormina, San Gimignano or Tropea, you can count on the fact that your neighbors also celebrate holiday here. Do you prefer genuine authenticity, go for a small, more unfamiliar town or villa or agriturismo in the countryside.
2 - Select a small family run holiday
A good way to experience Italian's La Bella vita, is often to choose a family run accommodation. These places are often marked by great tradition, and in many cases you are able to see how all these family traditions are preserved in everyday life. Is there a restaurant on site, there is a good chance that you can get to taste authentic homemade Italian food, based on local ingredients.
3 - Pool or pool?
A Holiday with a swimming pool is great. Though, the presence of a swimming pool, no matter how nice, reveals the desire to attract visitors. The original features of the house have been changed and adapted.
4 - Choose restaurants with short menus (in Italian!)
A menu written in chalk on a blackboard will undoubtedly be fresher and often a more authentic Italian than a menu of four pages and multiple languages displayed under glass.
5 - Set your GPS really
The farthest cities and landscapes can be difficult to reach if your GPS is set on the shortest route. The landscape you might pass through, could be the shortest but also the steepest road and could bring you along narrow paths that better fit mules than cars. Therefore, set your GPS on the "Fastest route" and look out on the map if you do not get lost between two rows of vines in the Chianti!
6 - Discover local street markets
Ask your host about where and when you find the market days nearby. Prefer markets in small villages rather than larger towns ? It is often the contrary to what you might think, the markets in major cities are more authentic as they include all producers in the region. In the villages you will find lighter clothes and gadgets of dubious quality and very few local products (except vegetables).
7 - Sit down at the bar, where locals read their newspaper
In small bars, the atmosphere unpretentious. This is where Italians come to drink their coffee. This will give you an idea of what real espresso or espresso macchiato (with milk) is, and you can join in animated conversations with the Italians who are commenting on the last football match or recent political events.
8 - Take a siesta
A nap should of course be part of your cultural immersion. :-) Follow the Italian rhythm. In summer, when the days are very hot, close the shutters in your room or in your apartment and have a reenergizing nap. It helps you to keep the freshness alive during your holiday, right from the morning. After lunch, take some time to rest and relax or sleep a little. In other words: Do long afternoons in true Italian style! So are you ready to enjoy the pleasant evening hours.
9 - Participate in local festivities
You should enquire or ask for dates for village festivals. This is where you will meet the natives who pay homage to the patron saint of their community. This is were you experience the real authentic local atmosphere. Join processions and taste the local produce. You could even meet local artisans and farmers in the area.
10 - Car hire
Hiring a car allows you wonderful freedom. Not just with a drive to the familiar sights or major cultural cities, but also simply take a drive out into the countryside, discovering small restaurants or village and get close to an Italy that is far from the touristic centers .
Extra tip - Be aware of areas where traffic is limited
Remember to park outside the historic centers. The holidays is more fun without fines, we presume!
Are you ready to immerse yourself in the real Italy? Start to book your holiday from a selection of handpicked rooms and cottages. Contact your In-Italy consultant for further advice about your destination. Get free suggestions from experts before fastening your suitcases.