Hotline: 6478 5029

Administered by C3A
A-| A| A+

5 tips for enjoying an Italian vacation now that crowds are back

5 tips for enjoying an Italian vacation now that crowds are back

Published on

25 Jul 2022

Published by

The Straits Times


The land of pizza, masterpieces and monuments has always been popular with holiday-makers. And now that Italy has lifted all Covid-19-related entry rules, the crowds have returned in full force.

 

While summer travel chaos has enveloped much of Europe, I was fortunate enough not to experience flight cancellations or lost luggage. I did, however, encounter train delays and cancellations on my first day in Rome. Attractions and restaurants were also packed everywhere I went.

 

As Italy is a sought-after destination, visitors can expect chaotic and crowded scenarios for quite a while, especially since Green Pass requirements are scrapped. This means that travellers do not have to show Covid-19 documentation for entry.

 

Here are five tips for a stress-free and enjoyable holiday.

 

1. Anticipate possible train interruptions

 

No thanks to a train derailment the day before, numerous train journeys were cancelled when I arrived at Rome Termini. These included the high-speed Frecciarossa and Italo trains connecting major cities.

 

There was quite a bit of chaos at the train station, with snaking queues at the ticket counters. I made the mistake of queuing at the Frecciarossa counter to obtain a refund for my cancelled train to Naples, only to find out that the ticket-refund office was at another area of the station.

 

As such, inquire in advance whether the counter you are queuing at offers ticket refunds or only new ticket purchases.

 

If buying new tickets, one does not need to stand in line. Buy them online at the Italo website or Trenitalia website (the company which owns Frecciarosa) to save time. I managed to secure a later departure to Naples on Italo's site.

 

Bear in mind that you will receive only future train credits if requesting refunds online. Unless you are planning another Italy trip in the next few months, ask for a credit card refund at a physical ticket office.

 

2. Book attractions and tours in advance

 

Attractions such as the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Vatican City are popular with tourists year-round. I found myself moving shoulder-to-shoulder with other visitors at the Vatican Museums as we inched our way to the Sistine Chapel. And tickets for the Colosseum were sold out when I went in the middle of June.

 

Thankfully, I bought skip-the-line tickets for all these attractions in advance on sites such as GetYourGuide and Headout. They typically offer a timed-entry to each attraction and allow you to bypass ticket queues. I entered each place within 10 minutes upon arrival.

 

Do buy these tickets as early as you can. Popular entry times such as mornings and early afternoons get snapped up quickly.

 

The early bird catches the worm when it comes to guided tours too. In Sorrento, tours to Capri and the Amalfi Coast were fully booked the week I visited. I recommend reserving a spot at least one to two weeks in advance.

 

3. Time your restaurant visits or make advance reservations

 

Italians eat dinner late, typically from 8 to 10pm. I visited a pizza restaurant in Sorrento at 9.30pm and found a long line.

 

To secure a table at a popular restaurant, get there between 6.30 and 7pm. For lunch, the best time to show up is noon, when most venues are just opening up. Or make reservations online - many restaurants have websites where you can book tables.

 

A fun way to enjoy meals without crowds is to take a food tour. These usually run about four hours and include six to seven stops for Italian fare such as pasta, pizza, cheeses, prosciutto, tiramisu, cappuccino and gelato. I did mine with Food Tours Of Rome and enjoyed a sit-down meal at a restaurant with Roman ruins in its basement.

 

4. Wake up early to get the best pictures

 

After 9am, the streets and landmarks in most popular cities are packed with locals and tourists. Want a picture at Rome's Trevi Fountain without a hundred other people? Consider getting up early, around 7 to 8am, to take a stroll on the streets.

 

I am no early riser, but my husband jogged around Rome and Sorrento at 8am and managed to get pictures at the Colosseum, St Peter's Square at the Vatican City and Sorrento's Piazza Tasso without a soul in sight.

 

The Vatican Museums also offer an early entrance tour beginning at 7.30am. The tour includes entry to the museum and Sistine Chapel ahead of the general public, as well as breakfast at the Vatican Bistro.

 

5. Find a good base to avoid switching hotels

 

Changing hotels takes up valuable travel time, especially with train delays and traffic jams which can get especially bad in southern Italy.

 

If you are looking to visit highlights such as Pompeii, Capri, Herculaneum, Naples and the Amalfi Coast, I suggest basing yourself in Sorrento. It is a convenient starting point for day trips by train, bus or guided tour.

 

There is plenty in the town to keep you occupied too, such as shopping streets, a marina with several beach clubs and lots of restaurants.

 

In northern Italy, the city of Florence is a good base for day trips to Pisa, Cinque Terre, Bologna and the Tuscan countryside. Milan is a good base for visiting Lake Como, Turin and Verona.

 

Rebecca Rachel Wong is a freelance journalist and blogger at Becscapades.com, where she writes about her local and overseas adventures. She is particularly attracted to far-flung locales.

 

 

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 


ALL views, content, information and/or materials expressed / presented by any third party apart from Council For Third Age, belong strictly to such third party. Any such third party views, content, information and/or materials provided herein are for convenience and/or general information purposes only. Council For Third Age shall not be responsible nor liable for any injury, loss or damage whatsoever arising directly or indirectly howsoever in connection with or as a result of any person accessing or acting on any such views, content, information and/or materials. Such third party views, content, information and/or materials do not imply and shall not be construed as a representation, warranty, endorsement and/or verification by Council For Third Age in respect of such views, content, information and/or materials.

Compare Courses (Up to 3)

Compare
Minimize Full
Ask NSA