5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Traveling to Italy

Stephanie Perry


Moving to a new city is exciting, inspiring, overwhelming and nerve-racking all at the same time. Before I go to a new place I spend countless hours googling and watching videos from how to pack, things to do in the city, places to eat and so much more. But the internet can only take you so far, you won’t truly understand what it will be like until you arrive.

This is stressful, because now you just stare at your countdown to arrival and wait; then struggle to pack and wait some more. Everyone feels the same way, I promise. Here are some things I’ve learned through my travel in Florence that would have helped me to know before I left.

I don’t speak Italian, will I be able to get around ok?

Yes, especially in touristy areas, many people speak really good English. But.. You should learn the language because not everyone speaks Italian and if you assume everyone is able to understand you, it can come off as rude. Do what you can manage, they will appreciate you trying!


The largest interaction you will have with Italians will be involving food (at least mine were). I highly recommend getting down some phrases like:

Table for two please Un tavolo per due
Can we sit outside? Ci possiamo sedere fuori?
I will have water/wine Vorrei acqua / Vorrei vino (rosso/bianco)
We are ready for the check please Il conto per favore

Other words and phrases you should know:

Sorry Scusa (informal) scusi (formal)
Excuse me Permesso
Please Per favore
How much Quanto costa?
How are you? Come sta? (formal) come stai (informal)
Where is the train station? Dov'è la stazione?
You’re welcome Prego!

These words/phrases will get you started off on the right foot and after a couple weeks it will start to come more naturally.

Have I packed everything I need?

Packing a suitcase

You have probably packed too much - and I can say this without even seeing your luggage. Everyone always over packs, so you are not alone! Key things to live by when packing:


  • Pack enough clothes for only for two weeks, you can do laundry when you are there.
  • If you have more than one checked bag, you have too much.
  • Bring basics that you can easily mix and match and clothes that you can dress up or down.
  • Leave extra space in your suitcase, trust me. You will want to buy things when you are there.
  • Buy hair dryers, straighteners, shampoo, soap, etc when you arrive. They have it all, better to save that space in your suitcase for something more important.
  • Roll your clothes and buy some packing cubes. This helps you organize and your clothes will take up less space.
  • Bring one pair of really comfortable shoes. Luckily sneakers are in right now, so your converse, adidas, black and white trainers will work perfectly.
  • For when your comfortable shoes happen to not be as comfortable as you hoped, have bandaids handy, you will be so happy you did.

Will I get sick of Italian food?

Italian Food

Probably not, but if you do there are other food options. While exploring Florence I came across organic salad/pressed juice cafes (this is a pretty big thing), Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, American and a few more.


Before going to these places make sure to take advantage of all the great pasta, gnocchi, paninos, bistecca florentina, gelato and more gelato. You won’t find food like this anywhere else, just be prepared to eat a lot of meat, cheese and bread. 

Is pick-pocketing really a thing?

pick pocketing

Yes. All you have to do is be aware of your surroundings, don't leave your phone or wallet in your back pocket or hanging out of your jacket. If you do that, you are basically asking for it.

Be aware of gypsies. If they approach you, simply ignore them. Sometimes they work in pairs so one might be trying to distract you.


It isn’t an overly obvious thing, you aren’t going to walk into Florence and see droves of gypsies everywhere trying to steal your things - you will just see them on occasion and be smart about where you keep your belongings.

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