Postcards from Italy
THE BLOG OF CIU TRAVEL

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Visit Italy

Italy is one of the most popular vacation destinations on the planet, a haven for millions who swoon for its cuisine, culture, and climate. Though the Bel Paese is our first love, we know that it may not be for everyone ...Italy poses unique challenges and hurdles that may be daunting for a first-time visitor.

bacco-felice-cr-brian-dore(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

So, how do you know if you should set your sights on Italy for your next trip? Here are a few reasons why you may want to take a pass... (We’re just kidding...never pass up on Italy! Here’s how to make the trip a delight for even the most cagey visitor...)

I’m not really into history


Let’s face it, Italy is imbued with history from the spectacular Greek temples of Sicily and ruins of Pompeii to the iconic architecture of Rome’s early-20th-century EUR district. If you find wandering historic sites dry and unremarkable, the idea of a vacation destination where they play a central role may be less than appealing.

Positano(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

That doesn’t mean, however, that Italy is a hard no. An itinerary where the landscape is the headliner and historic sites are presented in small, palatable doses (the Amalfi Coast or Dolomites are good examples) is an easy remedy, as is ample use of Italy’s best kept secret: official tour guides.

Italy has arguably some of the best guides in the world, who study for years to become licensed and make it a life-long career. By booking a private guide to visit medieval churches, ancient archaeological remains, and even entire storied towns, you get a fascinating glimpse behind the stones and grass, and are treated to an engaging explanation of their historic and cultural significance woven with little-known historic tidbits, anecdotes, and legends. Even kids perk up with tales of gladiators and court intrigue when told with the panache of an experienced guide.

Selinunte(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

So, not a history buff? No worries! Head to the coast or mountain peaks, take in Pompeii or alpine battlefields with a guide, and you’re good to go.

I can't take the heat


Italy is hot in summer. There’s no getting around it, despite your best sartorial efforts. There may be a bit of respite on the alpine peaks in the north, but the cities, coastline, and Mediterranean countryside can be scorching from late June through August, and there is little escape in this air-conditioning-adverse country.

If you wither in the heat, Italy may not be the best summer destination for you...but that’s actually good news! By far the best seasons to visit the Bel Paese are spring and fall, not only to avoid the soaring temperatures but also the worst of the crowds and highest prices.

Colors of Ischia(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Consider a shoulder season holiday (May or September/October are our favorite months) rather than a trip during the height of summer, savoring the milder temperatures and long hours of daylight to take in sights and monuments, dine al fresco, and even spend a day at the beach or at sea on particularly warm days. If you’re a winter traveler, you can opt for a trip during the low season, with a few caveats. Stuck with vacation time that you can only take during July or August? With our tips and tricks, you can survive even the worst Italian heatwave.

I don’t like crowds


Ugh, the crowds. They can seem unrelenting in compact historic centers like Florence and Venice, and the “off-the-beaten-path” movement has meant that even the quiet residential corners of Rome have been infiltrated. If you can’t stand being packed shoulder-to-shoulder in churches and city streets, the Vatican and St. Mark’s square are not for you.

Are crowds inescapable in Italy? Of course not! The worst crowds are centered around the Big Three (Rome, Florence, and Venice), and destinations on major cruise routes (Salerno/Sorrento and nearby Amalfi Coast, Genoa/La Spezia and Cinque Terre, Venice and Venice)...branch out from those hot spots and you’d be surprised how easy it is to visit some of the most spectacular areas of Italy with crowds that are either manageable or non-existent.

otranto-cr-brian-dore(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Have your heart set on the major capitals and coastline? You can still enjoy a trip that avoids the worst of the crowds. Choosing a shoulder season is always a good idea, as is touring with a guide to explore the back streets and hidden jewels in the most popular destinations. Coastal headliners like the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre are best explored by water, so you can hop between the towns without having to take on the overtaxed roads and rail lines. And, of course, there’s the vast expanse of quieter regions like Umbria, Piedmont, or Puglia that are a welcome oasis for those looking to escape the tour bus hordes.

I’m not a fan of pasta and wine
Pasta and wine are undeniably two pillars of Italian cuisine, but there are endless choices for dining and imbibing in Italy without having to limit yourself to heaping plates of spaghetti and flowing bottles of red and white wine. Trying to keep the “pasta belly” reined in? Are more of a cocktail or beer drinker? Book your ticket, because Italy has you covered.

Much of the north of Italy is known more for its rice and polenta dishes than for its pasta, and local cheeses, cold cuts, and seasonal fruit and vegetables about across the country. The north and center of Italy are also known for their heirloom beef and pork; the south and along the coast for its excellent fish and seafood.

fish-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Though wine historically reins supreme in Italy, the last ten years have seen an explosion in quality micro brews, especially easy to find in Rome and the north. These outstanding artisan beers are worth seeking out even for oenophiles, and are found increasingly on restaurant menus as well as old-school bars and pubs. Like your drink shaken, not stirred? Cocktail culture has taken Italy by storm, and in addition to the Italian stand-bys, you can now find creative signature drinks and international classics at hipster-friendly aperitivo bars and cocktail lounges in any medium and large city.

Negroni(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Those Italian drivers!


Italian drivers have a bit of a reputation, and taking to the road in Italy gives pause to even the most seasoned travelers. The country’s casual attitude towards the rules of the road, unfamiliar signage, and traffic that can be both heavy and fast make renting a car in Italy a bit of a conundrum.

Arezzo(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

If you don’t feel comfortable driving in Italy, just avoid it all together. You can easily stick to the walkable medium and large cities for all or most of your trip, occasionally striking out with a private car service to experience the rural wineries, village hop, or take in the northern lakes or southern archaeological sites.

In addition, Italy’s Freccia high-speed trains are an excellent alternative to travel between the major cities, as they run non-stop, have guaranteed schedules, and comforts like wifi and lounges. To travel between smaller towns and villages, the best alternative is a private driver who is often also a fantastic source of local tips for dining, shopping, and touring.

I hate to plan vacations


If even the thought of trip planning stressed you out, contact us and we’ll make sure you have the Italy experience you’ve always wanted, hassle-free!

Still not convinced that Italy is the place for you? No problem...maybe Switzerland is where you should set your sights...

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