McKinney Gypsy Caravan

One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Italy Wrap Up- Things I Wish I Knew

First of all, thanks to everyone who reads my blog posts and follows along with our travels for giving me a platform to spew a little nerdy history and share our experiences as we get started travelling around the world. (I have big plans! Haha)

I love doing the blog for a lot of reasons; it’s great for close family to get updates while we are gone, it keeps me from answering the question “So what all did you do??” a thousand times when we get back, I hope that other people get an in-depth look at a part of the world they’ve never seen because travel abroad isn’t an option for everyone and we are just really lucky to have the opportunity, time and resources to plan a few trips here and there. But mostly, I started the blog in the hopes of capturing the details of our trips for the future and because writing these posts makes me learn more about where I’m going and what I’m seeing, knowing that I have to explain it to 40+ people tonight makes me actually learn a little more about the details of things. πŸ™‚

I thought a good post to end each trip might be any good info you may need should you plan your own trip to wherever it is we just travelled. I tried to take a few notes along the way to remember all the annoying or quirky (or great) things we discovered. Your experiences may be different for anyone that’s travelled to Italy, so feel free to leave them in the comments!

Flights: They will feed and drink you to death on Delta! Lol In a 9 hour flight we had 3 full drink services, 3 water services and a coffee/tea/water service. A full hot meal, a snack sandwich, a snack box and pretzels and peanuts. So basically don’t feel like you’ll have to buy a bunch of food at the airport to keep from starving on your flight. 

Also of interest, the flight there was 9 hours, but 11 and a half coming home because of going against the jet stream. 

Also, international flights usually allow you a free checked bag unlike domestic flights.

Rental Car: When you rent a car in Italy, you are required to pick up the Collision Damage Waiver insurance. This can increase your quoted rental car price by like $15 a day. If you have a credit card with some travel perks, you may check and see if they provide rental car coverage in Italy. I had to get a letter stating that I specifically had CDW coverage in Italy from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

I would also rent the smallest car you can get away with. Parking is so hard.

Lastly, by default every rental car with be a manual. If you want an automatic you will have to pay for it and specifically search and ensure you select an automatic in your reservation.

The Rental car company we used has an “unlimited” wifi device that they are pushing. There’s no such thing in Italy. They allow 1GB of data a day on all the major carriers.

Speaking the Language: If you stay in Rome, you’ll have no problem with people speaking English. Florence was good, too- but outside of those areas, it was definitely hit or miss.

If you’ve never used Duolingo, it’s like a free version of Rosetta Stone you can get on your tablet or phone. I loved it and learned a lot of basic Italian that way.

At a minimum, learn 6 Italian words and be comfortable saying them.

Hello -Ciao! (Chow)

Thank you -Grazie! (Grot-zee)

Please -Per favore (per fa-vor-ay)

You’re welcome -Prego (and they will say Prego before you say Grazie…haha totally a cultural thing)

Excuse Me -Scusi (skoozee)

Good morning – Buongiorno (Bon jorno)

Good evening -Buona Sera (bwayna Sarah) said when you greet someone after sunset

Good night -Buona Notte (bwayna note-tay) – said as a way of politely ending your evening, like leaving to turn in for the night

Plus #s 1 through 5 will be useful

Uno, Due, Tre, Quattro, Cinque

Speed limits: All of their highways are speed controlled with radar cameras in little boxes. But no one follows the speed limit- at all- so I may or may not get speeding tickets in the mail. Lol

ZTLsZona a Traffico Limitato

Every major city and city center has a ZTL which basically means no unauthorized cars allowed. When you cross the ZTL lines, a camera records it and automatically issues a ticket if an update doesn’t hit their database from some parking lot, etc inside the ZTL that authorized you to be there. Google Maps does not respect the ZTLs and it will guide you straight through the Center of pedestrian streets and thousand year old bridges. Not that I’d know by experience… πŸ™‚

Milk– Italians don’t drink milk, so unless you get some steamed milk for coffee, it will be hard to find. We had to go to the grocery store and buy a box of shelf-stable milk a couple times because no place sells it along the highway, at a restaurant, etc.

Protein/Breakfast – Italian breakfast is basically some juice and a small pastry or croissant with a shot of espresso. But not like a flaky French croissant, like a doughy version coated in a sugary sweet glaze. 

Water pressure– it is now my deduction that water pressure in all of Europe is terrible. Expect at maximum the feel of a garden hose held over your head…and more than likely, a watering can for plants. We did stay one place in the middle of nowhere on a well that must have had a pump because that was the best shower so had in years. Haha 

Heat/AC- there is no such thing as central air in Europe either, it appears. There are radiators for heat and fans, window or wall units for AC. All in all, it’s not bad because most places are small enough but it’s a definite change compared to our “set the thermostat and forget it” normal.

Washer/dryer– again, pretty sure a good washer and dryer doesn’t exist in Europe. Most places will have a washing machine but they line dry. Or the worst- a combo washing machine/dryer all in one machine that does neither one well. Two vacations in a row I’ve had to leave with soaking wet clothes because the dryer doesn’t actually dry like it should. 

Driving is free for all– basically everywhere but the worst around Naples. Angry and aggressive drivers everywhere… Like I said in the blog- Naples didn’t even bother turning on their stop lights…so that should give you some insight. That being said, I didn’t see a single wreck the entire trip so I will say that obviously they are less distracted and less terrible drivers than we are in the US. 

Skip the line tickets– don’t listen to me if you are travelling in Summer, because my only experience is off-season…but I did not need advance tickets to anything our entire trip. In fact, I caused myself more grief trying to pick up advance tickets that I paid a lot more for than if we would have just walked in. Especially in the Vatican. But also around Rome and Florence. So, take it for what it’s worth. I was scared that we would waste precious vacation hours waiting in line to get in to museums but there wasn’t a line for anything. 

So all in all we had a fantastic trip… It was amazing to see the history and the museums and the ruins, experience a new culture and eat some great Italian food….but I think we were both ready to return to the US for a lot of our conveniences here. So, basically- if you have the opportunity- GO! But if you don’t…don’t feel like you’re missing a life changing experience. πŸ™‚

Travel, to me is like tattoos to most people…once they get one, they need to keep getting more. So I’ve already purchased tickets for September for what may be our next adventure: Sweden!

I have a friend, Marie, from high school that was an exchange student in Indiana that lives outside of Stockholm and I am way overdue for going to visit her and her lovely family and see their beautiful country house πŸ™‚ so we are going to remedy that!

(Hey, Norwegian Air had round trip tickets for $400 a person on Cyber Monday-I couldn’t pass it up. Don’t judge me.)

We may still find the time off to do an early summer trip, but as of now my May and June is up in the air…

Thanks for following along with our gypsy caravan. I wish I could make a career out of travelling and blogging- wouldn’t that be way to earn a living! I’ll update soon when there’s another trip on the horizon.

Erin

2 Comments

  1. I could see you figuring out a way to make a living blogging about travels, you have the know-how and the gumption! May I suggest you re-title the blog ‘Gypsy Caravan’ – your comment made me think that has a much more appropriate ring to it – and you do travel around the States quite a bit so you could blog about those adventures as well – some of us don’t get out of our own States very often ya know? LOL. I’ve enjoyed all the history and travel lessons – looking forward to more!

    • Funny you should say that πŸ˜‰
      A couple people informed me that the blog name has an ..ahem.. an alternative meaning in their brains. I never thought about it because I had my mind on Mark Twain. Haha
      So… I have purchased http://www.GypsyMcKaravan.com and will be converting everything over soon πŸ™‚

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