The official Italian Travel Website is a great place to get started. Do your homework and get all the information on the region and cities you plan to visit. Leave some wiggle room so you can discover new cities and have time to explore them. If you are going to drive, get a AAA international drivers license. It does NOT replace your American drivers license but explains things about it in different languages. If you are stopped you will need both. Driving is ease. They drive on the same side of the street as we do. Traffic signs are either the same or similar. We are starting to use more of the international driving signs here in the US. Autostradas are fast and Italians don’t always keep in their lanes. The left lane has the highest speed limit, the center the next highest and the right is for slower moving vehicles.
When you have the regions and main towns you want to see, look on a google map and see what other towns are near by. Look them up and see what they have to offer. You might just find a gem. We use our iPhone maps to get around and a European Tom Tom app for GPS directions. WE once stood on a hill-top and saw a city across the valley up on a higher mountain. We looked at our map, saw where we were and determined the name of the other city. We then placed it into the Tom Tom app and got driving directions to get there. We do this a lot to find interesting small towns. They are off the beaten track, have few or no tourists and have small winding roads that would not allow tour busses access.
Food & wine are a gifts from the Italians to all visitors. Seek out local small trattorias and try local dishes and the local wines (usually come in 1/2 liter and full litter carats – not bottles). Food prepared well TAKES TIME! Do not be in a rush for lunch or dinner. Enjoy the people around you. If you are dinning al fresco, enjoy the people passing by. As you food is served, eat slowly and enjoy the flavors. Sip some wine and enjoy who you are with. Romance doesn’t get any better. If you are in large cities like Rome, seek out trattorias off the tourist paths. These will tend to be cheaper, have better food and have less tourists. Remember for dessert there is always a gealateria near by. Gelato is so much better than ice cream.
If you discover any great small towns or great trattorias let us know.
George & Jo Anne