Caddle Recommends: Italy
Whether you’re enjoying a view of the sunrise above a Tuscan hillside from your luxury villa, savouring the fresh vegetables you picked at the local market or discovering the Mediterranean waters along the Amalfi coast, Italy is an enchanting destination you won’t want to pass up.
It’s no wonder the country is the fifth most popular international tourism destination, with 58.3 million international tourist arrivals in 2017, according to UNWTO. Dotted with world-famous cities, famous cultural hotspots and about 100,000 historical monuments, Italy continues to attract everyone from wide-eyed nomads to experienced globetrotters.
If you’re looking to travel to Italy on a budget, you’re in luck – we’ve put together some tips based on our personal experiences visiting this world-renowned destination.
Keep an eye out for savings while booking online, exploring the Italian coast or sitting down to a scrumptious meal at a restaurant in town. It’s possible to save cash while immersing yourself in everything this country has to offer. Options include strolling through the historic city centre of Naples and exploring ancient cathedrals to marvelling over Renaissance art.
Travel in groups
Mick found traveling in a group and visiting the local market for food offers an authentic Italian experience and saves everyone cash.
“You can get outrageous deals on Airbnb for luxury villas in scenic areas. I love this experience – going to the local markets, preparing local food right in your villa – it’s a huge cost savings, and the only way to truly experience Italy, in my opinion,” he said, adding that keeping your phrasebook with you can come in handy at most grocery stores on the Amalfi coast, where a fruit and veg attendee will pick the produce for you.
Book excursions in advance
After you’ve enjoyed a delicious home-cooked lunch, it’s time for some adventure! Here’s where planning ahead can save you considerable cash.
“Book any excursions (in advance) online, as you can find sales or discounts if (you purchase them earlier), and it may be worth it to pay a little extra to bypass the massive lines at certain iconic areas,” says Ajay.
Tip: Don’t pass up an opportunity to explore iconic sights like the Leaning Tower of Pizza, the Sistine Chapel, Coloseum, Amalfi Coast and Herculaneum.
“Look out for the City Pass – most include many restaurant discounts, free transport and discounts to many top sites in the city. Always worth the price!”
As for where to venture first, Ajay recommends Venice, Rome, Milan and Florence.
“I tell everyone, one day I want to retire in Venice (a long time from now) because of how simple life feels by the water, but I would highlight the city pass used in Rome – which included the Skip-the-line for the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, which was jaw-droppingly beautiful. The most iconic area I visited would have to be the Colosseum, just envisioning the gladiator battles and the different time and way of life people used to live. Needless to say, it was a trip of a lifetime with some close friends.”
Looking to explore the picturesque Amalfi coast? Take a boat tour. Although traveling by road can be difficult on the Italian coast, hopping on a boat and visiting a few ports is an excellent way to see multiple towns in one day.
If traveling on four wheels is more your speed, rent a car with front and side sensors – worth the extra cost.
“The roads on the Italian coast are extremely narrow, so to keep your car safe, it’s worth having the best available collision prevention technology in your rental vehicle,” says Mick.
Tip: Italy’s currency is the Euro. But skip currency conversion desks and head to an ATM to save money.
Save on transit
Another option: the hop-on hop-off double-decker bus tours.
“They’re basically taxis (that take you) around the entire city (and) drop you off at the biggest destinations, and they’re a great way to see the whole city on a budget,” says Ransom, who also swears by train or public transit whenever practical.
Costs to travel in Italy
Here’s what you should budget for major expenses while in Italy:
Accommodations: $70 to $400 (CDN)/night depending on location and amenities (Airbnb)
Transportation: See Rail Europe for destinations, times and ticket prices
Meals: Budget in the range of $70 daily for lunch and dinner. The food is amazing and you will want to eat.
- When greeting friends and family, kiss both cheeks, starting with the left
- Expect Italians to arrive 15 to 30 minutes late for dinners and parties
- Italians appreciate openness and sincerity. Maintain eye contact when speaking to someone
Visit local eateries
Ajay also suggests going to restaurants off the beaten path.
“The ones on the main strips are typically way more expensive – they have to pay through the nose to be there – and the quality of the food is typically lower,” he explains, adding downloading the latest travel food app can help you hunt down the best places to eat that blend quality and value. Choose from a wide variety of dishes, from traditional pizza to pasta dishes like…, and local wines and cuisines.
“Milan was where I had the best Pizza in Italy (in the shape of a star), each star tip had a different flavour of crusted pizza,” says Ajay. “I can’t begin to describe the food I tasted in Italy. We’ll just say pasta or gelato has never tasted the same since I’ve returned to Canada.”
Tip: It’s customary to tip your tour guide €10 per day, but don’t worry about tipping other service people such as wait staff, bartenders, taxi drivers or baggage handlers.
You can explore Italy on a modest budget and enjoy the country’s vibrant culture, historical attractions, and the spectacular Amalfi coast. If you plan ahead, look for deals and ensure you are willing to forgo expensive tourist restaurants for more local favourites.
Is this your first trip you are planning? Returning to a favourite destination? What are your best tips when it comes to saving for vacations? We’d love to hear what you’ve planned, or any tips we missed! Share your story in the comments and tell us what destinations are on your wish list. Our team love saving for holidays and we hope to inspire our members with exciting suggestions to spend your Caddle money.