Avoid Crowds in Italy
Italy is America’s favorite travel destination. With Americans having the shortest vacation time in the Western world, it’s important to make the most of your time and money while on the road. If you can avoid Italy during the peak summer months, you will minimize the oppresive heat and crowds. My favorite times to visit are either in the Spring or Fall. If you can only travel during the peak summer months, why not travel smart? I suggest the following time and money saving tips during any trip to Italy
Avoid crowds, long lines and save time by making reservations to key sights. For some sights like Da Vinci’s Last Supper (Milan) or the incredible Borghese Gallery, reservations are compulsory. While the Uffizzi Gallery & Academia (Michealangelo’s David) do not require reservations, I strongly advise reservations (and well in advance). These top museums and must-see sights can easily be booked online or by phone. I wouldn’t visit either without a reservation. Reservations make sightseeing much more time efficient and less complicated. While reserving online may be easier, often reserving by phone will give you a wider option of availability.
Book a tour/Hire a Guide/Small Group Tour
Hiring a recommended guide or booking a local tour can have its time saving perks. The Vatican Museums have a special entrance for guided or small group tours. Often officially sanctioned tour guides and small groups have pre-selected entrance times similar to a reservation. Specialty tours, like the Pope’s Private Gardens or the Scavi Tours, provide speedy access and a unique perspective on the must-see sights.
Get a City Pass
Roma Pass: This handy pass is valid for free entry into 2 state-run museums or archaeological sights. It includes 2 days free use of the city’s public transport (Bus & Metro). Allows pass holders to enter the Coliseum through a reserved turnstile (a huge time-saver). The Combo Colisseum ticket counts as 1 sight and includes the Coliseum, The Palatine & Roman Forum (Price €12). Price of Pass: €30. Available at the airport, Termini train station and several subway ticket offices including the Spagna stop near the Spanish Steps.
Florence Card: Admission to the major museums, villas, churches and historical gardens in Florence. This means priority access with no reservation requirements. Valid for 72 hours. Also provides free public transport on city buses & trams. Pricey at €72
Know the Ropes and Go Local
Save time by investing in a centrally located hotel. For example, about 25 million people visit Venice every year, 6.4 million actually spend at least one night in or around Venice and only 60,000 Italians call Venice home. Avoid the hordes of daytrippers and cruisers by going local. Go to St. Mark’s Basilica for 9am mass instead of waiting in line for the Basilica to open at 9:45am. Stay on the main island, walk the small back side-streets and wait until the tourists go back on their ships. You will have different less crowded city. Also, eat like a local. Sit down for a coffee, enjoy the various cichetti bars or apperativo options throughout Italy. This will help assimilate your eating time schedule to the locals and will help avoid overcrowded restaurants.