How NOT to travel to Italy

I’m not saying that I have personal experience with any of these things… but here are some pointers on what to avoid if you happen to go to Italy. Not that I would ever make any of these rookie travel mistakes, mind you.

Do NOT be seduced by a $60 round-trip flight from Frankfurt-Hahn to Milan-Bergamo. You’ll spend $90 in bus fare and add 6 hours of travel to a 1-hour flight.

Definitely do NOT choose the return flight that gets in at 11:25 PM, when the next bus into Frankfurt city center isn’t until 5:15 AM the next morning. This may, depending on your tolerance for overnight airport stays, necessitate a one-night booking at the airport hotel even though you’ve already paid for a hotel in the city center, which you booked before checking flight and bus times.

If you see a great deal to rent a car for a week for $120, do not expect to pay less than $500 total after gas, insurance, GPS rental, and adding a second driver since your primary driver’s credit card stopped working after successfully paying the deposit.

If the car rental agent, when asked about parking regulations, laughs and says “You can park anywhere – this is Italy” – DO NOT BELIEVE HER.

When you see a long line of cars parked by a guardrail bordering olive groves just outside San Gimignano, DO NOT assume you can park there too. Every single car in that line is going to get ticketed, yours included.

I present you... an Italian parking ticket.

An Italian parking ticket – just what I wanted as a souvenir.

Do NOT enter a toll highway if you don’t have enough cash on you (or else, a functioning credit or debit card) – because none of the half-dozen rest stops you stop at between Milan and Florence will have ATMs.

Do NOT press “Latte” on a coffee vending machine. That just means “milk” in Italian, so you will get hot sweetened milk (and no coffee). Especially do not do this when you’re on your last 50 cents and craving caffeine.

Do NOT believe your AirBNB in Riomaggiore when it lists “washing machine” as one of the amenities, because there is a big sign on the machine that says “Not for use by guests. Grazie.” Definitely do not bring only dirty clothes to Riomaggiore, expecting to be able to wash them there.

Your only other laundry option in Riomaggiore (population: 1700) will be a self-service laundromat that is apparently only staffed by a stray cat. Do NOT use washer #1 there, it will eat your money, wet your clothes, and then break down.

After transferring your dripping clothes to another washer and paying another 3.50 Euros, do NOT attempt to use the change machine in the laundromat – it is broken as well. Ditto for the dryers. Just haul your wet clothes back to your room and hang them everywhere in hopes they will dry by the A.M.

With that said… 

None of the above ruined our trip. So, here are some things that you SHOULD do in Italy!

(Click the pictures for a closer look)