italianlanguage

5 Secrets on How To Experience a Trip of a Lifetime

By: Cassandra Santoro

Too often we put pressure on ourselves to have an experience like no other. You are convinced that fulfilling travel is being unique, different and the first to see it all!

How do you do this?

You don't--You do this instead:

"The point is not to do something nobody has ever done before, but to do something YOU have never done before." -#elizabethgilbert
Thousands of people have seen this view in sicily but my eyes capture it differently then everyone else

Thousands of people have seen this view in sicily but my eyes capture it differently then everyone else

1. Focus on One Region in Italy

Instead of trying to conquer every major town in the whole country, how about focusing on one region.
Ex: The Amalfi Coast is not just the beaches. Remember you can find history in  Pompeii & Herculaneum, Pizza and the famous Presepe during Christmas in Naples, wine tasting all throughout the region along with famous year-round festivals and shows. 
This is equivalent to visiting Tuscany, Rome and Cinque Terre all in one and without the hours of travel to get from place to place!

2. Hire a Travel Consultant

Yes, I am a travel planner and tour operator but I believe in what I do! I spent 10+ years of my life researching, traveling and meeting locals so I can create a mini-version of my experiences for you. Experts like me can also show you how to live the local way of life even in the biggest tourist towns of Italy.
Getting lost and wandering is fun but this is a great way to maximize your time and see it all while still having to RELAX on your vacation.

Some locals we are proud to introduce to our clients (yes the goat is a local too):

3. Try a Meaningful or Fulfilling Day Trip // Do Something that Scares You!

Get on vespa, learn to sail, help out in a nearby community or finally order that anchovy dish--try something that will make you feel exhilarated! Putting meaning and a goal behind your trip will bring your vacation to another level. You do not have to be an adventurist to take a small steps past your comfort zone. It can be as simple as speaking the language with a local, Try it.

For the theory behind this check out Matt Cutt's TED TALK for inspiration.

4. Journaling

Everyone says they will do it but how many times have you actually sat down and wrote your exact feelings at the end of a day during your travels. To be able to return to that moment well after the vacation is over is another way to savor your travel memories forever. So write, photograph or keep notes of the adventures with the new app Stiya

thanks to journaling i can always remember this tuscan dinner  and then recreate for clients

thanks to journaling i can always remember this tuscan dinner  and then recreate for clients

5. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to see it all // Be Flexible

In Italy there is a concept called 'kilometer zero' or what we call here: slow-travel. Take the time to deeply experience each and every place you go. If you can't make it to a museum because you spent an extra 2 hours at that organic farm enjoying lunch then so be it! You can always go back or switch your your day around.
Stressing out about this also puts a damper on your energy so pinpoint your three most important highlights of the trip and make sure you do that! If you can not get to the rest don't worry, if it is that important you will return again soon!

Helping out in a Sicilian Salt Marsh for the day!

Helping out in a Sicilian Salt Marsh for the day!


What advice do you have for experiencing a trip of a lifetime? I would love to hear more in the comments below:

Want to create a memorable trip to Italy? Start planning with our travel experts today



WHAT IS LIKE TO BE AN ITALIAN FOODIE

WHAT IS LIKE TO BE AN ITALIAN FOODIE

Inside the Life of A Local Roman Foodie!

 

Ever wonder what it's like to live life an Italian? TIS team member Giorgio Nardini gives us a true inside look on what it is like to be a local Roman foodie!

How to Be Italian: The Truth Behind the Truth

 

Yes I am a Sicilian-American with a dual-citizenship but becoming a TRUE Italian has been my life long mission.

Well now after spending 10 years living between Florence and NY, enjoying holidays with friends from Avellino, working for tour companies and then running my own and even almost marrying a man from Naples, I can call myself an expert on the subject. 

 With this kind of background, I thought it would be best to share  with you a few pointers, so you too can feel completely immersed upon arrival!

PHOTO COURTESY OF HARPERSBAZZAR 

PHOTO COURTESY OF HARPERSBAZZAR 

1.     Ciao Yoga Pants & Flip Flops

Ok, this is a harsh way to start but if you REALLY want to fit in during your first visit to Italia the first thing you need to do is ditch those stretchy pants and throw on something 'casual chic ' all the time. This mean even when grabbing that first espresso of the day.

It is not like the barista will ignore your request for a cafe  because of your outfit but Italian's do not think it is as cool as we do to grab a coffee all decked out in our sweaty Nike gear (although they do love Nike but just not in this case).

Oh and as for the flip-flops leave them for the beach or shower.....

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE (IT'S NOT SPAGHETTI BUT IT IS PASTA CON SARDE IN SICILY..YUM)!

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE (IT'S NOT SPAGHETTI BUT IT IS PASTA CON SARDE IN SICILY..YUM)!

2.     Learn to Roll your Spaghetti

My almost mother-in-law was the sweetest and most amazing woman I ever met but hey when she learned I was an Italian-American who couldn’t roll my spaghetti…WOOO she had to rethink if I should marry her son.

Rolling your pasta is an art so if you can’t do it just ask for a spoon or check out this YouTube Clip to learn for yourself

PHOTO COURTESY OF EMAZE.COM

PHOTO COURTESY OF EMAZE.COM

 

3.     Kiss Everyone Hello

Ok, you probably know this one already. Seriously people warm up to you pretty quickly in Italy if you do it right (just yesterday at the NY Times Travel Show I mentioned my family was from Sicily and I was getting kisses from all the Italians).

More Tips: Basic hello's are two brushes/kisses on the cheek. However, the further north you go (think Lake Como area) the more likely you will be expected to kiss on the cheek three times! Anywhere else just do the two kiss thing.

Don’t freak out as to which cheek to brush/kiss first as it will come naturally.

TIP: The REAL trick is not to actually kiss the cheek but to gently put your cheek to theirs see photo above. However, it seems we all go right in for the kiss most of the time so don't sweat it either way!

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE

4. Food and Coffee is Not always Served Steaming Hot

Don’t be surprised if your cappuccino is not steaming like the one you get from Starbucks. Italians do not like to burn their tongue during any point of their meal. So if your milk is lukewarm then this is most likely the case.

QUICK TIPS: Afraid your cafe is too hot? Ask for a bicchiere d'aqua (a glass of water) prior to your coffee. Not only can you cleanse your palate to prepare for the cafe--it will also give it a minute to cool down!

PS: Never ask for the water after 'taking your coffee' as this is an insult to the taste of the cafe. Italians like the cafe to linger in their mouth long after they leave the bar!

BONUS: How to enjoy steamy hot Risotto
Eating a Meal such as a yummy bowl of Risotto that is too hot to enjoy? Ask for a plate. Yep you heard right, either you can: 
A. Scoop a small amount of rice on the plate which allows it too cool quicker
B. Simply take the  back of your spoon to flatten out the rice. Sounds crazy but just give it a try!

PHOTO TAKEN DURING A TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE TOUR WHERE WE ENJOYED AN AUTHENTIC MEAL IN AN ITALIAN HOME IN NAPLES!!

PHOTO TAKEN DURING A TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE TOUR WHERE WE ENJOYED AN AUTHENTIC MEAL IN AN ITALIAN HOME IN NAPLES!!

5. Be Sure to Pour Wine or Water for Your Neighbor

 One thing I learned early in my childhood was if you are going to pour something for yourself be sure you ask the fabulous person sitting next to you if they would like some as well.

No joke, this was taught to me at the same time as my dad was teaching me about opening the car door from the inside of the car after a man opens it for you on the outside of the car. Ok this is more of an Italian –American thing but come on guys you know you all know the Bronx Tale Car Door Test!

 Be polite and show your appreciation for your food/company and it will be all good!

 

5. Dress Italian Style (literally)

See Italians seem like they are 'dressed to the nines' all the time but that is not always the case. They are just smart about it and you should be too (if you are traveling through the country for two weeks how feasible is it to shop and bring all 20 pairs of shoes from home for everyday of the vacation??).

 So here is the trick, don’t stress about wearing the same shirt over and over again just throw on some layers! A nice jacket, a scarf and hell, guys you can even throw on a tie! Accessorize but do not overdo it--keep it classy and simple.

MY SICILIAN GRANDPARENTS. UNTIL THE DAY MY NONNO PASSED HE WAS SEEN IN A SUIT.

MY SICILIAN GRANDPARENTS. UNTIL THE DAY MY NONNO PASSED HE WAS SEEN IN A SUIT.

 

If you are into the name brands some highlights in Italy (although there are so many) are: Monclear Jackets (especially up north where you need those warm jackets). Anything Salvatore Ferragamo (because he is Florence) and if you really want to go all out and Don Corlelone style try Borsalino hats from Naples!

 

PS: Join one of the Travel Italian Style shopping tours for insider info or ask about our partner's yoga and shopping weekends! 

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE DURING OUR PRIVATE COOKING CLASS ON A BOAT IN PALERMO!

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAVEL ITALIAN STYLE DURING OUR PRIVATE COOKING CLASS ON A BOAT IN PALERMO!

6. Don’t Expect a Meal at 5pm

 So most of us here in North America are into a daily routine of eating right after work. Well Italians do the same except they:

A. Have a workday that often ends at 7pm (because they take a longer lunch)

B. Just simply like to enjoy an aperitivo to start the digestion process before eating a meal.

 Therefore, keep this in mind when making reservation at a local restaurant. To keep it real cities such as Rome and Florence will mostly likely accommodate your early dinner request.However, keep in mind the further south you go or the smaller the town you are more likely to catch a meal around these hours:

 Lunch 11:30ish to 2:30ish (depending what they have scheduled for the day)

Dinner: 7:30ish to about 11:30ish and in Sicily maybe even 8:30-Midnight or 1am!

PHOTO COURTESY OF NEWSTALK.COM

PHOTO COURTESY OF NEWSTALK.COM

7. Learn some Hand Gestures & Basic Phrases

This is the best part of learning the Italian culture and language! If you missed my past post on this, check it out! It’s a great guide to getting started!

Don't feel the desire or have the time to learn some hand gestures? Just learn the basics of the language. 

Buongiorno (Good Morning until about 12:30pm) 

Grazie Mille (thanks a million)

Ciao/Arriverdici (bye, good bye).

 

Italians are the most interesting, fabulous and warm-hearted people you will ever know. Especially once you respect and open up to their culture!

No matter what, they will welcome you with open arms. However, use these  few tips & I guarantee you will not only feel Italian during your visit, you may even be invited back to their home to stay when you return ;)

Ci Vediamo in Italia!

 

 

Love traveling Italy and learning to be a local? Join us on one of our upcoming Tours. Whether we are traveling through the Amalfi Coast, Sicily, Puglia or Tuscany we are traveling with guides born and raised in these towns who are constantly teaching us about the culture.

An amazing once in a lifetime experience you will not want to miss!

Have any comments, questions or thoughts? Comment below. 

Disclaimer: This is from the opinion of an Italian-American who spent many years immersed in the culture, any questions  be sure to ask as we do have the fantastic Giorgio from Rome on the team that I am sure will be happy to answer any questions from the true Italian perspective. ;)

 

 

Meet Cassandra

As a Sicilian-American, Italian Travel Expert Cassandra Santoro’s attachment to Italy started early. After her father’s untimely passing from cancer, she moved to Florence and found the true meaning of La Dolce Vita. Since living and working abroad, she has led countless tours, obtained her dual-citizenship and started her company, Travel Italian Style. Cassandra is known to create handcrafted tours and customized vacations for those who are passionate about their Italian heritage, dreaming of traveling Italy like a local, or looking to find themselves through travel.