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Excited to Announce New Partnerships with Eating Europe, Get Your Guide

30 March 2024

New Partnerships with Eating Europe, Get Your Guide

Excited to Team Up with a Couple of My Favorite European Travel & Tour Companies

l have to briefly interject, press pause on the recent string of information-focused blog posts. The blog’s recent trend of informative content has been a conscious effort, providing me a long-form, written avenue to answer some of the most consistently asked questions I get online. You’ll see more of those types of posts in the future, but I’ve also got a couple fun ones upcoming too. This post, however, is probably neither–I’m just too excited to not highlight these collaborations/partnerships in some way!

Eating Europe, specializing in food tours, and Get Your Guide, sort of an all-encompassing tour guide website, are now official partners of Kacie Rose Travel. 

I’ve gone on more tours than I could ever count, all throughout Europe, especially in Italy. I’ve gotten to know some amazing people, seen some unique startups thrive firsthand too. That can make it hard sometimes to categorize someone, or some company, as “best”, “most trusted”, etc etc., because at the end of the day these are all individuals doing something they are passionate about–which I can totally relate to and respect.

Thus, when I say that I mean no disrespect to similar companies and services, you know its from the heart. 

The fact is that for a while now Eating Europe and Get Your Guide have been the two companies I recommend the most in consultations and online. So its only fitting that they are two of the companies that have a presence on this blog. 

The Companies

Get Your Guide offers you thousands of custom tours & activities, with the convenience & flexibility of a mobile app

Powered by GetYourGuide

I’ve gone on a number of tours booked through Get Your Guide and I haven’t been disappointed once. Of course, that’s what good tours, and good tour guides, provide. What sets them apart, at least to me, is for a company as vast as they are–seriously, they cover virtually the entire planet–they still have that “small business” level of customer service and response.

The functionality of their website and app is second to none, and their flexibility with bookings and cancellations is truly people-first. 

You have to check the site out for yourself, there’s no way I could even begin to cover the various activities and tours they offer. Feels like the first time I purchased a book online, on some new-kid-on-the-block website called Amazon haha.

Eating Europe (use code “kacie”) — Food Tours & Immersive Culinary Experiences

Eating Europe Code

If you haven’t read some of the previous “Street Food” blogs, you can check out ones covering Florence and Naples when you have the time. I maintain then and always that there is no better way to experience a culture than doing a street food tour. Honestly.

Eating Europe is in pretty much every major city throughout Europe. Not just “street food”, they offer a variety of tours, and they set themselves apart by the feeling of immersion they provide–it’s like a hands-on home economics classroom, with culinary geniuses and top chefs leading the way.

Still advertisement-free

You will periodically see small shout-outs to the various partners in blog posts. These are not “paid for” sponsorships or advertisements–this blog remains ad-free, and I hope it always will be. Rather these shout-outs (for lack of a better term) are also my personal recommendations, based on my experiences. I’ll never suggest, highlight, reference or otherwise promote a company or service that I haven’t used. 

In some instances, like my Amazon Storefront, I do receive a small percentage of sales from any clicks. That’s not earth shattering news, as its become pretty standard nowadays–and its the least intrusive way to keep blogs affordable to operate. 

But unlike some of those sites, you will never have to question what you see. If it’s on this website…it’s because I trust it.

So….Eating Europe & Get Your Guide, welcome aboard! 

@kacierose4 @Eating Europe yall set the bar HIGH with this one 😂 they do food tours all across Europe (including italy!) – link in my bio for 5% off! 🤍 #london #boroughmarket #londoneats #traveltok ♬ I'm Feeling Lucky (Instrumental) – Ellen Once Again

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A Guide to Spending & Currency in Italy (+Europe)

10 March 2024

A Guide to Spending in Italy: Currency Options & More

A Few Helpful Tips as You Prepare to Visit Europe & Italy

While preparing to visit Italy, and for that matter anywhere across Europe, a common question many Americans have has to do with money.

Or more specifically, currency, and how (and when, where) they can exchange some of their cash for another kind–like Euros. It’s related to what I think is a common fear, especially among those leaving the U.S. for the 1st time: being caught in the unenviable position of being in a foreign place without a way to pay for anything. It sounds like a scenario recreated in the opening scenes of a horror flick, lets be honest.

And although the adoption of the Euro has made travel across the various countries of Europe infinitely easier, when it comes to money there is no shortage of caveats, unique situations and cautious tales. Whether a first timer or a veteran of traveling abroad, there are several important things that Americans should know before their next trip across the Atlantic.

While I don’t have a “new American girl in Italy” nightmare to share–or one that wouldn’t bore you to death, at least–I certainly have learned a few things since moving here. And I’ve definitely picked up a few tricks & tips these past couple years. 

Let’s get to it, shall we?

This blog is broken down into three simple sections:

1) A guide to what currencies (and credit cards) are accepted throughout Italy & Europe

2) A review of how to best utilize exchange rates and where/when/how to make a currency exchange

and, of course…

3) Several tips & tricks, anecdotes, and nuggets of information covering everything “money”— from why you should avoid spending US Dollars even in places that advertise their acceptance, to why Travelers Checks that generations of people grew up with are no longer necessary…and actually can be more inconvenience than not.

So let’s get to it.

But before that…I leave you with a clip from an underrated comedy treasure.

Spending Money in Italy & Europe

Peaking inside your wallet to see what will be accepted, and what won’t be

  • Cash is King in Italy! Italy is pretty well known to be a cash-based society, even in comparison to close European neighbors. The biggest reason for this is that Italy is dominated by small villages and towns, and many of the most tourist-friendly places have economies built around independently owned shops, eateries, street vendors and more. 

    Like the rest of the modern world, the usage & acceptance of Credit & Debit Cards and “Alternative” Payment Apps is increasing rapidly. While many places might accept your card, just be prepared–have cash on you, or a way to get cash, at all times.

  • Credit Cards: Visa and Mastercard are the big two. If a place/store takes credit card payments it is virtually guaranteed these two are accepted. 

    American Express and Discover, however, are a different story. Discover, in fact, wasn’t accepted anywhere in Italy as recently as a decade ago. Major hotel chains and such, especially in cities like Rome, might take it, but it’s not a given. And it’s incredibly rare you will find many places in smaller resort towns and the various vineyards. 

    It’s similar with American Express, but not quite as drastic. If you broke it down by percent, of the places that accept card transactions, 99.6% (or more) take Visa/MC, between 45% and 55% accept AMEX, and 10-15% Discover. And for the few people that still have Diner’s Club cards…I swear, someone asked me that recently… those are now owned and operated under Discover (and only work through Discover card systems).

  • You can forget about most of the American payment “apps”, things like CashApp, Venmo, etc. PayPal has 91% of the market share in Italy as far as “online” banking/payments, but it is almost exclusively used for peer-to-peer payments. It’s just incredibly rare to find businesses that accept these types of things. Further than that, CashApp, for example, won’t even work for you in Italy (there’s reasons why you have to “share” your location when you download!)
  • One result of COVID-19 was the rapid growth of contactless payment, and the number of places that accept it. In major tourist hotspots like Rome and Milan a good number of places now have the capability, which also means that things like GooglePay and ApplePay are often accepted (provided they’re being funded via Visa/Mastercard, of course)
  • While some tour companies will accept US dollars in some cases, it’s very rare, and you shouldn’t assume you can use US dollars anywhere in Italy. Like much of Europe, Italy uses the Euro, represented with the € sign. Paper currency comes in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100€. Similar to the dollar, fractions of a Euro are called cents. Coins can be found in in 0.01, 0.02, 0.05, 0.10, 0.20 and 0.50 cent denominations, along with 1€ and 2€. And in contrast to the US$, 1€ and 2€ denominations are in Coin only

The “Common” side of Euro Coins–
Regardless of  issuing country this side is always the same

  • Sample 1 Cent Euro Coin


  • Sample 2 Cent Euro Coin


  • Sample 5 Cent Euro Coin


  • Sample 10 Cent Euro Coin


  • Sample 20 Cents Euro Coin


  • Sample 50 Cents Euro Coin


  • Sample 1 Euro Coin


  • Sample 2 Euro Coin


A few examples of Euro Coins issued in Italy
(Pictured: 1 Cent, 2 Cent, 1 and 2 Euro)

  • Sample, Italy Issued 1 Cent Euro Coin

    Italy 1 Cent Euro

  • Italy 2 Cent Euro Coin Sample

    Italy 2 Cent Euro

  • Italy Issued 1 Euro Coin Sample

    Italy 1 Euro Coin

  • Italy Issued 2 Euro Coin Sample

    Italy 2 Euro Coin

Examples of paper/bill Euro Denominations

  • Sample-Five Euro

  • Sample-Euro 10

  • euro20

  • euro50

  • euro100

Exchanging Your Dollars and
Having It Make Sense

Avoid Wasting Money with These Tips

Exchanging your US Dollars for foreign currency is simple in theory, but like everything else in life, in actuality gets complicated real quick.

There’s a reason why you see “Exchange Currency Here” signs seemingly everywhere when you get off a plane, train, ship…hell, you can do somersaults and back-flips across a sovereign border and you’re pretty much guaranteed to land within a few feet of one. And that’s because it’s “easy money” for the one doing the exchanging.  Places in high traffic tourist spots can take upwards of 10%(+) just for swapping one form of money for another.

So keep these things in mind when it comes to Exchange Rates and Spending Money in Italy:

  • The current exchange rate between US Dollars and Euros depends slightly on which direction ($ to €, € to $) the exchange goes. You can expect $1 to get you roughly .92-.93 cents in Euro. Conversely 1€ gets you between $1.08 and $1.09.
  • You should try your best to avoid the instinct to exchange currency right upon entering Italy/Europe, places like airports and train stations. Similar to how a bottle of water magically goes from a dollar at 7-11 to like 6 bucks at the airport, you’ll end up paying higher fees or commissions on any exchange, regardless of how they advertise their exchange rate. Transportation & tourist hubs charge those prices because, well, they can. And they don’t suddenly become altruistic when it comes to turning your $1 Bill into a 1€  Coin. Trust me.

    So how should you exchange / get Euro for your trip? 

    1). At Your Bank: The first and best place to exchange your money is right at your bank in your home country. This is where you’ll get the best exchange rate most of the time! Bigger banks in the US will likely have Euro on hand and can do the transaction immediately, however smaller banks and branches may have to order it. Your best bet (better safe than sorry!), is to go to. your bank and exchange money 2-4 weeks before your trip. 
    2) Small shops and cambios, which are kinda like small boutique shops for these types of services. Be aware that “tourist traps” like the transportation hubs still may apply, so this refers to more within villages and towns than meccas. I cover the way to approach this a bit more in the final section.

    3) An Italian ATM: The fastest and easiest way to get Euro is to simply use your debit card at an ATM when you’ve arrived in Italy. But not any ATM, because there’s naturally a caveat for that too!

    • You want to make sure the ATM is bank-affiliated (bancomat). Bancomats affiliated with one of the main banks in Italy do not charge fees. You will get the established government exchange rate without a commission fee, assuming you are using the ATM to withdrawal funds from your US checking account. You absolutely should avoid independent ATMs, the most popular being  EURONET. You know the type…the little ones you see in corners of random liquor stores and such. The fees from independent ATMs can be simply disgusting.
    • One thing you don’t want to use an ATM for is withdrawing cash off a credit card. This isn’t across the board, as their are a number of credit cards tailored to international travelers, but generally speaking credit card companies do one thing well: make money, usually with unproportionate fees–like ones for cash advances.

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Before You Go…

A Few More Things to Know

Some Last Pearls of Wisdom, Nuggets of Gold and I’ve run out of Money Puns

  • A good website for up to the minute exchange rate info, for any and all recognized legal tender, can be found here. Your local bank branch often provides printed rates upon request, as well, for a good idea of what to expect before you arrive.
  • Before leaving on any trip, be sure to contact your bank/debit card and credit card companies. Many banks put automatic fraud safeguards in place and you can be easily caught unaware until your card is declined. Chase Bank, for example, often denies ATM withdrawals over $25 if not done within a certain proximity to your billing/account zip code.  The additional layers of protection are generally great for account holders and consumers, of course…until they’re not.
  • While on the phone with the credit card peeps, ask for details on/if they have any sort of travel insurance/protection. A large number do, though you can expect a whole lot of fine print along the way. Whether its Rewards Points for airline travel, rebates for hotel chain bookings or custom travel insurance packages, you’d be surprised what you can learn from these calls.
  • Once in Europe…Keep a set amount of euro on you. As I mentioned, because of the predominance of small markets & shops, and the overall cash-dominant economy of Italy, it’s always smart to make sure you have local currency on you in case of unique circumstances or emergencies. But be sure to exchange them back to US Dollars before heading home! Especially the coins–you’ll be amazed how quickly change can accrue in your pocket when you’re dealing with a couple extra fractions of denominations, along with the lack of a 1 or 2 Euro bill. 

     Obvious Note: In the States it can be easy to just toss change aside or let it be buried within the couch cushions. It’s a bit different when you pay for a 0.70 cent candy bar with a 5€ bill and get your change all in coins!

  • I know some of the older generations will revolt at the mere thought, but Traveler’s Checks … are no longer a viable way to protect your money abroad. Most of Europe, especially Italy, it’s downright extremely rare to find a place that actually accepts them for purchases. Even most of  Italy’s official banks will not cash them. And even you do find a place that will honor the check, or swap it for euro, you can expect grossly exorbitant fees for their trouble.
  • Like many modern countries, you will find a lot of shops that accept US currency. It can be tempting, too, because its comfortable. It’s not advisable, however. “Rounding off” might not be a “fee”, but it’s not rounding for your benefit obviously. Small shops and eateries might charge you as much as 20% more if you pay with US Dollar, quite a bit more than the actual 7-8.5% difference in currency value.
  • It sounds simple and obvious, but you’d be surprised. Leave the weight at home! All those random store credit cards and pharmacy/grocery store rewards cards. Stick with one or two credit cards, your bank card and cash money. That’s it. Traveling, vacationing, especially with a family and kids, can be a smorgasbord of spending, of nickle and dimes. Keeping track can be a nightmare, even more so when dealing with foreign currency. Its easier to keep up with your budget, too. And honestly, the majority of everything else won’t be used or can’t be, and serves only as opportunity for those with ill intent like scammers and thieves. 
  • Be wary of Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), or Cardholder Preferred Currency (CPC). These are merchant-provided services that let you see your foreign credit card transactions in your home currency at the point of sale. Fees for DCC are higher than those charged on regular credit card transaction. DCC is optional; do not let a store force you to do this if you dont want to. It’s akin to the “rounding off” and “currency surcharges” that the shops do with US Dollar payments. 

    From the website Investopedia:

    “Dynamic currency conversion (DCC) allows you to make point-of-sale (POS) credit card purchases in a foreign country using the currency of your home country; it is also known as cardholder preferred currency (CPC). While DCC makes it easier to understand the price you are paying—and lets you avoid doing the currency conversion math—it often comes with a poor exchange rate and other fees that can make the transaction more expensive than if you simply made it in local currency.” -jim brobasco on investopedia

That’s your guide to “Spending in Italy”! 

Hopefully it will answer some questions and give you some guidance if–sorry, when–you begin planning your trip abroad.

Check back periodically as this blog, like the previous ones covering Travel & Entry Requirements and What You Can Bring Home Through US Customs, will be updated regularly with updated information and fresh tips.

Please Note: As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualified purchases. 

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Understanding Italy’s “New” Travel Visa Rules

7 January 2024

Travel Visa Requirements for Italy in 2024 & Beyond

Guiding you past the rumors so you can plan your visit stress-free

OMG! I need a Travel Visa? What is ETIAS?!”

Of all the questions I get asked, the one regarding ETIAS and the mythical “Travel Visa” is by far the most frequent. Well, that along with anything regarding Travel & Entry Requirements into Italy, really. So this blog is probably overdue.

A few years back, around 2019, the European Union announced plans for the ETIAS program–aka the European Travel Information & Authorization System. ETIAS was intended to be user-friendly, built as an online database and website for easy applying. It would give travelers a “visa waiver” to be used in conjunction with traveler’s passport.

Unfortunately, for most people the only thing “current” with ETIAS is a general confusion and state of paranoia among travelers. While in the idea of uniting most EU countries (known as the Schengen Area) and adopting a program that increases safety, convenience and consistency in international travel is great, the launch of it has been anything but. And it has created quite a bit of confusion online (plus a few panic attacks, I’m sure). Especially on social media, where viral doses of misinformation spread wildly. Pretty wild considering that ETIAS still has not started and won’t until at least 2025.

In this post I’ll explain what (if anything) is new for 2024 regarding Travel & Entry Requirements into Italy, breakdown and explain what ETIAS is and what exactly it will eventually mean for travelers, as well as offer you some links and trusted online resources for more detailed information. 

This blog will be updated as needed.

What You Need for Travel in 2024, and Why the Confusion

Mythbusting & Rumor Smashing

Welcome to Italy, Vintage Passport Stamp

The majority of the current confusion regarding traveling to Italy centers around one simple question:

What do I need for entry into Italy?

The answer, for 2024, to be blunt: The same thing you needed for 2023, 2022 and so on (not counting any COVID-19 era vaccine mandates and such). And that is a valid US Passport

There’s two things I’ve seen creating confusion online.

The first is the near-viral online discussion about Americans needing a Travel Visa to enter Italy starting in 2024. This is not accurate and not true.

This stems from people mixing up short stay (or tourist) “visa-exempt” status given to many countries, such as the US, and a yet to begin EU program for its member countries  that will eventually require a “visa waiver” for travel to most of Europe

That program, of course, is the aforementioned ETIAS. It was supposed to start in 2024 (well…2020), but there’s been few updates, and everything we know about the ETIAS Program comes from the original announcement a few years ago. It defines an area called the Schengen Area, basically the EU countries minus Cyprus and Bulgaria (but also includes non-EU Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In March 2024, Bulgaria and Romania will join as well).

Eventually, once in place, ETIAS will require anyone traveling to Italy (or inside the Schengen Area) to apply for a “visa waiver” or “travel visa waiver”–it will be mandatory. It’s sort of a pre-paid passport stamp for 29 countries.

I will discuss ETIAS in additional detail in the next section, but, as of now, the EU says it will be ready next year–but that’s been said literally every year since the original announcement in 2019. So I certainly would not stress about it.

Of course, describing & equating ETIAS as a “Travel Visa” is a little disingenuous, and makes it seem like its something much more complicated than it is. It’s really not that big of a deal, to be honest. The wording used with ETIAS is what creates the confusion and is compounded by…

The wordy legal jargon of government websites and an acronym like ETIAS itself. Then you get different versions of what ETIAS will entail in PR releases every year for 5 years, and you end up with a lot of only partially correct information floating around.

But man, legal jargon. It’s the worst, seriously.

A particular example is the requirement for US Citizens traveling to Italy needing a dichiarazione di presenza”  or declaration of presence. 

Well, fear and stress not. The dichiarazione di presenza is what that little stamp on your passport represents when crossing the border into Italy!

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Screenshot of US State Department Website
Travel to Italy Quick Facts

US State Department travel information for Italy

Explaining ETIAS &
What That Means For You

Two Clicks, Ten Bucks, One Visa

Once ETIAS finally takes effect, while acknowledging anything “new” takes an adjustment period, the overall impact on future visitors to Italy will be minor.

ETIAS is a visa waiver that will screen travelers before they can travel to the region. So while people saying “OMG! I need a Travel Visa now?!” is, uh, kind of correct come 2025, it’s not quite accurate as the “Visa” is more of a simple waiver.

Think of it as an additional later of protection for all parties. It creates a uniform database of individuals travel and a second level of security for countries and their border/customs agencies.

From a personal standpoint, this will help fight things like identity theft and even human trafficking & kidnapping–which is an abhorrently growing problem for even the most industrialized nations. From the EU perspective, the benefits begin and end with national security for the member countries.

I suppose, in some ways the benefits could be a parallel to the “No Fly List” the TSA, FBI and FAA implemented in the United States post-911. 

Regardless of your citizenship you most likely will need to apply and submit for ETIAS.

All visitors who previously traveled visa-free to Europe, such as visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia, and many others, will need an approved ETIAS to enter any ETIAS member country such as Italy, France, Germany and Spain.

All travelers, regardless of age, will be required to obtain an ETIAS, and the authorization will be valid for 3 years or until the date of passport expiration.

The process will not be obtrusive or time consuming. It actually will be pretty easy, all things considered. 

For an ETIAS into Italy, these are the general requirements, though there are case by case exceptions:

  • A valid passport with a minimum validity of 3 months from the expected date of departure from Italy
  • Demonstrate to have sufficient financial means to support the stay in the country
  • To not appear on the “non-admission” list of the EU
  • International medical insurance (usually can be obtained or auto-included via cruise/airline, credit card, bank, etc, though most US health insurance plans have some sort of international protection
  • Accommodation or an invitation letter (IE documentation of your hotel plans, AirBNB, or a resident of Italy outlining your visit)
  • A round trip ticket

The application itself is standard fare for international travel. Who you are, Where you been, What crimes have you committed, you know, that whole bag (for some reason I just inner-monologued that in Dr. Evil’s voice, from his therapy session in the Austin Powers movie. I admit this reference is probably going over people’s heads. Sorry, my brain is weird sometimes!).

It will be all done online, and cost a nominal fee. Originally it was supposed to be like 7 bucks, then I heard ten. Either way, won’t be anything like a US Passport fee!

Screenshot from the ETIAS Italy website

Basic ETIAS process/requirements

The entire process for a ETIAS visa waiver will be done online. The application will cover basic questions such as travel history & criminal record, and once approved will be valid for travel to all ETIAS countries for 3 years, or until your US Passport expires.

Keep Tabs on the Latest ETIAS 2025 News

A tl;dr Recap & Sites to Bookmark

I’m sure you may still have a couple questions or uncertainty regarding ETIAS & the travel visa/waiver. Unfortunately, due to the fact that the entire system has been pushed back yearly since 2018/19, there isn’t a ton of definitive information regarding any aspect of the program other than the bold-faced talking points given in brief PR releases by Italy & other E.U. member countries.

That said, there is enough established to clear up the basic misinformation going around, and most importantly to relieve the stress & anxiety that this adds for prospective visitors to Italy & Europe.

For the “tl;dr” crowd, remember these key bullet points:

    • When ETIAS does take effect, the entire process will be done online. The application will be short, consisting of questions on travel history, criminal background & employment. In order to submit the application you will have to pay a non-refundable processing fee that can be paid only via a credit or debit card. 
    • Additional requirements for entry vary by country, and are separate than the ETIAS waiver. These are typically asked for at the entry point (for example, in the US, an airport’s Customs & Immigration). Italy’s established requirements are pretty standard, including establishing the financial means to support one’s self while there, travel plans/accommodations, and medical insurance.
    • Once ETIAS system is in place, an approved application will be good for a maximum of 3 years. It will be automatically be invalid upon your US Passport’s expiration date, regardless if you seamlessly received an updated one, as each ETIAS waiver is “attached” to the passport you have upon applying. Basically: New passport = New ETIAS waiver. 
    • An approved ETIAS application grants you entry into any country in the Schengen Area. This is essentially the EU countries minus Cyprus and Bulgaria, but also includes non-EU Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In March 2024, Bulgaria and Romania will join as well.

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My Puglia Road Trip (Part II)


My Puglia Road Trip [Part II]

puglia (apulia)

The region of Puglia (or Apulia), Italy

[from part 1]  
We embarked on a 9-day road trip throughout one of the most scenic–and criminally underrated & unheralded–regions of Italy. A coastal region in the southeast “heel” of the country, Puglia (also known as Apulia) remains a hidden gem of sorts as tourists flock to the more well-known cities. After meeting in Bari, our itinerary would take us to Polignano a Mare, Ostuni, Alberbello, Matera and finish with a couple of nights back in Bari.

Meredith and I continued our epic 9-day Puglia, Italy road trip with a visit to Alberobello, the third city on our itinerary.  Alberobello is a small town (or commune) of roughly 10,000. It’s actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, achieving the status in 1996, for its unique and historically significant architecture–specifically its Trulli houses.

Taking advantage of the vast quantity of limestone in the region, these dwellings dot the Alberobello landscape thanks to their unmistakable hue, mortarless framework & conical/coned shape roofs. Just like in Polignano a Mare--well, Puglia in general, really–the brilliance of the white & off-white buildings against a backdrop of a crystal blue Italian sky is just mesmerizing.

Trulli houses are noteworthy, too, for being one of the few prehistoric construction techniques still in use. I don’t know exactly why, but for some reason that tidbit of info really has sat with me. It’s just crazy, I guess, that in a 21st century world, where we worry about A.I. taking over human communication–basically, worrying about the Terminator movie coming true to life–there are regions still using building techniques that the dudes in the Gladiator movie considered as ancient history. The juxtaposition is fascinating, right? No? Just me? Welp. 

So, yeah, anyyyway, here’s all about Day 4 and Alberobello!


Day 4…Trulli Truly

We wasted little time once we arrived in Alberobello, opting to spend “Day 4” doing some hardcore sightseeing in lieu of a more relaxing “Day 5”. There is a tremendous amount of history packed into this little town, and thus our decision to visit the city center and sign up for a walking tour with a local guide turned out to be a very, very smart choice. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it again, but the knowledge and familiarity you get from local guides simply cannot be replicated. It’s also impossible to match the level of cultural immersion & educational opportunity you get from a walking tour versus by taking one by car or train. 

It’s like living in a Postcard from 1623 here in Alberobello.

The Trulli houses gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1996.




  • ABELLO10

For our accommodations in Alberobello, we actually stayed in a Trulli Villa in the countryside just outside the city. We actually preferred staying outside of the city itself–but its probably just a matter of personal preference.

Of course, the fact that we had planned in advance for our second day in Alberobello to be a “chill and just relax” day–and our villa being in the peaceful seclusion of the countryside–probably had a whole lot to do with our preference too.

Our villa was called Trulli Ad Maiora.

Check out my video about our spectacular accommodations


Our Accomodations at the Trulli Ad Maiora





Day 5…Sleep and…Grocery Shopping?

It didn’t feel like it at the time (probably from all the walking throughout the city on our tour!) but in retrospect the two days in Alberobello went by extremely fast. 

On Day 5 of our road trip we actually opted for “eating in”, visiting a local market to pick up some fresh groceries and crafting our dinner ourselves. 

It’s really difficult to manage sometimes, but just like in “regular” life I feel its super important to just have periodic “do nothing”/”plan nothing” days. I think, actually, it’s quite essential for traveling abroad and lengthy vacations. Its so easy to get wrapped up in planning, and sightseeing, even dealing with necessities like where you’re sleeping and where you’re going to eat, that you don’t even realize the stress building upon you.

I mean, how many times have you returned from a whirlwind vacation or weekend getaway and, as you unpack and think of all the things you have to get done, think to yourself “Dang..I need a vacation!!”

Trust me…having a day built-in to your vacation to just decompress is a must.  

And that wrapped up our 2 days in Alberobello! You can see some additional videos & photos on my social media pages, especially TikTok & Instagram.

Stay Tuned for Part 3, Matera, coming next week!

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Another Amazing Street Food Tour…In Naples

2 July 2023

Another Amazing Street Food Tour…
In Naples!

I’ve talked about some of the best street food in Sicily, and raved about my tour through Florence already. So it was only natural that upon a visit to Naples I reconnected with Marco, owner of Streaty Food Tours, for another fantastic day of walking, learning, and, most importantly, tasting some of the best food in the city. 

Honestly, I probably wrote and deleted 15 different analogies for the food in Naples…but it was an episode of a classic tv drama, serving as background noise, that gave me an “aha!” moment. 

In every movie and every tv show ever made in the history of the world, Italians are always stereotyped on screen in certain ways – even though most of the time the stereotype is not the reality, haha. One that is constant, though, is of the Italian restaurant (always with a red & white checkered table cloth for some reason) with a smorgasbord of super filling pastas, creamy sauces, various fried offerings (always mozzarella sticks which, fun fact, you won’t commonly – if ever – see on an Italian menu in Italy!) and well…just generally the South Beach Diet’s worst enemy. I think these scripted stereotypes originated once upon a time from someone visiting Naples.

It is the birthplace of the modern pizza, afterall. And mozzarella (see how it’s all tied together?! haha) is actually produced in Campania, the region where Naples is located. Typical Napoletano food is vast, but what really stands out to me is their STREET food – it absolutely is the land of temptation for those with a sweet tooth or a love of all things fried golden crispy.

A bit about Streaty Food Tours…

If you have followed this blog for a while then you know how much I love Streaty Food Tours. And if you know anything about me, then you also know I don’t give out my “stamp of approval” to just anyone. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience several different types of food tours, in several different cities throughout this amazing country, but when anyone asks me for highlights or suggestions I always come back to my friend Marco and his Streaty Food Tours.

Streaty approaches each tour as not just an opportunity for people to try some great food, but to explore, educate and just generally immerse customers in the culture of the region. They make an effort to connect with each person and really go out of their way to make people feel comfortable, which is huge when many tourists can be intimidated by a new environment, especially when they have never been to Italy or face a language barrier. 

At the end of the day, its about trust, right? When you sign up for a tour like this you want to know that your safety is important to your guides, to know that your really are being shown great and unique places and not just an Italian version of Papa John’s or something. 

Hey–don’t laugh…there are actually food tours that strategically end (or even sometimes begin) a tour by feeding their groups generic pizza, obviously a food that everyone loves, to insure positive reviews & profitability. 

That’s more reason to love Streaty, though. A walking tour, they strive to educate. They also encourage people to try food outside of their comfort zone–which, if we are being honest with each other–is the whole point of a food tour, right?

Oh…and finally….Street food is simultaneously the best introduction to a region’s culture & cuisine–and some of the best damn tasting food on the planet!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking/following a link result in Kacie Rose Travel receiving a small commission. I only promote products/services that I’ve used & love myself. Thanks for supporting my blog 🙂

A Bit About Naples…

Some Quick-Hitter Facts & Background Info about Naples:

–Naples is the 3rd largest city in Italy, after Rome and Milan. Its population is a hair under 1 million.

–It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities/regions in the entire world. Its ancestry can be traced back all the way to the first millennium B.C., founded by the Greeks.

–Was the capital of the Kingdom of Naples (1282-1816) and the Kingdom of Two Sicilies until the unification of Italy in 1861. 

–The port of Naples has played an influential part in helping the city become an integral part of the Italian economy, and it is the European home of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command. 

–The city centre is steeped in history, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights for tourists nearby include the Palace of Caserta, the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and Mount Vesuvius.

–The term neopolitan means “Pertaining to Naples”. Of course, most people think of ice cream when they hear the word–but there’s actually not a lot of definitive proof the concept of “3 flavors in 1” was borne in Naples. Early Italian immigrants to the States brought a general expertise in frozen desserts and would mold three flavors together to match the Italian flag…it wasn’t until later in the early 20th century that the commonly associated chocolate/vanilla/strawberry became famous. 

–As I mentioned, Naples is known as the birthplace of pizza. During the Kingdom of Naples it grew in popularity in part due to the disproportionate amount of poor people in the city at that time. It was known as “the food of the poor”, in fact. The King Ferdinand IV, of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, helped bring it to the masses, including the elite. 

–Spaghetti is also closely associated with Naples. But as a coastal city its seafood has a reputation all its own. Dishes like impepata di cozze (peppered mussels) and baccalà alla napoletana (salt cod) are Naples staples (sorry, I really wanted to fit in a Naples-staples combo somewhere!)

When Italy was unified in 1861 the country saw much of its wealth in the south, especially the regions inside the former Kingdom of Naples, move north into Milan. With much of the population already “lower middle class” the city’s economy was decidedly depressed, impacting the majority of its citizens.

With the region becoming more and more poor, a lot of the amazing cuisine we now laud Naples for creating/inspiring was borne. In addition to carbohydrate-rich pizza & pasta, fried food became increasingly popular, as it was cheaper to prepare and cultivate than “fresh” food and the fatty oils gave people a sense of “feeling full” much faster (the oils expand in digestion). 

All of that is part of why Southern Italy has kind of an unfortunate reputation compared to the “Rich & Well-off” North. And I do mean its unfortunate…in some ways it reminds me of New York City, actually. Yeah, its maybe a little gritty, and its definitely chaotic…but the people are thus just real, totally vibrant and energetic and extremely hospitable to tourists & newcomers alike–just like in NYC, all you have to do is ask! (Also like NYC, I feel like the people of Naples have this stupid rep of smugness to outsiders, but really its just a city of busy people living their best life!)

Street food tour

The Food…

Cuoppo: A cone of fried things, usually seafood. There’s some land options but from the sea is the way to go, I feel. We tried this at the seafood market in the city, where fresh fish is caught and sold daily. It’s a pretty crazy and hectic environment, but that’s kind of what makes street food perfect, right?

Bufala Mozzarella: Mozzarella made from Buffalo Milk. Creamy and delicious, and a little smoky almost? It was like no mozzarella I have ever tried before! 

Trippa: Just to be blunt…it’s stomach and intestines from various animals. Throughout Italy you can find typical dishes that use alll parts of the animal, but in Southern Italy you can find this ALOT (for the same reasons that gave us pizza!). To be honest, you might see some initially jarring types of dishes & ingredients in Naples restaurants. This wasn’t my personal favorite item of the day, lol.

Lets just say I don’t know if Trippa was the dish that got Naples restaurants the most Michelin stars of any Italian city. 

Pizza fritta: Fried Pizza. OMG. Yes, its as amazing as it sounds. Filled with ricotta, mozzarella, tomato, pork fat and pepper flakes. 2 Thumbs Up!

Taralli: A super crunchy breadstick. This particular ones had almonds, which really enhanced the overall flavor. (Additional note…went oh-so-well with a Peroni, a famous Italian beer also available in the States!)

Snowflake: A desert pastry filled with cream and topped with powder sugar. Honestly after the fried pizza and taralli, I didn’t think I could eat much more, and at this point I thought I’d burst if I finished it all. But I did…and I didn’t burst. And it was well worth it!

In conclusion, my dear readers…

All in all, if you’re traveling to Naples, Sicily, or Venice, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Streaty Food Tours. They are simply awesome and provide such an awesome experience for tourists to not only see and enjoy the city, but to fully immerse themselves in the culture. And because I cannot recommend them enough, Marco gave me a discount code to share with all of you!

Book a Streaty Food Tour!

Happy eating, friends!

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A Guide to Train Travel in Italy


Your Full Guide to Trains in Italy

Let’s break it down

Figuring out transportation within a foreign country can be HELLLA stressful. There’s so many options and possible methods of transportation that comparing them all can easily get really overwhelming, really quickly. Trust me, I know – I’ve been there.

Let’s just cut right to it – trains are hands-down the most convenient way to travel through Italy if you’re a tourist. They’re quick, budget-friendly, accessible, eco-friendly, and the best part, incredibly scenic. Most of the country is connected through train, so they’re very easy to navigate once you actually KNOW how to navigate them.

So here is everything you need to know about trains in Italy so you can be fully prepared and ready for your trip. Let’s get to it.

Words to know

Let’s start off with some words to become familiar with that you’ll see throughout train stations in Italy:

  • Platform = Binario
  • Ticket(s) = Biglietto(i)
  • Train = Treno
  • Station = Stazione
  • Information Desk = L’ufficio informazioni
  • Coach / Carriage = Carrozza
  • Regional = Regionale
  • High-Speed = Alta Velocità

Names of the Major Train Stations in Italy

A big thing I find that many tourists don’t realize is that most of the major cities in Italy are pronounced differently in Italian than they are in English. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone tell me they were waiting for the “Florence” train station stop without realizing that it literally…doesn’t exist.

Here are the names of the largest train stations in Italy:

  • Milan: Milano Centrale
  • Venice: Venezia St. Lucia
  • Florence: Firenze S.M. Novella
  • Rome: Roma Termini
  • Naples: Napoli Centrale

Types of Trains

Throughout this guide you will see the terms “High-Speed” or “Regional” used a lot. High-speed trains, or express trains, are sleek, efficient trains that connect the major cities within Italy together, such as Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples, etc, with few or no stops in between. Regional trains, on the other hand, are smaller, slower trains that WILL make stops in bigger cities, but with many local stops in between.

*Cracks neck* And thus, our guide officially begins.

There are two main train companies that operate in Italy:

  • Trenitalia
  • Italo

Which train company you can use will depend on your schedule, budget, and where exactly you want to go.


Trenitalia is Italy’s state-run train company that has a large fleet of high-speed, express trains that make stops in all the major cities, however they ALSO have Regional trains that make stops in smaller Italian cities (Pisa, Bologna, Lucca, etc.) and veryyyy local, rural areas.

There are several smaller trainline fleets that run under the TrenItalia umbrella, in a sense. They all serve a certain purpose – some are high-speed trains that only travel between big cities some are regional trains that travel between small towns and local stops, and some do a bit a both. To be honest, I don’t think you don’t need to pay much attention to them, since so if you need to get to a certain city, you’re more likely to take whatever train is quickest, fastest and cheapest that gets you there. However in the interest of being incredibly thorough so you feel super knowledgeable, lets break them all down:

Types of Trenitalia Trains:

“Le Frecce” (“The Arrows”) Fleet

The “Le Frecce” fleet are Trenitalias fastest fleet of trains (hence why they’re called “The Arrows”) and primarily serves the big and medium-sized cities within Italy. Within “Le Frecce”, there are three different types of trains: Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, and Frecciabianca.


      FRECCIAROSSA trains are the high-speed, express trains used by Trenitalia to travel to the biggest cities and train stations within Italy. They run up to 300 km/h, have air conditioning, outlets, and Wi-Fi. Because they are the express trains, they are sleek, comfortable, and reliable (for the most part) for connections. They offer food and beverage services and have a range of inclusions for the different ticket tiers. For someone planning on visiting an traveling between the bigger cities in Italy, they’ll likely be on a FRECCIAROSSA train.

      For more information on FRECCIAROSSA Trains, click here: FRECCIAROSSA run through the high-speed line with fast and frequent connections – Frecce – Trenitalia


      FRECCIARGENTO trains run on both high-speed express tracks as well as more regional, traditional tracks in northern and central Italy, such as Bolzano, Trento, Venice, Verona, Mantua, Genoa, Lecce and Reggio Calabria from Rome, and the Adriatic coast from Milan. They run up to 250 km/h, have air conditioning, bistros and other food/drink services, and electrical outlets, to name a few features.

      For more information on FRECCARGENTO Trains, click here: Frecciargento, speedy connections in comfortable and frequent times – Frecce – Trenitalia


      FrecciaBianca trains mainly make stops at regional destinations with a few stops in bigger cities such as Milan, Venice, and Rome. They are the slowest of the Trenitalia “Le Frecce” fleet, and have amenities such as air conditioning, outlets and a food bistro in some cases.

      For more information on FRECCIABIANCA Trains, click here: Frecciabianca, widespread and frequent connections – Frecce – Trenitalia

    “Intercity” Fleet

    The Intercity fleet in Trenitalia were the fastest trains Trenitalia offered before the “Le Frecce” fleet came along. Operating as Regional trains instead of High-Speed, they run up to 200 km/h, and connect many cities within Italy together. They are typically cheaper than high-speed trains, but that’s because they make more stops at many stations along the train route and in some cases, you may have to change trains midway.

    “Regionale” Fleet

    And last but not least, we have the Regionale fleet of Trenitalia. These trains are the slowest and oldest of all the fleets and make stops to all the smaller and more local towns in Italy. As I mentioned, the trains are often very old, so there may or may not be air conditioning, seating is open no matter your destination, and there is only one tier of ticket. They’re often the least expensive but also the slowest – a 3-hour trip on a High-Speed train can take up to 9 hours on a Regionale Train.

    Again, I don’t necessarily think this is something you need to pay much attention to, but we love thoroughness here so that’s why I’ve included it. When you search in the TrenItalia website, all the trains serving the destination you want to go will appear, and you can pick whatever time and price works best for you.

    Navigating the Trenitalia Website

    The Trenitalia website is incredibly handy for tourists as they offer translation of the site in 4 different languages: Italian, English, French, German, and Chinese. To change the language on website, head to the top right-hand corner of the screen:

    Something specific to note about the Trenitalia website is that because the company is owned and operated by the Italian government, you will have to use the Italian pronunciation of cities when searching for trains as opposed to the English names, even if you change the language on the site. For example, here are some of the biggest Italian cities written in English with their Italian counterparts:

    • Florence = Firenze
    • Milan = Milano
    • Rome = Rome
    • Venice = Venezia
    • Naples = Napoli

    Different Ticket Classes on Trenitalia

    Trenitalia offers 6 different ticket tier types and within those 6 different tier types, 5 SUB tier types: Base, Economy, and Super-Economy, Young, and Senior. Let’s start by differentiating each of the 6 main ticket types:

      • Executive

        Executive Class is the top tier of Trenitalia and they are niiiiiiice. Like, real nice. There’s only one Executive car per train, and each car only has 10 seat to make sure everyone has space and a window seat. The seats also recline 180 degrees in case you want to take a nice long nap. You also have access to the FRECCIAClub with an executive ticket, as well as full meal options on board – like…FULL meal options on board. The menu is created by a fine-dining chef, so you can get multiple meals, snacks, and drinks (including alcohol) included with your ticket whenever you’d like during your trip. It definitely makes the high-ticket price point seem more reasonable. 

      • Business

        Business is the next tier after Executive, and they also offer big, squishy seats that recline and generally offer lots of room. With business tickets you receive a welcome drink upon boarding as well as a little snack bag.

        • Business Area Silent (Area Silenzio)

          Business Area Silent offers the same amenities as Business, just in a designated quiet car where external noises and sounds are not allowed.

          • Premium

            The third level below Executive and Business, premium level seats are still spacious, albeit not as spacious as executive or business. With a premium ticket you also receive a welcome drink upon boarding as well as a little snack bag.

              • Standard

                The base level of all the ticket types, Standard is the most basic ticket you can get on Trenitalia.

                    • Standard Area Silent (Area Silenzio)

                      Same as Business Area Silent, Standard Area Silent offers the same amenities and features as a Standard ticket, just without any external noise or sounds permitted.

                          The 5 Sub-Categories on Each

                          As I mentioned above, when you choose your ticket tier type (Premium, Business, Standard, etc.), you’ll next be asked to choose between 5 different sub-tiers of each of those tickets. They are Base, Economy, Super Economy, Young, and Senior:

                            • Base

                              The Base ticket offers the most flexibility out of all of these sub-tiers. With a base ticket, you have more refund options and can make as many changes to your ticket that you want, right up until its departure time and only need to pay the difference in price if there is any. The really cool thing about the Base ticket option, however, is that you can ALSO change your ticket up to an hour after your train departs, with no change fees – i.e., if you miss your train, you wont need to purchase an entirely separate ticket.

                              • Economy

                                The next option is the Economy level. Economy level tickets still have flexibility with changes (not refunds) and will allow you to change your ticket to a different train and you’ll only need to pay the difference between your ticket price and the base level price of the ticket you want.

                                  • Super-Economy

                                    And of course, the most basic of them all, the Super-Economy level is the cheapest but the least forgiving. With a Super-Economy level ticket, you cannot change nor refund your ticket for any reason.

                                      • Young

                                        The “Young” tier ticket is reserved for those 30 and under, and has the same flexibility as an Economy ticket, just at a slightly lower rate.

                                            • Senior

                                              The “Senior” tier ticket is reserved for those 60 and older and has the same flexibility as an Economy level ticket, just at a slightly lower rate.

                                                  Honestly, I’ve always traveled on Trenitalia with a Standard ticket. If I know there might be a possibility I might need to change the ticket, I’ll purchase the Base or Economy level, otherwise, I’ll just pick whatever is available and cheapest. It is nice to have the peace of mind of being able to change your ticket though if need be, so in my opinion opting for a Base or Economy level ticket is the better option. As for the main ticket tier – again, in my opinion, if you’re just a regular tourist traveling for leisure purposes on a train less than 3 hours long, I personally don’t think it’s necessary to pay a higher price for a fairly quick trip. If you were, however, planning a long travel trip that will set you on the train for 6+ hours, it might be worth it to pay a bit more for a more comfortable seating arrangement. At the end of the day though, it’s totally up to you which class you decide to travel in.

                                                  Ticket Modifications on Trenitalia

                                                  As I mentioned above, with Base level or Economy level tickets it’s very easy and not super expensive to change your ticket on Trenitalia if you end up needing or wanting to take a different train. I’ve found myself more than once changing my Standard, Economy-level train ticket to an earlier train as soon as 10 minutes before the train is set to depart. It typically only costs me an extra 10 euro per ticket (the difference between the Economy and Base level ticket), which isn’t too bad in the grand scale of things. Of course, the actual possibility of changing your train time totally depends on whether or not the train you want to change to is sold out or not, but it’s good to know that it’s not super difficult to do.

                                                  There’s a couple of ways you can change your train time:

                                                  • if you’ve bought your ticket on the Trenitalia website, you can easily change it through your confirmation email containing your ticket. You can reach the “Manage Ticket” Section by heading to the top search bar on the main page and clicking “Purchases”.

                                                  • If you’re in a rush, purchased your tickets through a third party (such as Trainline App or ItaloRail), or have a physical ticket, you will need to go to any one of the physical ticket booths for Trenitalia in the train station.

                                                  Refunds, Cancellations, and Delays on Trenitalia

                                                  On high-speed express trains that are delayed, causing you to arrive between 30-59 minutes late to your destination, you are entitled to 25% credit essentially to use toward future purchases. If your train arrives more than 59 minutes late to your destination, you technically are entitled to a refund of 25%-50% of your ticket price.

                                                  If you purchased the ticket through the Trenitalia website directly, you have many more options when it comes to how to get your refund. If you’ve purchased a physical ticket, however, it gets a bit trickier, since really your only option is to go to a customer service desk at the train station – if I’m being honest though…sometimes the hassle of dealing with the customer service desks when everyone on the delayed train is ALSO trying to get partial refunds just isn’t worth it.

                                                  But to each his own! I’ve filed for a 25% credit when my train arrived late to my destination out of curiosity and received a credit code in my email inbox within the month

                                                  For full information on how to file and request refunds and credits, click Compensation for delays – Trenitalia

                                                  Click here for the Trenitalia Refund form: CRM WebForm – Refund Request For (

                                                  Strikes within Trenitalia

                                                  Ahh yes – let’s talk about strikes. Unfortunately, they happen, and it’s common – especially during high season – that they happen often. The good news though is that they only happen with Trenitalia since it’s the public, state-run train company operated by Italy. Since Italo is a privately owned and operated train company, strikes are highly, highly unlikely, if not non-existent.

                                                  The only thing you can do in a surprise strike situation is to be patient, stay calm, and be open to the fact that you will have to adjust your schedule. If there is a strike, they’re usually resolved within the day.

                                                  Here’s more information on strikes within Trenitalia: In case of a strike – Trenitalia

                                                  Pros of Trenitalia

                                                  Trenitalia is run by the state, meaning that they have more train fleets, both high-speed and regional, and more overall destinations than Italo. They offer more language translates on their website, which is great for a lot of tourists, and often have many deals or surprise sales on their website. I like the flexibility of being able to change my ticket if need be on a Base or Economy level ticket as well. They also offer many different rail pass options through their site, which is great if you’re planning on traveling throughout Italy using the train system frequently

                                                  Cons of Trenitalia

                                                  I’ve found in general, the prices of Trenitalia can be slightly higher than Italo in some cases. The regional trains aren’t the most beautiful, but then again who really cares when you’ve got a beautiful sight happening outside your window. You can only purchase up to 7 tickets at a time, so if you are buying tickets for a large group of travelers you may fare better using Italo.

                                                  In addition, because Trenitalia is a public, state-run company, strikes happen more than you’d think, so much so that they’ve included an entire section on their website about what to do in case of a strike. Luckily, however, they’re usually resolved within the day, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any less stressful.

                                                  When I use Trenitalia

                                                  If I’m looking to buy a ticket for travel on an express train between large cities, I’ll typically price compare on both Trenitalia and Italo to see which one is cheaper and an overall better price. If I want to travel to any city that is smaller and more local, it’s Trenitalia all the way because there’s no other option 😉


                                                    Up until 2012, Trenitalia was the only player in the Italian Train Game – then Italo came along. Italo is the first (and obviously only), private train company operating within Italy and only offers high-speed express trains between the biggest Italian cities. Those cities are Turin, Milan, Venice, Padua, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Salerno. They also offer travel to some smaller destinations in between, but those stops are mainly all in Northern Italy. Case in point: If you want to travel to any smaller destinations outside Northern Italy, Italo isn’t an option.

                                                    Navigating the Italo website

                                                    Opposite from Trenitalia, Italo recognizes the Italian cities when you search in both Italian AND English, which is helpful for those who may not know the spelling of their destination in Italian. Italo only offers two language translations of their website though, Italian and English.

                                                    You can change the language on the top header bar of the screen, where it says either “IT” (Italian) or “EN” (English):

                                                    Different Class Types on Italo

                                                    Italo offers 4 different types of ticket tiers: Smart, Prima, Club Executive and Salotto. Similar to Trenitalia, within those 4 tiers, 3 SUB tiers of tickets: Flex, Economy, and Low-Cost. Let’s start by breaking down the different types of ticket tiers on Italo:

                                                      • Club Executive

                                                        The top of the top, Club Executive gets you not only access to the Italo Club Lounge in the stations, but also Fast Track, which basically means you get to skip the queues and board the train first. There’s dedicated catering to your seat of snacks and drinks, Wi-Fi, outlets, big, squishy chairs, and each seat has personal screens. The Club Executive car only has about 15 seats in it, not including the Salotto cars, so overall it is a way more private and comfortable experience! The car also has its own dedicated luggage rack, which can give you peace of mind if you are traveling with multiple pieces of large luggage and are worried about finding space for it on the train. The benefit is, Club Executive tickets, when bought enough in advance, aren’t nearly as expensive as you’d think – if you take a look 2 months out from your planned train ride, you can find Club Executive tickets for 30-50 euro total. 

                                                        • Prima

                                                          After Club Executive there’s Prima, which gives you Fast Track, complimentary snacks and drinks, Wi-Fi and outlets.

                                                            • Comfort

                                                              Comfort gives you more leg space than Smart, Wi-Fi, and outlets

                                                                • Smart

                                                                  The most basic level, smart gives you Wi-Fi and outlets with access to snack machines. However, they have the least amount of legroom than all the tiers which can get a little cramped when the trains are full.

                                                                      The 3 Sub-Categories:

                                                                        • Flex

                                                                          The most flexible (see what they did with the name there) but also the most expensive, with a Flex ticket you can modify your ticket up to 3 minutes before departure for free, and if you need to cancel you receive 80% back. The nice thing about the Flex ticket on Italo is if you miss your train, you have up to 2 hours after your scheduled departure to change to the next possible train through their program called “EXTRA TEMPO”.

                                                                          • Economy

                                                                            Economy class is a good balance between flexibility and budget friendly. It typically only costs a couple euros more than the Low-Cost train ticket, but with Economy you can modify your ticket up to 3 minutes before departure for a fee of 20% your original ticket price plus any price differences, and if you need to cancel you receive a 60% refund.

                                                                                • Low-Cost

                                                                                  Low-cost is exactly that: low-cost. One of the cheapest options, it gives you some flexibility but not much. Refunds aren’t an option, but you can modify your ticket up to 3 days before departure for a fee of 50% the price of your ticket and any additional price difference costs.  

                                                                                    • eXtra

                                                                                      I was surprised that they managed to put a tier below low-cost, but here we are. The most basic of all the options, eXtra is the cheapest option (there’s a pun in there somewhere), but as a result gives you the least amount of flexibility: no changes, no refunds.

                                                                                          Personally for me, if it’s a short train ride less than two hours I’ll purchase either the “Smart” or “Prima” ticket Tier depending on price, but if it’s a 3+ hour train ride I’ll opt for the Comfort or Club Executive tier since like I mentioned, Smart can feel a bit too cramped. I base which sub-ticket tier I use off if I see myself possibly needing to change train times, but oftentimes that’s not the case, so I’ll just go with the cheapest option.

                                                                                          Train changes on Italo

                                                                                          As you can tell, Italo overall doesn’t offer as much flexibility on ticket modifications that Trenitalia does. With mostly all the ticket types that Italo offers, you will have not only paid the price difference (if any) of the new ticket, you will also have to pay a percentage fee of the price of your original ticket. Those costs can add up QUICK. However, even so they still make it easy to change your ticket if you need to, right on the website.

                                                                                          To modify your ticket, head to the top of the main home page screen and click “Manage Journey”

                                                                                          Refunds, Cancellations, and Delays on Italo

                                                                                          For trains delayed causing you to arrive between 60 and 119 minutes late to your destination, you’re entitled to a 25% partial refund. For trains delayed over 120 minutes, you are entitled to a 50% partial refund. In any case, the best part about Italo’s refund policy when it comes to train delays and cancellations if that there’s no added work necessary on your part to get your refund – Italo will reach out to you first, between 7-30 days after your trip with your refund options.

                                                                                          One time my train arrival was delayed 60 minutes, and I didn’t think anything of it until I received an email from Italo unexpectedly with a voucher code for my next trip. For partial refunds over 4 euro, they also give you the option to ask for monetization instead of a voucher, which is great if you’re a tourist and don’t plan to be in Italy for much longer.

                                                                                          More info on train delays and cancellations through Italo here: Find answers to the most frequently asked questions on Italo Treno

                                                                                          Pros of Italo

                                                                                          Overall, I find Italo offers cheaper prices than Trenitalia when purchased in advance and so therefore, most of the time if I’m traveling between bigger cities in Italy, you’ll catch me on a Italo train. They also offer tons of discounts and random sales on their websites, which is worth looking into if you’re planning on traveling often or if you will be living in Italy for more than 2 months and want to start building loyalty. Receiving a refund in case of a delay or cancellation is much easier with Italo as they credit you automatically with no added work to be done on your part. Italo also offers the ability to purchase up to 29 tickets at one time, so if you’re buying tickets for a large group of people it’s fantastic.  

                                                                                          Cons of Italo

                                                                                          Italo only operates high-speed trains, so naturally they have fewer overall destinations in Italy than Trenitalia. If you need to reach a smaller town within Italy, Italo most likely won’t be an option. As I mentioned above, while it’s often less expensive, the basic seat ticket “Smart” on Italo trains are often very cramped, especially when the train is sold-out. Lastly, for the most part, Trenitalia wins at  ticket modification and refund policies over Italo. You have a lot more overall flexibility on a Trenitalia ticket than an Italo ticket.

                                                                                          When I use Italo

                                                                                          Because Italo is solely an express, high-speed train, it’s mostly only possible to use Italo when traveling to a bigger city within Italy. Like I mentioned above, Italo is usually cheaper than Trenitalia, meaning that traveling in a higher ticket class cabin on Italo could very likely cost the same amount as a lower class ticket cabin on Trenitalia. Therefore, if I’m traveling between bigger cities and the journey is below 3 hours, you’ll likely catch me on an Italo train. However, if the train ride is 5+ hours long, I’ll opt to pay extra for the Trenitalia Club Executive car since overall the seats are more comfortable and the amenities are better. 

                                                                                          To Summarize:

                                                                                          If you are only planning on visiting big cities in Italy, you can take either train company.

                                                                                          If you are planning on visiting smaller cities within Italy, you will probably need to take Trenitalia.

                                                                                          Where to Buy Tickets

                                                                                          There are a couple of different ways you can buy train tickets in Italy. Some have more advantages than others, but the overall thing I cannot stress enough is do not wait until arriving at the station to purchase tickets.

                                                                                          During peak season (and honestly, also off-peak season), it’s not uncommon for trains to sell out. The last thing you want is to plan your trip around a train time and wait to buy your ticket until arriving at the station only to find that it’s completely full – especially when you’re say, planning to take a specific train to the airport to catch a flight. Not good. 

                                                                                          Additionally, if you wait to buy train tickets last-minute, the prices will have skyrocketed higher then what they would have been had you purchased them well enough in advance.

                                                                                          My suggestion: purchase train tickets no more than 2 months in advance and at LEAST one week prior to your departure. You do NOT need to purchase train tickets more than 2 months in advance – further out than 2 months, train schedules aren’t solidified yet and so if you look more than 2 months in advance, you will hardly find any options.

                                                                                          In addition, not only will buying tickets in advance be cheaper since they get more expensive closer to the departure date, it will also save you from any unnecessary stress of having to replan last minute due to a sold-out train.

                                                                                          There are a couple of ways that you can buy train tickets:

                                                                                          1. Purchase tickets up to 2 months before on the train company website OR the train company website app (yes, both Trenitalia and Italo both have apps available for both Android and Apple!). 
                                                                                          1. Trainline

                                                                                            If you’re in Italy temporarily and are still a bit overwhelmed at how / where / who to buy train tickets from, the app Trainline will be your best friend.

                                                                                            Trainline allows you to see ALL of the trains going to where you want to go on the day you want to go, no matter if it’s Trenitalia or Italo, and you can price compare right there in the app to see which train will be the best option for you without needing to flip between two separate apps. Also, Trainline doesn’t just cover Italy – it’s a great way to book train tickets all around Europe. Their site is very easy to use and recognizes both the Italian and English names of cities and stations.

                                                                                            The big advantage of Trainline is that they have an incredibly easy to use App that you can book your tickets on. It’s quick, reliable, and all your ticket information is stored in the App, so you’ll never have to scramble and sort through hundreds of emails to find your ticket information.

                                                                                            Be cautious about waiting until the last second to book your ticket however: about 5 minutes before departure the train will not be available to book on the app.

                                                                                            1. At the station

                                                                                            As you’ve probably picked up so far, this is my least favorite option since purchasing at the station the day of will 100% be more expensive and the likelihood of the train being sold out is higher. If you’re planning on traveling regionally on Trenitalia to a smaller city such as Pisa or Lucca, you could purchase tickets the day-of and probably be ok, but honestly, why risk it?

                                                                                            1. ItaliaRail

                                                                                            ItaliaRail is likely the biggest 3rd party seller of train tickets both in and out of Italy, since they partner directly with Trenitalia (note – they do not sell Italo tickets).

                                                                                            The biggest advantage with ItaliaRail in my eyes is the customer service they offer, especially when it comes to group travel. They operate entirely in English and the entire site is very easy to navigate, so if you don’t speak Italian, it’s very user-friendly in that sense. Through ItaliaRail you can purchase group tickets for up to 20 people on your own, or you can have an ItaliaRail employee book for you for groups over 10 and receive a discount on top of it. ItaliaRail also sometimes offers discounts or even free ticket class upgrades on certain trips.

                                                                                            The only thing to note about ItaliaRail is that there is a $5 service fee that is applied to each purchase, so its better to sit down and purchase all your tickets at once instead of at separate times. In general, I very rarely recommend Itailrail, and instead recommend using one of the above options. 

                                                                                              Amazing! You’ve picked your train, got your ticket and now you’re ready to go. What else do you need to know?

                                                                                              How to find your train platform on that big, confusing board

                                                                                              Is it just me, or are the big boards in train stations listing all the upcoming trains v overwhelming? I remember the first time I had to take a train in Italy, I spent easily 15 minutes trying to figure out the connection between the board and my ticket and googling for information before finally asking someone for help. Don’t fret – they aren’t that confusing once you know what you’re looking for.

                                                                                              The number one thing: when looking for your train platform, do not look at the “Destinations” – the destination column indicates the last stop on that train, so even if you see your destination listed, it may not be YOUR train, and you could end up spending a lot longer on the train then you planned to. To find your train, take a look at your ticket for a series of numbers:

                                                                                              And then match those numbers with the numbers on the board.

                                                                                              That’s your train!

                                                                                              Platform numbers typically are posted on the board within 10 minutes of the train departure, and sometimes not even until 5 minutes before (I had this experience more times than I’d like). Just keep an eye on it and be ready to go when it appears.

                                                                                              Platform Entry and checkpoints

                                                                                              Something to note that confuses everyone the first time they pass through an entryway to get onto the train platform is that certain entryway points are designated for only high-speed trains or only regional trains.

                                                                                              They typically will have floor signs right by the scanner or line to enter through the checkpoint that indicate whether that is an entry point for high-speed trains or regional trains, so be sure to look for them.

                                                                                              Sit In Your Assigned Seat!

                                                                                              Omg – if I can say this and it will save one tourist from making the same mistake that I (and many many others) did, I will be happy:

                                                                                              If you are traveling on an EXPRESS, HIGH-SPEED train between large cities, you will have an assigned seat.

                                                                                              The coach indicates the car number, while the seat number indicates which row and seat you are assigned to. So in the above example, the assigned seat is coach 4, row 14, seat A.

                                                                                              Your train will have the coach number printed on the side near the door, but you can also find the correct coach by simply looking up at digital signs along the platform.

                                                                                              You must sit in your assigned seat. If you don’t, you might find yourself getting yelled at in Italian by the train attendant, which definitely isn’t fun 😉

                                                                                              Validate Your Ticket BEFORE You Board

                                                                                              Another common mistake I see tourists making (again, including myself) is not validating their tickets before boarding – and as of November 2023, this also applies to some regional electronic train tickets as well. SO – If you have a physical ticket that was purchased at the station and are traveling on a LOCAL, REGIONAL train, you need to validate your ticket BEFORE you board the train at validation stations located in and around the platform. They are typically green & white and will have the Trenitalia logo (since Trenitalia is the only company that you can travel regionally with).

                                                                                              If you are traveling on a LOCAL, REGIONAL train (again, Trenitalia), and purchased an ELECTRONIC ticket either through the Trenitalia app or Trainline, as of November 2023 you will now need to “Check-In” to the regional train on the DAY OF your train. This option will be available to do by the simple press of a button on the respective app that you bought your train tickets on. 

                                                                                              If you do not validate your ticket before you board the train, you will be fined! I find that train conductors are not very forgiving when it comes to validating tickets, no matter if you were aware of it or not, and I’ve seen many a tourist be presented with a hefty fine ($200 at least) for not validating the ticket pre-boarding. Make sure to validate your ticket!!

                                                                                              Again, this is ONLY if you have a physical or electronic ticket and are traveling on a REGIONAL train. If you are traveling on a high-speed train, you do not need to do this, whether you have a physical ticket or an electronic ticket.

                                                                                              Got it? Good 😊

                                                                                              What I Do

                                                                                              I could give you all the info in the world and tell you everything there is to know about trains in Italy, but sometimes it’s just simply more helpful to hear what someone else does normally to buy their ticket.

                                                                                              If I’m planning to travel on an express, high-speed train between big cities, I will comparison shop when I’m ready to buy a ticket between Italo, Trenitalia, or the Trainline App (since I really enjoy having all my ticket information in one place on my phone). Typically I choose which company to travel with depending on who has the lowest price and how long I plan to be on the train for – overall, I personally never splurge on upgraded tickets because I don’t always think it’s necessary. I always book at least a week before, not only because the express trains sell out quicker, but also because they become more expensive starting the week of departure.

                                                                                              For regional trains, I obviously use Trenitalia since they are the only ones that offer regional trains, however I often use the Trainline App since, again, I personally like having all my ticket information in one place on my phone.

                                                                                              At the end of the day though, use whatever company works best for you and your situation. They aren’t that confusing once you understand them, and traveling by train while passing by some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever laid eyes on is truly a wonderful experience.

                                                                                              EVERYTHING IN THIS GUIDE:

                                                                                              • Words to Know

                                                                                              • Names of Major Train Stations in Italy

                                                                                              • Types of Trains

                                                                                              • Where to Buy Tickets

                                                                                              • Things to Know Before You Travel

                                                                                              Related Articles

                                                                                              • 10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Coffee Culture in Italy Before I Came to Italy

                                                                                              • How to spend a day in Florence for under 25€


                                                                                              Related Articles

                                                                                              • 10 things i Wish I’d Known About Coffee Culture in Italy Before I Came to Italy

                                                                                              • How to spend a day in Florence for under 25€

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                                                                                              10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Coffee Culture in Italy


                                                                                              10 Things…
                                                                                              I Wish I’d Known About Coffee Culture in Italy

                                                                                              Before I Visited the First Time

                                                                                              Italian coffee has earned a reputation as being some of the best in the world, and the country takes great pride in this. While thinking of Italy often conjures images of fantastic pastas & unrivaled perfection in pizzerias, the country’s coffee has become a point of reference for coffee excellence across the globe.

                                                                                              What many people don’t realize before their first foray to Italy is the extensive culture built around its coffee. Coming from the land of office buildings and gentrification in New York City, I discovered just how unaware I was by my first Italian sunrise. I had completely grown accustomed to seeing a Starbucks on every street corner (or in every cafeteria, skyscraper, library…dentist office…you get the point) and to-go cups of venti coffees everywhere you look. 

                                                                                              Alas, my lack of initial knowledge shall not be in vain. I am here now to help you prepare for the land of espresso, to arm you with awareness so you can order your morning bliss like a true local. 

                                                                                              1. Coffee = Espresso… 

                                                                                                          and Espresso = Caffè

                                                                                              Let’s start out strong (pun totally not intended, but I’m still proud of it haha) and get this out of the way right off the bat…

                                                                                              Caffè = Coffee.

                                                                                              That’s easy enough, right? Step to a counter, groggy, looking for a pick-me-up, that’s your keyword. But, of course it’s not that simple…otherwise this would be a pretty short & pointless list entry.

                                                                                              When you see “Caffè” (coffee) on a menu…it actually is referring to Espresso, not your typical (and what I expected my first time) “American” coffee. If you want your customary “two cream, one sugar” brew (btw, you will want to keep reading this list if that is indeed your order) that you’d find in your neighborhood coffee shop, you instead will want to order, coincidentally enough, a “Caffè Americano“.

                                                                                              A “Caffè Americano” is simply an espresso with hot (hot!) water added.

                                                                                              Because “Caffè”, ie “coffee”, means espresso in Italy, you won’t find the word “espresso” commonly used, mainly just in tourist-centric establishments, like maybe in an airport or major international hotel chain. If what you actually want is an espresso…just simply ask for “un caffè” (a coffee).

                                                                                              Seems simple enough, right? But I swear I wish I had known that!

                                                                                              2. “Bars” are a place to get coffee

                                                                                              I probably should be embarrassed to admit this, but I absolutely will own it. When I first visited Italy, I remember thinking “why are there so many bars everywhere…and why are they so damn busy at 9am?!” I mean, I knew that “drinking culture” throughout Europe & Italy was much more relaxed than in the US, but I was pretty surprised and taken aback.

                                                                                              Of course, my shock was for naught — the “bars” in Italy are not like the ones elsewhere in the world, especially the US. While you CAN get alcohol at a bar in Italy, you will quickly discover much of their business revolves around coffee and such. 

                                                                                              Later in the afternoon, around Aperitivo time, you’ll see a slow transition and can expect to find people enjoying maybe a nice Aperol Spritz and some lighter fare. These bars typically will close around 9pm.

                                                                                              3. Lattes Don’t Exist

                                                                                              I feel like I absolutely must mention this…because I cannot even begin to tell you the number of people who have told me some version of their “latte story”. So many of these end with “I ordered a latte…and received a nice, cold glass of milk!”

                                                                                              Basically, “Latte” means “milk” in Italian. Thus, if you ask for a “Latte”, you will literally get a glass of milk. Now, of course, I feel like many of these bars in Italy, especially those that are accustomed to foreign visitors, entirely are aware of what their customer is asking for — but simply can’t resist. I suppose if I was in their shoes I may even do the same thing sometimes, I mean everyone needs a little levity during their workday, right? But if you want to avoid potentially being on the receiving end of a little workplace humor, steer clear of this typical tourist foible. 

                                                                                              If you love milk in your coffee, however, you can order a “Caffe Latte” –an espresso with milk. Or you can scroll down to #7 on this list and order a cappuccino. 

                                                                                              4. Coffees are small and quick

                                                                                              As I mentioned, traditional coffee in Italy is just espresso. Therefore that “Grande” coffee from Starbucks isn’t something you’ll find here. You’re not going to find any extra large coffees to-go. 

                                                                                              As the portion sizes of espresso are obviously smaller, with the coffee being so much stronger, drinking a “cup” is a 5-minutes or less endeavor in the Italian culture. Quite different than the American culture of 24-ounces through a drive-thru that you may carry with you for an hour or two.

                                                                                              Which means inevitably many tourists are surprised by the size of their coffee order. “But surely that’s not enough!” is a popular reaction. Wrong 😉

                                                                                              5. Stand at the Bar and Drink

                                                                                              Like I mentioned above, coffees are meant to be a small and quick affair in Italy. Typically Italians stand right there at the bar, drink their coffee quickly, and then they’re on their way. While to-go coffees have become a little more common post-Covid, it’s still relatively rare. Honestly, it just doesn’t make much sense to take something with you that will be gone in 3 or 4 sips!  

                                                                                              Something important to be aware of, however, is the price differences you’ll find in some of the larger cities and downtown areas. There could be a significant price difference between choosing to sit down, where there is table service, versus ordering at the bar itself. An espresso that costs 1€ at the bar can easily cost you 5€ sitting down.

                                                                                              The idea of sitting outside a little Italian café and people-watching while sipping your coffee can be alluring, and, honestly, a great way to start your Italian morning. Just know that…if someone is bring that coffee to you…it’s going to be more expensive. Possibly 5x so. 

                                                                                              6. “Creamer” does not exist

                                                                                              I alluded to this in the beginning of this 10 Things, but I’ve got some bad news for those that dig their flavored creamers. You are not going to find a French Vanilla creamer in Italy (guess you can tell what I loved in my coffee before moving here!). In fact, it’s rare to find any sort of cream to add to your coffee here, even in a grocery store. Italians typically only use milk if they want to soften the taste (or, I suppose, add to it?).

                                                                                              As for plant-based milks, while it isn’t impossible to find them in bars that are located in the bigger, more touristy cities, they are still rare for a bar in Italy to have. I’ve found almond or soy milk to be the most common milk-alternatives available, and it seems that they may be gaining in popularity like in the US, but it’s not a foregone conclusion your Italian bar will offer them.  Best advice – just ask the barista if they have any they can offer you.

                                                                                              7. Cappuccinos only before 11am

                                                                                              This one is common knowledge in Italy, and typically how Italians can spot tourists right away: its customary to only order cappuccino before 11am in the morning, and to never ever EVER drink cappuccino with lunch or dinner. An espresso is the choice drink for those that desire a caffeine pick-me-up…or those that love the taste.

                                                                                              The reasoning is that because cappuccinos contain a lot of milk, they’re too “heavy” to be drank after morning time. Of course, you can drink whatever you want at whatever time of day you want, but just be prepared that ordering one outside of the Italian accepted time frame may lead to some confused looks.

                                                                                              If you’re someone who just loves milk in your coffee and thus really doesn’t do espresso, try ordering a “Caffe Macchiato” – it still has milk in it, but less than a cappuccino. It is more acceptable to drink at any other times of the day post-morning. 

                                                                                              If I’m being honest though…I still drink cappuccinos in the afternoon sometimes. I really love cappuccinos. Like a lot. What can I say, I’m a rebel.

                                                                                              8. Coffee is Cheap!

                                                                                              When I first came to Italy, I was expecting the coffee to be comparable to the price of a cup of coffee in NYC where I’m from – boy was I wrong. A regular espresso typically costs between 0.80€-1.10€ – I think the highest I’ve seen an espresso go for is 1.70€, and that was because we were having a coffee in a world-renowned bar smack-dab in the middle of a city center.

                                                                                              More complex, “fancy” drinks (as I like to call them) like cappuccinos and macchiatos don’t typically cost more than 2€. Unless you are sitting down and receiving table service, as I mentioned before. 

                                                                                              @kacierose4 I drank far too much coffee and didn’t sleep this night but it was worth it 😂 #americansinitaly #coldcoffee #italiancoffee #travelitaly #florence ♬ Happy and fun corporate music for advertising. – TimTaj

                                                                                              9. Traditional “American” Iced Coffee doesn’t exist

                                                                                              I know. I was sad about this one too. The reason sort of combines everything I’ve talked about, really. Large coffees don’t exist here, with a traditional Italian coffee order being just a shot or double shot of espresso. Therefore just as you won’t be finding extra large to-go coffees, you won’t find their “American” iced coffee siblings neither. 

                                                                                              If you’re in the mood for a cold coffee, you can try ordering a “Caffe Shakerato”, which is actually a very creamy, chilled drink typically served in a martini glass. In various parts of Italy, a “Caffe Freddo” is popular to find in bars, which is essentially a coffee slushie, and the closest thing you will find to an “American Iced Coffee”. 

                                                                                              The above picture is an example of a Caffè Fredo (Bar Stampa, Turin).  Mmm….Yummy!

                                                                                              10. When in Doubt…Just Ask!

                                                                                              If there’s anything I’ve learned since moving to Italy, it’s that the people here are extraordinarily kind and helpful. While trying to immerse yourself in Italian culture, if there is something specific that isn’t making much sense, or that you were hoping to find – just ask.

                                                                                              As it pertains to coffee, you may have to explain what your drink of choice is, and it may result in not being exactly what you are used to, but they’ll try! In my experience Italian bars will be happy to try and make something you desire…just maybe not like the “Pink Drink” from Starbucks. Maybe you don’t ask an Italian barista to make that 😉

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                                                                                              How to spend a day in Florence for under 25€


                                                                                              How to…
                                                                                              Spend a day in Florence

                                                                                              for under 25 Euro

                                                                                              When many people think “Wow, I’d love to go to Europe!”, their very next thought is often “…but damn it must be expensive!” I must admit, I was one of those people too.  It’s a shame, because this fear costs people a whole lot more — the chance to travel and experience the world, to be exposed to cultures & locales far removed from their status quo.

                                                                                              Let’s just say that dirty little word out-loud together — Tourist. As a traveler, especially abroad, it almost seems to invoke random fees & inflate costs with every step you take. There is a reason “tourism” is its own industry, afterall — entire economies are built & supported by it. But that doesn’t mean you have to take out a second mortgage just to sail across the Atlantic. I’m here to tell you that you can have a blast on your trip — and not file bankruptcy afterwords.

                                                                                              In this post I want to tell you a bit about Florence, one of Italy’s most beautiful cities. And, of course, how you can spend a day exploring this amazing city for the cost of your monthly Amazon Prime membership (or maybe Disney+. Yeah lets go with that!).   

                                                                                              As someone who began living in New York City as a typical college student, careful (sometimes even extreme) budgeting became second nature, continuing as I embarked on a post-graduation solo trip through Europe. That first trip through Europe by myself taught me so much. One of the most important things I learned? You can enjoy a new city without it costing your first-born child. That, combined with what I’ve experienced since moving abroad, lets me confidently say that Florence is no exception.

                                                                                              As birthplace of the Renaissance and the center of art & culture in Italy, there is a combination of unmatched beauty & history in Florence. Without further ado, here is a few ways to enjoy this magnificent city — and do so for under 25 euro! 

                                                                                              Coffee and pastry at a local bar or café


                                                                                              Coming from NYC, one of the best parts of coming to Italy for the first time was finding out that the same delicious croissant that would cost you $4 in NYC costs only around 1.10€-1.50€ in Italy – and it’s like, 10x better. Paired with the discovery that Italian coffee is incredibly cheap (an espresso typically costs 1€-1.10€ while a cappuccino is like, 1.30€-1.80€), you can start off your day with a very Italian breakfast like a true local. Just be aware – if you sit down at a café or bar where there is table service, the prices are different – a coffee that costs you 1€ to drink standing at the bar can easily costs 4€-5€ sitting down. My suggestion again is to do as the Italians do: drink your coffee and eat your pastry while standing at the bar.

                                                                                              Want to learn more about coffee culture in Italy? Check out the 10 things I wish I’d known about coffee culture in Italy 

                                                                                              Rick Steves Audio Guide Europe App


                                                                                              If you haven’t heard of Rick Steves (or even if you have), you need to pull out your phone this second and download his FREE app, “Rick Steves Audio Guide Europe”. I’ll wait.

                                                                                              Did you download it? Good.

                                                                                              Not only is his app completely and totally FREE, but he covers dozens of travel destinations all over the world – including Florence. I have used his app in almost every city I’ve visited, due to the accessibility and informative things you can find on it.

                                                                                              Under the Florence section, you can put in your headphones and listen to the free Florence Walking Tour he offers, filled with interesting historical facts that make you appreciate the beautiful sculptures and buildings even more than just viewing them and not knowing what you’re actually looking at. Make sure to pay close attention and listen to the full tour without skipping through though – because the tour moves fluidly, if you skip forward through any part, you’ll be completely lost as to where or what you’re supposed to be looking at.

                                                                                              Visit the famous markets, Mercato Centrale or Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio


                                                                                              Arguably the most famous Market in Florence, Mercato Centrale is the ultimate hub in Florence to buy, sample, and eat fresh produce by local artisians. A two-level food market set in the famous San Lorenzo market, you can find, sample, and eat produce from dozens of food & specialty shops. They sell  a bit of everything, such as meat, cheese, pasta, pizza, oil, fish, fruits and vegetables.

                                                                                              I highly recommend visiting Mercato Centrale, if only for the fact that it is quite the spectacle to walk around and view  different types of flavors and produce essential to Tuscan and Florentine cuisine. AND if you see something that you’d like to take back with you home, just ask the vendor – they are very knowledgeable about what can be transported across international borders. They will even vacuum seal your goods to ensure safe transport — and to keep them nice and tasty for when you get home!  

                                                                                              Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio is lesser known (and less frequented) by tourists due to its location on the edge of the city center, making it a more common and popular stop for locals compared to Mercato Centrale. In the outdoor market you can find dozens of vendors selling everything you could imagine – fresh fruits and veggies, vintage clothing, plants, household items, you name it — while in the indoor market you can find stands selling meat, fish, and cheese. The market is open only from 7am to 2pm every day, so make sure you plan accordingly! 

                                                                                              View famous art replicas at Palazzo Vecchio


                                                                                              One of the three main squares in the city center, Palazzo Vecchio  is the jackpot for free outdoor art in Florence, where you can view both originals and replicas of some of the most famous art sculptures in history, such as Michelangelo’s David and Cellini’s Perseus.
                                                                                              And guess what! Rick Steves has a free audio guide for this too 😉 )

                                                                                              **Tip: Right behind the big water fountain there is a free water-bottle refill station! The water is very clean, so carry a water bottle around in your bag to fill it up here throughout the day.

                                                                                              grab a panino at Pino’s Sandwiches


                                                                                              Ok ok ok – if you’ve followed me for a bit, you know I’m a little bit biased…but I truly do think Pino’s serves up some of the best panini in the Florence city center. The pricing is very affordable, and there is such a variety of options that it makes for the perfect, family friendly, satisfy-everyone quick lunch stop. Besides the portions being absolutely massive (for real though, the panini are bigger than my head), they also have vegetarian options AND gluten-free bread, so no matter your dietary restriction you can find something to eat here. And if you’re not wanting a panino, don’t fret – they also have an entire “gastronomia” section, which is essentially like a deli counter for hot and cold pre-prepared foods.

                                                                                              Beyond that however, Pino and his family are some of the most wonderful and kind people I’ve ever met. Pino is known as the “study-abroad dad” in Florence, so inside the shop you can find dozens of university banners given to Pino from grateful past and present study-abroad students as well as pictures from those students that have made trips back to see Pino after 10, 15, or 20 years. It’s not hard to see why he is so popular — Pino has been known to help study-abroad students fill out confusing government documents, or navigate Italian bureaucracy, but most importantly, he simply genuinely offers a space for the homesick to feel a bit closer to home when they need it. 

                                                                                              Basically, go to Pino’s. Just do it, alright?

                                                                                              Pino’s Sandwiches: Via Giuseppe Verdi, 36R

                                                                                              Gelato at the oldest gelato shop in Florence:
                                                                                              Vivoli Gelato


                                                                                              You might need to first walk off that amazing Pino’s lunch, but no meal is complete in Italy without a cup of delicious, fresh gelato – and one of my favorite places to do it is at the oldest gelato shop in all of Florence, Vivoli Gelato.

                                                                                              Yep, you heard that right – the OLDEST gelato shop in all of Florence.

                                                                                              Vivoli il Gelato opened up in 1930 in the historic center of Florence, where it still stands today. Beyond their amazingly fresh gelato and seasonal flavors, something that really makes Vivoli special is that the shop is completely family-run and operated, so you can likely find different generations of the family working inside the shop each day. If you’ve heard the name before but can’t figure out where you know it from, I gotchu – not only has the shop been featured in many different food travel shows, they also have a shop in Epcot at Disney World!

                                                                                              Vivoli GelatoVia Isola delle Stinche, 7R

                                                                                              View gold shops on the Ponte Vecchio bridge


                                                                                              The Ponte Vecchio Bridge is the oldest and most famous bridge in Florence, and the only bridge across the Arno River in Florence that survived World War ll. The sight of it is absolutely breathtaking and (in my mind) fulfills the perfect history-meets-present image of Italy one would search for. 

                                                                                              Back during the Medici rule, the Ponte Vecchio was where the butcher shops were located – and as you can probably imagine, it was…pretty gross. The stench was horrible and the river was tainted from all the animal waste being dumped in the river. Yuck. Makes me feel better about the Hudson River, I suppose.

                                                                                              Interested in making Florence wealthier (and sick of the god awful smell), Ferdinand Medici passed a law in the late 16th century that all the shops on the Ponte Vecchio bridge must be gold or jewelry shops – and that still holds true to this day. Viewing the incredible craftsmanship of these goldsmiths and jewelers, combined with the fascinating history, makes this a memorable stop to visit.

                                                                                              [There’s also a secret tunnel running above the Ponte Vecchio called the ‘Vasari Corridor’ that was used by the Medici family back in the day to travel – if you look closely, you can see part of the tunnel popping out around the stone tower.]

                                                                                              On another note – as I mentioned above, the Ponte Vecchio bridge is the only bridge in Florence that survived World War ll. As they were prone to do, during the Nazi retreat from Florence they destroyed every piece of infrastructure they could. There’s a rumor that Hitler saw the bridge and thought it was too beautiful to destroy, but that’s not true – in fact, the saving of the bridge comes down to one person, a Nazi official named Gerhard Wolf. You can read more about this story here.

                                                                                              Gerhard Wolf (1886–1962) German consul, born at Dresden—subsequently twinned with the city of Florence— played a decisive role in the salvation of the Ponte Vecchio (1944) from the barbarism of the Second World War and was instrumental in rescuing political prisoners and Jews from persecution at the height of the Nazi occupation. The commune places this plaque on 11 April 2007 in memory of the granting of honorary citizenship.”  

                                                                                              @kacierose4 Points if you climbed it in Assassins Creed 😂 #americansinitaly #lifeinitaly #florenceitaly ♬ original sound – Owen

                                                                                              Local street food at Sergio Pollini OR GustaPizza


                                                                                              If you’re feeling up for the challenge, there’s no better way to fully immerse yourself in Florentine culture than heading on over to Sergio Pollini Lampredotto and trying a panino containing the typical Florentine street foods, “lampredotto” and “trippa”, which is…cow stomach.

                                                                                              I know the look you just made. I swear I’m not crazy. Okay, I’m maybe a little crazy, I mean, I am a woman afterall. That surprise-slash-disgusted look upon your face is completely normal. But don’t worry – Sergio Pollini is arguably the most famous lampredotto street food stand in the city center so they know what they’re doing. I promise!

                                                                                              If you prefer something a little less daring, head over to Gustapizza across the river in Santo Spirito. They offer a range of pizzas at all different price points, but a classic Margherita pizza will only cost you 6€. You can even ask for it to be made in the shape of a heart, which doesn’t change the flavor at all but is very instagrammable 😉
                                                                                              (and, in case you didn’t know, Florence just happens to be one of the most romantic cities in the world, so that heart-shaped pie sort of fits perfectly!)

                                                                                              Sergio Pollini Lampredotto: Via dei Macci, 126

                                                                                              GustaPizza: Via Maggio, 46r

                                                                                              Walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo and grab a drink


                                                                                              After dinner, do what any sane person would do and take a nice, steep walk uphill to Piazzale Michelangelo.

                                                                                              I know, it doesn’t sound the most appealing, but I promise you, it’s worth it – Piazzale Michelangelo has the best view of Florence, and it truly is magical. Opt to take the walk through the “Giardino delle Rose” (The Rose Garden) to get up to Piazzale Michelangelo. You can stop and rest if needed in a beautiful garden surrounded by roses. Not that Kacie Rose would be biased or anything, of course. 

                                                                                              At the top there are plenty of food and drink stands where you can buy a beverage for relatively cheap — especially considering the view from one of Florence’s most popular attractions.

                                                                                              Watch the sunset over the red roofs of Florence


                                                                                              No further words needed 😉

                                                                                              Total for the day:


                                                                                              Well, I’m beat! We fit a whole lot into this spectacular day in Florence…and we did it without having to beg friends for a little Venmo loan too! The most important thing to remember is that if you want to see the world, do it – the cost of visiting places like Florence pales in comparison to the cost of regret.

                                                                                              Happy traveling! ❤️
                                                                                              –Kacie Rose

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                                                                                              How to Find Good Gelato in Italy

                                                                                              26 April 2022

                                                                                              How to Find Good Gelato in Italy

                                                                                              This is very important information

                                                                                              Oh gelato. One of the most important parts of assuring you are enjoying a true, authentic Italian experience – having a refreshing cone of Italian gelato while IN Italy gives you bragging rights and a story to tell at parties for years to come. Everywhere you look in Italy it seems there are a million gelaterias filled with tubs of delicious, creamy gelato calling your name – unfortunately however, not all gelato is created equal, so while there are tons of places where you can enjoy authentic gelato, there are just as many that rely on the unsuspecting prey that are eager tourists.

                                                                                              So in a sea of gelato…how do you find the real deal? 

                                                                                              Listen, I’ve eaten really good gelato in Italy. I’ve also eaten really terrible gelato in Italy. I understand how important this is, so I’ve made it my personal mission to tell you exactly how to find the real deal and live your Italian gelato fantasy dreams. Let’s go. 

                                                                                              1. Avoid the huge mountains of gelato

                                                                                              Bad Gelato

                                                                                              One of the first hints to if the gelato you’re looking at is one that you should KEEP looking at is if it is piled up in huge mountains or not – if it is, it’s time to turn around and keep looking.

                                                                                              Sure, they look exciting – but only the metal tub that the gelato is actually kept in is cold, so if you see huge mountains of gelato (like in this picture above), it means something has been put in the gelato to make sure it can stay out of the cold without melting. Yikes.

                                                                                              Additionally, authentic gelaterias will make their gelato fresh every single day – sometimes even TWICE a day, with a batch made in the morning and a batch made in the evening to assure that what they are serving is fresh. Even in the busiest of city centers, there is just no way that gelaterias could sell through an entire mountain of gelato (like pictured above) in one day, which means that the gelato you’re eating likely isn’t fresh.

                                                                                              Instead, your first tip will be to look for gelato that is in line with the base of the tub it is in (remember – that’s the only part that is the temperature needed to keep the gelato frozen without melting). 

                                                                                              Good Gelato

                                                                                              2. Look for the natural colors

                                                                                              You know how some predators are vibrant and brightly-colored in order to attract their prey? Yeah. Same story here. 

                                                                                              As beautiful as they might look, fresh fruit and other natural ingredients when blended are actually a lot duller than you’d think. If the gelato you’re looking at is super vibrant and bright colored, it means something unnatural has been added to it to make it that way.

                                                                                              One of the best tricks to determine this is to look  are pistacchios – pistacchios when blended actually come out to be a light brownish green, so the gelato should be that way too 😉

                                                                                              Fun Tip:

                                                                                              The “ch” in Italian sounds like the “k” in English, so in Italy, Pistacchio is pronounced “Pis-tak-ee-oh”! 😉

                                                                                              Good Pistacchio Gelato

                                                                                              3. Gelato is cheaper than you’d think

                                                                                              Cone of gelato

                                                                                              I feel like there’s this weird thing where people, for some reason, view gelato as something super fancy, and therefore they believe that it must be expensive. As a result, they don’t think twice when asked to fork over 6€ or 7€  for a small cup or cone, which just makes my heart hurt.

                                                                                              Even in big touristy cities, a small cup or cone of gelato shouldn’t cost you more than 2.50-3 Euro at the MOST. It’s cheap. It’s yummy. There’s no excuse you shouldn’t eat it every single day of your trip.

                                                                                              4. Bonus tip -look for metal canisters

                                                                                              Metal cannisters of gelato

                                                                                              We talked about the huge mountains above and how to avoid them BUT if you find gelato that isn’t even visible at ALL – you’ve hit the jackpot. If you see a Gelateria that has a bunch of tiny, fully covered circular canisters in the serving table, I need you to run to it. Because that…THAT is good gelato.

                                                                                              Note: this does NOT mean that gelato that ISN’T served in these metal cannisters is bad, it just means you have to “vet” it more 😉

                                                                                              And that is how exactly to find good gelato in Italy my friends. Happy eating! <3

                                                                                              Woman pointing to gelato sign

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