Authentic Italian travel, is there really such a thing?
Is it a tirelessly overused word, or a good idea that’s underdeveloped?
I live in Italy (lucky, I know) and I happen to think there is some genius in the idea.
I believe that you can travel in authentic ways. And that it has little to do with the location, and everything to do with the approach.
Authentic travel has been described as off the beaten path, non-touristy, immersing in the culture, the real deal and even more.
While there may be different ideas of what “authentic” travel means, I believe we are all searching for honest and real exchanges that connect us with the experience.
So, perhaps authentic travel is best described as experiences that reveal a sense of place or culture.
Authentic travel is really about finding the soul or energy of a place.
It’s less about the place and more about how we feel when we experience the place.
Authentic Italian travel is about creating more immersive ways to travel.
It’s something that we can proactively seek.
Leading us to go beyond just “seeing” to having experiences that connect, inspire, and transform. Experiences that enhance our well-being.
Tips For More Authentic Italian Travels
I’ve been living in and traveling around Italy for many years. I’ve visited the iconic attractions and explored the lesser-known corners. And been lots of places in-between.
I can certainly attest to the fact that there are endless places to explore and plenty of reasons to love Italy!
Most of my travels have been delightful and memorable. And a few adventures, not so much.
Yet, living here has taught me some things about how things work and the subtle nuances that make Italy, well Italy.
I used to travel to absorb as much as I could, but over the years I have changed my approach. I’ve become more mindful about how I travel.
As I began to focus more and more on health & well-being I began to slow down, explore like a local, and practice more mindful travel. To get to know the places better, connect more deeply, and find the local secrets!
As an advocate for wellness travel, I know it’s not just about practicing simple tips for healthier travels that make travel enriching. How we travel matters too. The mindset with which we approach traveling makes a difference in our experiences.
This holds true no matter where we travel. Whether it’s in Italy, England, NYC, or any other place in the world.
After hundreds of day trips, weekend getaways and extended summer vacations I have learned a thing or two about how to sink into the moments and better connect with the experiences.
Here I am sharing some of my favorite authentic Italian travel ideas. To help you better understand Italian culture, forge meaningful connections, and deepen your experience with local life.
So you can find your sense of place in Italy.
Learn some basic phrases before your trip.
While English is becoming more widely spoken, most Italians will appreciate your efforts to engage with their culture.
What better way to connect with the people you meet and even have a few laughs. And when all else fails, fall back on the universal language of using your hands to communicate. Which will certainly lead to more laughs!
Duolingo is a great place to start, and you can study for 5-10-15-20 minutes a day based on your proficiency goals.
Focus On Experiences
When planning your trip, think beyond your bucket list of where you want to go. Give some thought to what you would like to experience too!
Italy is more than a checklist of places to visit. It’s a living, breathing place rich in traditions, festivals, food heritage and more.
Are you looking for relaxation or outdoor adventure? Museums or festivals? Train ride or coastal drive? Cooking class or food tour? Walking or hiking? Or maybe all of them!
By focusing on what you want to get out of your time in Italy, you will be more intentional about your planning and create an itinerary that better matches your dreams and desires. Leading to more fulfilling travels!
Book Accommodation With Local Charm
Forego large/chain hotels and instead, book a B & B or rent an apartment in a more residential area.
Staying local will open the door to more contact with Italians and help you experience a greater feel for Italian life.
Taking advantage of small opportunities like this will allow you to meet locals and experience more of their cultures and traditions.
Optimize Your Dining
While many dining experiences in Italy are truly wonderful, sadly it’s not always the case.
To improve the chances of eating better, start by avoiding the main tourist areas. And anywhere there is a waiter standing outside trying to coax you inside!
Instead, take a turn or two off of the main tourist paths and look for an osteria.
Here you will find more local, traditional and seasonal foods. And, if you really want to dive in deeper with authentic eating in Italy, try a new dish every day!
Take A Tour
Take a tour- any kind of tour!
Whether a historical tour, food tour or museum tour- the advantage of a tour is that you will get a deeper look and better feel for at least one aspect of Italian culture.
Tours are easy ways to experience more authentic Italian travel.
My third visit to The Vatican Museum included a private group tour and it was fascinating how much I learned. It was much more insightful than my previous audio and guided tours. It was an enriching experience & worth every penny!
Get Off The Beaten Path
Take at least one off the beaten path adventure!
Visit a small village, get lost in a residential neighborhood or try a unique experience such as visiting an open-air WW1 museum.
Before you travel, research both the cities and the regions you will be visiting.
It’s quite surprising how much life has to offer outside of the famous tourist spots!
Get Up Early & Stay Out Late
This is one of my favorite things to do when I travel!
Early in the morning and late at night the volume of tourists and residents decreases, completely changing the feel of a place.
If you like to take photos, this is when you will find unpopulated places as well as a bit of solitude.
It’s a mindful and connective way to experience Italy.
Walk & Wander
There is no better way to freedom than to travel on foot.
You can meander at a slower pace, stop when curiosity strikes and investigate hidden corners at your leisure.
Be sure to wander into residential areas and take in the atmosphere of everyday Italian life, which can be worlds apart from experiences “on the beaten path”.
Interact With Locals
This is where the unexpected magic happens. And one of the things that I find enriches traveling the most.
Talking to locals enables you to make friends, experiences the rhythms of daily life and gather local insights.
Ask the owners of your accommodation where they dine locally. Strike up conversations everywhere-in stores, cafes, and restaurants. Take advantage of the fact that Italians really do love to talk.
Personally, this is one of my go-to tips. You just can’t beat interacting with locals as a way to experience a new place!
Chase Your Passions
Travel should always be about what makes you happy.
Bring added satisfaction & joy to your Italian travels by making time for what you love! In fact, asking yourself what you love to do on vacation, is an insightful wellness planning question.
There is no doubt that there are many amazing places to visit and experiences to have while in Italy. And truly, most of them are wonderful experiences.
But, don’t forget to work in some of your passions & interests. Whether it’s the love of bookshops, the great outdoors, Italian cars or culinary pursuits….dedicate some time to what makes your heart skip a beat or two!
No matter which of these tips for authentic Italian travel resonates with you, remember to savor every minute & enjoy “la Dolce Vita”.
Because one thing is for certain. No matter where your adventures take you, the memories you make will bring you joy that lasts a lifetime!
until the next time…
…live well – travel well – be well
More Wellness Inspiration…
Healthy Mind & Body Travel Tips to Boost Well-Being
Self-Care Travel Guide
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