I adore Italy: the food, the people, the landscape, the architecture,… I spent a lot of my life in Italy as a tourist or as a part of an Italian family, shopping, skiing, working, enjoying the nightlife or simply hopping over to have a coffee and a lunch (Trieste is 2,5 hours away from Zagreb so we used to decide on a Saturday midday we would love to have some Italian pizza and some new leather shoes in the afternoon).
Every time I go, I see thousands of tourist doing the same mistake in Italy: instead of letting them savor the Italian charm, they get eaten, chewed and spat by the profuse Italian culture. Learn how to enjoy Italy so you don't leave it like you were hitten by a train.
Travel to enjoy, not to impress
There is a lot of culture to see there? I agree.
But, if you intend to visit every church and museum, you should spend a few months in Italy. If you want to see all that should be seen in just a few days, you get stressed, obsessed and in the end, all the churches start to look the same.
Don't lie to yourself and don't travel to try to impress your friends.
People look ridiculous when they're running around Louvre from one painting to another, trying to look as educated art experts.
An expert enjoys a painting for at least 15 minutes, so to visit Louvre you need weeks.
We laugh about tourists who proudly say they visited 15 European countries in 2 weeks. The ones who stayed back home in Minnesota and watched a good travel documentary learned much more than the ones jumping around 15 European countries, just to show their passport stamps.
I used to take groups of 50 Spanish pharmacists to Italy where I gave them educational classes. We were landing in Rome or Florence and they had 6 hours before leaving for Tuscany, where the headquarter of the company was.
Six hours is NOTHING if you want to visit Rome or Florence. In each museum you should stay 2 hours at least, so even if you can teleport yourself from one place to another, you're able to visit a maximum of three places!
Spanish are obsessed with churches, much less than with the museums. They run from one church to another so they could later compete about who visited more. Quantity over quality. But they will laugh about the Americans visiting 15 countries in 2 weeks, without ever thinking they visited 20 churches in 3 hours.
Godere means enjoy, Italy means godere
I choose my battles. I choose one or two places I want to see, let's say a famous statue and a fountain close to one another, a famous food I want o try and a special x I could buy only here.
I sit down to have a coffee in front of my fountain, I have fun watching the Italian waiter serve drinks, flirt with any woman at the table and whistle after all the women passing by. I enjoy my pizza looking at a too fat Maria screaming from her window at 10 children playing around the plaza, yelling they have to come to eat immediately, while they are ignoring her to play some more. I observe 5 nuns laughing and whispering while having cappuccinos.
I try to pick up that place's vibe because that feeling is the only thing you can remember years later! You can't pick up the vibe while looking at pictures in a book about famous statues or a documentary about bustling Italian cities in summer. However, you can see that same statue much better on photography explained by an actual expert, without people pushing me around trying to take a perfect photo.
Sitting there and enjoying my cold Aperol Spritz is when I see one of my pharmacists coming back with her husband, hysterically looking at her watch. Two more are coming from another side. They nervously look around searching for me, for the others, for the bus, for some other church they could visit in 2 minutes they have still left while screaming at the same time, “Have you visited the Santa Maria del Fiore!?”
“Yes, and have you've been to the Santo Spirito?!”
“No, but we managed to enter La Cappella di San Marco….!!! There was a 20 meters line!”
“If there's time, I'd like to enter the Santa Maria of I don't know what!”
I wonder, what have they really seen? What have they learned about Florence? If someone puts away the originals and exposes cheap copies, would they actually notice?
I smile happily because if done properly, savoring Italy can only make you tremendously happy while looking at 50 sweaty, hysterical people who can't find their breath. Don't be that kind of tourist, Italy means “godere".