How can I avoid bustling crowds of foreign tourists when I visit Italy?
This is probably one of the questions I get asked the most and I thought it might be interesting to answer it with a proper blog post.
I am not a tourism expert, I don’t know many of the things travel blogs recommend, but I live in Italy and I hate crowds when I am traveling, so I think I can definitely try and give you some ideas on how to avoid crowds in Italy whenever you decide to visit the country.
I think that there are two key factors that help you stay away from crowded places when you are in Italy: time and location. Picking the right time and the right location makes all the difference when it comes to having the perfect experience in Italy as a tourist who hates crowds and fellow tourists.
First of all: time. If you are really lucky and can visit the country whenever you want, you won’t have any problems visiting very famous tourist locations with (hardly) any people around. If cold weather is not an issue for you and want to visit famous spots like Rome, Venice, Florence, or Cinque Terre, the winter months are perfect to enjoy some quiet time there.
December can be crowded too, due to the holidays, but November, January (after the 6th), and February are really good months to visit those cities. The weather can be cold up north but this winter has been quite mild, for example, and you might even be able to enjoy the sunshine and nice temperatures.
For example, I live in a very popular tourist location – especially with Italian families – and being here in the summer can be a nightmare: no parking spots, no silence at night, long queues in restaurants and shops. But if you come in January or February, you’ll find the locals only. Everything is quieter and life goes at a slower pace, which is something I really enjoy.
Visiting a tourist place outside the peak season has a downside, of course: life is slow and quiet, which is good, but many restaurants and businesses can be closed. This doesn’t apply to big cities like Rome or Florence but it is undeniably true for areas like Cinque Terre or the Amalfi Coast. So you have to keep that in mind when planning your stay.
If the cold weather scares you but still want to try and visit Italy in the winter months, going south is always a good idea. Compared to the north of the country, the south generally has milder temperatures and more sunshine. In Sicily, especially, you might not find summer but definitely some sort of early spring in the midst of winter – which is perfect if you want to do some sightseeing!
If taking days off in the winter is not an option for you but still want to see some famous places, it might be difficult to avoid tourists in Italy. But you can pick your location carefully and have a more relaxed time. What I always suggest to people who want to visit big places like Florence or Venice but want to stay away from tourists, is to choose a smaller city nearby as their home base.
For example, if you want to visit Venice, you can plan to stay in Padova: it’s just 30-minutes by train from Venice, it is a really cool place with lots of interesting monuments to visit and a vibrant bar and restaurant life. In this way, you can go to Venice to visit but come back to Padova and enjoy life like a local.
Picking a small town allows you to move around using the train (this does not apply to remote areas, which can be hard to reach by train), to spend time in a place where you still have a good choice when it comes to food and dining but also to be in a quieter location where you can have a sense of what real life in Italy is.
If you are not interested in popular locations, it will be quite easy to avoid tourists in Italy: there are a lot of remote areas or lesser-known regions like Friuli that you can visit whenever you want without hassle. But even more visited places like Parma and the other beautiful cities in Emilia-Romagna are great for a relaxed holiday outside of the busy tourist routes.
I hope this post answers the question a bit. If you have other questions, just leave them here below!
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If you sign up to Giorno dopo giorno, you will receive an email every other day for 365 days. Each email will contain a prompt, a little exercise, something to watch, read, listen or something that will gently force you to practice your Italian every day, making it part of your daily routine.