5 Simple Things That Make an Italy Vacation Magical


It’s fun creating an itinerary for your Italy vacation. Listing all the towns you’d like to explore and sites you plan to visit is exciting, don’t you think? But actually living out an itinerary is a different thing entirely! Once you get to Italy, you realize it’s virtually impossible to do and see all of the things on your list. Plus, most people forget to include 5 simple things that are the real key to making an Italy vacation unforgettable!

Here they are …

1. Time for chatting. There is a lot to take in when you visit Italy! Being surrounded by so much art and beauty can actually feel overwhelming. That’s why nothing beats talking about what you’ve done and seen over the day. It’s a wonderful way to relive your favorite moments and really soak up the experiences you’ve had. Plus, particularly with children, I like to ask them to think of 3 (or so) favorite things from that particular day. It’s a good way to narrow things down and focus on the events or moments that were super special.

2. Rest. It’s easy to underestimate distances and times on an Italy vacation. Little medieval towns on the map look so … well … little. But when you actually get there, you’re planned one-hour visit can easily turn into three … or all day. There is another gorgeous church to visit, another cobbled alleyway that begs to be explored, another spectacular panorama to be photographed. That means that days can get very long, and rest is really important. I suggest planning down-time in the late afternoon – those couple of hours before dinner – just for unwinding and relaxing. (Otherwise stress sets in – and we can’t have that on an Italy vacation!)

mary3. Alone Time. You know how little kids can get sick of each when they’ve spent too much time playing together? Well, yep, the same thing happens to us adults. Being over-tired and over-stimulated leaves less space in your brain for tolerance. (That’s my very unscientific explanation!) Whatever the reason, alone time on a long trip is important. Whether it’s an afternoon nap, a museum visit solo or shopping time while others climb that medieval tower, being by yourself for a bit gives you a chance to breathe – and an opportunity to miss them (and appreciate them) while they’re gone! 🙂

4. Variation. Day one: Visit churches and museums. Day two: Visit churches and museums. Day three: Visit churches and museums. Ugh! Too many Italy itineraries lack novelty – and novelty is stimulating! Creating days that vary from one another is the key. Today you might visit those museums and churches, but then tomorrow you take a hike through Etruscan ruins. That’s my kind of vacation! Contrast, novelty and lots of variation.

5. Spontaneity. When the opportunity arises be willing to cancel that other thing. I’ve seen people pass up incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences because it wasn’t in their plans. When the owner of a winery invites you to come and pick grapes – go! Recently, while hosting a lovely group of women from the northern US, that’s exactly what happened. We were spur-of-the-moment invited to pick grapes and taste wines at a nearby cantina. No, it wasn’t in the plan, but we certainly did go. And what a magical afternoon it was!


pamela off stradaPamela Haack is an Italy travel consultant and author of Off the Beaten Strada: Top 10 Favorite Etruscan Sites. She specializes in creating group trips and personalized experiences for travelers who enjoy active vacations in Italy – off the beaten strada.

Get your FREE copy of Pamela’s Italy Trip Planning Tips, plus her FREE Off the Beaten Strada ezine filled with recipes, regional stories, practical travel tips and news from off the beaten strada in the heart of Italy. Click here.


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  1. These are some great tips! I definitely agree that spontaneity and variety are ideal! My husband and I are going to look into booking one of the villas in Tuscany for a vacation we’re planning to take in March. Have you ever been to that part of Italy? What do you recommend seeing?

    • Yes, central Italy – Tuscany and Umbria – is the area in which I live and conduct small group tours. Of course there is plenty to see, and if you’re renting a villa, you’ll no doubt be driving. So much to see and do! 🙂

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