Planning a solo trip to Italy can be incredibly exciting. From the famous sights of Rome to the colorful building lining the Amalfi Coast, it’s a country waiting to be explored. However, you might be wondering exactly how to do it alone.
Travelling Italy by yourself it’s relatively straightforward – there’s a well trodden tourist track to follow, and if you’re feeling brave, plenty of hidden gems and lesser-known activities to get stuck into. Plus, the locals love helping out tourists and immersing you in their culture, as long as you’re respectful.
Before putting together your itinerary for your solo trip to Italy, it’s worth reading through our top tips to ensure you have the safest and most memorable trip possible.
Pack your money belt
If you’re a seasoned solo traveler, this will be a common bit of kit, but if not, it’s one we definitely recommend investing in. If you are visiting cities synonymous with pickpockets, a money belt is the perfect way to store your money whilst strolling around town or seeing the sights. Whilst we’re not suggesting pickpockets operate everywhere in Italy, purchasing a money belt is a preventive measure that will ensure you’re not an easy target.
In addition to utilizing more modern methods like this, it’s a good idea to keep your purse or wallet out of sight in all situations whilst travelling solo. Do not carry all of your cash and cards at any one time — store spare cards and money securely at your accommodation. If you do forget your money belt when travelling to Italy, try to make sure any money, cards and valuables you carry with you are kept in a zipped pocket as a minimum, ideally inside your coat or jacket.
Learn the language
Meeting local people along the way is inevitable on any trip abroad, however, making the effort to connect with local people in Italy in their own language could open the door to new opportunities. Taking the time to learn basic Italian phrases, compliments and questions could help you to access experiences and encounters travelers wouldn’t usually have the chance to enjoy.
Being able to communicate with locals on your trip to Italy will not only help you make new connections, but will also be recognised as a sign of respect for the country you’re visiting. It’s always considered polite to say hello and goodbye, whilst having a handful of small talk phrases under your belt may also be useful in social situations. If you can’t manage to memorize it all before you go, think about purchasing a pocket-size handbook before you travel.
Go beyond typical tourist activities
From wine-tasting and cooking classes, to guided tours of museums and monuments; everyone’s familiar with the well known, must-do experiences in Italy. However, don’t limit yourself to only including the usual activities in your itinerary. There’s much more to experience in Italy, and most of it is at your fingertips — if you know the right places to look.
By heading off Italy’s beaten path, you’ll find countless hidden gems which, in turn, provide a range of unique and unusual experiences. Adventurous individuals can experience the ‘Angel’s Flight’, a high-speed zip wire journey between the towns of Castelmezzano and Pietrapertosa in Southern Italy, whilst inquisitive minds may prefer taking part in an archeological dig not far outside of Rome. Regardless of whether you choose something common, or something less popular, make sure to double check whether your activities and experience require advanced pre-booking – or you may miss out!
Bring your tripod
Whilst travelling alone is wonderful in many senses, it does mean you forgo having a personal photographer on hand at all times. However, there’s no need to worry about having to ask strangers to take your picture – you can still capture plenty of photographs and memories from your trip to Italy, as long as you remember to pack your tripod!
If you purchase a smartphone tripod — which can be as cheap as £10 online — it’s usually lightweight and easy to fit into a handbag or backpack, making it easy to carry around day-to-day. Some more modern tripods also come with a handy remote which allows you to take your picture when you’re ready, without having to rush to beat a timer. If you’re an advanced photographer with professional equipment that you plan on taking with you, you’ll find plenty of tripods online which will fit your camera too — meaning you’ll have incredible imagery to bring home to your family and friends!
Beware of scooters in Rome
Whilst Italy is not typically a dangerous country, in Rome, scooter drivers seemingly follow rules of their own. As a solo traveler, it’s easy to get lost in reading your map, looking on Google for somewhere to eat, or simply admiring the buildings and sights around you. However, be cautious that scooters in the city can cause serious harm.
When crossing roads in Rome, make sure to look both ways before crossing — even when you’re in what may seem like a quiet side street. Scooters don’t always stop if nobody is coming from the other direction, especially at night, so can often appear to come out of nowhere. By law, it’s your responsibility to remain aware and stay safe when crossing the road, as traffic will have the given right of way, so remain cautious when wandering around alone and try not to become distracted.
Keep in contact
Travelling to Italy alone, especially for the first time, can be a scary concept — not only for the person travelling solo, but also for friends and family back at home who may be left wondering where they are. That’s why it’s important to find ways to stay in contact, ensuring at least one person knows your safe and well as regularly as possible.
Whilst travelling, especially in less densely populated areas of Italy, remember that your phone can be your best friend. Whilst you may not always be able to ring or text somebody, you can share your location in advance with a range of trusted friends or a family member, allowing them to see where you are and when you were last active. This can be done via text message or through the ‘Find My Friends’ app on Apple iPhones, or via Google Maps on Android devices.
Stay somewhere that’s open 24 hours
As a solo traveler, you may want to spend more time considering where you stay, as there’s a lot of questions to consider, like whether you want to share a room with strangers and how close to the city you want to be. Regardless of where you choose to stay, any solo traveler’s top consideration should be how safe the accommodation is.
If you want to feel secure at all times of the day, it’s recommended to stay in a 24-hour hotel or hostel. This means there’ll be someone at the front desk all day and all night, meaning should there be an emergency or a situation where you may require assistance, there’s someone to turn to. Most of these hotels and hostels also feature private rooms and bathrooms, so there’s no need to share if you don’t wish to. Before heading out of your accommodation, note down your hotel or hostel’s phone number too — the 24-hour service may come in handy when you’re out and about in Italy too.
Like local people in most countries, Italians are very proud of their history and culture. As a solo tourist, it’s essential to follow their lead when it comes to respecting Italy’s traditions — it’s best to blend with the crowd than stand out for all the wrong reasons.
In Italy, it’s essential to cover up when visiting religious buildings like churches and cathedrals. You shouldn’t enter wearing shorts or skirts above the knee, or wearing a top that’s sleeveless or exposes your stomach. For this reason, it’s best to carry a scarf or jacket with you if you plan to visit anywhere like this, to ensure you can cover up quickly! It’s also worth noting that table manners are particularly important in Italy; Italians will rarely share food from their plates, and it’s also frowned upon to consume alcohol in excessive amounts in public, except when eating. Keeping in mind these simple tokens of respect will help ensure you have an authentic experience, whilst also keeping the locals on your side!
Avoid falling for tourist scams
Similarly to most major cities, Italy’s capital of Rome is unfortunately home to many street scammers. In their eyes, tourists — and particularly solo travelers — are an easy target, and whilst some are only out to make easy money, others are locals who are genuinely struggling and view street work as their last resort.
Pickpocketing is one of the most common tourist traps in Italy, with the Bus 64 route proving one of the most commonly targeted paths — featuring stops at many of the city’s most famous sights, tourists become easily distracted and, therefore, easier to approach. Another common scam takes place in restaurants, with waiters claiming there’s no menus left. While it may seem easy to believe, by ordering without seeing the menu — and therefore, the prices — you leave yourself open to receiving a very hefty bill at the end of your evening. The general rule here? Keep your wits about you, and if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.