You are visiting the most famous cities in Italy: Rome, Florence, Venice. You don’t want to waste time to see another Madonna, another Crucifixion or another gilded table. All what you have always known about Italy is that there is good food, a trendy life-style and old traditions and this is what is worth to see. Right?
Yes and no.
Sure we have good food, fashion, design, cafès and lots of interesting traditions but we are all well aware that what we have in the present developed from the past. When Italians go and visit other Italian cities they are very curious about the history and the art of the place, and they do go in museums in order to know more about it.
In Torino museums are so large and important that I can take only one a day (last time at the museum of contemporary art I spent over four hours). And of course I went in the wonderful cafes, I had great local food and bought lots of Christmas presents.
Every time I go to Florence I dedicate half day to the museums and the rest to shopping. Same thing in Genova or in Bologna.
In Rome I can’t plan anything. I suddenly find myself in front of a palace or a broken column and I can’t resist to stop and wander around.
There is no way to understand the lifestyle of the many Italian cities, without learning about their past.
Here a few tips to make out of your journey to Italy a real full experience:
1. Before leaving to Italy try to look at some movies or read some novels that play in the place you are going to. Movies and novels convey immediately a sense of magic and love for the cities they are about.
2. Try to plan a balance of life-style and museums. Don’t be strict about museums in the morning; sometimes it is better to see them in the afternoon, when they are less crowded or the light is better.
3. If you can, book a local, experienced guide to visit museums and churches. Of course you were expecting that, as a guide, I’d say this! But there many good reasons. An experienced guide doesn’t need to show you how much she/he knows. She/he would try to go to your pace, especially if you interact by putting questions and making comments; it will help a lot to understand which are your interests and to personalize as much as possible the tour.
4. If you like the idea of guide, try to book one who lives in the place. If you come to Italy, book an Italian guide. A real local guide is part of your Italian experience. The way we talk, think, dress is part of the lifestyle you’d like to know about.
5. Choose museums you think you might like and not necessarily the most visited sites. If you have a short time in Venice, why do you really need to see St. Mark’s Basilica and sink into masses of people? Why should you go to the crowded Doge’s Palace in the morning when you can’t hear anything and you crash continuously into huge groups of tourists ? Both St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace show overwhelming beauty, but in order to understand Venice you can also visit the small Dalmatian Brotherhood, with enchanting Carpaccio’s paintings, or the Rococo Rezzonico Palace on the Grand Canal. They will tell you a lot about the history of the city, the taste of the Venetians, their sense of beauty and how they liked (and still like) to socialize.
Finally: if you can, allow yourself more time in a place. Don’t squeeze too much in your program. You might enjoy more a few empty hours than another ride into a new site.