Avoid Italy’s tourist traps and see more of what matters

Andrea Hendrikx suggests the tourist traps in Italy to avoid, as well as some you should see.

Avoid Italy’s tourist traps and see more of what matters

There are so many beautiful places to visit in Italy you’d need a lifetime to take it in. Andrea Hendrikx has a few suggestions on tourist traps you should avoid, so you spend less time in lines and more time taking in the beauty of Il Bel Paese – the Beautiful Country.

Probably top of everyone’s bucket list while in Venice is to take a romantic gondola ride along the Grand Canal. A word of warning, it is very expensive and can cost anywhere from $65–$130 per person. Consider instead taking a ride across the Grand Canal aboard a traghetto, the water taxis used by locals which will only cost you around $5.

Avoid the Leaning Tower of Pisa – it really is just a tilting old tower, surrounded by endless stalls filled with cheap and nasty souvenirs. Head instead to San Gimignano with its perfectly preserved tower houses and medieval architecture.

Lakes of Lombardy
Sure, you might catch a glimpse of George and Amal (Clooney, that is) as every other tourist at Lake Como is hoping to do. I would suggest the serene Lake Orta with its beautiful island monastery in the centre of the lake.

For the best views over Florence, avoid the Duomo – one of Florence’s most famous and most visited sites, but with a 463-step climb to the top to jostle for position with dozens of other tourists. Choose instead to visit the Piazzale Michelangelo, with the added bonus of being able to include the Duomo in your photographs.

As far as the iconic sight of Italy goes, the Colosseum probably is top of everyone’s list, but if you want to avoid queuing for hours I would visit the Verona Arena instead. Granted, it is a much smaller version of the Colosseum but is perfectly preserved. If you have the time, I suggest seeing an opera at the Verona – this was a highlight of my trip when I visited Italy last year.

Have you been to Italy? Which parts do you think are unmissable and which, in hindsight, would you have given a miss?



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    22nd Sep 2018
    Oh, and try to find a public toilet. If you do and don't mind the queue it'll only cost you about a dollar or more.
    24th Sep 2018
    There are none we could ever find geordie.

    Andrea, you are selling the dream and have provided pictures of the ONLY places worth visiting. We toured Italy for a month recently and here is the truth:

    1. Venice - a dirty graffiti run down dump where tourists are ripped off for everything. The many pizza shops, for want of a better name, sell heat up commercial pizza. Disgusting. The only place worth a visit is St. Marks Square which has thousands of tourists in it. Venice is sold with all of the charm but the truth is the management of the city rips all the money out of it, refuses to keep it in a fit state to visit and relies on advertising to get the suckers there.

    2. Pisa - this was the complete opposite to Venice. A pleasure to visit but don't venture out of the walled section as not pretty.

    3. Tuscany - like Venice a grubby area where commercial and old world charm coexist. Tuscany is a weed infested place with very little to offer. You picture of San Gimignano shows the only town really worth a visit in the whole region and we were there for a week of intensive sightseeing.

    4. Lake Como - nice. Clooney's town, Maggiaro, was pretty as was Bellagio.

    5. Florence - St. Paul's Square was nice but not a lot more worth seeing. Crowds galore and gypsies to watch out for as well.

    6. Rome? - we were glad we did not go. We met a man at the airport on the way home who had been and said it was a grubby hole and much more.

    You forgot a real gem Andrea. Bergamo. Not a tourist trap but well worth a visit.

    The other thing you fail to mention is that Italians are masters at ripping off tourists. Dishonesty is their strength and with tourists flocking to the country they milk them all. Individually some are nice but as a culture they are crooked opportunists. That was the most unpleasant part of our time in Italy.
    Oh by the way....for those who decide to go (good luck!) do NOT, I repeat do NOT think cars will stop if you walk onto a pedestrian crossing. They WILL run you over. No kidding. Says something about Italians that they would willingly kill you if you try to cross the road at a marked crossing.

    My advice: DON'T TRAVEL TO ITALY. AVOID! There are better places. Go to the south of France. Wonderful. Go to Germany. Pleasant. Go to Greece. Enjoyable. Avoid Italy unless you are on a 7 day all inclusive tour....and then don't be disappointed if the photos Andrea is selling the place with above are the exception rather than the rule. They are.
    22nd Sep 2018
    There’s no need to queue for hours to see anything in Rome if you book a tour in advance. We did a night tour of the Colossseum when it’s closed to the public, just two small tour groups, and you don’t have to worry about sunscreen.
    22nd Sep 2018
    We did the same thing Miranda, much better way to go & a whole lot cooler. We did the same thing at the Vatican only we got in early morning before the crowds. There are a lot of sites you can book that let you skip the line although that doesn't mean you don't have to queue at all.
    double j
    22nd Sep 2018
    The Cinqueterre , the 5 little coastal villages where you walk from one to the other along apath following the coast. There are no cars allowed in the villages but a train goes through each village. It is a bit touristy but well worth a visit . I have been twice and loved it
    24th Sep 2018
    I forgot that one. A nice series of towns and the train runs from La Spezia.
    My only annoyance was being charged to walk the track when 2 out of the 4 walks had been closed over the last decade due to rock falls. They took the money but never fixed the tracks. This is Italy and Italians all over. As for the rest of the historic country money collected never finds its way into keeping amenities/tracks in usable condition. This repeating theme and disrespect for their own country got up my nose and I would never recommend anybody to go their unless on a 7 day tour. Even then better places to visit.
    22nd Sep 2018
    Miss Venice? That would be madness - go in Jan - no cruise ships - stay somewhere like Dosoduro and just eat locally. It’s cheap and marvellous!
    24th Sep 2018
    Busy anytime of year. Best time to go if you have to is around April. Fantastic weather.
    Food? Utter crap! To be avoided. They do however manage to hide McDonalds so that visitors have to buy the local low grade rubbish.
    22nd Sep 2018
    I like some of the tips (the taxi in Venice, better views from the Piazzal Michelangelo in Florence etc) but I think it would be a shame if you were on a 'trip of a lifetime' not to actually visit some of these things. The Duomo in Florence has amazing architecture and design features.
    The Leaning Tower in Pisa is iconic. Yes, it is touristy but it is great to see it 'for real', even if you don't enter it.
    Other peoples comments about booking ahead etc are also practical ways of seeing these places but without the problems of crowds etc.
    24th Sep 2018
    The Leaning Tower was the ONLY clean place in Italy.
    The Duomo in Florence was amazing but St Marks in Venice and St Pauls in Milan equally impressive. What you may not know is that even what appears to be tin pot churches will blow your mind once you step through the front door. Try Bermago. No rip off entry charges and the 3 churches in the old part are off the scale. You'd never imagine what's inside when you look at the outside of them.

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