What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Italy? Picturesque landscapes, scrumptious foods, and fabulous wine – that’s what was on my mind when I set off to backpacking across Italy. And I wasn’t disappointed!
I was told by my friends who had previously been backpacking to pack lightly. Therefore, I didn’t leave with much besides what I could stuff into my leatherskinshop bag (https://leatherskinshop.com/collections/jackets). A four-hour-long train ride took me to Italy from Zurich. Once my soles touched the Italian soil, I could hardly wait for my adventures to begin. While I loved every second spent there, my trip also taught me some precious lessons.
Today, I intend to pass them on to you, so that your trip to Italy goes much more smoothly than mine!
So, shall we get started?
Lesson #1: patience is well-rewarded
If you come from a big city as I do, then you are used to doing at least five things at once. While your food is getting warm in the microwave, your fingers could be flying off your keyboard or your phone. You text a friend while answering the door and focus on not stepping over the cat.
These mundane things speed up our lives into one big blur as we multi-task our way through the day. However, once you get to Italy, take off your leather jacket and wait patiently for the food you ordered at a restaurant. Once you do this, you will begin to see how much you can soak in without being interrupted by your phone or any other gadget. Absorb the beautiful environment around you.
Keep in mind that things WILL go wrong and when they do, you can’t lose your cool. Be patient and seek help. Late buses, stolen luggage, canceled flights, and stomach bugs are chomping at the bit to ruin your trip for you. Don’t let them! Have backup plans, such as what you intend to do when severe weather puts a hold on the outdoor activities!
Lesson #2: look for quality and not quantity
If there is one golden rule of backpacking across places like Italy – steeped in history, amazingly picturesque, and full of modern and historical wonders – it is to explore few remarkable places! It is better that you spend more time by visiting fewer places, instead of trying to cover as many as you can. Traveling can get exhausting – that too pretty quickly. So, before you even set foot in Italy, put on your thinking hat, and plan things out.
Don’t just travel, but also absorb the energy of the places you visit during your trip. Make sure you have plenty of time to sit down and allow yourself to let your surroundings soak in. It is better to enjoy a few sites than burning yourself out by trying to visit a dozen of them.
Lesson #3: spontaneity is key
It is smart of you to have packed your leather boots in preparation for rainy days or bag for a party you intend to attend. However, if you are not going to leave just a smidgen of room for spontaneous plans, then you will be missing out on what makes backpacking so great!
Check out the Eurail pass and see which trains you can hop on. Do something that you haven’t really planned out to the smallest detail. It is good to stick to the itinerary you planned, but maybe you could wing it too. For instance, it might seem almost sacrilege not to visit Venice when backpacking in Italy. However, if you get a chance to skip it and spend an extra day in Florence, go ahead! The beauty of backpacking is that there is little holding you back. So, live on the go!
Lesson #4: step off the beaten path and go backpacking in eastern Italy
The East of Italy is free from tourists because not many of them visit Abruzzo, Umbria, or Marche. In fact, you may not even find many hostels in those regions. A visit to these places might be like peeking into the authentic Italian culture because you are unlikely to meet anyone but Italian residents there.
Marche is as amazing as Tuscany if you love sampling great wine or enjoying the rural environment. Tourists also visit Tuscany for its medieval villages, which you will also find in Marche. You can also spend some time at the Adriatic coast while you are there or go hiking in the Sibillini Mountains.
If you want a lesson in history, then Umbria and its significant sites should be definitely on your list. Among them, prominent is the ancient waterfall created by Romans or the Cascata delle Marmore. It is an engineering marvel that should be viewed at all costs.
St. Francis of Assisi’s birthplace awaits you in the town of the same name. If medieval art fascinates you, check out its basilica. Perugia is a study in contrasts since you will find a very modern university housed in a lovely medieval town on your visit!
Keep your boots on because you have yet to see Abruzzo. One of the last vestiges of Italian wilderness, Abruzzo remains yet untainted. Spend some time on its beaches, visit a medieval village or three main ones like Scanno, Sulmona, and Chieti, or hike the day away at one of the parks in Gran Sasso and Maiella!
Lesson #5: take souvenirs for home
Before you say bid adieu to Italy, you need to spend some time buying gifts and souvenirs to take back home! Start buying as soon as you reach the Amalfi Coast because you won’t find unique handmade leather-soled sandals or handcrafted ceramic goods anywhere else.
Of course, a bottle of Italian wine or the world famous lemon liqueur, Limoncello, won’t go unappreciated either. If you forgot to consult your shopping list in Amalfi, then Florence should be your next stop for authentic leather goods. If you hit Venice on your way out, then go for delicate and intricately constructed Venetian paper goods.
Leatherskinshop crossbody totes and travel backpacks make for great travel products. If you have been thinking of globetrotting or backpacking, grab your Leatherskinshop bag and visit the real, rustic Italy today!
ABOUT Alycia Gordan
Alycia Gordan is a freelance writer who loves to read and write articles on healthcare technology, fitness and lifestyle. She is a tech junkie and divides her time between travel and writing. You can find her on Twitter: @meetalycia