Tag Archives: Navigate Italy

The 5 biggest mistakes you make when traveling in Italy

For over a decade of traveling I have made almost every mistake possible. I have also witnessed countless travelers make Bmistakes that have ruined the trip of a lifetime. In an effort to help others learn from these mistakes, they’re written out below.

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How I Navigated My Way to Lake Como and How You Can Too

Lake Como (or Lago di Como, in Italian) is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  lago di comoThere are few places in the world where it feels like God actively spends his free time.  Especially when we are talking about Italy, the place where beauty is born.   The lake is everything it’s cracked up to be and more. It’s a peaceful mountain top retreat, accessible through a sleepy passage of cottages, and small cities.  Looking back on this trip, there’s a reason why a Las Vegas casino, George Clooney, and artist throughout the ages, claim this lake as part of their identity.

Here are five tips to consider when navigating your way to Lake Como.

  • Getting to Milan. Wherever you are, I recommend getting to Lake Como (lago di Como) from Milan. Whether you fly into Milan, or take a train to get there, the city gives you the best launching point into the mountains. It’s a short forty-five minute train ride through the Italian alps, before reaching the edge of the lake.
  • Train to Como. The train to Como departs from several train stations in Milan. Not to mention, there’s more than one train with service to Lake Como. The main train station on the lake is called Como Nord Lago.
  • Cost: Of all the pricy train tickets in the country, the ticket to Como is very economical. The average ticket costs €4,50 for a forty-five minute trip.
  • The lake towns and beyond. Como, is the gateway town the lake is named after. There are several other cities on the lake, accessible by the roadways around the lake, or directly by ferry. There are two types of ferries that service the lake. The lake is serviced by a hydrofoil (the fast) ferry, and a normal (slower) ferry. The difference in ferries is time and price. Both ferries are not cheap – as far as ferries are concerned.  The normal ferry is €28,00 for an all-day pass.  The hydrofoil cost €15,00 for each one-way trip. (Stepping off the dock at one station and stepping onto the dock at the next station.)  For example, a round trip ticket, on the hydrofoil, from Como, to Bellagio, is €30,00. While the all-day pass will carry you to an unlimited amount of cities. Click here for ferry timetable.
  • Set your watch. The atmosphere around the lake is intoxicating, and often, time seems to fall by the way side.  If you spending the evening in one of the cities around the lake it’s a great feeling of bliss, but for those returning to Milan be sure to keep an eye on the time.  When I was there, I had not secured my spot in Milan, and almost didn’t get back before the sun went down.  Trying to find a place to spend the night, in an unfamiliar city, in the pitch black, with full luggage, is not a recipe for success. (Although, often a recipe for adventure. However, due to my timeline, I was not in the mood.)

These five tips are taken directly from my travel notes.  If you find any other suggests would be helpful, please leave them in a comment below.

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Why Italo Is The Best Ticket in Town

Today, in Rome, I was finishing some things on my to-do list, and planned on leaving tomorrow for Bologna.  My plan was to  take the bus up north, as research for a future blog post, but as I was investigating the bus timetables, an advertisement caught my eye. The ad featured the new train system called Italo.  The train is the first privately owned, and operated train system in Italy. The train is pioneered, designed, and built by Ferrari.

(Click here to access the Italo site.)

The new service caught my eye and I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to ride. To be completely honest with you I’m writing this blog post while on the train.

Here are the 6 reasons Italo is the best ticket in town, and why you should test drive.

  1. Luxury. The train is nice, very nice.  Every seat is uniquely designed to provide each passenger with amenities unseen by any other train system in Italy. For those passengers who ride in the first class (Prima) food, coffee, and other services are provided.  There is also free wifi, tv, and movies, onboard. Lastly, the train is very clean. The clean factor really does set Italo a part from the Trenitalia’s bullet train the Frecciarossa.
  2. Comfort. Each seat is larger and gives each passenger more room. The train and seats absorb most of the shock from the railway lines. Result: leaving each passenger with a smooth and comfortable ride. Lastly, Italy passengers can enjoy the comfort of the Italo lounge at most, if not all, train stations.
  3. Design. The train has a noteworthy designed.  The same attention to detail expected from Ferrari is reflected in the train. Everything is clean, and is an expression of Italian modern design.
  4. Silence.  The train is very quiet, and smooth. Even at our top speed of 300 kmh (or 186 mph) the “silence factor” is remarkable. Again, noticeably quiteter than the Frecciarossa – Italy’s other fast train.
  5. Convenience.  The ticket purchasing process was the easiest experience I have ever had in Italy.  I bought the tickets online, it took about 7 minutes, and the tickets were emailed to me immediately.   The Italo team is strategically located throughout the train station and surprisingly egger to help. On the platform there are staff members directing people to the location of their train car while answering questions.
  6. Price. The most striking thing about Italo is the price.  The base, or economy, tickets run between €20 – €25 each way.  Business class tickets run about the same as the second class tickets on the Frecciarossa – about €45 each way.  I wrote a blog post on the advantages of the Trenitalia’s Frecciarossa last year. Click here to view the blog post, The Cost of Train Tickets.

The train is a great new way to get around Italy.  It will be there first high speed train system to reach Venice (no more Harry Potter trains). In the back of my mind, I wonder if Italo can keep their service, and amenities fresh with consistency.  Only time will tell. However, I bet it will be the new standard in Italian railway travel.

The call to action, you must take it for a test-drive!

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6 Preparations to Successfully Navigate the Intercity

The first time I tried to get from point A to point B in Rome I failed miserably.  The city was so busy and not clear marked – or so I thought – to properly direct me anywhere.  Yesterday I caught up with a friend who just spent the past year traveling the world.  Her trip was very missional in focus and she spent a lot of time helping orphanages, fighting against human trafficking, and working a variety of building projects.  During out conversation, I brought up how much I like Rome, She immediately said “I hated Rome.” I was surprised, especially after seeing a huge chunk of the world.  She said “It was too busy and it took me forever to find things I wanted to see.”

It made me realize that she was right.  I have spent so much time in Rome that I forgot how difficult it is to navigate the intercity.  As I thought about it most of the cities I visited for the first time were a headache to try and “figure out” for the first time.

Here are just a few European cities I had trouble navigating the first time through:

  • Rome
  • Naples
  • Venice
  • Munich
  • London
  • Frankfurt
  • Salzburg
  • Vienna

Most of these cities are fairly straight forward and I realize everyone’s’ struggles are different.  For me traveling came with a learning curve.

Here are 6 intercity preparations I make before traveling to a new city – or an old one.

  1. By reviewing a metro/bus map online before you arrive. Sounds straight forward but know where you need to be and how you are getting there are invaluable.  Just waving down a cab and saying “to this address.” Isn’t going to cut it.
  2. By downloading free Smartphone apps:  Most metropolitan cities have bus, metro, or tram apps available for your Smartphone. I have found a lot of them to be free. They can mean a 20 minutes difference.
  3. By asking locals opinion before you venture out.  Most locals are very proud of their city. And, if the city is visited often by tourists, they will be used to people asking questions.  They can be a great resource to double check information.
  4. By knowing what options you have available.  Not all cities offer all the same amenities; not all people prefer to travel on a train.  By knowing what public transportation is available to you before you arrive will help take the stress off of getting to your destination.
  5. By budgeting accordingly.  Most people do not even think about budgeting for metro or bus tickets; especially, when one only costs €1,50.  Most cities have website that will give you an idea of what tickets will cost and if there are any package deals available.
  6. By allotting the proper amount of time.  This one always gets people.  There are many who underestimate the amount of time it takes to get to any given destination – especially during peak tourist season. You generally know one of two of these people.  I recommend at lease an extra 15 to 20 minutes, depending on where you are headed, per location or sight.  It is always good to see 100% of all the items for that day – verses 80%.

The preparation time you have before a trip will make or break you.  These tips save time and allow for smooth navigation while traveling.

Question of the day:

In your opinion, what is the worst city to try and navigate?

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