1. Book ahead and I don’t just mean airfare and hotels. If there are restaurants you have your heart set on, call a few weeks ahead for reservations or at least call the first day you arrive in that city. Tickets for the most popular museums and sites – Florence’s Uffizi and the Vatican Museums in Rome – as well as those that have special tours such as the “secret tour” at Venice’s Doge Palace are musts for booking ahead. You can usually book directly with the museum or use a service such as our affiliate Select Italy for an additional fee.
2. Plan around a special event. In 2007, the big one is the Venice Biennale, the major contemporary art exhibition held once every two years. There are associated dance, theatre and music festivals but the art exhibition runs the longest, June 10 through November 21.
3. For something different, consider a Mediterranean cruise. Even if you don’t think you’re a cruise person (if you’re not try one of the small, elegant ships of Seabourn or Silversea. The cruise lines (even Carnival among them) are adding more unusal Italian ports of call – Princess is stopping at Ravenna this year; Oceania has added La Spezia; and Seabourn now stops at Monopoli and the island of Lipari.
4. Mind your Mondays. Keep in mind that generally the state-run museums are closed on Monday. (There are a number of privately run museums that remain open on Monday – and I’ll be compiling a list for the major cities in the future.) Also, most shops and boutiques are closed on Monday morning. Plan accordingly.
5. Don’t forget to learn something new. That’s one of the joys of Italy. Take a cooking class, learn how to make mosaics, stay at an agriturismo and observe a harvest. The mission of Dream of Italy is to bring you the best of all of these Italian experiences!