Traveling is not only about purchasing plane tickets or lounging next to the pool. If you are visiting an astonishing country such as Italy, you need to experience it as if you were a local. Understanding mentalities, ways of life, and even sacrifices made by the country’s residents will open up your mind, and will ultimately transform you into a more educated person.
1) Shop like an Italian
This may be highly exciting for some people. However, we don’t mean experience shopping for luxury designer handbags or leather products. If the goal is to live as a local, you need to get up early and visit the village on market day. While you may get sucked into buying a variety of things you don’t need at that time (i.e. olives, breads, cheeses), but you will have a first hand account of how locals are kind, respectful and hardworking.
Plus, if you’re avid cheese lovers, you will be pleasantly surprised by the variety the market offers. You may also find certain boutiques selling handmade jewellery, and who wouldn’t want a one-of-a-kind Italian present?
2) Find a private local guide
Although there is a chance that you can experience the local lifestyle by joining a guided tourist group, the experience won’t be the same as to when you have your own private tour guide. There are many side streets, alleyways, hidden gems that a big bus can’t reach, or for a reason or another, can’t take you to where you want to go. Thus find a person who you can plan your journey with, a local who is interested in understanding what interests you!
3) Meet local farmers and chefs
Italy is infamous for its deliciously fresh food. And your trip to Italy should be the opportunity to enjoy the regional cuisine, and to submerge yourself into many flavourful explorations. You can visit a Tuscan winery or attend culinary classes, demonstrations, food stations and markets which are aimed at teaching people how to make use of simple ingredients and fresh spices.
For example, if you love cycling, there is an astonishing Tuscany by the Sea bicycling vacation. Your imagination and learning skills will be challenged, as you will learn how to make traditional Tuscan Cantucci, which would translate into a buttery almond cookie usually served with a famous glass of cherry red wine.
4) Experience life as an Italian resident
This one is a must: you will not be able to experience Italy in all its beauty without stepping into an Italian household. Culturally speaking, Italians are known for their close-knit family bonds, and being invited in their home should be considered a treat. You will be asked to indulge on a native dish, a mind-challenging conversation and a glass of wine, and it will all be worth your time.
5) Stay in boutique properties
There is a certain flair to living in a vintage-looking boutique. Especially after a tiring day exploring the countryside or architecture, wouldn’t you love sleeping in a farmhouse which has been renovated into an inn? There are many such properties available across Italy, and you shouldn’t be shocked that more and more tourists are opting for these unique boutiques.
Although you want to make your trip a relaxing vacation, there is much exploring to be done in Italy. What we’ve seen above are just 5 examples of what you can do in order to experience the true Italian way of life. There are many more options which someone can choose from, nevertheless the most important aspect is to understand and open your mind to appreciating life as a local, comprehending what people do beside eating pasta and drinking wine!
Photo credit: Tuscany Untouched tours