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Italy is the perfect place to enjoy solo travel and for women particularly it is a popular choice. Inspired by Italian experiences in movies and books, like Eat, Pray, Love, we dig a little deeper into the details of making a dream solo trip a reality and an experience to cherish forever.
Today we’re talking about traveling solo in Italy. As well as convincing you that you are indeed brave enough and capable enough, we share tips on how to prepare, what to consider and how to make the most of your time there, And maybe one day, like Sierra, you too could end up dancing in a piazza with fresh cherries for earrings.
Even if you don’t intend to travel solo, this episode uncovers some great tips for planning the type of trip to Italy that suits you, particularly if you want to get in touch with more local experiences beyond the sightseeing highlights.
You can also read an article that Sierra wrote for us, to accompany the podcast – Solo Travel in Italy Done Right: 10 Tips You Need to Know
What you’ll learn this episode
- Break past the fear fog – it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and therefore want to avoid things at all, so breaking things down, working out plans and how you can save etc gives you a sense of control and power
- Don’t get distracted by bucket list sites, that might not really interest you and think about what you really want to experience – this will guide where you choose to go and what type of accommodation etc
- Workaway is a great organisation to find hosts you can stay with and people to connect with
- You can get a lot of confidence from learning a language, but even if you don’t know a language well, a couple of tips are to:
- learn compliments in Italian to help make connections. Sierra finds the phrase “il tuo giardino è bello!” (your garden is beautiful!) is particularly useful in smaller towns and villages
- learning some local dialect/slang also helps you stand out of the crowd and make connections with locals
- When using public transport, planning is key, and always arrive early and keep asking/checking you’re in the right place/direction
- Meetup.com – local language exchange groups to find Italians getting together to practise their English and you can get to practise your Italian
- Hostels can be a great way to connect and nowadays there are lots of private rooms and luxury options available
- If you go out for a drink, position yourself at the bar – this provides great opportunities to start chatting to people
- Florence is a great starter city for first-time solo travelers – it’s very walkable and it’s easy to take day trips via train to Lucca and other Tuscan towns and villages as day trips
- If you’ve been to Italy before and would like to get a little more adventurous, the area north of Lucca, is great to explore by car. Full of small, quiet villages, where life slows its pace
- Forgive yourself if you make a mistake! Getting past challenging situations will build your confidence
Safety tips for solo trips
- Don’t underestimate and ignore your intuition in situations
- Sometimes, it’s worth paying more to stay in a more central/busier area and/or have a 24-hour reception available in an unfamiliar place.
- In cities, always keep an eye on your luggage
- Use What’s App to share your live locations with a trusted friend and knowing at which point they should worry if you haven’t checked back in
Driving tips for solo trips
- When renting a car – it’s worth getting to the car rental place a couple of hours early, as the process can take a while so then you get to leave when you tended
- Learn the limited traffic zones before you travel can help you avoid getting unexpected fines. Click here for more details on how they work and ask the rental company when you pick up your car
- Getting gas – you’re generally going to get your car filled up for you at the gas station
Eating tips for solo trips
- Eating alone can take a bit of getting used to, but can be such a joy once you get used to it. It’s easy to get on your phone and start messages or looking at photos, but try to put everything away and soak in the whole experience (especially what you are eating!)
- Joining a food tour is a fabulous way to meet people as well as getting to try some wonderful local dishes. Eating Europe does interesting neighborhood food tours in cities throughout Italy
- If someone has helped you with your trip in some way – offer to buy them lunch or dinner as a thank you
- Embrace dining alone – Enjoy being the mysterious woman in the corner with a story!!
About our guest – Sierra Busch
Sierra Busch grew up in the mountains of north Georgia in the United States. Her favorite workouts happen in salsa clubs, she’s addicted to gelato, and she’s never truly happy unless the mountains are less than an hour away. She studied Fine Art and Business before moving to New York City to follow her artistic passions.
Shortly after, she transitioned into the travel industry, working for top boutique agencies in NYC and Europe before founding Creative Edge Travel in 2017. She loves helping others experience Italy’s far-flung places, fading traditions, and phenomenal nature through genuine connection with locals. Sierra has more than a decade of solo travel experience, from the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana to the jaw-dropping mountains of Albania and the tiniest villages of Italy.
Through her work, she aims to help the world become a place that respects and protects the wisdom held within the roots of its cultures. Her interest in sustainable tourism, cultural conservation, and genuine connection form the base of every travel experience she creates. You can find her painting and cooking on the weekends or heading out for the nearest adventure!
You can find Sierra on these channels:
- Sierra’s website – creativeedgetravel.com
- Facebook Group: Authentic Travel Italy
You can find the E-book by going to CreativeEdgeTravel.com and clicking the banner at the top!
Places mentioned in the show
- Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome – where Elizabeth Gilbert gazes out of the eternal city, in Eat, Pray, Love
- Cortona – where Sierra first went to Italy to study
- Campania – a region in Southern Italy a region celebrated for its climate, the fertility of the land and the astonishingly beautiful landscapes.
- The island of Ischia – in the Gulf of Naples, where Sierra truly fell in love with solo travel
- Puglia – where Sierra had the truly local experience of cherry picking. Check out our podcast Episode #046: Foodie adventures in Puglia.
- Florence – a great city for a first time solo traveller
- Barga – medieval town and comune of the province of Lucca
- Garfagnana – the area north of Lucca
- Isola Santa – a beautiful old village, built in the Middle Ages, in a stunning setting on the banks of the Turrite Secca river
- Italian Made Easy – a good starter book when learning Italian and to find some useful phrases when traveling
- Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia – the iconic, bestselling book by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Under the Tuscan Sun – by Francis Mayes
- The novels of author Ellena Ferrante are great inspiration for trips to Italy
Resources from Untold Italy
- Read the article which Sierra wrote to accompany this podcast – Solo Travel in Italy Done Right: 10 Tips You Need to Know
- Listen: to another tale of (last minute) solo travel in Episode #066 A solo trip to Northern Italy and for planning and inspiration – Episode #053: Planning the perfect Italy itinerary and Episode #104 Experiences to include in your dream trip to Italy
- Driving in Italy – a guide to getting around by car
- Italy Train Travel – a guide to all aspects of train travel in Italy
- Join our exclusive Untold Italy Insiders to help plan your trips, come together with fellow travelers, to share travel finds and inspiration, and learn more about bella Italia!
- How to plan a trip to Italy – our article that takes you step by step through trip planning so you can avoid our mistakes
- Italy Travel Planning – our FREE online community where you can ask questions and get inspiration for planning your trip
- Travel shop where you’ll find items mentioned in the show
Prefer to read along as you listen? You can download a PDF version of the full transcript of this episode.