Looking for free things to do in Italy?
Here’s a list of 25 trip awesomizers that won’t cost you a dime.
1. Drink out of a lion’s head: public fountains are everywhere.
2. Wake up at dawn and take photos. You’ll score good light and empty streets; it’s what the pros do.
3. Learn manners on your first day. Write simple Italian greetings on a sticky note and attach it to your wallet. Try please (per favore), thanks (grazie), and bye-bye (arrivederci or ciao).
4. Smile more + worry less (also essential for life in general).
5. Use a credit card with no “foreign transaction” fees. Typically credit cards charge an additional fee (around 2.5%) when you charge an item in a foreign currency — but you can avoid that scam and carry a card without the fee. For a list of great travel cards look here (if you’re American). For Canadians look here and here.
6. Write down epiphanies (cause they fade).
7. Take a photo of every person you talk to in one day.
8. Visit an Italian festival (here’s a list). Sharing the energy of the Venice film festival or Carnivale won’t cost you anything more than extra planning.
9. Ask your hotel for a free room upgrade.
10. Ask your hotel if you can checkout late (but not at the same time you’ve asked for an upgrade).
11. Ask a local builder, “Where do you eat lunch?” His suggestion won’t be in your guidebook.
12. Walk in the graveyards.
13. Visit a church.
14. Don’t read the menu, just asks the waiter to bring you her favourite meal.
15. Help a traveller who is lost or struggling; practising kindness releases serotonin in the brain (serotonin makes you feel good, and it’s what anti-depressants are designed to release).
16. Talk to strangers.
17. If travelling alone, sit with someone else who’s also travelling alone. In Italy during the lunch rush this is commonplace.
18. Walk up to the highest landmark: you’ll find a church or a villa up there with a crazy good view.
19. Complain less, especially when things aren’t going your way.
21. Score free museum visits (check individual museum websites). For example, the Vatican Museum is free the last Sunday of each month in the morning.
22. Flirt with your waiter
23. Talk to fellow travellers at breakfast and ask them about the favourite things they’ve done since arriving.
24. Go to free mass at the Pantheon in Rome on Saturdays at 5 p.m. or Sundays at 10:30 a.m. Or go on this free tour.
25. Attend “Notte Bianca” – a special night that many Italian cities celebrate with shopping and museums open late and cultural events planned throughout the night. To find the schedule for the time and place you are travelling just Google “Notte Bianca [city] [year]“.
It’s your turn. Share YOUR favourite ways to awesomize your travels without breaking the bank in the comments below.