So, you’re a solo female traveler heading to Italy.
Yay — congrats! Your eyes are on the right page.
Why do we sound so confident?
The founder of Italian Fix, plus much of our team — have been in your exact shoes.
Heading to Italy … all alone … and we all thrived.
In fact, we count our solo trips as some of the best moments of our lives.
(So much less drama and stretch marks than the birth of our babies.)
This beefy guide, The Ultimate Guide to Female Travel in Italy, is crowdsourced from 3 serious solo travelers who know Italy.
Here’s our street cred. (AKA — why listen to our advice.)
- Meet Kiiri — She first traveled solo to Italy in 2004. She quit her job and planned to spend four months exploring the country from coast to coast. It was her first solo trip anywhere, and she bounced around for several weeks, a little lonely sometimes, a little disheartened even, until she finally started learning how to make a solo trip work. Four months turned into fourteen years when she discovered the Cinque Terre and decided to continue the adventure by moving there. Now she’s married to an Italian and has two small children, and wishes she could have armed her twenty-something self with the tips and tricks she’s absorbed over years of carving out a path for herself by herself in a foreign country.
- Meet Monique — She first traveled solo to Italy in 2015. She was all kitted out with a 50-liter backpack ready to hike to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, when news broke (ugh, the morning of her flight!) that an earthquake had hit Kathmandu. Shaken and disappointed, but ultimately knowing she couldn’t let two weeks of vacation slip away, she exchanged her snow gear for spandex shorts and a bikini and went trekking throughout Greece, Turkey and finally the Cinque Terre, Italy. She now works and lives seasonally in the Cinque Terre, where her local chef hubby stole her heart (those Mediterranean-blue eyes sealed the deal).
- Meet Bianca — She first traveled solo to Italy in 2003. She landed in Florence to study Italian for the summer, alone, having never been to Italy. She actually cried before leaving, which gives you an idea of how nerve-wracking it can be for a first-timer. She sucked the fear up anyways — and as love stories go, it was a good one. She ended up marrying her sweetie, and lived in Italy full-time for a few years (before importing her Italian husband back to an island in Canada). She founded Italian Fix to help travelers have incredible Italian memories, too.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to go full throttle and get hitched to Italian men. You can just bring home a nice bottle of Chianti. That’s cheaper. And so much easier on your parents who will miss you if you move so far away.
Marriage tips aside, here’s what you’ll need to know to manage solo female travel in Italy.
1. Don’t let the stereotypes freak you out.
When we were about to embark on our own first solo trips to Italy, we were warned up and down about all the Italian men we would be harassed by day in and day out. Yes, Italian men tend to be more vocal with their compliments, but most of the time, that’s all it is. A compliment. No one ever followed us around, not taking no for an answer. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, ignore it — that’s usually all it takes for the interaction to end. If it doesn’t, and if you feel like it, have a conversation. In the vast majority of cases, they’re just being friendly and showing their appreciation.
GOOD TO KNOW: Be assertive. Although Europe is crowded and you’ll have less personal space, touching or grabbing is totally uncool in Italian culture. If someone puts their hands on you, be loud and tell them to back the eff off.
2. Ignore the temptation to over-research, over-think, and over-worry.
Is it something about having ovaries that makes so many of us chronic future-trippers and overthinkers? If you fall into this category, you can become seriously overwhelmed by all there is to do, see, be, have. But you should be more concerned with things that actually matter — like leaning on advice from people that have “been there done that” more than from people just writing one-off articles on the internet about “being there doing that.”
Say you have an abscessed tooth. Would you rather have it removed by someone who’s read and studied at length about how to extract a tooth, but only done it once? Or, would you get rather have that procedure done by someone who’s actually done it many times?
GOOD TO KNOW: If you’re an “over-researcher,” don’t follow a complicated itinerary. Focus your trip on two or three locations max (for a 10-14 night trip) and get into the groove of enjoying where you are, instead of planning where you’ll go next.
3. Know what cabs should cost.
If you’re going to be taking a cab from the airport to your hotel, email the hotel to ask how much you can expect to pay. Or ask at the ticket office at the train station if you’re taking a cab from there. A ride from the main train station in Florence to the airport, for example, costs a flat fee of 20 euro during the day (plus 1 euro per additional bag). Ask too where the parking area for cabs is. There is always an area where the legit taxis wait.
GOOD TO KNOW: Never go with someone who approaches you offering a ride — these are almost always unlicensed people trying to make a quick buck by gauging unsuspecting tourists.
4. Embrace eating alone.
This is a big one for a lot of people. There’s a preconceived idea that going to a restaurant all by yourself is somehow sad, depressing or awkward. But it’s all just a matter of perspective! Eating on your own is a great way to reconnect with yourself, to get some reading done or to plan out your next day, and especially to people watch. Throughout the rest of the day you’re usually heading from one place to another, taking photos, taking in the sights. Sitting in a packed restaurant by yourself gives you a moment to take in the people too (and not look like a weirdo doing it). It’s only as uncomfortable as you make it in your own head. So walk in looking forward to the experience, and embrace your newfound badassery. C’mon — how many people would kill to be in your exact same situation?
GOOD TO KNOW: Each region of Italy has their own food specialties. Ask your server what the special culinary “thing” is in that city or village. There will always be a “thing” and there will always be an opinion on what’s best.
Want more Italy foodie advice? Read about how to eat in Italy with our cheeky 10 commandments.
5. Pack right.
We embrace packing tight, light and right. You would think Italy, one of the most popular travel destinations on the planet, would be kinder to tourists when it comes to luggage. Yeah, nope. Gorgeous as the cobblestone streets and Renaissance walk-ups are, they are torture for anyone with a heavy suitcase. What’s more, it’s not unusual for things like elevators in places like train stations to be on the fritz, sometimes for months on end (or longer!). Count on being solely responsible for dragging your things around with you throughout your trip (including up and down flights of steps), and make that as easy on yourself as you can. You can buy stuff you forgot once you arrive.
GOOD TO KNOW: Deciding to travel Italy with carry-on luggage is the smartest thing you can do before you leave your house. Don’t underestimate what a pain in the ass overpacking will cost you, mentally and physically.
6. Have a person.
Pick someone close to you, and have them be your person while you’re away. A simple text or email to this person is enough to feel like someone “has your back” and knows what’s up with you as you move from place to place.
While in Italy, email them to let them know every time you move to a new location. Send them the name of the place you’re staying at, the phone number there (or link to the website), and when you expect to arrive. When you get there, let them know. This way someone will have a record of your movements as you explore the country — a good safety precaution should anything happen.
GOOD TO KNOW: There are apps that do this automatically. Check out Life360.
7. Have money options.
You’ll be able to withdraw cash from ATMs while you’re there, but it’s a good idea to keep a stash of cash on you at all times in case a machine is broken or someone doesn’t accept cards. Keep portions of your stash in various places — put some in a money belt or in your purse, have some stuffed into a sock in your suitcase etc… And if you can, bring a couple of different bank cards and credit cards. You want to have options, just in case. Make sure too that you alert your bank to the fact that you’ll be overseas, so that your cards aren’t blocked for suspicious charges.
GOOD TO KNOW: We recommend having 50 euro on you when you land so you don’t have to go running around looking for a cash machine. Just buy them from your home bank before you leave.
8. Trust your instincts.
If something makes your spidey senses tingle in a bad way, go with your gut. Don’t worry about seeming rude if something doesn’t feel right.
GOOD TO KNOW: Italy is generally a very safe place — as safe if not safer than any place in North America. For example, in small villages like the Cinque Terre, you can walk anywhere at night and not think for a second about weirdos. But be as smart as you would be at home, and use your common sense.
9. Learn some Italian.
First of all, why wouldn’t you? It’s fun! Google some useful phrases and make a point of trying them out. Second of all, Italians will often be delighted that you’re making an effort, and they’ll usually try and make it easy on you.
GOOD TO KNOW: The language app called Duolingo is too fun. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn!
10. Overcome your shyness.
Traveling on your own can be invigorating, but also sometimes lonely. How do you overcome this? By taking matters into your own hands. See another traveler sitting on their own? Introduce yourself! A group chatting at a table? Ask if you can join them! You’re unlikely to get turned down, and if you do, you’ll probably never see them again anyway. More likely is that you’ll be welcomed and appreciated for being the one to break the ice. The good news? The more you build up your nerve putting yourself out there, the easier it gets, until it’s second nature and no sweat at all.
GOOD TO KNOW: Solo female travel in Italy is a perfect excuse to go online to meet others IRL. Here’s what the in-the-know peeps are using now:
- Join Facebook groups like Girls Love Travel or Girl Gone International to share information and to meet up, or use the Meet Up app for special interest groups (meeting up for paint and wine, hiking, climbing, ceramics, etc…) and ex-pat groups. You can search these groups for thousands of question-and-answer advice posts that girls have asked about every place and every aspect of travel. (Search things like “travel must haves” or “must do Rome.”)
- Check out the Girls Love Travel Home-Sharing Network, using the Overnight platform. They have 112 cities listed and over 3500 listings.
- Bungee Girl is a travel app made specifically for women. You can connect with other travelers here and arrange girls only couchsurfing-style arrangements and house swaps.
11. Driving or Train-ing? Solo female travel in Italy mega tip.
That’s the number #1 thing you need to figure out before you plan a single day of your Italy itinerary. This is SUCH an important aspect of traveling to Italy, that we wrote an entire chapter about it inside Gigi Guides.
GOOD TO KNOW: You can look up all the train schedules on trenitalia.com, and all the driving times on Via Michelin or Google Maps.
12. Baby step the whole “on your own” thing.
Not ready to go it completely alone, but don’t want to wait around forever for your friends’ schedules to perfectly line up with yours? Take a first baby step by joining a tour, like the ones we offer. You’ll still be going alone, cultivating fearlessness, growing as a person, but you’ll have a built-in set of new girlfriends waiting for you on the other side. And someone (us!) taking care of all the boring details so that you can spend all your travel time simply soaking life up in the gorgeous Italian atmosphere — and your own newfound fierceness.
Now, we would love to hear from you! Please add a comment to the blog, below.
Starting out with the whole solo female travel in Italy thing is a big deal. Is there anything that has you confused or worried? We would love to hear from you.
P.S. If you’re looking for an Italy itinerary, developed exclusively for the solo traveler, let us know. We’re working on some and will have those babies being delivered soon. Email us if you’re traveling to Italy in the next 12 months solo — we want to hear from you.
Thanks for checking out our blog!
Are you interested in travelling to Italy with us on a day trip?
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All images copyright Italian Fix, except Stefano Butturini (4th), Leela Cyd (10th), used under license.