Every city and town in Italy offers a unique mix of food, wine, art and design to see and savor. So how might a traveler in Italy organize their time and effort to their best advantage. Follow the clock 9 -10 -1 -3 7- 11, beginning with breakfast.
9:00am – Although Italians do not eat a typical American style breakfast, they still consider breakfast (prima colazione) to be an important part of the day. For most Italians it starts with un caffe’ a strong, dark shot of espresso or perhaps a frothy cappuccino at the local coffee bar. Add a brioche or cornetti (croissant) with butter or jam and you’re on your way. Today mixed fresh fruit called macedonia, muesli and yogurt are becoming popular choices to add especially if you are eating at your hotel buffet.
10:00am – Walking to the piazza. Seeing the sites in Italy often begins in city centro, the center of the city. Centro Storica, the historical center of the city, is the most reflective of the food, wine, art and design of the region. Self-guided walks always lead to new discoveries and no matter how many times you’ve been to Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan etc you can always find something new to see and savor in city centro. Each street or via leads to a piazza that is a microcosm of Italian life present and past. One of the joys of touring Italy is to spend time doing nothing more than strolling through city centro with a stop at a cafe located in a historic piazza.
1:00pm -Lunch (pranzo),once traditionally regarded as the most important meal of the day in Italy, is now often a quick slice of pizza (al taglio), panino, panzerotti or piadina. A leisurely lunch on the piazza should not be missed but be aware that cafes on the piazza in the more traveled Italian cities tend to be expensive with tourist menus. Take a walk down a side street and you may find the perfect neighborhood trattoria to satisfy your inner Italian. If you are traveling by car don’t hesitate to exit the autostrada and stop at an Autogrill for panini, a pizza and more traditional Italian meals. Nothing like fast food fare in the States. The quality of their self-service menu is really very good.
3:00pm – Museum and Merenda. One of the best ways to spend time getting to know the region you are traveling through is to spend at least one leisurely afternoon visiting an Italian museum. Oh I know some of you are thinking BORING. Even if you are the most museum adverse person on the planet you cannot help but be amazed and engaged in Italian museums. Often in evocative settings – palaces, castles, churches, amphitheaters , monasteries, wineries and quirky out of the way sites – the authentic ambiance of seeing something in its historical setting can be awesome and memorable. Afterwards have a merenda, a mid-afernoon snack. A small bite of cheese and fruit, a slice of salumi and olives or a local specialty would be good.
7:00pm – Aperitivo and dinner. An Italian tradition, the aperitivo hour is a pre-dinner Italian ritual that offers a moment of relaxation at the end of the workday and for travelers a time to relax after a day of sightseeing. Complimentary mini-buffets of antipasti are usually served at every aperitivo bar in Italy and you can easily make this your evening meal. Use restraint and save your appetite for a classic Italian dinner (la cena) followed by an leisurely stroll (passeggiata) back to your hotel.
11:00pm – Time to rest. Travelers have many choices for an overnight in Italy. Decide to stay in the city centro and have everything you need nearby. Walk to a local neighborhood albergo (inn/hotel) or VRBO apartmento for a more in country experience or drive to the many accommodations that surround the city for a night immersed in the countryside.