Personalizing your visit with offbeat experiences in Italy will introduce many aspects of local life to create more authentic memories.
Traveling to a new country or a popular travel destination doesn’t have to mean just doing the “regular stuff.” Italy is a world famous destination that lures people from all across the world. They come filled with visions of museums, churches, and monuments. But there is the hidden side of Italy, too, from which one can explore and come home with an unforgettable, more personal experience. Many visitors have famous historical sites, awesome frescoes, great cathedrals, and museums on their list to see. But why not consider some of the offbeat experiences in Italy that could make your visit authentically unique?
- Explore those beautiful villages In the sprawling green hills of Umbria and Tuscany, make your way to the tiny villages and beautiful smaller towns of Italy. Watch the village men perched around Main Square nestled in the midst of their medieval streets. You will encounter women chatting amicably at their doors with each other, and children at play. Lodging would not be a problem as there are plenty of houses for rent in Italy. Explore any ancient ruins, visit shops filled with local souvenirs, or simply just relax and enjoy the slow paced village life. Start up a conversation with the locals as you enjoy your espresso.
- Take a cooking class Italian food is world famous. This is the perfect chance to spruce up your culinary skills and learn to recreate all those great Italian meals in your kitchen once you are back home. You are likely to come across plenty of cooking schools and cooking classes while you travel. You can easily engage with the locals and asks them to showcase their passion for cooking. Chances are that they would happily oblige. The best part is you learn to make authentic Italian dishes and get to eat them too!
- Visit a local church Many people visit the famous cathedrals in Italy, and there are many. We suggest you spend some extended time in a smaller, local church. You are likely to come across information listing vespers, Gregorian chant, and other scheduled services. You can attend mass, and this is simply a great experience for the religiously-minded visitors. Even if you are not a Catholic or a non-believer, it is a wonderful chance to experience the local community culture. Italy is deeply Catholic, but modern Italians prefer to attend church on the main holidays and religious days. If possible, attend the services on Sunday evenings in St. Mark’s in Venice and St. Peter’s in Rome when they light up those amazing mosaics.
- Work on the farms If you have never worked on a farm, this is your chance! Your trip to Italy offers you the chance to be out there on farms and rub your shoulders with real farmers. You can pick grapes, olives, and even cotton. It may seem hard work, but it is fun too and a new experience that you will remember for a life time. There’s nothing like having a senior old farmer watching your work and waving you to come over during a break, and share his food and wine.
- Celebrate like a local Participate in a local festival, which could be a religious event, a music festival or even a poetry or other arts celebration. Be a part of the communal feast in the streets when the people come together to celebrate local culinary specialties. You may get the chance to enjoy the day when they uncork the new wine, or the traditional bareback horse race. If you are there on the second Tuesday in May, you will find everyone putting on traditional costumes and dancing to the classic tunes and enjoying great food and wine.
- Enjoy a game of Italian soccer Italian soccer is like a second religion for this country. Include a game of football in your itinerary to make your trip even more memorable. Look up for the latest match schedule and book well in advance for when you’re in town. Buy a shirt in the local team colors and sit to view the middle of the field. Experiencing a game first-hand makes one feel a part of Italy and feel as passionate as the Italians for their favorite clubs. Just make sure that you cheer for the right team and are on the side of the Italians!
- Go jogging and hiking If you are tired of looking at the museums and the architecture, you can leave the city behind and go for hiking or jogging. You can pick any destination in the neighboring village or explore a mountain hermitage, or climb a hillside with a scenic overlook. You can hike or jog and stop on the way to chat with the locals and farmers. You can ask them to join you for a run. If you are lucky, you may even find a yoga studio and learn some asana.
- Shop for Souvenirs from Locals Instead of just browning big malls and supermarkets, why not enter those local small shops selling typical Italian housewares. It could be CDs by native pop groups or one of those Italian daily essentials that are not to be found anywhere. The beautifully patterned and colorful Italian silk scarves are very popular. Food lovers can shop for sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, chocolates and Parmesan cheese. Street stalls all over Rome sell kitschy magnets and plastic replica statues, but look past the touristy keychains for authentic arts and handmade crafts.
Make time within your regular plans and itinerary outside of your bucket list to participate in off beat activities to get the real experience of Italy!