When In Rome….

 Enjoy La Dolce Vita when vacationing in Italy by becoming a local and following these 5 simple rules….
This is what I envision my next Italian vacation to look like…
1.  Stay with a local:
This is not for everyone but it is a great way to experience the country from a local perspective.  In Italy its called an agriturismo.  Here in the United States you may have heard of Woofing – technically the same thing.  Agriturismo is essentially a working farm with accommodation built in and also you will get home cooked meals as well as interactions with the family.  It is complete immersion into the culture.

2.  Enjoy local delicacies
It is easy to just eat where you are familiar when in a foreign country but its hard to really dive in like a local would eat.  But why then are you visiting a foreign land – did you spend all that money to just to eat McDonalds?  I don’t think so!  And when in Italy the food is outstanding and can teach a lot about the region you are in when you try dishes that are specific to that area.  For example, Limoncello (something I have always to try) can only be called such if it is made with lemons from Sorrento.

3.  Take a hike
There truly is no better way to get to know your surroundings by hopping out of the taxi and using your own two feet.  You can meet locals, learn street names, which way is east, west, up or down (always my issue), and where your local “go to” shops are.  Stop and ask locals, if you are comfortable, for directions or where their favorite coffee shop is.  Italians are extremely kind people and love to share their cities with us.  And always, ALWAYS take your camera with you…inspiration is around every corner.

4.  Learn the language
I have to say that it is the best advice ever and no it does not mean that you have to be fluent to get out and about.  All it means is take the time to learn a few key words and phrases that will make your experience a world better!  Also, when you are in a restaurant actually say what you want instead of pointing, it will help you remember what you like and dislike – same with anywhere you go.  

5.  Get out on the town
Everyone knows that alcohol brings people together so hit the streets and head to a local bar or pub.  In general locals are very proud of where they are from and will welcome any reason to tell you the best places to dine, shop, drink, or play.  They will divulge all their cultural secrets over a glass of wine if you let them!  

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Not only do these rules apply to Italy but anywhere you vacation to.  I am an avid South American vacationer and when I am there I am not afraid to walk to the store by myself (within reason), or make friends with our neighbors, try to the local food, or spend time with a local family.  
It gives me the chance to practice a foreign language, learn my surroundings, see where the locals hang, and make friends.  

On your next vacation try to be a local not a tourist…let me know if you have a different experience over all!  

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Photo of the day
Photograph by Michele Amoruso, Your Shot

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