Singles Trip to Italy: The Ultimate Guide to La Dolce Vita
Updated: 6 days ago
1842, a 45-year-old Viennese housewife named Ida Pfeiffer wanted to explore the world – on her own. But she was a 45-year-old housewife - in a world where only men could follow their curiosity; act bravely; and travel independently. A woman travelling solo…it simply wasn’t done.
So, Ida told friends and family that she was going to visit a friend in Constantinople. Instead, over the course of 9 months, she followed her own curiosity and traveled by herself across the Black Sea to Jerusalem, south to Egypt and finally through Italy.
Ida may have been the first woman to take a singles trip through Italy. Apparently she found her dolce vita because she continued to travel - becoming the first female travel writer. [Read Ida’s Book: A Woman’s Journey Round the World ]
If you are just starting to consider solo travel or have been enjoying the experience for years – a great place to start or to continue your journey is Italy - where you may very well find your own La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The question should really be - why not Italy. The history. The food. The wine. The people. The scenery. Italy has it all!
For Italians, La Dolce Vita - which translates literally to The Sweet Life - is not just a saying - it is a way of life. They believe in a work - life balance, through relaxation, spending time with family and friends, enjoying delicious food, appreciating art, and finding the thing that fills your soul.
Be careful...they say it's contagious.
Is Italy Safe for Single Travelers?
Italy is considered one of the safest countries in the world. But as with any destination, there are inherent dangers. As long as you follow safe practices, it's a great destination for single travelers. Milan has the highest crime rate of all the Italian cities, however, it's just a matter of staying away from the dicier areas of the city. The majority of crime in Italy that tourists should be concerned about is pickpocketing, scams or theft.
It's always wise to have safety on your mind when travelling solo - particularly if you are a woman. The usual recommendations, of course, still apply. Generally speaking, just use common sense - as you would in any big city and everything will be fine. Here are some reminders and suggestions:
Stay close to the touristy areas.
Learn how to speak a few Italian phrases or have a translator app on your phone (although most people working in the touristy areas speak English as well).
Don’t go into isolated or non-touristy areas at night. Even ask your hotel concierge to mark dicey areas on a map.
Watch your personal belongings.
Listen to your gut. If something feels off - get to a safe location with a lot of people.
If you take a bus, stay near the driver.
Share your phone location with friend(s) at home through an app like Life 360.
THINGS TO BEWARE OF:
PICKPOCKETS. Crowds attract pickpockets, particularly near the largest tourist destinations, crowded trains and the metro.
SCAMS. If a stranger approaches you to offer help with your luggage, directions, or ask you for help, you should be wary of them. They may even be trying to distract so that an accomplice can steal your things. And avoid the jewelry sellers who want to put an item on you - like a ring on a finger - forcing you to pay for it when you are unable to get it off your finger.
National Emergency Number: 112
Fire Department: 115
Medical Emergency: 118
Where to Start
HOW LONG CAN YOU STAY
The first question in planning your trip should be how long do you have to travel solo through Italy. This will help determine how many locales you have time to see, which in turn will allow you to narrow down where to go.
Another benefit to travelling single in Italy is the fabulous train system that can take you from the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy to Venice in the north in 5 hours. This makes it incredibly easy to see multiple locations with very little hassle.
Generally speaking, give yourself at least two full days (outside travel days) for any locale. Some areas may be worth a longer stay because of the wonderful nearby excursions such as the Tuscan region (see below). If you have only a week, it's probably best to keep your travels down to just two cities, maybe three if you like to go go go. Ten days can get you three locales and two weeks easily gets you four.
***Don't forget to check your passport expiration dates. The European Union requires that the expiration date be at least six months post your travels.
GETTING THERE & GETTING AROUND
I highly recommend trying to book one way flights to avoid doubling back. If flying into Rome, for example, and travelling through Florence up to Venice, book your return flight from Venice. Obviously, this is not always feasible (cost prohibitive) so just remember to add-in the time needed for that return trip to your origin city if it's a lot less expensive to book a round-trip.
Where to start your solo trip to Italy will likely be dictated by the best flight options from your home airport. The first place I recommend you start your flight search is Wikipedia. Look up your home airport and scroll down to "Airlines and Destinations". Here you will see a list of non-stop flight destinations from your airport.
Once you know the best Italian city to fly into from your home airport head to Google Flights. This is an incredibly useful tool for researching and tracking flight prices. You can input that non-stop destination airport into Google Flights and get an idea of prices based on airlines and time of year. (Hint: if you do not add in specific dates and just click on the departure field box, you can see month to month prices.)
Italy's largest international airports are:
FCO Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport in Rome
MXP Malpensa International Airport in Milan
VCE Venice Marco Polo Airport Venice
BLQ Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport
NAP Naples International Airport
Public transportation in Italy is excellent. Trenitalia's high-speed trains are broken down into three categories: Frecciarossa (“Red Arrow”), Frecciargento (“Silver Arrow”), and Frecciabianca (“White Arrow”). Red Arrow are the fastest trains - reaching speeds up to 190 mph.
** Travel Tip - Currency Exchange: - Use an ATM at the airport or train station when you arrive. Currency exchange stores and kiosks at the airports mark up the exchange rate for profit. Check with your bank on international ATM surcharges - even if they do have higher charges, they will often offer suggestions to reduce or remove the fee. *** And never select convert currency at the ATM or at any retailer/restaurant. Let your home bank to the conversion - always a better rate.
Where to Go
Italy has 20 regions that are all worth visiting. Below is a list of the more popular, easily accessible destinations with major airports and train stations. These locations have a great tourism infrastructure and are generally easier to navigate for single travelers - particularly those new to going solo.
TRENTINO ALTO ADIGE - DOLOMITES
The Dolomites is a fantastic destination for nature lovers and winter sport enthusiasts. This region is part of the Northern Italian Alps and includes an incredibly diverse landscape with spectacular mountain peaks, the Marmolada glacier, deep gorges, verdant forests and green valleys. It's the perfect destination for hikers, skiers, or anyone who loves an outstanding view.
HIKING the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (Three Peaks). This 10km loop from Rifugio Auronzo offers spectacular views of the three giant rock monoliths seen in many a postcard. It's for every level of hiker and military history enthusiasts can explore the WWI tunnel systems. (Here are some additional amazing hiking and walking trails in the region)
TASTE THE ALPINE CUISINE. The area is well known for its plethora of Michelin Star restaurants and an overall farm to table approach to dining. You'll find much of the food is foraged from the nearby forests or sourced from artisanal farms.
VIA FERRATA FOR THE ADVENTUROUS. Via Ferrata means iron path. It is essentially a climbing route with fixed “protection” aids that allow non-rock climbers the ability traverse safely up and around the mountains. They were originally created during World War I to help the Italian military units move through the Dolomites which were highly contested during the war. More Info here.
TOSCANA (FLORENCE & CINQUE TERRE)
Tuscany may have it all - which is why it is so popular with tourists. It has incredibly varied landscapes from the gorgeous coastlines of Cinque Terre to the rolling hills of of olive groves and chianti vineyards. Of course, at it's center is the city of Florence, considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. There is also Pisa which delights with the most famous of leaning towers. If you want to relax in one spot and truly absorb Italian life, this might be the best place to do it.
CINQUE TERRE is a string of centuries-old seaside villages along the Italian Riviera - like the one pictured above. Sweeping vistas of the sea, picture perfect harbors filled with fishing boats and colorful cliff-side homes are all visible from view filled cliffside hiking trail, the Sentiero Azurro (The Blue Path) connects all 5 towns. (It does require a hiking pass).
HISTORIC CITY CENTER OF FLORENCE. During the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, Florence was one of the wealthiest most influential cities in Europe. The combination of this tremendous prosperity, an ongoing dedication to the welfare of the city, and a passion for artistic competitions, resulted in the birth of the Renaissance and the creation of some of the world's greatest masterpieces - many of which can be seen in the Uffizi Gallery. And then, of course, there is Michelangelo's David. For a more detailed list of the best things to do and see in Florence check out our blog FLORENCE, ITALY SOLO TRAVEL: A Complete Guide 2023.
PISA is filled with a rich history and architecturally significant buildings including the iconic Leaning Tower which was built as the bell tower for the visit-worthy Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Pisa is a perfect day trip from wherever you decide to set up camp in Tuscany.
WALK or CYCLE the ANCIENT WALLS OF LUCCA. (Near to Pisa) Lucca offers a chance to step back in time as you walk or cycle (rent on site) around the well-preserved Renaissance rampart walls encircling the city. If you are an opera fan, you can check out the Casa di Puccini - now a museum - where the composer was born.
WINE TASTING in the wine cellars of Montepulciano (an hour and a half train ride from Florence). It is one of Italy's oldest wineries - dating back to the mid-16th century. It's also been named as one of the best wineries to visit by Food & Wine Magazine.
TAKE A COOKING CLASS. Tuscan cuisine is something worth learning how to bring home with you. **Great for Solo Travelers to meet other travelers.
LOMBARDIA - MILAN
Milan is located in Northern Italy and is the second largest city in Italy - just behind Rome. Milan is perfect for art lovers, foodies, architectural enthusiasts, and those who love to shop.
VISIT THE DUOMO (pictured above). Construction on Milan's most famous magnificent Gothic Cathedral began in the late 14th century. It's located in the very center of the city and Milano life. More Info.
SOAK IN "THE LAST SUPPER". While one of the most famous paintings in the world has been reproduced thousands of times, Leonardo da Vinci's original is actually a mural on the refectory wall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie convent. It is not to be missed. More Info.
EXPERIENCE AN OPERA IN ONE OF THE GREATEST THEATRES IN EUROPE. Teatro alla Scala, less formally known as La Scala, has hosted many of the greatest opera performances in history.
TAKE A CREEPY TOUR OF AN ANCIENT CRYPT. The Crypt of San Sepolcro dates back to 1030 AD and sits on top of Roman ruins. More Info.
COMPANIA (NAPLES & AMALFI COAST)
Naples is incredibly rich in history and culture including three castles, a royal palace, a plethora of cathedrals, and the base for the archaeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii.
One hour south of Naples is the Amalfi Coast which may be the most idyllic example of the Mediterranean Coastline. The 34 mile stretch of this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site spans over 13 multi-colored towns set among towering cliffs with lush vegetation that plunge down into mesmerizing turquoise waters.
HIGHLIGHTS - NAPLES
VISIT ANCIENT CITIES. Pompeii and Herculaneum allow visitors to step back in time to see what it was like to be a Roman 2000 years ago. More Info.
SEE THE TREASURE OF POMPEII at the Naples National Archaeological Museum.
TAKE IN THE SEA VIEWS from a spectacular medieval fortress. The Castel Sant'Elmo offers a funicular (cable car) ride up that culminates in unrivaled views of the city and sea of Naples.
HIGHLIGHTS - AMALFI COAST
EXPLORE THE QUAINT COASTAL TOWNS. Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello are the most famous and are each wonderful, but I highly recommend taking the time to visit the smaller towns where you can strike up a conversation with a local.
TAKE A BOAT TOUR OF THE COAST. This offers the best views of this idyllic coastline. Available via ferry and private boat tours.
SOAK UP THE SUN & GO FOR A SWIM. The beaches along the coast range from free to the public to private clubs where the entrance fee can be in the hundreds of dollars. Here is a list of the top beaches.
LAZIO - ROME
Rome is a must visit city and is ideal for solo travelers. It is walkable; has a fantastic tourist infrastructure; a great metro system, English is widely spoken throughout the city; and it has an incredible number of things to do, places to see, and delicious food to eat.
For all the highlights and best tips, must-visit attractions, and insider insights see our blog What to Do In Rome Alone: A Solo Traveler's Guide to the Eternal City
***PARTCULARLY GREAT FOR SINGLES: One of the best things I have ever done in Rome was an evening enjoying a traditional Roman Family Feast in a private home in Trastevere neighborhood. The experience is absolutely ideal for the solo traveler and is bookable through the website EatWith.com. The company promotes savoring joy wherever you go and offers "culinary experiences to celebrate with passionate hosts and new friends."
Eat With offers a number of culinary experiences in the Eternal City - both learning to cook traditional roman foods and to just partake. I was fortunate to enjoy traditional Roman cuisine in Trastevere - hosted by Barbara & Federica. They created an atmosphere of comfort and ease - getting to know each guest (8-20) to help create the optimal seating arrangements. For three hours, there was course after course of delicious food, great conversations, and free flowing wine.
VENEZIA - VENICE
Venice is like no other city on earth. This floating city was founded between the 5th and 7th centuries during the fall of the Roman Empire. In the early 9th century, the body of St. Mark (Mark the Evangelist believed to have authored the Gospel of Mark) was smuggled from Egypt to Venice when he became the patron saint of the city. While it's known as a romantic city for couples, that atmosphere does not dominate and is wonderful for singles as well.
THE DOGE'S PALACE was built in 1340 and was the seat of Venetian government until 1866 when Venice became are part of Italy. I highly recommend the secret passageways tour which reveals the intriguing and mysterious history of the palace.
DRINK COFFEE IN ST.MARK'S SQUARE. Venice traders brought coffee to Europe in 1615. By the middle of the 18th century Venice housed over 600 coffee shops and its residents drank over 28 million cups every year. Cafe Florian was established in 1720.
WANDER THE NARROW STREETS *Stick to daylight and safer areas (as your hotel's concierge what areas to stay away from).
GONDOLA RIDE. Yes, this is wonderful even without a partner! It's an iconic mode of transportation unique to Venice and is a fantastic way to see the city via its canals.
HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR SINGLES TRIP TO ITLAY!
Let us know where you decide to go!
BARDEUM offers self-guided audio / visual tours via mobile app. These immersive experiences are written by award-winning & bestselling authors, journalists, and historians.