The One Thing ... Italy  

By ben Groundwater


By Ben Groundwater

The One Thing You Should Do
In Italy Is ...

Walk two blocks

Here’s the thing about Italy: it can often seem like it holds no secrets. You already know, without doing the slightest bit of research, what there is to see there. You know about the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Statue of David, and the Colosseum, and the Vatican City, and pretty much all of Venice. Those sights are no-brainers. They have to be done. 

But the thing about Italy is that there’s far more to this amazing country than the big-ticket attractions that everyone knows and visits. And the secret to finding these hidden gems is simple: walk two blocks. That’s all you have to do. Simply find a huge, popular attraction, and walk two blocks in the opposite direction. All of a sudden you’re in the real Italy, the lived-in Italy, the local Italy. 

Walk two blocks from the Colosseum and you’re in Monti, a beautiful old part of Rome filled with wine bars and boutiques. Walk two blocks from the Leaning Tower of Pisa and you’re in a normal Italian city where you’re not shoulder to shoulder with bum-bag-toting tour-bus passengers. Walk two blocks from Piazza San Marco in Venice and you’re lost down a network of tiny alleys, in a place where no one goes. Italy can sometimes feel like it’s one big tourist attraction – but it’s not hard to avoid the crowds.  



The One Thing You Should Not Do
In Italy Is ...

Eat pizza!

Seriously. Don’t do it. Not unless you’ve actually done some research. Not unless you know where you are, and what to expect. Because pizza isn’t pizza in Italy. It’s not universal. It’s not what everyone loves; it’s not what everyone eats.  

Pizza is regional, and it comes from Naples, the shabby-chic coastal city to the south of Rome. If you’re in Naples, eat pizza. Definitely eat pizza. Here it’s spectacularly good, made to the specifications of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana – a sort of governing body that ensures pizza is made just the way it should be. It’s rare that you’ll find a bad pizza in Naples. 

Outside of that, however, you’re taking your chances. Roman-style pizza can be good, but it’s not always good. The crust is thinner here than in Naples, with more of a crunch. Find a good pizzeria and you’re laughing. However, you probably won’t find one at random. So many of the tourist-focused restaurants throughout the city, and indeed throughout the country – the ones with the red-and-white tablecloths and the English menus – dish out surprisingly bad pizzas. The crusts are soft and spongy. The cheese is a cheap imitation of mozzarella de bufala. The toppings include pineapple.  

Food in Italy is extremely location-specific. If you have your heart set on great pizza, we’d suggest heading to Naples, or, in other cities, doing some serious research.  


Find out more insider tips about other destinations: read all the articles in Ben's "One Thing" series here

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The One Thing Series From Ben Groundwater


From Spain to Singapore, you can find all of Ben's One Thing Articles right here.

Singapore - The One Thing

Ben Groundwater shares his expert advice about holidaying in amazing Singapore.

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Before biting into the baguette, check out this advice from Ben Groundwater.

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Ben Groundwater shares his tips on what to do and not do when you next visit China.

NZ - The One Thing

Off to the land of the Kiwis. Check out travel writer Ben Groundwater's helpful hints.

Sri Lanka - The One Thing

Make the most out of your trip to Sri Lanka with Ben Groundwater's helpful tips.

Canada - The One Thing

Check out these great tips from Ben Groundwater before you plan your next trip to Canada.

China - The One Thing

Read up on Ben Groundwater's insider tips before you plan your next trip to Cambodia.

China - The One Thing

Make sure you read Ben Groundwater's tip on how not to shake up your trip to Chile

Spain - The One Thing

Heading to Spain? Be sure to pack these words of wisdom with you when heading off.