brescia italy

Last Updated on February 22, 2021

Italy was one of the most anticipated countries on our travels through Europe. Both huge fans of wine, olives, pizza and pasta (who isn’t?!), we had been wanting to visit Italy together for years but for some reason, it never worked out. This year we finally made it – and had an incredible trip. We’ll cover our time in Italy more in subsequent posts, but here’s a taste of our time in Bel Paese, the beautiful country – our first impressions of Italy.

Table of Contents

First impressions and observations of Italy

Italians love cats. There are cats everywhere.

italian cats

Italian fishing villages are just so cute.

fishing village

Italy has squat toilets. Who knew!

squad toilet italy

This is not an unknown fact about Italy, but it needs to be said: Italians make the best coffee drinks. Our favorites: Cappuccino, Macchiato, Espresso.

Italy first impressions

No tourist can leave Pisa without a funny Leaning Tower photo.

Tourists in Pisa

Including us.

Jess at the leaning tower pisa

Italians are proud to be Italian.

Italy first impressions

Tuscany really is as pretty as everybody says it is.


Our favorite first impression of Italy so far: Italian pasta is as scrumptious as you’d think.

Delicious pasta in Italy

Cinque Terre is overrun by tour groups but when you visit these ‘5 beautiful lands’, you know why.

cinque terre

This is what Chianti wine looks like before it’s bottled.

wine in chianti

Italian churches are beautiful. From the outside…

italy church outside

…and from the inside.

italy church inside

But they can also hold some pretty creepy stuff.

skull in italian church

Even in Italy you can get your picture taken with a British phone booth.

british phone booth in barga italy

Italian pizzas are giant and they taste perfect.

pizza & jess

Italians invented pizza with truffles & zucchini. It’s delicious.

truffel pizza

Pizza with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto is even better.

pizza pesto

Italian door-knockers are intricately decorated.

Italy first impressions

Boar is a culinary specialty in Tuscany. You will see boars everywhere. Dead or alive.

boar in san gimignano

boar tuscany

Italian mountain towns are bellissima.

borgo a mozzano italy

In Italy, naked men are everywhere, standing very, very still.

Hercules and Cacus Statue florence italy

Italians don’t like their train system and at times, passengers get out protest on the tracks.

italian train strike

There are as many scooters and vespas in Italy as you might think.

scooters in italy

This may not be a surprising observation about Italy: Italian gelato is addictive.

Gelato in Italy

Italians take great pride in decorating their windows.

Siena Window Italy

One of the most charming first impressions about Italy: Italians really all hang their laundry outside their windows.

laundry italy

Pisa has much more to offer than just the leaning tower.

Pisa & River

There is wine everywhere. And it’s cheap. And so good.

Italy observations

wine store italy

There are many expensive ’boutique’ wines, some of those are cheap in their own way…

wine with naked women italy

Italians like garden gnomes in their front yards.

garden gnome italy

Italy has thought-provoking street art.

street art italy

Italian pastries are worth every single calorie.

italian pastries

The sunsets in Italy are picture-perfect.

Italy Sunset

Milan’s cathedral has a beautifully decorated facade depicting some pretty cruel scenes.

milan cathedral fresco

Italian markets are bursting with mouthwatering flavors and bright colors.

Market Italy

Italy is a great place for lovebirds.

love birds in italy

It is hard to take ugly photos in Italy.

san gimignano italy


Opt In Image
Beyond the Blog: Get updates straight to your inbox!

Keep up with me! Get updates, additional stories that don't make it on the blog, future travel plans, and travel tips. I also answer reader questions and have some pretty sweet travel giveaways exclusive to newsletter subscribers!

Tags : italy


    1. We had just heard so much about these toilets in parts of Asia, and then right there is tourist-central Cinque Terre, there was this toilet. Interesting that they are also in France!

    1. Thanks Dalene – I hope you get to go back soon. We can’t wait to go back either, we didn’t have time to see all my favorite places this time (Rome, Amalfi & Venice for example) and we both haven’t been to Sicily yet.

    1. The train strike intervened with our plans to visit Rome – bad luck 🙁 We were very disappointed. I have been to Rome a few times and absolutely love it, but Jess has yet to go and we hope to return to Italy soon!

  1. Great post!
    As an Italian I love knowing what outsiders think of my country.
    I give you mad props for pictures of the small details!
    The labels of the wine are pretty gross though, they read “Wine Stefanello (diminutive of my name), good with everything, special with the pizzle” ahah.
    Be sure to stop in Verona if you are going to Venice..apart from being Romeo and Giulietta’s city, there’s an awesome ice-cream shop near “Ponte Pietra”!

    1. Hi Stefano, thank you for the translation 🙂 That wine store was definitely a tourist trap! We actually went through Verona, but didn’t have time for proper sightseeing – we will be back to see more for sure and that ice cream shop will be visited!

  2. Lovely! The door knockers are really pretty! Squat toilets are in my nightmares. Truffle and zucchini pizza? You ladies have eaten well in Europe!

    1. Absolutely! We prefer spring or September though as it gets really crowded everywhere in July and August when half of Europe is on vacation.

    1. Hey Lauro, thanks so much. Belmonte Vacanze was still one of our ultimate highlights! Hope you are doing well and enjoying the summer…we miss Italy 🙂

  3. Love this post. I really do need to go back to Italy as I haven’t been since I was younger, which is when I encountered my first squat toilet and didn’t know how the hell you were supposed to use it! lol. I love Italian food possibly more than any other (although don’t tell India, Mexico, China….) so would love to do a foodie tour of the whole country.

  4. WOW there is a lot to absorb in this post. A lot of GOOD to absorb, seeing as how usually people talk about the snobbishness and materialism of people in Milan and Florence, not to mention the ridiculous treatment of women in the media and the insane politics. A fresh positive perspective definitely balances things out. Lovely pictures!

    1. Jenna – it’s true, we didn’t mention the insane politics in Italy once! I think that’s something you hear more about outside of Italy rather than within the country. While we were there, nobody wanted to discuss politics with us 🙂 Sure, Italy has its problems (economical / political) but our first impressions were 100 % positive. We fell in love with the country.

  5. Very nice pictures of “La dolce Vita” in Italy! Especially the garden gnome, who would have thought?

    Northern Italy is picturesque too, although they don’t consider themselves to be Italian there! Dolomites, Lago di Garda, Lago di Como, …

    1. Thanks, Florian! Who would’ve thought, right? Garden gnomes in Italy is not what one expects. I have been only once to Northern Italy (The Dolomites) and we passed Lago di Como when we went to Italy via Switzerland – it looked beautiful and we definitely have to explore more of Northern Italy!

  6. Italy is truly amazing! If you live there for a while though they are a little bit too traditional=))) No doubt the food is great and so are the clothes;))) If you’d like to have look at my experience in Italy- have a look at my blog =)

    1. Hi Polly, thanks so much for sharing your blog! The ‘ciao bella’ thing is definitely true – the guys there just have to check out every single woman that walks by 😉

  7. HHahaha your photo captions are hilarious! The reason why we hang our laundry outside is that it dries so much faster than it would on the inside! Perks of a sunny country!
    And cats… come to Rome! There are cats everywhere, I’ve got 3 and they were all stray cats!
    I love your blog and I loved your impressions on my own country and everything else really!

    1. Thanks, Elisa 🙂 It makes sense to dry your laundry outside, you’ve got so much sun! 🙂 I love that you have three stray cats – I hope I’ll get to take in some strays one day as well.

  8. Milano! Such a great city, with some wonderful memories. Did you get chance to go on the top of the Duomo di Milano (cathedral)? The views are spectacular, you get to see so much of the city and surrounding areas. Another of my favorite places is San Gimignano, in Tuscany – well worth a visit. I could talk forever about Italy…

Leave a Response