What to do in Italy on Sundays | Italy Beyond The Obvious (2023)

BlogPlanning Your Italy TripWhat to do in Italy on Sundays

What to do in Italy on Sundays | Italy Beyond The Obvious (2)Written by Madeline Jhawar

When we create custom itineraries at Italy Beyond the Obvious, we always include the day of the week –not just the date – during the planning process. The main reason for this is that Sundays (and sometimes Mondays) require a different approach because lots of things in Italy are closed on Sundays – but not only Sundays!

Use the tips below for Sundays but also if you’re traveling to Italy on a national holiday or you hit the middle-of-the-day pausa, when (seemingly) everything closes between about noon and 4 pm. It’s also possible that it won’t be a Sunday or a holiday or the middle of the day pausa and thatyou’ll have planned to do something, you’ll show up, and it will be closed. So, what to do?

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10 Suggestions for What to do in Italy on Sundays

Go to church. Services are usually in the mornings and the evenings and may be held in Italian or in Latin. There are English services in major centers like Rome and Florence. Usually there is a window of time between the services when visitors can explore the church. But don’t go to church as a tourist during the service.

Visit a museum. Museums in Italy are usually closed on Mondays and open on Sundays, so this is a perfect day to visit a museum, UNLESS it’s a free Sunday. In that case — especially for the Vatican museumsor Colosseum free Sundays — stay away as it is utter chaos.

Have a long Sunday lunch. In Italy, Sundays are family days and for many families, the only day that the kids are not in school (highschoolers attend half days on Saturdays as well). Sunday lunch – or Sunday brunch in some places – is a thing, so you should join the Italians. Just book in advance. Some good suggestions for Sunday lunch in Rome.

Go shopping. Small stores used to be closed on Sundays but more and more of themin big cities are opening on Sundays. Outlet stores and big department stores like La Rinascente or Coin are pretty reliably open on Sundays and don’t close in the middle of the day for the pausa.

Attend a festival. Local festivals are held on weekends, so before you go to Italy, check your locations and dates. Italy has some amazing festivals, especially in the Spring and Fall. I wish there were one central website that was kept up to date and listed all festivals in Italy. There isn’t one that I know of, although Regioni Italiane is probably the best. You can search by region and by month, which takes a bit of time but it’s worth it. I usually use google and enter the town or region (so Siena or Tuscany for example) and the month, and see what comes up. There are lots of hotels and farmhouses that list local festivals on their websites and these will come up in a google search. Keep in mind that most festivals are yearly and Italians are not good at updating festival information very far in advance, so you may see last year’s festival information but you can probably figure out when the festival might be held in the future. For example if it was on the 3rd Sunday in May last year, it will likely be on the same weekend this year.

Go for an afternoon passeggiata(walk in Italian) with the locals. The Sunday afternoon passeggiata is a thing. It’s done in every city and every small town every Sunday. There is no goal except to walk in the center of town (try to find the main pedestrian street in the center) with friends. It’s relaxing, offers excellent people-watching, and is a great way to do what the locals do.

Walk into any high-end hotel and ask the concierge for suggestions. I’ve done this many times, and have always found them pretty helpful. It doesn’t matter whether you’re staying at the hotel. Or more accurately: no need to mention you aren’t. Usually concierges know what’s on, whether it be a temporary art exhibit or a festival.

Sit and observe. Pay attention to detail.People-watch, ideally sitting in one of the main squares of the city.

Get lost. This is an activity I recommend for small Italian towns (and for Venice, Florence and Bologna in particular) even when things are open. Explore small Italian streets and soak up the atmosphere. Then use your map to get found again.

Do a self-guided walking tourto admire outdoor architecture, fountains, sculptures, and squares in the city, using recommendations from your guidebook and a map.

Photo by Sanjay

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What do Italians do on Sundays? ›

In Italy, Sundays are family days and for many families, the only day that the kids are not in school (highschoolers attend half days on Saturdays as well). Sunday lunch – or Sunday brunch in some places – is a thing, so you should join the Italians. Just book in advance.

What is considered disrespectful in Italy? ›

It is improper to put one's hands on one's lap, or to stretch one's arms while at the table. Resting one's elbows on the table is also considered to be poor manners. Do not leave the table until everyone has finished eating. Drinking beverages other than water or wine with a meal is quite uncommon.

What should you not miss when visiting Italy? ›

Let's dive in!
  • Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The Ponte Vecchio is one of Florence's most famous romantic destinations and is not to be missed when visiting the city. ...
  • The Colosseum. ...
  • The Canals of Venice. ...
  • Ragusa. ...
  • Lake Garda. ...
  • Cinque Terre. ...
  • Pompeii. ...
  • Tuscany.
Sep 2, 2022

Is Sunday a day of rest in Italy? ›

Sunday: domenica

Domenica derives from the Latin “dies dominica”, or day of God. In Italy today, it is the official day of rest. Almost all stores are closed.

Do people go out on Sundays in Italy? ›

Sundays in Italy are about large meals, church and connection. Sundays are about soccer, beach visits or picnics in the mountains.

Is everything open in Italy on Sunday? ›

On Sundays, most shops are closed, as are many restaurants (though some will open for lunch).

How do Italians view Americans? ›

In general, Italians respect Americans and always welcome them as friends. They adore the curiosity of American tourists in regard to experiencing Italian culture, and they love the way that Americans enjoy their food.

Is it OK to wear jeans in Italy? ›

Are jeans appropriate to wear in Italy? While Europeans tend to dress up more than Americans, you still can wear jeans in Italy. However, avoid acid wash and extremely distressed denim and opt for medium-dark blues and blacks. Black skinny jeans always look chic in Europe!

Should I carry my passport with me in Italy? ›

U.S. citizens should carry their U.S. passport at all times when entering or leaving the Schengen area and when traveling between Schengen countries. For additional information on traveling to and within the Schengen area, see our FAQ below.

What should you not talk about in Italy? ›

Avoid making generalised comments about Italian crime, corruption, the Mafia or Italy's involvement in World War II.

Do I tip in Italian restaurants? ›

There is no strict rule about tipping in Italy. Leaving a tip is a courteous gesture that shows the person who provided a service to you, that you appreciated their help. As such, leaving a tip is entirely up to you and, in many cases, it will not be expected, albeit appreciated.

Are shops closed on Sunday in Italy? ›

Shops generally open at 09:00 in the morning and close at 13:00 hours, then after lunch shops open again at 15:30 in the afternoon and close at 19:30 from Monday to Saturday. Most shops are closed on Sunday, but the number of shops opens on Sundays is increasing, especially during the Christmas period.

Do Italians do Sunday dinner? ›

An Italian Sunday dinner "il pranzo della domenica" is the occasion for family bonding and celebration. There is no need for a special occasion, it happens every Sunday. The family gets together for lunch right after Sunday Mass: 6 Italian meal courses and everyone is involved in the preparation, in one way or another.

Does Rome shut down on Sundays? ›

On the main shopping and business streets, clothing stores and department stores open on Sundays. In August many small shops will close most of the month or at least two weeks.

Are Rome attractions open on Sunday? ›

Most of Rome's most famous ancient sights are open daily, including the Colosseum, forum, Palatine, and Pantheon (although the Pantheon does close slightly earlier on Sundays, at 6pm rather than 7:30pm).

Is everything closed on Sunday in Venice Italy? ›

In Venice, just about everything is closed on Sunday, though tourist shops in the tourist spots such as the San Marco area are permitted to stay open during high season. Restaurants are required to close at least 1 day a week, called il giorno di riposo, though the particular day varies from one trattoria to another.

What time is Sunday lunch in Italy? ›

The time for lunch is lunchtime. Italians do not have our loose handle on time, doing such crazy Sunday things as eating brunch or indulging in a late lunch. Lunch is always 12.30 for 1pm. If in doubt ask what time you're expected but the answer will probably be l'ora di pranzo (lunchtime).

Are shops in Florence closed on Sunday? ›

Florence Opening Hours Shops

As usual in more and more tourist places of the world, there is no real Sunday anymore in Florence. At least in the city centre many shops are open 7 days a week. Also many supermarkets are open every day.

Is Milan shut on Sundays? ›

The majority of shops still close on Sunday, but the shops in the center of Milan around the cathedral square are continuously open and more and more retail shops and department stores such as La Rinascente and Coin are open on Sundays.

Do trains run on Sunday in Italy? ›

Train schedules tend to be fairly consistent from day to day. Sundays and holidays are the exceptions to that rule, however, when trains run less frequently. Note that on some public holidays trains can get booked up well in advance by locals who are traveling to visit family.

What are rude things to do in Italy? ›

And please, do not burp or fart in public, it is considered extremely rude. Also, loud swearing and drinking alcohol from a bottle while walking the street, is frowned upon. Most Italians like some alcohol, but usually avoid to get drunk. Public scenes of drunkenness are much less tolerated than in other countries.

What place in the US is most like Italy? ›

Venice Beach, California looks like… well... Venice, Italy. At least part of the area does. These canals were designed by tobacco millionaire Abbot Kinney in 1905 to imitate the city of Venice and bring a taste of Italian culture to America.

Are Americans welcome in Italy? ›

For more information see Requirement for Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination for Air Passengers. Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions. U.S. citizens may travel to Italy for any reason, including tourism.

How do I not look like an American in Italy? ›

Here are some tips for acting like a local in Italy, according to Steve.
  1. Dress Nicely. Europeans tend to dress much less casually than we do in the States. ...
  2. Don't Call During Pisolino. ...
  3. Italians Don't Wait In Line. ...
  4. Familiarize Yourself With Campanilismo.
Jul 22, 2021

Should I wear sneakers in Italy? ›

What is this? In Italy, we do not wear sneakers in the office but we do wear them if we travel, if we are sightseeing and in any informal situation. Do not go for a less comfortable shoe out of this misconception, sneakers are perfect for Italy (see below for tips on stylish ones).

Can you wear sneakers to dinner in Italy? ›

Sneakers are fine also in Italy, but again, maybe not in a fancy restaurant. So consider taking also some nice pair of shoes with you.

What time is dinner in Italy? ›

The Typical Italian Dinner

Italian dinner or la cena, usually from 8:00 to 10:00pm, is another time that Italians enjoy sitting down together and socializing. Dinner can be much later than 10:00pm, especially if eating out or dining at a friend's house.

Do hotels in Italy take your passport? ›

Tips for a smooth check-in to your hotel.

Also, it is a legal requirement in Italy that hotels have to take passport photocopies of all foreign visitors, so have your passport ready to show.

Can you smile in an Italian passport? ›

If you wear a head covering for this reason, your face needs to be in full view. Smiling is never appropriate in passport or visa photos. It distorts facial recognition by the government. Keep face neutral and mouth closed.

Should you leave your passport in your hotel room? ›

Leave your passport at the hotel.

According to the US Department of State, one of the safest things you can do is secure your passport under lock and key at home or your hotel as you would with any other valuable.

Why do Italians always say Mamma Mia? ›

Mamma mia, which means “my mother,” is kind of like “Oh my God” in English. While Americans often think mamma mia is only an expression of surprise, Italians might say it when they're angry, upset, surprised or sometimes even amused.

How do you not embarrass yourself in Italy? ›

When meeting a group of Italians, make sure you shake hands with all members of the group, make eye contact and smile. Not doing so is considered rude.

Should I carry cash in Italy? ›

First, understand that Italy is a very cash-oriented society, so make sure you never end up with zero cash in your wallet. To buy small things, like coffee, you'll need cash. You'll also need cash at all outdoor markets, for most taxis, and at many restaurants.

How do you ask for bill in Italy? ›

Il conto per favore.” That's how you ask for the bill in Italian.

Can you drink tap water in Italy? ›

The short answer is yes. Drinking water from the tap in Italy is considered safe. Tap water in the major cities and towns around Italy is safe for consumption, and there are thousands of old-style water fountains dotted around cities, like Rome, where you can fill up water bottles.

What time is Sunday dinner in Italy? ›

Every Sunday around 2:00 or 3:00 pm, the whole family (and likely some extra cousins) will sit down for a big pasta meal. This is the way it has been done for most first- and second-generation Italian families.

Are museums free on Sundays in Italy? ›

For this reason, Italy allows all locals and visitors alike to tour museums for free on the first Sunday of every month! A total of 485 museums throughout the country open their doors for free each month, including not only local museums in Perugia, but also places like the Uffizi in Florence, St.

Is Tuscany Open on Sunday? ›

Tuscany offers a lunch menu Monday - Friday from 11:30am - 3:00pm and Brunch Buffet on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00am - 2:30pm.

What is dinner called in Italy? ›

As this popular Italian food saying goes,

Not all dinner meals – known as cena – consist of all of these courses; often times, the numerous courses are reserved for festivities or celebratory occasions. At Cucina Toscana, we structure our menu to closely resemble the courses of a traditional Italian meal.

What is the Italian lunch break called? ›

The riposo is essentially the Italian equivalent of a siesta, a midday break when shops close and workers go home to have a long lunch or even take a refreshing nap before heading back out to finish their day.

Do Italians have Sunday lunch? ›

In Sunday Lunch, Italians find (or at least search for) tradition and a sense of harmony. In the social order, this is visible when friends and family come together; but harmony and tradition exist in the choice of food as well.

How do you spend Sunday in Rome? ›

Spend a relaxing day strolling through the vias of the Eternal City. Walk into the world's largest historic center, from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia all the way to the Pantheon and Largo Argentina. Rome's piazzas are a marvel, and a sunny Sunday is the perfect day to explore this millennia-old city.

Can you wear jeans in Rome? ›

It's fine for your sightseeing outfits to be casual in Rome. T-shirts, jeans, tennis shoes, sundresses and sandals are all appropriate for any of the Rome sights, including Vatican City and the Colosseum.

Why do Italians do Sunday dinner? ›

An Italian Sunday dinner "il pranzo della domenica" is the occasion for family bonding and celebration. There is no need for a special occasion, it happens every Sunday. The family gets together for lunch right after Sunday Mass: 6 Italian meal courses and everyone is involved in the preparation, in one way or another.

Do Italians work on weekends? ›

In the public sector, typical working hours are from 8.00 am to 2.00 pm from Monday to Saturday. However, many public offices compensate for being closed on Saturday with a couple of working afternoons.

Do Italians get married on Sunday? ›

Italian superstitions play a huge role in planning an Italian wedding. Sunday is the best wedding day as it brings good luck , fertility and prosperity. Italians believe Friday is the day the evil spirits were created.

Are you allowed to work on Sundays in Italy? ›

In the public sector, typical working hours are from 8am to 2pm, from Monday to Saturday. Many public offices tend to compensate for not working on Sunday with working some afternoons. Workers are also entitled to a rest period of at least 24 hours every seven days, typically not working on Sundays.

What is Italian Sunday lunch? ›

Sunday lunch in Italy is a huge cultural tradition. Far more than a meal, it is a socializing ceremony embraced by families, both nuclear and extended, couples of all ages, and groups of friends. It's also a boon to travellers who are facing a day of closed museums, shuttered stores, and reduced services.

What time do Italians eat dinner? ›

The Typical Italian Dinner

Italian dinner or la cena, usually from 8:00 to 10:00pm, is another time that Italians enjoy sitting down together and socializing. Dinner can be much later than 10:00pm, especially if eating out or dining at a friend's house.

What time is lunch break in Italy? ›

Other similarities run up and down the country, with many shops closing for the midday riposo, which typically lasts from 1pm till 3.30pm.

Do Italians wear wedding rings? ›

The exchange of rings is the most moving moment of the marriage ceremony. In Italy the wedding ring is usually worn on the left hand: this tradition dates back to Roman times when the left ring finger was believed to be connected directly to the heart by a special vein called 'vena amoris', the vein of love.

At what age do Italian men marry? ›

In the North-Italian region of Liguria, the average age of grooms was 38 years, the highest figure in the country.
Average age of men at first marriage in Italy in 2019, by region.
CharacteristicAge in years
Friuli-Venezia Giulia37.2
Trentino-South Tyrol36.9
9 more rows
Sep 9, 2021

Who pays for a wedding in Italy? ›

The best man or witness may culturally pay for the wedding rings. The groom is known to buy the bride's bouquet. The groom's family pays for almost every wedding expense except for the bride's garment, wedding invitations and flower decorations which are settled by the bride's family.

Should I carry my passport in Italy? ›

According to the law DLGS N. 286 of July 25th, 1998, it is mandatory that you always carry an international identification document (your passport) whenever you are in Italy, BUT, it doesn't have to be the original document, it can be a copy.

What are the rules for working on Sundays? ›

For the majority of workers in England and Wales, there are no statutory restrictions regulating days of the week they are required to work. However, since 1994 retail and betting shop workers cannot be compelled to work on a Sunday.


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