The fine art of getting lost in Italy

Ditch your guidebook, ignore road signs, and turn left when the whim takes you; discover the undiscovered side of Italy

This is perhaps my favorite travel activity—good thing, since it usually happens whether I want it to or not. (That is particularly true in Venice, where even the locals get lost sometimes outside their own neighborhoods).

Stick a good map in your daypack (for locating yourself later), seek any sign that points toward some landmark, and head in the opposite direction.

Practice the art of Zen walking, turning wherever your whims take you.

Soon you'll be in a place where no churches, museums, or monuments are indicated on your map.

Belly up to a local bar for some coffee or a beer and a chat with the neighbors, sit on a park bench to watch the world go by, or just wander the streets, peeping into peoples apartments to get a sense of the exotic minutia of daily life in a foreign land.

Tips & links

Always carry a map

Getting lost is fun. Getting found again when you want to is vital.

Also note that most Italian adore giving directions—but that these will be complicated and rarely use street names, more often referring instead to piazze and local monuments (certain churches, town halls, and other notable buildings).

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