You often don't plan for the things you see as you wander Italy. From street markets to medieval festivals to grain storage below medieval streets--Don't plan too much into your day that you miss them.
Relax, sheep part. Slowly. Every rural drive, especially in the south, is prone to some sheep stopage. Enjoy. Make it an adventure. Learn the plight of shepherds as the industrial crap food industry makes their lives difficult.
You happen upon some small village you can't figure out how to pronouce, say Fivizzano, and the streets are crowded and the drums thunder, and there's street food all over the place. You didn't plan to come just for the gelato, are you?
You've tasted wine in Piemonte and you're strolling back to your car and suddenly: a sight for sore eyes! Perhaps the establishment has Pumpkin Spice Lattes! Ha! Not on your life! We're not in Cleveland, Bunky. But if you explore and it's November or so, you could stay here and eat truffles every morning and night because this is the house of the truffle man.
So you wander into a building in Cagliari, Sardinia because you have a moment to spare before your ferry ride to the mainland and it seems that half the sea is on ice waiting for you to cook it up. This attraction is better than some of those highfalutin aquariums in the states that you pay money to see. And believe me, some of the sea creatures are alive.
The bread in Puglia is some of the best in Italy. You know that, right? So you're walking home from the Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael in Monte Sant’Angelo and you're feeling a bit peckish and right in front of you is a fine-smelling establishment called Chichino Pane. Lorenzo has been making bread here since he was ten. He's got it down, you can be very sure about that!
Look for the Sagra Signs! If you're a foodie, or are just searching for the small town food experience, go to a Sagra, a relatively modern concept of a food festival that celebrates a locally produced food. It may be something as humble as local type of onion, or something more complex, like a stew. Often there are also local crafts on display and sometimes music. Even if you don't read Italian, the signs you see tacked to boards and poles along the streat are easily decoded, as we explain in our article: Sagra Posters: How to Read Them
There are artisan crafts galore in Italy. There are also a wealth of tourist trinkets made in China. Don't buy them. Especially don't buy cheap knock-offs of designer goods, there's a penalty to pay if they catch you. If you find yourself in Sardinia, there is a whole season of artisan food, craft and celebration of Sardinian culture called Autonno in Barbagia.
So you're strolling through Modena, having seen the spectacular Romanesque Duomo, when you gaze into the courtyard of a typical building, which is now mostly for parking the residents' cars, and there is Perseus holding the Head of Medusa. Medusa is staring right at you, and you think, "who'd have a famous marble statue in their parking lot. You're in Italy. Enjoy
If any car can be sexy, it has been made in Italy and painted red. Italy's "motor city" is Modena, but if you're driving along and see signs saying "auto d'epoca" or some such, try to get the city. There's either a car rally or display of cars like this. If you're planning, you can also plan to see the Mille Miglia, that runs from Brescia to Rome and back--or you can drive a Ferrari on the Imola race track. Keep the shiny side up.
So you are out exploring a little town and all around you are signs of Italian style. The hat you see to the left is made of recycled stuff nobody wanted. Governments, you see, are entirely unfit to make our earth better, so we need to rely on folks like the talented Sandi, who runs a shop called "Sartorial" in Brisighella. You can buy things you didn't imagine in Italy, like artisan leaded crystal, the kind of glass that sings when you clink a pair of wine glasses together. Don't buy the Chinese stuff, the owner told us, it's nasty. So save time for shopping on your Italian vacation. There's some very fine hand-made stuff available.