100+ Things to Know If You’re Going to Italy

My friends often ask me for support in travel preparation when they plan to go to Italy. In fact, I think it’s a great idea- go to a country prepared to experience it at the fullest! I enjoy learning about the little idiosyncrasies that make a visit to a new country so interesting, the small traditions, the interesting customs… so, I thought I’d give you a cheat-sheet for Italy.

If you’d like a personalized crash-course on Italian culture before your trip, please contact me at vanessa at Italyinsf dot com. I would be happy to schedule a time to help you out with your trip organization as well as give you some useful tips about culture and traditions!

siena

Part 1: GENERAL ADVICE AND TRAVEL TIPS

  1. Don’t go off the beaten path before visiting the “holy trinity”: Rome, Florence and Venice. These cities are truly remarkable and you don’t want to miss them.
  2. Nevertheless, make time to spend a few days outside the major cities. Real Italy is in the small towns!
  3. Tuscany is wonderful. There are hundreds of small wonderful medieval villages and plenty to see. However, Italy is a lot more than Tuscany. From the hills of Langhe to the trulli of Puglia, going through the culinary haven of Romagna, you will find fewer tourists and a wonderful land to discover!
  4. Tipping is not required. Service staff gets paid as high as entry level engineers do. In particular, tipping people you personally know is considered offensive. In general, the attitude toward tipping is that you can’t buy a person off, so be mindful if you decide to tip.
  5. Pick pocketing is an issue in larger metropolitan areas like Rome and Venice, but it’s not any worse than New York City, London or Paris.
  6. Newspaper are bought daily at the edicola (newspaper stand), and delivery of newspapers is rare. Edicole are very common and open everyday, and as much part of the typical Italian morning routine as stopping to the bar to order an espresso.
  7. Watch the street billboards for advertisement of “Feste” or “Sagre”, street fairs usually dedicated to one food. If one is close by your location at the time you’re there, don’t miss it- they’re wonderful events gathering people from the various towns and serving thematic foods!
  8. Dates are shown as day-month-year, always.
  9. Times are indicated in 24-hr format.
  10. And yes, we’re metric!
  11. You push to enter a place, and pull to get out. Exactly the opposite as in America!
  12. Airport and rail stations have public restrooms, often with attendants who expect to be tipped. If someone is guarding the door of the restroom, you’re expected to leave a few coins.
  13. Restrooms in all bars and cafes are for customers only. Order an espresso and only afterward head to the toilet!
  14. In public restrooms, toilet paper is a rarity. Italian women always keep a travel pack of Kleenex in their purses for this reason.
  15. You can’t walk in a church with a tank top or with shorts on. You need to be properly dressed to visit most holy places.
  16. Credit cards are not widely accepted. You can’t pay anything that is less than 10 Euros with a credit card, and even then you’re going to be frowned upon. Always bring cash with you!
  17. Public phones are now officially extinct. You will need to carry a cell phone for anything you need, from calling the hotel to reserve a restaurant. If you’re going for a brief stay, use your US cell phone and get a calling card. If you’re planning a longer trip, look into getting a SIM card and use it with your (unlocked) US phone- most cell phone calling contracts in Italy are prepaid services, so no need to lock in a plan!
  18. When using an Italian cell phone, all incoming calls are free.

Part 2: SHOPPING AND STORES

  1. When walking into a store, especially clothing or shoes, in most cases you will have a shop assistant with you at all times. Sometimes you won’t be allowed to even touch the things unless you’re trying them on! The assistant will find your size and do all the work.
  2. If you enter a store to just to take a look, make sure your intentions are known to the person inside the shop. Ask if you can just look around without being hassled by a shop assistant trying to make a sale!
  3. The rudeness and bitchiness of Italian shop assistants, or commesse, is legendary, especially if you’re not a size 0. They apparently consider a size 4 “overweight”. Don’t take it personally.
  4. On the upside, though, shop assistants are not paid on commission. Feel free to abuse them- they probably deserve it anyway!!
  5. Store exchanges don’t exist. If you buy something and decide later you don’t want it anymore, you’re stuck with it. Choose carefully!
  6. Clearance sales in regular shops Italy are not very good- usually a 10%, 20% at the very most.
  7. Shops close for lunch between 12:30pm and 3 or 4pm. Everything shuts down by 7:30pm.
  8. Ask your local hotel for outlets stores. Outlet stores will have items priced at a more discounted rate.
  9. Buy shoes in Italy. Even with the dreadful Euro/Dollar exchange, leather shoes will last you for years and they’re really good for your feet!
  10. In larger cities and metropolitan areas stores are open on Saturday but closed on Sunday, and another half day of the week. In touristic resorts stores are open Sunday but closed one other day of the week.
  11. Banks are only open in the morning and for one hour in the afternoon. You need to bank in the morning!
  12. National Holidays:
    • January 1st, New Year’s Day
    • January 6th, Epiphany
    • Easter Sunday
    • Easter Monday
    • April 25th, Anniversary of Italy’s liberation
    • May 1st, Labor Day
    • June 2nd, Anniversary of the institution of the Republic
    • August 15th (Ferragosto), Assumption
    • November 1st, All Saints
    • December 8th, Annunciazione
    • December 25th, Christmas
    • December 26th, St Stefano.

    In addition, each town will honor its patron with an additional day off.

  13. You have to wear plastic gloves to pick up food in the produce section of the grocery store or old ladies will yell at you.
  14. You bag your own groceries and pay for the bag.

Part 3: FOOD AND DRINKS

  1. 99% of Italian hotels include breakfast in the room price.
  2. As a consequence of #33 above, Italians remain the main audience at bars for breakfast. Don’t miss the chance to get out of your hotel by 9am on a workday and order a cappuccino al banco (at the counter) with a cornetto, preferably with custard, and eat it standing with all the rest of the crowd.
  3. Cappuccino is not forbidden in the afternoon, it’s just frowned upon following a meal. Some places will actually refuse to serve it to you. Don’t get upset, just embrace the culture…
  4. In order to be able to get the said cappuccino, in many places you first have to pay for it so you can show the scontrino (proof of payment) to the bartender.
  5. Italians don’t put ice in their drinks. If you must, ask for it, but realize they’ll look at you as if you were a Martian. When (if?) they bring you ice, they will send to the table a small saucer with 5 ice cubes for the entire table.
  6. You can’t order food “to go”, unless you are in a pizza place or in a rosticceria. If you try to walk in a restaurant and order a meal to go, people will look at you as if you were crazy!
  7. When eating at a buffet or family style, it is more than acceptable to help yourself as many times as you want, and never okay to overfill your plate.
  8. Aperitivo is a wonderful tradition you should not miss out on. Bars that offer an aperitivo buffet will charge you for the drink, but not for the food, which will range from simple chips and pretzels to sophisticated warm appetizers and parmigiano cubes sprinkled with balsamic vinegar. Buffet is all you can eat (but don’t forget the rules above!). Find a bar that serves an aperitivo buffet and head there between 6pm and 8:30pm, and you can skip dinner if you want!Aperitivi
  9. There are no dipping sauces in Italy, so Italians are not really familiar with double dipping rules.
  10. When starting a meal, bread will be brought to the table but neither olive oil nor butter is served. A bread dish is never on the table, so bread rests on the tablecloth.
  11. Speaking of bread, never ever leave it upside down on the table. It’s considered bad luck and unrespectful toward the owner of the table.
  12. Never, ever pour wine (or water) backhanded. It’s considered an offense to the person you’re serving.
  13. No doggie bags in Italy. Taking home the leftovers is not an option, and leaving food on the plate is frowned upon.
  14. Salad is considered a side dish, not a starter. No meal in Italy ever starts with a salad.
  15. If you’re invited to a wedding, be prepared to eat. Imagine a minimum of 15 courses and sitting at the table for 5 to 6 hours.
  16. Tap water is never served, and despite the fact that it’s now as safe as in the US, people keep on drinking bottled water and restaurants only serve bottled water.
  17. When water is not safe at fountains, it will say so. Otherwise, take advantage of the only free water in the country!
  18. Coffee is not a “to go” item. You enjoy it at the bar, and no paper cup is provided!
  19. Cheese is never eaten with fish.
  20. Salad dressing is oil and vinegar and that’s it. There aren’t different types of dressings.
  21. There are over 100 different types of pasta, and each region has its own. Make an effort to try as many as possible!
  22. Bread and pasta are never eaten together in the North, but they are sometimes in the South.
  23. Restaurant customs are a bit different than in the US. Since servers are salaried and don’t rely on tips to make a living, they don’t care about turnover- it is customary in Italy to stay seated at a restaurant table for the whole evening, and dinner would usually take longer than in the US.
  24. If you don’t ask for the check, you’re not going to get it. Italians consider a check put on the table before you’re done with your meal, or without you asking, like an invitation to leave. It is considered a no-no in restaurants, so you must ask for your check if you’d like to pay!
  25. When ordering food at a restaurant, substitutions or changes are usually not accepted.
  26. Alfredo sauce is not Italian. Don’t ask for it!
  27. Frappuccino doesn’t exist, either. However, all other coffee drinks whose name Starbucks has stolen usually mean something different than what you think you’re ordering.
  28. Hot chocolate is a different experience altogether- it’s denser, more like a pudding, and it’s usually ordered in the afternoon, as a merenda item.
  29. Appropriate use of grated Parmigiano cheese is limited to pasta- and pasta with either vegetable or meat sauce, not fish! There is no grated parmesan cheese on salad or pizza. Occasionally, slivers of parmigiano will be served over bresaola or carpaccio- but never grated cheese!
  30. Nothing but pork is considered appropriate meat for your pizza. No chicken, not beef- only pork in various formats (prosciutto, salame, salsiccia, etc.).
  31. Chicken is not to be eaten with pasta. That’s it. There isn’t a single pasta sauce in Italian cuisine where chicken can be an ingredient.
  32. Dinner is past 8pm, not at 5pm. If you’re hungry at 5pm, go to a pasticceria and get a hot chocolate and some pastries. If you’re hungry at 7pm go to a bar and order an aperitivo. Don’t show up for dinner before 8pm (and that’s still kind of early!).
  33. Don’t miss the chance to try pizza in a pizzeria, but be aware that pizza is a dinner food. The very few pizzeria open at lunch usually cater to tourists only (and the pizza is probably not likely to be great!).
  34. Speaking of pizza, it is considered inappropriate (and many places will just say it’s not possible!) to ask for a split topping: half a pizza one way and half a pizza a different way is just not a concept Italian pizzaioli are able to grasp.

Part 4: CULTURE

  1. Most Italians under 40 speak some English, but many will be embarrassed to talk.
  2. Sunday is a holy day- and not for church, but for soccer! When the games are on, you will see plenty of people walking down the streets with their family with a radio glued to their ear. Sometimes as you walk down a busy street on a Sunday afternoon you will hear a mix of cheers and mumblings- that’s the sign for one of the teams scoring!
  3. Oh, and it’s not soccer- it’s football (or calcio).
  4. Girl watching is a national past time, second only to soccer. Don’t be alarmed when men stare at you. Men look at women as art historians look at the Sistine chapel ceiling.
  5. Third after soccer and women come Formula One and the Ferrari team. Don’t even attempt to speak ill of Scuderia Ferrari in public. You might be verbally assaulted.
  6. Italian television spends one day showing soccer and 6 days talking about it. Other programming includes plenty of half-naked dancing girls and inappropriate nudity commercials- and sometimes Formula 1 races, per priority list set above.
  7. Azzurro, light blue, is the color of every national athlete’s jersey. When you hear talking about Azzurri people usually refers to the national team soccer players, although it’s used in general terms for all national athletes.
  8. You shower at night in Italy, and you change to dress-up clothes before going out for the evening, whether you’re going to a restaurant or to a bar. Day wear is not considered appropriate for night time.
  9. In Italy it is not socially acceptable to be drunk. People boast about their alcohol resistance and no one would ever admit to be drunk.
  10. Business formal is the norm for all office and sales jobs. Wearing a tie is considered appropriate wear for pretty much any workplace.
  11. Italian men dress very nicely. Leather shoes and slacks are a lot more common than shorts and flip flops.
  12. You can see a lot of speedos on Italian beaches, and nobody finds it hilarious.
  13. Topless sunbathing is quite common in the northern beaches, and more frowned upon in the South.
  14. While in the US temperature in public places is determined by the one who feels hot (and hence she is the one who lowers the temperature in the space), in Italy the one who’s cold is always right and her requests will determine a room’s temperature.
  15. Never, ever give chrysanthemums as a flower gift to anyone. They are considered the flowers of the dead, and only brought to cemeteries.
  16. When entering someone’s house, it is customary to ask for permission on the doorstep, even if you’ve been invited already. You say “Permesso” upon entering a house.
  17. Lines (at the post office, at the bank, at the bar, at the bakery) are never really lines. They are a declaration of intent that you need to assert if you want to be helped. Make sure you demand your right in line if you don’t want to be “overtaken”!
  18. Purple being the color of lent, it is considered a color that brings bad luck. Avoid the darker purple hues for evenings at the theatre, and it’s definitely a forbidden color at weddings!

The Fiat 500

Part 5: DRIVING AND MOVING AROUND

  1. Driving in Italy is not terrible. Keep your right, be careful, but many Italians are terrified to drive in California, so you should be just fine!
  2. However, don’t even think to drive in Naples. Road rules are different from what you’re used to, and despite being incomprehensible to most, they keep the city going. You’d be the wrench thrown in the perfectly oiled wheel!
  3. You don’t flag cabs in Italy- usually, you walk to one of the taxi stands where they wait in line- usually located close to main attractions.
  4. If you call a cab, you are often charged for the time it takes for it to come and get you.
  5. Making a “pit stop” alongside the road to relieve oneself (Pulling over to the side of the road and peeing) is accepted. It’s disgusting and terrible, but you’ll see plenty of men doing it.
  6. Never drive on the left lane of the autostrada unless you are passing a car.
  7. Leave your left blinker on while you are in the left lane. Turn left blinker off when you return to the slow lane.
  8. Make sure you respect the speed limits. Contrary to general assumptions, and especially in recent years, police has gotten very strict about speeding. They won’t stop you- just send a picture of you to the car owner. If you’re renting, you are liable to pay the hefty ticket ($200+).
  9. If someone flashes their brights behind you, it’s because they want you to move to the right lane so that they may pass.
  10. Before boarding a train you need to validate your ticket. You will have to validate your ticket directly on buses instead. Make sure you allow plenty of padding on your transfers, as Italian train times are, once again, more a declaration of intent than a set rule…
  11. Scooters, bicycles and motorcycles share the road with cars, and they will zip by on your left and right in a one-lane road!
  12. It’s hard to pay for gas with a credit card, especially after operating hours other than on the autostrada.
  13. No right turn on red!
  14. Don’t try to find a cup holder in your car. If it’s more than 5 years old, there won’t be one!
  15. Eating in the car is unheard of. Italians would never do such a coveted and social thing like eating in the most unsocial place of all, the car.
  16. However, that doesn’t mean Italians don’t like their cars!! Actually, cars are coveted sign of social status. As a consequence, garbage that you produce in the car gets taken out immediately. You will see people throwing things directly outside the window. As long as the car is clean, who cares about littering?

This little guide to Italian culture has had so much success I have thought of a few other items to add to this list. If you have more, keep them coming by emailing me at vanessa at italyinsf dot com!

  1. The perfect drink for a pizza is beer, or soda. Almost no Italian drink wine with their pizza, when they do they consider it an overindulgent pleasure and usually it will be a sparkling wine, like Prosecco.
  2. Pesto does not belong on pizza, on sandwiches, as a side to a caprese salad- pesto only belongs on pasta al pesto.
  3. Martini is a vermouth, not a drink. If you ask for a Martini, you will be served white vermouth, usually on the rocks, with a twist of lemon in it- a delicious aperitivo if you ask me! To order a “North America”-style Martini, ask for a Martini Cocktail!

A Tower in San Gimignano

115 Responses to “100+ Things to Know If You’re Going to Italy”

  1. I absolutely LOVE your Blog. Thank you for writing it. I poured over this list, delighted to have discovered it. Never having been to Italy, but knowing I will be making the trip to visit a new friend and associate I have been immersing myself in learning. Not making a cultural faux-pas was high on my list but where to get the info was another story. This was a great find, a super read (love your writing) and great information.
    Many thanks and keep up the great work. You were a super help!
    ~ Angela

  2. Grazie Angela. I really appreciate your feedback!

  3. ** Heading back to Rome, Florence, Orvieto soon (21st year to Italy)

    My wife doesn’t get up early so it is my solemn duty to bring her coffee and sweet back to the hotel so they may be enjoyed in camera.

    Perhaps Italians are getting more lenient about creating a cappucino to take away. I’ve never been turned down in bars in Rome, Florence, Siena . . . — my favorite early morning bar was a caravan in Sorrento. Once the signora cleared me — I wasn’t a local — I got a cappuchino to go served in a carefully rewashed, small juice bottle with attached plastic cap. No wasted paper or plastic! Just the way the workers at a nearby hotel took theirs off to be enjoyed later.

    Some restaurants add a service charge (10-12%) to the bill and that fact is usually noted on the menu as well as the check. Family owned and operated establishments tend not to add a service charge: so, I always leave some money for service, but not as much as would be usual in the U.S.

    Maybe hint #100+ would be — when entering a small shop which appears to be family run or knowledgeably staffed, it is very important to greet the person(s) there. Americans are notoriously ill-mannered.

    Also, dear Americans, two notes: learn some basic Italian and use it. Second, speaking English loudly does not translate it into Italian.

    Remember whose country it is and that Italy was not designed to meet your expectations. As I tell Italians on whom I try out my language skills — all Italy is my school and all Italians are my teachers!

    bipolar2

  4. Another comment- When ordering a caffe, be sure not to order a ‘latte’ unless you desire a glass of milk. ‘Caffe latte’ translates to the American notion of a latte.

    Amazing Blog! Love it!!!!!

  5. One more thing- flip flops are designated beach wear ONLY. Especially if it’s winter, don’t expect to wear your flip flops around town (as we do everywhere in California) without getting lots of stares.

    On the fashion note- scarves are big during the winter season. Having a bare neck (ladies- any type of v-neck that exposes the neck and chest) during the cold season will make Italians cold just looking at you. Italians like to bundle up and think you should too!

    Wedding bands are worn on the right hand. Don’t be fooled.

    When greeting and saying goodbye to friends, Italians exchange two kisses. Lean in starting in the RIGHT direction or you might bonk noses.

  6. dang. good list, but surprisingly makes me take back my notion of wanting to visit. sounds like the italians have some uptight issues to work out. france for me please :] they might have their etiquette nitpicks too, but at least i can order coffee however i want.

  7. heh gotta love Italy, or latin Europe for that matter…alot of these same rules apply to France as well

  8. em, I don’t think the Italians will miss you……

    em, on April 23rd, 2009 at 5:43 pm Said:
    dang. good list, but surprisingly makes me take back my notion of wanting to visit. sounds like the italians have some uptight issues to work out. france for me please :] they might have their etiquette nitpicks too, but at least i can order coffee however i want.

  9. I found out about 72 the hard way on our vacation. My two daughters (6 & 9) were watching Knight Rider, and I thought it was safe. I was reading a book. My wife came out of the bathroom, and it was “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WATCHING!”. Looked up and it was a commercial. Luckily, none of the other hotel rooms we had, had TV’s.

  10. Thanks for the admonishments. Avoiding Italia will not be difficult.

  11. Thanks for the good advices. They’re good for we Italians as well. About point #102: in many places, especially in Liguria – that’s where Pesto belong – you can have pizza with pesto, and it is delicious. I suggest you to check the pizza list)

  12. Ciao Stefano,
    you are right, but it is quite a rarity limited to one region in Italy. And it is mostly referred to as focaccia with pesto, not really pizza, right? In America pesto is used as a base, like tomato sauce, in many pizzas. That is what #102 refers to!

  13. #42 statement is false.

    Olive oil is always on the table (if not, you can ask it).

  14. Hi Vanessa, I’m Italian :) I had a lot of fun in reading your suggestions, you did a really good job; It’s amazing how sometimes all that is ordinary for someone can be “crazy” for somebody else! (for me Pesto used as a base is crazy ! such as eating pasta drinking cappuccino)
    BTW I have something to say about point #55: It’s true that waiters don’t make a living on tips but the “leaving a tip is an offence” is partially true…It happens mostly in the North.
    If you go to the South instead,you eat in a restaurant and you enjoy your meal but you go without leaving a tip means you’re not satisfied of the service. So please if you go to the south leave a tip to the waiters let them know they did a good job !

  15. [...] abbiamo scovati molti e formidabili in questa mega lista delle “100 cose da sapere se andate in Italia”. Eccone [...]

  16. My girlfriend is Italian and I had to learn the hard way about some of the rules. One of my favorites was preparing a special dinner that was a pesto chicken pasta… Chicken and pesto in a pasta, completely unheard of! She wouldn’t even taste it.

  17. Ah yes and another thing. Being a Californian myself I see nothing wrong with going about my day barefoot, which I guess is also totally crazy, especially when guests are over. Some Italian friends took pictures of my feet because it was so strange to them.

  18. wao whats a nice list.i thing most of above list are necessary to know where ever and when ever we travel in the world but some are specially important for italy. its very important for me because next year i m travelling to italy for my business promotion. thanku so much for above very very important list

    Monterosa

  19. good list!
    I just could add one more thing :

    after your lunch don’t ask for a capuccino or the waiter could look at you like you’re a martian!
    italians usually drink capuccino, latte macchiato (coffee with a drop of milk) or espresso only in the morning.

    after lunch they never drink capuccino but only espresso, just to help digestion :)

    @Rossella: it’s not true that leaving a tip is an offence in the north!!
    Instead everywhere in italy leaving a tip means that you appreciated the service and the meal and it could be helpful to leave a tip if you plan to return in that local as it makes you look like a good customer ;)

  20. i love to read these, can you do for other countries as well ?
    spain, france. netherlands, germany, russia, mexico, equador,
    thanks

  21. Wow, this is a great post. I did not know that there is no right turn on red or that you are not supposed to eat cheese with fish.

    I also did not know that Italians do not eat in their cars.

    What a great post.

  22. Grazie!

  23. Hello Michael,
    Alas I lack the knowledge to go beyond my country’s limits. Even coming up with this list required a lot of Italians who have lived in the US for quite some time! Good luck finding other lists!
    Ciao!

  24. Ciao Cristina,
    I talk about cappuccino and the so-called “rules” for it. I don’t think you only drink cappuccino in the morning- you never had a merenda with a cappuccino? However, no milk drinks after a meal!
    As a long time tourist operator on Italy, working in both restaurants and hotels, I can assess that only in restaurants is even remotely acceptable to leave a tip-= but it usually change, not a full 20%. I have heard of people getting yelled at in Rome by a hotel porter for not tipping. When a city is visited by people who usually tip, this creates an expectation, and more money is always better, no? As a hotel receptionist, I have often declined tips (and many like me have)- you can’t buy my courtesy!

  25. Nick, I so sympathize! Maybe I should write a list of how to recognize Italians visiting: They would never open your fridge, they ask for your permission to do everything while they’re at your house, they wear sandals in August even if it is freezing and boots in December even if it’s in the 80s, and they take pictures of squirrels!! Apparently, they also take pictures of bare feet! ahahah!

  26. *funny*!

  27. What I mean is, olive oil is not served for you to dip bread in, which is what American restaurants would offer. Olive oil is often on the table, and you can ask for it- but not for the purpose of dipping your bread in oil!!

  28. This list was great, and hopefully will be useful to me in a few years time when i go to Italy for a year as part of my Uni course. However, I’d just like to say that, as an English person, I find the notion of dipping bread in OIL fairly disgusting. I never knew people did that in America!

  29. first of all i sey thanks for making this great blog with all above list because if traveller know what things are necessary when visit italy. second i m visiting after 2 year with my family so its help full for me and for my family.

  30. Fast of all , I would like to say thanks whose make it.This list is great.Which one i don’t know but i got opportunity here so thanks again.I am so happy on this.

  31. I wish I new at least 10 of these before I had my trip to Italy, however will be going back again sometime in the not too distant future.

  32. Vanessa

    as I said I had a look to your website and it’s great.

    I am thinking that is exactly the opposite point of view of mine!!

    You are trying to give, to the USA people, what is going on in Italy, I’m trying to give an idea of the USA life, way of thinking, to the italian people!!!

    Diferrent perscpective but same goal: make the people know!!!!

    I’m goign to read, step by step, your posts, beceause seems to be very very interesting. And by reading I’ll rememeber something that I usaually miss!!

    ByEzio

  33. Ice in drinks is almost purely an American phenomenon

  34. Hey there, a few corrections which hold true at least for the northern part of the country (I’m writing from Milan):

    4) Tipping is not common (though rounding-up is) but none’s going to be offended;

    13) Thought it’s considered to be good practice to buy something before using a toilet, all public places in Italy are required to have toilets open to everyone and not just their own customers;

    14) Holds true only for public transportation like trains;

    16) True that credit cards are not as common as they could be in, say, Sweden, but there’s no 10 Euros limit anywhere and hardly anyone will complain;

    19) Doesn’t hold true;

    21) Doesn’t hold true;

    25) Generally holds true for small towns or suburbs only;

    28) See 25;

    29) That’s not only one hour in the afternoon (usually 2.5), but yes, those schedules still suck;

    35) Never heard of anyone being refused a cappuccino, not even in small towns;

    45) None really cares if you leave some food on the table. If you will leave your whole plate, yes, you’ll be asked why; :-)

    47) Doesn’t quite hold true for the north;

    48) You’ll be given tap water if you ask;

    55) Staying at your table for the whole evening? Again, don’t try that in the north; :-)

    75) Holds only partly true; lots of people will brag about alcohol resistance, but it’s no shame to be drunk;

    91) Absolutely untrue and forbidden by road laws!;

    96) Doesn’t hold true;

    100) Never saw a native doing that here, luckily.

    Hope this clears a few things up. Habits can wildly differ in a multi-cultured country like this.

  35. Your 100 + Things to Know if you’re going to Italy is a great list. Unfortunately I didn’t read it until after I returned home! But for future visits it will still help. A couple that stand out for me are the ‘don’t give chrysanthemums.” Since I have friends in Italy and socialize with them it’s good to know what’s not good to do. Happily there were no mums around! The color purple as a negative choice to wear is also good to know. Tourists are tourist. Italians can spot us a mile away. No matter how i tried to dress or order food to fit in, they always knew where i was from even before i opened my yankee mouth! I also like the info about pizza and coffee… when and where. Americans are a bit selfish and I think just respecting another person’s customs isn’t really that hard to do. There are plenty of tourists who don’t care about where they are in the world and carry on like it’s their right to be loud and obnoxious. If I had one thing to change about tourists from the U.S is to calm down, relax… not everyone needs to hear your opinion about everything going on around you. Italians can be very forgiving and I think their sense of humor and openness about many things is really what made my vacation there wonderful.

  36. This list is perfect and I can really use it because I am planning an Eurotrip this string! Niceeee. Thank you very much for the effort!

  37. good list but some things arent completely true.

    olive oil is always served with bread before the meal, and it’s delicious for dipping! especially with some vinegar and pepper. dont knock it till you try it! one restaurant in florence was famous for it’s oil and began bottling and selling it to the public.

    leaving food on the plate isn’t necessarily frowned upon. my friend left her dish fairly untouched because she didnt care for it and the waiter didnt charge her for the meal. he even asked to exchange the food for something else.

    one night i couldnt finish my tortellini simply because it was too filling and the waiter asked if i wanted a doggy bag.

    one thing mentioned that is EXTREMELY true is not to be picky or change your order. italians will become very frustrated with even the slightest change to your order. even in mcdonalds! just order your food the way it is meant to be served, you might just like it.

  38. 135. Know how to get in and out of parking lots before trying. It’s toung to figure out the gates with a tour bus on your bumper. 136. Know how and when you will be paying for tolls on the Autostrada. Many exits are unmanned and may not take your credit cars or cash. 137. Don’t plan on getting gas for your erental car on the way top the airport at 4am. 138. Never climb the Spanish Steps on a hot day. It’s very expensive to cool off at the top. 139 Don’t miss Sienna, it’s the surprise of Italy.

  39. Grazie Robert, these are really good!!

  40. I’m Italian girl and this list is funny!!! I want to add two points:
    140) Pizza with peperoni is pizza with pepper (red, yellow or green) you could call Pizza diavola if you want pizza with hot sausage
    141) It’s rudeness to take your shoes off in public place

  41. Hi, i read the article and i loved it! i have the feeling you didn’t mention the “coperto”, am i right? it is strange to have to pay for it if you are not used to.
    Moreover, the habit os separate checks is not common, it’s easier for restaurants to make a single check and you do the calculations at your table.
    And another thing= it’s not easy to find high chairs for kids in a restaurant and you don’t get any paper+crayola for kids while you are waiting.

  42. Those are all good ones Daniela! Grazie!

  43. This is a great list! I just got back from Florence after living there for about 4 months. This was really fun to read, and is overall pretty accurate – the only thing I would say is concerning the bread + pasta at a meal thing. It is not unheard of, and one of my Italian professors discussed how “ridiculous” it is for us to be concerned about “how many carbs” are eaten in a meal. Some restaurants also don’t bring the bread until your meal arrives (which was almost always pasta in my case), so not too sure about that one.

    And if I had to tell tourists one thing – transportation in Italy is always somewhat of an adventure. Embrace it, accept it, and be relaxed about it. :)

  44. Ladies…. Don\’t pack short with you to Southern Italy! Stick with longer capri pants or long almost to the knee shorts. I know it is hot out, but hardly any locals wear shorts. I stuck out like a sore thumb (ok, so it wasn\’t just the shorts) and wished I would have packed more jeans.

  45. this is great advice, long but great

  46. You know san fran never ceases to amaze me where food is concerned.

  47. Regarding #10, there is only one country in the world that isn’t metric.

  48. Vanessa,

    Thanks so much for the helpful information! This is better than any tour guide I’ve read. I’ll be going to Italy with my two teenage daughters in June. I’m definitely going to take your tips with me.

  49. Bottled water? yes, but the more touristic resaurants, especially the cheaper ones in cities will fill their empties from the tap and charge you anyway…………did the waiter ‘open’ it for you?

  50. opeing and closing times are very different from north to south

    north working time 9-17/18 break 1 hous for the lunch at 13

    in south 9-13 -siesta- 17-21

    in north you are charged for the water to drink with coffee in south not

    for the rest i think are missing the millions reasons why everyone in the world should visit Italy.
    70% of Culture-Arts of all planet it is a good start :)

  51. if you come to Puglia please come to my restaurant you as foreign you will havea specia lchef treatment for let you try unforgettable dishes :)

  52. Thank you for these wonderful tips ..I was sorry to hear about the colour purple tho..I had really pretty purple heels that I was going to bring…

  53. Wow! Thanks for the list. It will be helpful for my trip in Europe.

  54. Mmh, Rose, the purple is not forbidden! Purple is my favorite colour and I wear it! You should not wear it only in weddings or if you are an actor :D
    Bring your purple heels and wear it! :D

  55. Visiting Italy next week and this is quite helpful to know since its my first time.

  56. Sweet blog! Although you do point out great things Americans might find helpful to know, you forgot to point out the stuff Americans do that piss Italians off. Now, please, don’t be offended by these points, I really love America, I attended an American school and have been countless times to the states, but let me give you a piece of advice (mostly for those travelling to Milan).

    1. We don’t like loud people, screaming people, noisy people. Drunk or not.
    2. If travelling with kids don’t take them to restaurants if they are ill behaved. You will irritate most of the people there in their relaxing time.
    3. Don’t assume you need priviledges just because you have kids. Nobody cares, and you got them because you wanted them. If someone lets you cut the line thank them.
    4. Smoking is tollerated in open spaces, and until it’s illegal, people will continue smoking. Don’t ask smokers to put off their cigarettes at an open space aperitivo (even if you have children, again, it’s your fault, you shouldn’t take them to aperitivo outside, move.)
    5. Breast feeding and/or diaper changing is done privately, not publicly.
    6. For young women travelling: Italians will charm you into almost anything. Be careful and know what you want. Don’t be amazed if they want to take you to bed with them and never hear from them again. Don’t drink until you drop (ps, they are NOT criminals, but hey…)
    7. Do not critize local customs and behaviour in fron of locals. You’ll piss them off.
    8. When in Milan, DO respect a line. Anywhere. Unless there is no line.
    9. Don’t take direct photos of locals, even if you think they have an awsome fashion sense. They hate privacy breaches and a photo of you, on the internet, is a privacy breach.
    10. We are not uptight. We are extremely cautious of the next person’s rights.
    11. Yes, you will find rude people just like in every other part of the world. Ignore them.

    9.

  57. Okay, Milanese, but saying “If you got kids it’s your fault” is a bit extreme. Think if you mom had the same thought… :)

  58. Hey Vanessa,

    I’m going to Italy next summer. I have been trying to prepare so we don’t stick out, but I LOVE wine. Do you know some dishes that go well with white wine? Also, I haven’t decided where to settle there, are there any places near vineyards you would recommend? I’m thinking about staying near Siena.

  59. Sorry Ally, I don’t think I can help you with this!

  60. Articolo davvero completo e piacevole. Però, scusa se te lo dico, in alcuni punti dai un\’idea alquanto parziale e demodè del nostro paese. Se un\’anziana signora ti ha gridato dietro al reparto frutta e verdura, non sarà così ovunque. Fare pipì in autostrada è passibile di multa, se lo permettono i camionisti che si sono fermati per una pausa riposo, dopo 10 ore di guida. La nostra visione del bere non è fingere di non essere sbronzi, ma di non bere fino a cadere sotto al tavolo, ecc…
    Magari le mie note ti sembreranno inappropriate, ma spero le terrai in considerazione. Un lavoro così serio e approfondito, sarebbe bello continuare a perfezionarlo.
    Buon lavoro|

  61. These tips are useful for someone wanting to blend in as much as possible. However, I feel the need to quote one of Italy’s expressions, ‘Il mondo è bello perchè e vario’, the world is beautiful because it is varied.

    -If you stop wearing flip-flops, you’ll get all that dog poop on your good shoes.

    -If you speak Italian to the sales clerks, they’ll never leave you alone. I’m fluent in Italian so I pretend not to speak a word of Italian so I can shop in peace.

    -Italians don’t even know that the only reason they don’t drink a cappuccino after 1pm is simply because in the past, the milk would go bad. If you can have ice-cream after dinner, then you can have a cappuccino if you wish. I really couldn’t care less and why should I?

    -If everyone in Italy were to follow this list, Italy would just get more and more boring.

    Since when is Italy the author of the rule book? If you want to put cheese on your pasta al salmone, go ahead. If someone says anything, tell them to mind their business. In Naples, they have several dishes of seafood with cheese added, so even Italians have moved on from this silly rule.

    -BTW, Italian cuisine is awesome BECAUSE it is basically ancient fusion cuisine. Where would Italian cuisine be without China – who invented pasta – or America, where tomatoes, potatoes, corn and chocolate originally come from?

    I love that people are different. Yes, sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s nice, but it’s always refreshing to see individuals instead of clones.

  62. Make sure you don’t ask for garlic bread with pasta

  63. This site was really usful… (:I Thanks . . . . . . .

  64. i really like this blog. i like how it was set up and how she said everything that is needed to be known. thanks for all the help. it was great! [ =

  65. My boyfriend is from Italy and i’ll be visiting this August so I ready this and loved it! I found #75 to be quite funny because I’ve seen him drunk before and mo matter what I said, I couldn’t get him to admit It! Even though It was quite obvious he had a little too much to drink!

  66. Much good advice! But caution should be given regarding driving in Italy. I was prepared but not my wife. Fifteen minutes after picking up car in Milan, she was crying. Very aggressive, no rules…well, one rule, don’t hit anything. Be assertive and they give way. If not you will go crazy waiting for an opening. Be prepared for 80 mph in slow lane on autostrada with the trucks. If three lanes, center lane is 120 mph plus and left is get-the-hell-out-of-the-way. Autogrille restaurants on autostrada are clean and nice. Be aware of the down-the-middle technique for passing on two lane roads. If you are being passed, you should put right tires on shoulder. Oncoming traffic does same, and the passer goes down the middle. Yes that’s actually allowed and done. I did it once only–scared the crap out of me. If you read and are prepared (learn some italian), you can enjoy it. We drove from Milan to Bologna and San Marino, Florence, south past Roma, through Napoli, ferry to Mesina, Catania, Falcon Castle at Jela, Mt. Etna. Best trip of our lives!

  67. I had no problem driving. I thought that everyone knew the “rules of the road” and took them seriously. Saw almost no one using their phones or drinking coffee or eating in their cars; just driving. Actually had one of our better meals at an Autogrille!

    #11 is weird. The concept was created of pushing to get out was created to avoid problems in case of a fire of other disaster….Might have helped at Pompeii!

  68. I’m going to Italy very soon and this helped me a lot so thanks!
    I am surprised that Italians are so strict but every country is unique so I don’t really care if their rules bother me I will try and adapt!
    Thanks for these facts!

  69. Thanks to those who gave tips in the comments too!

  70. Hi Vanessa and thank you for such a detailed and accurate list!
    I may be the 20th person to disagree about tips ( which are always accepted: some restaurants and bars do purposely keep the staff salary low as it is believed workers round it up with tips) but I agree with everything, basically.
    Italy’s keeping up with European standards so you will now find ladies’ parking places where fewer manouvres are needed, mothers’ parking places with wider door opening space, nursery facilities can be found in public places, stores, theme parks.

    I disagree with Milanese about our attitude to children, breast feeding, when done discreetely, is still something that touches Italians’ tender hearts and no-one I know has ever been upset by that.
    Besides, I have to admit most unruly kids in restaurants are Italian while the tourists kids behave generally better.

    Finally my kudos to you about how strict and picky you makes us sound about food: You are RIGHT! If it weren’t so, Italy wouldn’t have become the culinary legend it is.
    Greetings from Rimini, in sunny Romagna:-)

  71. I’m Italian and I confirm everything you’ve written, congratulations for the accuracy of the information.

  72. I have a terrible time selecting clothes for travel. I’ve been to Siena area for the last two Septembers and am about to embark yet again for the month of September. I always regret the clothes I bring. I was told Europeans wear a lot of browns, rather blacks. I recall a lot of dark clothes (I live in Hawaii) and I bought a brown leather bag in Siena, should I focus on brown toned clothing with a few color accents? Gracie.

  73. I think I have made every mistake an American stereotype might make in Italy. Yes, I ordered a cappuccino at 4 pm (or 12+4=16, yes I still have to do the math to figure out the time) in Arezzo and was told the machine was cleaned and shut down for the day. It was suggested I have a Prosecco, which was delicious and made perfect sense. I stopped drinking coffee in the afternoons at home and keep Prosecco on hand. Now I do not understand why Americans drink coffee in the afternoon, that is the time to begin relaxing. I love the Italian people.

  74. helloo ! i am actually planning on taking a trip to italy next summer, the article was veryy* helpful but would love to learn as much as i can, how can i contact you again?? i dont know this site too well but id like to get some advice on the planning of it all, it will be my first trip out of the country without my parents haha and id like to prove to them i know what i am doing. grazie !

  75. I’m not sure if this is true but I heard somewhere that pizza is never eaten as a meal, but as an appetizer.

  76. Focaccia is an appetizer (plumper, thicker, often no cheese topping but just tomatoes or vegetables). Pizza is always a meal.

  77. This is a great list (but not everything is so true)! I am italian and I actually laughed pretty hard about some points, true or not :) like ..31.You have to wear plastic gloves to pick up food in the produce section of the grocery store or old ladies will yell at you.\” … I would love to see the scene haha but that doesn\’t really happen … not all people use the gloves but yeah still didn\’t see old ladies yelling haha

  78. on # 18 – These dyas so many people h use cell lines and not land lines that this info may seem superfluous, but be aware that to CALL a cell phone from a land line can cost a great deal more than calling a land line. They have different formats to alert you – land line format: four digit “area code” that usually starts with 0, then six digit number. Cell numbers: three digit initial “prefix”, then seven digit number. Nowadays, the per minute rate FROM a cell phone plan is the same whether you call a land line or another cell. But while calling FROM a land line to another is fairly reasonable (depeneds on service, and might even be free) calling from a land line to a cell phone is exorbitant. This is also true if you leave your cell number for someone to call from outside of the country, like the USA. Even with an international discount plan in place, a surcharge is tacked on that is quite shocking. So be careful.

  79. on # 14 – I live in Puglia and I can say in general that in the south, there is often some toilet paper, but frequently NO paper towels.

  80. Great info- thanks!

  81. on # 17 – here in Lecce and many nearby towns you DO find pay phones; but they are expensive and tricky to use, and again the rate to call a cell phone from a pay phone will astonish you and burn right through a prepaid card faster than you can say ‘cappuccino’. I find pay phone s very difficult to find in SF, except maybe in a BART station.

  82. on # 19 – one exception is Oviesse a nationwide chain that you might think of as an Italian response to J. C. Penney. In OVS stores, the service people are in fact hard to find, so you’re very much on your own. And mind you, even mid to low cost Italian clothes can be very nice and better tailored than US equivalents, especially if you’re a man and NOT a large sized one. If you happen to catch a ‘saldo’ – sale/reduction – period at OVS, you might really make out like a bandit,

  83. #23 – OVS does have an exchange program – they also offer to help you get your IVA refunded if you are a non EU tourist

  84. Alessia, Etiquette must vary from place to place/person to person regarding sensitive handling of fresh produce. Here in the USA we grab, squeeze, sniff, shake, examine, even drop fresh produce and no one blinks an eye. I was yelled at in a small Tuscan grocery for touching a tomato. The clerk stopped helping a customer and walked over while loudly scolding me in Italian in front of 5 people. I had no idea what was the problem so stood frozen my hand clutching the tomato. A Brit whispered to me that she does not like people touching the produce. After that I requested produce I wanted and she packaged it up happily and eventually she became one of my favorite people.

  85. Haha, an Italian friend of mine provided this for me via Facebook! I plan to head down there to live on the US Air Force base and she thought it a good idea to know when I came out from base to visit her! This made me laugh, the cultures are so different!

  86. What is there to do for a single person visiting Milan for 8 days?
    My former BFF stood me up on this trip that starts in 2 weeks and now I am all on my own. Kinda terrified to go anywhere or do anything for fear I will do wrong! This list is very helpful and I will follow everyone’s interpretation of Italy.
    I guess the best thing to do first is sit back and watch the local and repeat after them!

  87. Loved the list, have been to Italy twice and loved it. Been a few years do so will have to back again in the future. A point for travellers to remember, there is a new tax of €3 per night in hotels, etc,, this is seperate to room rates.

  88. Thanks so much for the list. It really helps alot to know about another culture when going to their country.

    The comments are quite helpful also!

  89. Hey guys
    Just moved to Milan from Sydney Australia. Thanks for the list I found it helpful. Finding it very hard to transition. Milan is not the Italy I was expecting. It is super ugly and grey. Finding an excuse to escape italy every weekend for spain, germany, france and UK. The people are incredibly rude with tons of unnessecary attitude. Also dont stress about your wardrobe, most italians are super tacky. If my agency had not sent me here for work I would leave in a heart beat.
    Warning: “skip Milan! “

  90. Rediscovered this thanks to Judy Francini. I would add a corollary to #70: Men stare at men, too, but it is not sexual. When they give you the up and down, they’re not cruising you, they’re checking out your outfit.

  91. Thank you .. I’m a big Italian fan ;)

  92. Some things has already changed. I am not italian but living here for three years. I live at the northern part.

    19. When you enter a shop, there’s no assisstant that will follow or with you all the time. If you need something, you can call and ask them. And it’s ok to touch items such as clothes, shoes, bras etc.

    21. Assistants are not rude.

    25. Some shops or stores are still open till 10 pm.

    70. Men look at women now because they’re perverts. There’s alot of perverts here. Sometimes when they stare at me then ask for my name etc.. I just feel like punching them. (yea i’m a girl btw)

  93. Thanks for the tips. We will be visiting Italy, I appreciate it since I do like alfredo sauce and chicken with pasta.

  94. All great tips, one thing I have found is that on trains and buses, most all give up their seat to an elder. I’ve seen this time and time again – which s wonderful!

  95. I’m italian and I want thank you :-) a super description of our culture, habits and rules, some of them made me laugh but everything you wrote is the truth!

  96. My wife and I are going to Venice / Florence / Rome with a few side trips from Rome (Orvieto, Frascati) next week. My Italian teacher gave us excerpts from this blog as part of her culture lessons. Thanks for the great tips.

    A question – should a blazer be worn at dinner, in general? I plan to bring at least one.

    Grazie mille!

  97. Regarding Judith’s comment on looking forward to chicken pasta…I was told by a restaurant owner that chicken is not on the Tuscan menu. Perhaps that is not true but I did not see it offered other places.

  98. Hallo everybody! Thanks to the blogger for giving this space!
    Here some advices for tourists in Venice, in order to enjoy your holydays without upsetting inhabitants.
    1. Remember Venice’s not a amusement park, it still has inhabitants and they work 7 days a week! We’re always on the run, as you can imagine, as there are no cars! You’ll see streets are really narrow and crowded, so it’s not fair to stop in the middle, Avoiding people to go to school, to work place etc..
    Don’t be surprised if we get nervous if a crowd of people stands on a bridge, occupying it all. We’re not bad…just remember we exist! If we’re rude, remember that we live a small town visited by 20 millions people each year.
    2. Venice’s not a beach, so wearing beachwear it’s not tolerate! Dress exactly as you do in any other city! Don’t be surprised if guys stare if you wear hotpants…men are men. And girls, if you get drunk and scream in the streets, you run the risk to be recognise as “easy”. Got it?
    3. If you want to have a proper meal, avoid places along the Gran Canal. There’re a lot of nice (and cheaper) “bacari” around town.
    4. Though tickets are quite expensive ( better buy weekly ones!) keep few Hours to visit the lagoon!! It’s amazing trust me! You’ll see somethings unexpected!
    3. Picking a water taxi is really expensive!!

    love and respect Venice you’ll probably find good friends too

  99. Excellent post. This will be immensely useful for our trip at the end of this month. Also, Marty@venice great advice. It is a definite must for all tourists to respect the residents.

  100. Hi, i was in Italy for 3 months and now i wish i had seen this post before :) nowmy boyfriend will go there for 10days and i want to prepare a booklet for him with stuff like places to see, food to eat, do’s and dont’s. I will keep some of the tips you wrote here in mind. Do you have any other advices for me :)

  101. I was wondering if you knew of any way to get Italian newspapers here in the United States WITH the items that come “in edicole”…ie, the items you pay 5-10 more euros for the paper for but get a CD, DVD, book, etc,,,,thanks to anyone who can answer

  102. I teach conversational Italian for travellers at a night school in CT….I am glad I came across this excellent website! It is full of usefull info!

  103. What a fantastic article – I am yet to visit Italy myself (I know I’m crazy – it’s definitely up the list!) but I’m bookmarking this for when I do! Thanks

  104. I will be going to Italy soon.My father fought there in ww2.That being said I want to follow him where he was in battle,as I have his scrap book,he fought in Anzio,salerno,sicily do yo0u think it would work out going by myself and my wife?.My father was also at the monty cassina of the abbey,Thanks

  105. I am not Italian but work in Italy since 1998 in a big hotel in Florence. 90% of our guests are Americans and, yes, I believe that, at this point, my experience about American behaviours is quite big. Beside many points already considered in the comments above, I’d like to point on a basic aspect that many American tourists have in common: they like to point on situations they dislike about other countries (in this case Italy) and keep forgetting the real situation of the country they are coming from. The first example coming to my mind is when a lady from Texas complained with my director that in the country she was coming from you don’t have to pay for water at a restaurant, ever! She totally forgot, however (but not so my director), that her sweet husband had to go the the hospital in Florence after a bad fall he had walking downtown. His wrist had to be put in a plaster cast and, believe it or not, at a cost of 7 euros (ER fees) all included. Try to do the same in the US… The father of a good friend of mine (American from upstate New York, Buffalo), had to sell his house to pay for part of the hospital expenses after he was diagnosed with brain cancer (insurance, apparently, did not over that disease!?). He died in 2009… He had to go to live with his son in the last period of his unlucky life, but, my friends, at the restaurant the water, from the faucet of course, was FREE!!!! Another thing, and this happened to me during my last trip to the US, which is apparently common among Americans flying abroad, is the sense of safety the feel just in their homeland. The thing could be considered quite normal, I know, since it is obvious to have more confidence in areas and situations we know perfectly and we are at ease with. But to get to the point, and this is what I have seen with my eyes, to kiss the tar of the airport’s runway (we were just landed in Boston) to show the happiness of being back to “supersafe” USA from an America couple (quite funny, btw, since they were pretty huge people indeed and had a few problems to kneel), it makes me think that, maybe, many Americans (I am saying many because i heard the conversations of many other Americans tourists talking about this particular subject) are partially unaware of the country they are living in. Maybe, just to refresh their mind, they should go here sometimes: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2012/12/gun_death_tally_every_american_gun_death_since_newtown_sandy_hook_shooting.html. I’ve never, never, never seen such a warzone neither in Italy, nor in Greece, where I am from. Maybe, if they considered more also the negative aspects of the country they come from, and not just the positive ones (like the free water at the restaurants), the Americans would get along much better with the rest of the world. No offense people. Be positive! Licia

  106. Totally agree with you about 86 (Don’t drive in Naples) – I went to Naples on a day trip and was terrified of the roads there. I didn’t see a single car that didn’t have a scratch or a dent (or several….). I also saw a number of cyclists/motorcyclists doing things that should have left them dead or at the very least seriously injured.

    I’m really missing Italy now. I spent 9 days there last month and spent time in Venice, Rome, Naples and Pompeii. I’m actually homesick for the holiday and want to go back (especially to Venice).

  107. Hi, I’m Italian …

    The list is good, I only disagree with your # 23 and 25 …

    Your #75 is true, indeed alcohol is often the most self-evident difference between italians and many foreign (young) tourists. In particular, to get drunk is considered absolutely unacceptable for girls

    … besides, it is true that in Italy flip flops are considered a beach wear !

  108. How fun to read and learn during our siesta time in moneglia italia . Thank you for writing and sharing….. I should have brushed up on my Italian! I’m still trying to speak French and that’s high school French with an australian accent !

  109. My family is preparing for a trip in December 2014. Thank you for posting this list. I start my Italian lessons this week!

  110. I live in England, and in two years’ time, I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be starting at the Benedetto Marcello conservatoire in Venice. There’s so much to get sorted – passes into Italy, residency papers, accommodation, banking, phone card, legal stuff, medical insurance + registration, grants for travel, grants for study, VeneziaUnica pass etc. etc. – most of which has to be started now if I want to stand any chance of studying in Italy. I was desperately searching for sites that tell me what I’m entitled to as a foreign national, what I cannot do as a non-citizen, how to apply for (and the criteria for applying for) visas/passes/everything, level of Italian I have to learn to be accepted into the conservatoire…oh my gosh, there is so much!
    But in searching for all that stuff (and while feeling slightly stressed) I stumbled across this. It’s light-hearted and witty and amusing but very informative. It served as a nice break from the confusion of everything else and has helped me take 5 and refresh my mind.
    If possible, could you help point me in the right directions for a couple of the above things?
    Cheers for this post!

  111. Thank you! This is a great list. My son will be studying in Rome for a semester next year and we plan on visiting. We don’t want to come across as some self absorbed American’s so we are trying to learn the customs and speak at least some basic Italian. Any other suggestions for a 20 year old studying in Italy for the first time, or his parents, would be greatly appreciated!

  112. Awesome post, and as an Italian i can confirm this to be 99% accurate: there is only one minor mistake regarding rule #64: Having dinner past 8pm is a custom prevalent in southern Italy, in northern Italy dinner time is usually around 19:30 pm

  113. As an American living in Central Italy I find the above list to be true. It is hard to transition here from the USA because there are RULES you must follow all the times. Someone said above that dont worry about the fashion here because Italians are tacky… I find that to be true! The 20 somethings all look exactly the same with a-symetrical hair cuts and sweatpants or skinny jeans at all times of the day. There isnt much variability. People have a notion that Italy is great weather it is not…only the summer months are decent. Also, get use to touring in CHURCHES as it is the big selling point. Overall Italy is nice but at times over hyped!

  114. Complimenti, bellissima lista! As an Italian, born and raised in Venice area, I agree with everything you said, even if I can tell you are referiring to some specific areas’ phenomena.
    Understand Italy is difficoult for foreigns because every region and city is so different; even if we are a really small country compared to USA, we do have a lot of specificities within our own territory and this is why some italians here are expressing different opinions. Nothing is wrong, is just different, especially for who is contraddicting this post, consider that if you go around Italy, you are gonna find all of these situation at least once in your life.
    For who is defending the shop-assistants here, do you ever go to shopping?! They are actually rude, don’t take it personally, they just think they are better than you, even if you are a top model. The reason why they do that is still unkown.
    There is not true we have dinner at 19.30 in the north. We have dinner around 8.30 pm and there is common use to do that. If you leave in some small town up in the mountais then you are going to have dinner way earier as 7/7.30 pm!

  115. Really interesting post, which I might use with my students of Italian. I cannot believe that an american has actually described Italians as “tacky”. Very funny! And only idiots think that the weather in Italy is always good! There are seasons, and if you had any notions of geography at all you would know that! But that is unsurprising, when a couple of Americans on a ferry to Capri in the bay of Naples, asked me: ” is there a volcano around here?”. I rest my case!!

Leave a Reply