Europe · Food · Sightseeing

Italy : Know before you Go 

I’ve now lived in Italy for nearly a year and I have learned many things from my time here, I’ve had some eureka moments, why don’t we do it this way back home? And of course I’ve had some WTF moments were I’ve buckled in laughter. Surely they can’t be serious? The Italians certainly keep my entertained! Italians are extremely kind, lovely, patient people (except when they’re driving, or waiting in a queue or trying to get on/off public transport) With their country, home to some  of the most beautiful landmarks and landscapes of the world, there are some things the Italians  want us tourists to learn before we visit, and some things I want you to prepare yourself for : 

1) There is never a wrong time for pizza, gelato or wine! 

And this my friends is why my favourite jeans no longer fit me ! 

2) Personal space does not exist …

“Permesso”  is a phrase you need to learn, it is the only thing that will get you off that busy metro! “Excuse me” in a sweet, polite voice just won’t cut it! Also prepared to be kissed on the cheek every time you meet and greet someone, I don’t mind so much when it’s a hunky Italian (sorry Gary) 

3. Never ask for Parmigiana on a fish dish! 

So I learned, with every pasta dish, they add cheese, but ohhh nooo, not with fish in your pasta ! The waiter literally just shouted NO! at me with a look of sheer disgust. 

4. Learn the Coffee Etiquette 

It has to be an espresso, if you ask for a latte you will get a cup of milk as latte is milk in Italian. Cappuccinos are midly acceptable, but only if it’s before 12 noon.

5. Get your stretchy pants on! 

Antipasti, Prima, Secondo & Dolce every lunch and dinner ! How do they stay so thin? I hear you cry! Apparantley  eating all of the dishes separatley aids digestion and apparantley so does the shot of alcohol at the end! I’m not complaining…

6. Prepare to eat late 

Restaurants don’t open till 7:30! Pressing your hungry face up against the window won’t change that! Prepare to get hangry (angry due to hunger) 

7. Bread isn’t an appetiser …

… And there is no butter ! Bread is for fare la scarpetta, to mop up the sauce and it shouldn’t be eaten other than as part of a meal. 

8. Spaghetti & meatballs – isn’t Italian! 

Thanks Disney! No authentic lady and the tramp moments then 😦 

9. Temperature change 

I cannot deal with being given in to trouble for not wearing a jacket or for wearing sandals when it’s 25 degrees + outside ! The Italians are convinced if you don’t wrap up you’ll catch a cold and oh my goodness don’t even think about going out with wet hair ! 

10. Hand gestures 

If you talk without your hand gestures does what your saying even mean anything ? I remember in my class glancing over to see about 10 of my kids throwing their arms in the air, wagging their fingers and hands in each other’s faces, I stopped the class and questioned what they were arguing about , turns out they were just talking. In Italy you talk with your whole body, not just your mouth! 

What surprised you when you visited Italy  

Would you add anything to the list ? 

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30 thoughts on “Italy : Know before you Go 

  1. Thank you for #8! As an Italian, it drives me crazy when people ask me if I ate Spaghetti and meatballs every day growing up. Meatballs are probably the last thing that Italians would want to eat with their Spaghetti!

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  2. I honestly wonder where in the world, besides the States, folks eat dinner early. I grew up in the States, but we never had early dinner times like everyone else. I am at home in other countries with the hours they dine 🙂

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    1. You’d be surprised! Some of my friends here in England have dinner as early as 17:00 :O Couldn’t do it!!

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  3. The waiter shouting “NO” at you for eating Parmigiana on your fish–I bet that was a major culture shock! Italy sounds like heaven for extroverts.

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  4. I loved that with all the walking and exploring we did, we could eat gelato two or three times a day and not gain any weight! I also learned that it helps to have a pregnant woman traveling with you (my daughter was five months pregnant on our trip). Everyone gave her the best seat, and restaurants and cafes didn’t blink twice if we asked to use the restroom!

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  5. I loved this list! I’ve been to Italy a few times and learned the hard way about ordering coffees (and the Italians impatience for this particular activity!).

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  6. These are sooo true! I only learnt about the ‘cappuccino rule’ after returning from Rome. Then I could understand why waiters were giving me a funny look every time I ordered a cappuccino after lunch or dinner.

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  7. Cool share, especially Coffee Etiquette and eating late, I wouldn’t even think about it but this is good to know. Sometimes traveling requires a lot of learning and stepping out of the comfort zone, these are great tips, thanks for sharing!

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