In Italy, amidst the allure of la dolce vita, there are certain things that should never be done if you want to fully embrace the Italian way of life. Just like a delicate dance with an unpredictable partner, navigating Italy requires finesse and respect for its customs.
We will unveil ten things you shouldn't do in Italy - because breaking these unspoken rules could result in inadvertently treading on the toes of Italian culture. This guide will help unleash your inner explorer while ensuring you don't unknowingly find yourself caught in cultural undertows along the way!
Ask for a cappuccino after 11 AM or order a latte (or you will just get plain milk)
Italy is a place where the aroma of freshly brewed coffee fills the air, captivating locals and tourists alike. However, there are certain customs and traditions that one must be mindful of when visiting this magnificent country. One such rule is to never ask for a cappuccino after 11 AM or order a latte.
Italians take great pride in their mastery of coffee-making, considering it an art form rather than a mere beverage. Therefore, if you want to blend seamlessly into the local scene and avoid raising any eyebrows, refrain from ordering a cappuccino after 11 AM or asking for a latte. The reasoning behind this custom lie in the belief that milk-based drinks should only be consumed during breakfast hours as they are considered heavy on the stomach. Italians believe that indulging in a frothy cappuccino or creamy latte later in the day may disrupt digestion and hinder your ability to fully savor other culinary delights that Italy has to offer. And remember, if you ask for a 'latte', you will get a glass of milk, since 'latte' means milk in Italian.
So, next time you find yourself craving some caffeinated goodness while strolling through the charming streets of Rome or wandering along the canals of Venice, opt for an espresso instead - it's sure to keep both your taste buds and Italian sensibilities satisfied.
Cut spaghetti with a knife (but you don’t need a spoon either)
When dining in Italy, there are certain customs and traditions that you should be aware of. One such custom revolves around the way spaghetti is eaten. It may come as a surprise to some, but cutting spaghetti with a knife is generally frowned upon in Italy. However, this doesn't mean you need to resort to using a spoon either.
In Italy, pasta is meant to be enjoyed by twirling it onto your fork using just a spoonless technique. This allows you to fully appreciate the flavors and textures of the dish while also showcasing your appreciation for Italian culture. So next time you find yourself indulging in a plate of delicious spaghetti in Italy, remember to leave your knife aside and embrace the art of twirling! It’s all about the fork technique.
Forget to mind your outfit
When visiting Italy, it is important to remember that fashion plays a significant role in the country's culture. Italians take great pride in their appearance and pay attention to even the smallest details of their outfit. Therefore, forgetting to mind your outfit while in Italy can be seen as careless!
Italians have a strong sense of style and appreciate those who make an effort to dress well. Whether you are exploring the ancient ruins of Rome or enjoying a leisurely stroll through the picturesque streets of Florence, it is crucial to put some thought into your attire. Avoid wearing overly casual clothing and opt for stylish yet comfortable outfits that blend seamlessly with the Italian fashion scene. Remember, when you look good, you feel good! And this applies especially when immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Italy. Plus, your confidence will soar as you strut down cobblestone streets feeling like a true fashionista amidst stunning architecture and breathtaking landscapes!
But keep in mind: when visiting churches or religious sites, dress modestly; shoulders and knees should be covered.
Buy bottled water
Another thing you shouldn't do while visiting Italy is to buy bottled water. Yes, you heard that right! You might be thinking, "But isn't it a basic necessity?" Well, in Italy, tap water is not only safe to drink but also deliciously refreshing.
When you walk into any restaurant or café in Italy and ask for water, they will bring you a carafe of fresh tap water without hesitation. Italians take pride in their clean and high-quality water supply. Not only does buying bottled water contribute to unnecessary plastic waste, but it also misses out on the authentic experience of enjoying the local tap water like the locals do. So, next time you find yourself in stunning Italy, don't fall into the trap of buying bottled water. Instead, let go of those preconceived notions and embrace the adventure of savoring every sip from a glass filled with pure Italian tap water!
Forget to book in advance
Forgetting to book in advance can quickly turn your dream vacation into a nightmare. Imagine arriving at one of the most famous cities, only to find that all the restaurants and all the important and main monuments are fully booked. Planning ahead is definitely an important step!
Booking in advance also allows you to choose from a wider range of options and ensures that you have control over where you will be spending your time in Italy. Additionally, you can avoid last-minute price hikes that often occur when demand exceeds supply. With limited availability, popular attractions such as the Colosseum in Rome or Michelangelo's "David" in Florence may require timed-entry tickets or even sell out completely if not reserved beforehand. By planning ahead, you can secure these coveted tickets and ensure smooth access to some of Italy's most iconic landmarks.
In this age of spontaneity and freedom, it might seem counterintuitive to plan every detail of your trip well in advance. However, when it comes to visiting Italy, forgetting to book ahead can lead to unnecessary stress and disappointment. So, take charge of your Italian adventure by reserving your attraction tickets before setting foot on this beautiful land. Your future self will thank you as you savor every moment without worrying about finding a restaurant or missing out on unforgettable experiences!
Eat in touristic spots
Italy's culinary landscape is as diverse as its history, but touristy restaurants often miss the mark. While it's tempting to settle for a place bustling with fellow travelers, you are likely to encounter generic, overpriced dishes there. Plus, the most touristy places are not usually the most authentic and where you can taste real local flavors.
Instead, venture off the beaten path to where locals dine. For instance, in Venice, seek out hidden gems serving 'cicchetti', delightful small plates that offer a true taste of Venetian cuisine. Embracing these authentic spots gratifies your palate and immerses you in the real Italian dining culture, where food is an art and every meal a celebration!
Decline local specialties
When in Italy, embracing regional specialties is a must. Each area boasts its own culinary delights, deeply rooted in local traditions and ingredients.
In Milan, for example, be sure to try the creamy 'risotto alla Milanese' and the rich, slow-cooked 'ossobuco'. Florence is renowned for its 'bistecca alla fiorentina', a sumptuous T-bone steak cooked over chestnut embers. In Rome, the 'amatriciana', a savory tomato and pork cheek sauce, is a staple, while Naples is the birthplace of the authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Opting for dishes like pineapple pizza or fettuccine Alfredo, which are not traditional Italian foods, might not impress locals… Dive into the regional flavors and enjoy Italy's culinary diversity to the fullest!
Put cheese on fish and seafood-based pasta
In Italian cuisine, certain rules are sacred, and one of them is to avoid cheese on fish and seafood dishes. This might seem surprising, but in Italy, the delicate flavors of seafood are highly valued and believed to be overshadowed by the strong taste of cheese. For example, when enjoying a classic 'spaghetti alle vongole' (spaghetti with clams) in a coastal town, you will notice that cheese is conspicuously absent.
Respecting this culinary tradition will enhance your dining experience and earn you nods of approval from local connoisseurs.
Board a train without validating your ticket
Navigating Italy's public transportation system comes with its own set of rules. One key thing to remember is to always validate your train ticket before boarding. This means stamping your ticket in one of the machines found on platforms. Failing to do so can result in hefty fines and unnecessary hassle!
Validation proves that your ticket has been used for the current journey and prevents its reuse. It's a simple step, but an essential one to ensure a smooth and stress-free travel experience in Italy.
Driving in ZTLs
Italy's historic centers are enchanting, but they're often ZTLs - 'Zona Traffico Limitato' or Limited Traffic Zones. Driving in these areas without a special permit can lead to substantial fines. Most of these zones are designed to preserve the historic and architectural integrity of city centers, reducing pollution and traffic congestion. As a visitor, the best approach is to park outside these zones.
Our tours conveniently provide GPS coordinates to parking areas just outside the historic centers, allowing you to explore these charming areas on foot. This saves you from fines and also offers a more intimate experience of Italy's timeless urban landscapes.
Guidelines for a stress-free trip!
There are certain things one should refrain from doing in order to avoid any cultural faux pas or misunderstandings. By adhering to these guidelines, you can embrace the rich cultural heritage of Italy seamlessly while avoiding any unintentional breaches of etiquette. Remember that each country has its own unique customs that contribute to its identity and charm - just as our quirks define who we are as individuals! So let us approach foreign cultures with curiosity and an open mind!