English? No grazie.
Ok, you probably already know it but Italians don’t like to speak English, even though they try really hard. English is not very common yet so don’t be shocked if some people don’t understand what you say. However, if you try to speak Italian they really appreciate it and they usually don’t care if you make mistakes:)
The Italian dress code
This is for you girls. If you are staying in a touristic destination like Capri and Positano you can skip this point, but if you are planning on visiting less touristic cities, I believe you could find this useful.
Everyone knows Italy is famous for its amazing fashion brands and all about Alta Moda. However, not everyone likes to dress up to go to the grocery store and not every girl shows off a Prada bag to go shopping. By saying this, I want to address the attention in particular to the Italian dress code and what you should and shouldn’t wear.
Before saying anything else, I want to clarify that I don’t want to tell you what you must and mustn’t wear because you are totally free to wear the clothes you feel more comfortable in and that you like the most. Having said so, I would like to make girls aware of some Italian men’ attitude towards “sexy” and “showing” clothes.
We all know some countries have a strict dress code and obviously Italy is not one of them. However, you may feel totally comfortable wearing a mini skirt in countries like Sweden (because nobody really cares) but you may not feel the same way in Italy. Italian people tend to be less discrete and they often make comments concerning not-so-covering pieces of clothing.
In the end, if you are Italian I’m sure these kinds of comments won’t even touch you but if you aren’t used to it, just pay a little more attention while you choose your outfits in the morning and try to avoid super mini skirts and excessive cleavage.
Cash is Italy’s best friend
This is the key point you need to remember before getting on your plane to Italy. To some of you this will seem a little strange and, especially if you live in Scandinavia, you won’t totally understand why cash is so important to Italian people. Also, some of you probably already know I moved to Sweden last year and one of the things that I’ve seen make Scandinavia different from Italy is their payment system. I have found lots of cash-free cafes and restaurants all over Stockholm but don’t expect to find the same in Italy. Indeed, it is more likely to find credit card-free facilities instead. Cash is extremely important in this country and some tourists still haven’t realized it yet. So if you are planning on traveling to Italy, I suggest you to pay attention to this tip. As soon as get off the plane, you may want to take a cab to your hotel but remember to ask if they accept credit card before to get on it! As a matter of fact, you won’t be able to pay with card on every taxi in Italy because most Italian people like to use cash for everything. Indeed, as for taxis, the same rule is applied to every restaurant and cafe. This, of course, doesn’t mean you can’t pay with card at all but just remember to ask before to order a cafe or get on a bus in order not to get stuck somewhere without cash.
Avoid crowded restaurants with the touristic menu
The secret is not to eat where everyone else eats. As a matter of fact, what makes Italy famous for its food is the wide range of restaurants which, even if they are not located in the touristic area of the city, offer delicious dishes. I for one, if I’m abroad, like to eat where I see most people because it always means the food there is the best I can find in the city. On the other hand, when I am in Italy I try to look for restaurants which have the best menu and location, especially if I want to eat pizza.
Indeed, I believe everyone who comes to Italy expects to eat the best pizza of their life and I totally understand it. Therefore, if you want to taste a real pizza don’t hesitate to drive outside the city center and pick a spot you like which is not too crowded. In the end, just don’t be afraid to stop relying on touristic menus (usually titled “menù turisti“) and start looking for restaurants which only local people know.
Buy the bus ticket before
This is quite an obvious thing to do for me but I’ve been asked so many times by tourists where they could get their tickets. To be honest I have to say that this is not really easy to understand how it works since it’s so evident to Italian people that it’s not written anywhere. Indeed, 90% of the Italian buses don’t have the ticket machine so you are obliged to buy the tickets before to get on the actual bus. Where? Most of the bus stops have a small tobacco shop or newsstand where you can find what you are looking for. I wanted to include this on the list because I’ve realized that abroad it’s really common to find the ticket machines at the bus stop or on the bus. Therefore just remember to buy your ticket before the ride in order to avoid an unnecessary fine.
Turin is totally underrated
When my Swedish friends visited me in Turin in April, they fell in love with Turin, the northern city located in Piedmont. They also confessed they weren’t expecting the city to be that pretty and elegant. The interesting fact is that before going to Turin we visited Milan for one day and, even if my friends liked it, they said Turin was much better and that they loved it. So if you are planning on going to Milan, just save a day to come to Turin by train (50 minutes ride)!
The tip is not a thing
Some months ago I was talking to a friend of mine who likes to spend her holidays in Italy every year and she said her family tips the waiter every time they go out to eat. Indeed, if you have traveled outside of Italy you will probably know that in many countries when you go to a restaurant you should tip the waiter who served you. All you need to know in order not to lose money every day is that the tip in Italy is not a thing and that you won’t look rude if you leave the table after paying only the bill. Instead of the tip restaurants like to ask for some money that usually doesn’t exceed €3 (per person) which is always included in the bill. But why is it different from the tip? This small amount is called “coperto” and basically covers the fact that you sat to eat. That money doesn’t belong to the actual waiter but to the restaurant itself and it is always an amount set by the owner.
The bus could be late
Public transportation is not always on time so don’t get mad if the bus doesn’t come when you expected. Timing in Italy is not important and they usually don’t take it as seriously as people abroad do. Anyways, I’m not telling you not to take public transportation but just to be patient and have faith: the bus will come (hopefully).
I hope you found this post useful and if you have any question just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll email you back as soon as I can!
Also, stay tuned because new exciting projects are coming with new collaborations. Until then,