What’s not to love about Italy? Fantastic food, glorious architecture on every street corner, sublime works of art and a beautiful country to boot.
It’s not an understatement that everyone knows something about Italy. Whether it’s the Colosseum or the Vatican in Rome, the beauty of Venice or the vineyards of Tuscany. Italy has just about everything. Chic and fashionable Milan in the north, along with ski resorts that are the playgrounds of the rich, to the laid-back and undeveloped south where farming is the mainstay. And of course, don’t forget Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean and home to the fearsome Mount Etna.
Remember to buy a USB travel adapter before you go and keep it handy in your hand luggage. This way, you’ll be able to charge your smartphone and camera while traveling and never miss a photo opportunity!
When to go
If you can avoid the summer, do it. Spring or fall are the best seasons to go. Less heat and humidity and fewer tourists. The locals will be more relaxed, prices should be a little lower and you’re sure to have a better vacation.
Enjoy the coffee
It’s true to say that you won’t ever have a bad coffee in Italy. It’s a passion for Italians and the very essence of drinking coffee originated in Italy. But there are some rules of etiquette to follow.
Cappuccino is only drunk in the morning for example. Ordering one after around 1030 or 1100 is considered a faux pas. Espresso is the de facto Italian coffee but the term espresso isn’t used! Instead, ask for a un caffè per favore. Do as the Italians do and order and drink at the counter. It will save you money as table service is way more expensive. In most cafes, order your coffee from the cashier, take your receipt to the barista and enjoy your coffee standing up.
Delight in the cuisine
Contrary to many people's ideas, pizza and spaghetti bolognese are not the staple diet of Italians! If you find yourself in a restaurant offering spaghetti bolognese, the best thing to do is make your excuses and leave! It’s definitively a restaurant aimed at the tourist and not the locals. What we understand as bolognese is Ragu to the Italians and is normally served with much thicker pasta, such as tagliatelle or gnocchi.
Pizza as we know it today almost certainly came from Naples and it is popular here and in areas of the south. Certainly, the best pizza you’ll find in Italy is likely to be in Naples. Across other areas of Italy, pasta is the mainstay and you may even find the pizza isn’t very good. Also, the pizza found in the USA or UK is far removed from anything you’ll find in Naples.
Please, don’t put ketchup on your pizza or pasta! On a burger or fries, that’s fine, but anything else is really insulting to the chef.
Breakfast is likely to be a little different than you are used to. It’s simple, with coffee, croissant, and a fruit juice. Don’t expect everywhere to be offering cooked breakfasts unless you are really in a tourist area.
The Italians like to dress up. This is a fact and particularly in the north and definitely in Milan. To fit in, take the beautiful new dress, new sunglasses and strut your stuff!
Italians most certainly do talk with their arms! What might look like a fight is about to break out, with loud voices and flailing arms could simply be a chat about the weather! Go Italian and join in.
Queuing is not the norm in Italy. It’s more of a disorganized mob culture! If you stand in line, you could be waiting for a very long time, so get stuck in and squeeze to the front like everyone else!
Don’t forget to take a USB travel adapter in your hand luggage to keep your devices charged. Wherever you go in Italy, there are photo opportunities and you’ll want to post on social media of course!
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