When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s amore. But when you ask for cheese on your linguine allo scoglio, that’s a ‘no way’.
YOU DON’T ALWAYS HAVE TO TIP Unless you want to, you are not expected to tip in restaurants in Italy. A service charge is sometimes added to the bill, which can range from 10-15 per cent. Tipping tour guides is appreciated, but also not expected. If it was a great tour, common practice is to tip between EUR5-10.
LEARN A FEW PHRASES You don’t have to be fluent, but it does help if you know your basics. “Hello” is buongiorno, “please” is per favore, “thank you” is grazie, and “you’re welcome” is prego.
DRINK LIKE AN ITALIAN Italians like to drink their coffees as soon as they are made and will often take their coffee and cornetti standing up. Do this, otherwise the price could triple if you decide to sit down at a cafe.
NO LATTES AFTER BREAKFAST Italians can’t stand the idea of having a milky coffee after midday. Lattes and cappuccinos are considered breakfast drinks and although a barista will likely make you one if you ask, they will judge you. In the afternoon, instead do as the locals do and order yourself an espresso.
DOMINATE DON’T HESITATE Italians don’t line up, and when ordering food or drinks, a polite “excuse me” may go unnoticed. To avoid people pushing in front of you at the cafe, be assertive. A confident “un caffè per favour” should do the trick.
GET YOUR BUS TICKETS BEFORE SUNDAY Most small shops are closed on Sundays, so if you’re planning on going on a bus trip, be sure to grab your tickets at the tabaccheria (it’s basically a newsagent) ahead of time.
THE BREAD ISN’T ALWAYS FREE If a restaurant brings you bread before your meal, it’s not always free. Generally, a restaurant will charge “pane e coperto” to your bill, and it’s around EUR1.50 – 2.50 per head.
GARLIC BREAD ISN’T A THING Speaking of bread, if you ask for garlic bread you’ll likely be met with a strange look or perhaps served something entirely different. Despite popular belief, it’s an American creation.
ORDER THE HOUSE WINE More often than not, a restaurant will have its own wines and they’re just as good (and sometimes better) than other wines on the menu – and cheaper. If it’s not on the menu, just ask for the “vino della casa”.
DON’T STAY IN THE TOURISTY PARTS OF TOWN The prices are high in the city and the quality isn’t as good as what you’d get out of town – be it shopping, service, food or accommodation. Instead of Venice, stay in Verona or base your stay in Tuscany over Florence.
YELLING ISN’T ALWAYS A BAD THING The stereotype is true; Italians are very passionate and can get pretty animated during conversation.
WHEN IN CHURCH Full of history, art, beautiful architecture and worshipping locals, it is likely you’ll end up in a church during your Italian adventure. Be mindful when visiting – avoid eating inside, make sure the little ones don’t muck up and remove all hats.
IT IS LEGAL TO DRINK IN THE STREETS Enjoying a glass of wine in the piazza is perfectly acceptable in Italy. Although getting wasted and showing obvious signs of drunkenness isn’t, so maintain composure.
REMEMBER TO CARRY CASH WITH YOU Not every shop, cafe or restaurant will take credit cards. Cash is still the main way to pay for things in Italy, so make sure you hit up the ATM beforehand.
AVOID WHEELY BAGS IN OLD CITIES In places like Rome and Venice, it can be a real effort trying to lug a big bag on wheels along the old cobblestone pathways, especially near the canals and bridges.
NO EATING IN THE STREETS If you’re caught eating in Florence you will be hit with a fine of up to $800. In a bid to protect their city, strict guidelines are in place from midday to 3pm, and 6pm to 10pm around the famous Uffizi Galleries and the popular deli All’Antico Vinaio (the Old Wine Merchant) in Florence’s historic centre.
LA DOLCE VITA IS NOT FACTUAL Only when it comes to fountain dancing. As much as we’d all love to pretend our holiday is Fellini film, dancing or walking in a fountain is strictly forbidden and can cost you a EUR500 (A$800) fine.
BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS Sure, it’s an obvious one, but some of them have made it an art. Keep your bags zipped, avoid wearing backpacks, and keep an eye on your belongings at all times.