Archive for February, 2014

What Not To Do – 10 Mistakes Tourists Make In Italy

Posted on February 19th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

duomo-y-la-torre-de-pisa-pisa_19-130412Are you in the process of planning out a trip through Italy?  You’ve probably read up on local culture, history, and etiquette so you know exactly how to act and what to do throughout your travels.  But how about what NOT to do?  Italy is a very traditional and particular country, and while you’re sure to get a warm welcome as a foreigner it’s important not to ruin that by committing any sort of taboo.  Here are the top ten pitfalls and faux pas to avoid if you want your vacation to be as enjoyable as possible.

  1. Get Too Attached To Your Itinerary.  Some preliminary planning is key for any trip, but as Italy’s infrastructure tends to be less organized than other European countries’, don’t let yourself get frustrated if your plans fall through.
  2. Wear Shorts.  For one thing, it will mark you out as a tourist, and you may be denied entrance to various historic churches and religious sites.  Play it safe and always wear trousers, even in the summer.  Similarly, women can be denied entrance to churches if they don’t have a covering for their hair, so always keep a scarf in your purse.
  3. Travel Without Cash.  Many venues in Italy don’t accept credit cards, and hardly anyone takes travelers checks anymore.  Do yourself a favor and keep a decent amount of euros in your wallet.
  4. Order a Latte.  Since latte is the Italian word for “milk,” if you step up to an espresso bar and order one, it’s likely you’ll end up with a cup of steamed milk.  Be sure to specify, “un caffe latte.”holiday-travels-airport-1199-l
  5. Eat Supper At 6 pm.  While this is a reasonable dinnertime for most English speakers, Italian restaurants don’t open for meals until after 8 pm.  Before then, all you’re likely to be served is cocktails, and any food you do get is likely to be subpar and overpriced.
  6. Tip.  Unlike in the United States, tipping is not required in Italian restaurants or cafes.  It’s an appreciated gesture for exceptional service, but otherwise don’t feel bad for not leaving an extra 20% on your bill.
  7. Drink Coffee During a Meal.  Aside from breakfast, coffee is generally drunk after meals as a digestive, and doing otherwise will earn you plenty of strange looks.
  8. Touch Produce in a Street Market.  This is considered very rude—the vendor will pick what fruits and vegetables you get to buy, and they won’t appreciate you pointing out which ones you want either.
  9. Travel With a Heavy Suitcase.  You will be doing a lot of walking through narrow alleyways and up staircases, so travel as light as you can.  A small, lightweight backpack on wheels is probably your best bet.
  10. Show Up Without Knowing Any Italian.  Without a doubt, even a beginner’s understanding of Italian will help you enjoy your trip a hundred times more than if you only speak English.  Get started by browsing our different levels of Italian courses, or send us an enquiry and we’ll see how we can best prepare you for your journey.

Fabrizio vs. Giorgio – How To Name Your Kid Italian Style

Posted on February 5th, 2014 by Anna in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Are you expecting a new baby?  Have you read through all the baby name books and been satisfied with nothing?  If you’ve married an Italian, or are of Italian heritage, you may wish to name your baby a traditional Italian name.  This way, you can count on your child having a lyrical, romantic-sounding name, and, if you plan on raising them in an English-speaking country, a totally unique one.  (However, this also means that your child will spend their entire life having their name misspelled and mispronounced by well-meaning peers.)  Here are a few popular options you may wish to consider.


When naming children, it’s key to keep in mind that once they’re old enough to go to school, the other kids will be looking for any excuse to make fun of them.  For example, don’t call your son “Baldassario” unless you want him to go through twelve years of school with the nickname “Bald Ass,” and so on.  Your best bet would be to name you child something that sounds exotic and elegant, but can also be shortened into a common nickname if needed, such as “Filippo,” “Nicolo,” or “Antonio.”

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more cryptic name for your son, you may wish to pick a name based on meaning or literary allusion.  You could choose a name like “Vittorio,” which means victorious, “Ignazio,” which means fiery, “Santino,” which means little saint, “Orsino” which means little bear, or “Adriano,” which means from the Adriatic Sea.  Certain celebrity names with overly particular connotations, such as “Fabio,” “Orlando,” or “Guido” should be avoided.  However, if you want to pay homage to a Renaissance artist or poet with a name like “Dante,” “Francesco,” “Leonardo,” or “Michaelangelo,” they are classy and cultured, and come with the added bonus of easy nicknames: Frank, Leo, and Michael.


As for girl baby names, you have a wealth of beautiful and aesthetic names to choose from, such as Aida, Bianca, Viviana, and Julietta.  Virtually any female name you decide on is bound to sound regal and intriguing, so you will have to take time to think of other details.  Do you want a more recognizable name for your daughter?  If so, you may wish to consider names like “Maria,” “Angela,” or “Christina.”  If you’re looking for something more dynamic that will set your daughter apart from the crowd, go for a name like “Serafina,” which means from the seraph, “Renata,” which means reborn, or “Speranza,” which means hope.  If you’re looking for something imaginative, these are only the beginning of the possibilities.

Whether you’re considering an Italian baby name to please your or your partner’s family, to pay homage to your ethnic roots, or simply because you’re looking for something different, you have a world of resources at your fingertips.  To fully take advantage of them, you will want to learn the Italian language; send us an enquiry to get started, or take a look at our different levels of courses.