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.