Monday 14 November 2016

10 Rules you Must Know Before Going to Italy.

Trying to fit in in Italy can be challenging. One thing you must know. Italians are extremely proud of their culture (like we all are) but if you don't follow these tips you won't experience the magic of Italy. Italy has a huge tourist industry, if you get into the wrong side of it you won't experience "la bella vita" at all.

 Duomo, Milan
 Basilica San Marco, Venice. Photo: Michelle Walsh
 Basilica di San Petronio, Bologna Photo: Michelle Walsh
 Il Colosseo, Rome
Piazza Navona, Rome. Photo credit: Michelle Walsh

If a waiter of a restaurant waves you down trying to get you into their restaurant, run away. I mean it just run don't make up an excuse, don't actually go with him. Ignore him/her and walk on. Usually these restaurants have terrible quality food at crazy prices because they know foreigners will go for it and not know any differently.
If you pass a restaurant and luckily there is no waiter outside but the menu outside has pictures on it, avoid like the plague. Again you are being fooled so stay away, if you want real authentic italian food you wouldn't go to a restaurant advertising what their dishes look like, all Italians know what their dishes look like they don't need anything advertised. So rule number 1? Stay away from commercial looking restaurants. 

When you actually find a typical Italian restaurant and it comes to the time of ordering. You notice in the antipasti (starters) page that they have bruschetta. Now please learn this if you will learn anything at all from this post. In italian the letters "ch" together is pronounced like a "k". So you pronounce bruschetta like brusKetta not brushetta. It honestly burns Italians' ears when they hear it mispronounced. The same for the wine chianti, it's pronounced Kianti not shianti. Capito? Bene.

Coffee. If you order a coffee you will get an espresso. That is their normal coffee. I know in anglophone countries we think normal coffee is an Americano so if you want to order one ask for a Caffè Americano. If you order a latte you will get milk. Latte is the Italian for milk so you should order a Latte Machiato (pronounced Makiato please remember the "ch" rule). Cappuccino's are only drank at breakfast time so if you order one with your lunch or after they will probably laugh at you or think you're crazy because they believe it's bad for digestion.

If you plan to have romantic walks around the streets of Italy I would advise to leave your heels at home. There has been many times where I couldn't walk along the cobbled streets of Rome so I just gave up on them and stuck to my flats. In Rome the centre is full of "San Pietrini", so bring the flats and you'll thank me later.

When speaking to a stranger whether it be in your hotel, in a restaurant or a bystander remember that "Ciao" (Italian for hello and goodbye) is only used amongst peers or people you know well. To speak more formally use "Buongiorno" or "Salve" to say hello and "Arrivederci" to say goodbye.

Yes I know it's mainly food focused but you must know food is a massive part of Italy's culture. Italian restaurants will not be opened all day. If you decide to go for lunch at 3 pm you will not find a restaurant to eat in as they will all be closed. Why? Because in Italy 1 pm-2:30 pm (approx) Italians eat their lunch. So by 3 pm all the kitchens are closed to prepare for dinner time where restaurants will be open from 7:30-10:30 (approx). Italians normally eat their dinner at 8 pm so if you decide to go for dinner at 6 pm, again you won't find any restaurants. Eat like the Italians and your holiday will run more smoothly.

Each region has their own typical dish.
In Rome you have to eat La Carbonara, Amatriciana or Gricia.
In Bologna you have to eat Tortellini, the Tagliatelle al Ragù or the Lasagna.
In Milan you have to eat Cotoletta alla Milanese or the Risotto alla Milanese.
In Florence you must eat bistecca alla fiorentina (it's a very thick steak).
In Naples you have to taste the pizza because it's where pizza comes from!
In Sicily you have to taste i Cannoli (it's a world famous dessert/treat)
For the lovers of spicy foods, Calabria is known for their typical spicy dishes.

Aperitivo is a godsend. It's one of the cheapest ways to socialise in Italy. Depends on where you go but you pay €7-€10 for any drink you want (a spritz is a typical aperitivo drink but cocktails and beers are also taken) and then you can go up to the buffet stocked with Italian food and you can eat as many times as you want. It's just food heaven. Aperitivo is generally from 6 pm. Initially it began with the drink and some small snacks like nuts, pieces of parmigiano,some crisps but in recent years it's evolved to the aperitivo I spoke about before otherwise known as Apericena.

When ordering pizza don't ask for a pepperoni pizza because you will get a pizza with bell peppers on top. Pepperoni is the Italian for peppers. Whereas pepperoni we know does not exist. Never ask for Hawaiian pizza either, pineapples don't belong on pizza.

If you decide to visit before the summer months in Italy and you go around in summer dresses, shorts, sandals and no coat. Italians will look at you and in all honesty laugh not because they're rude, but because in their society they dress for the season, not the weather. If it's 25 degrees in April you will always see an Italian covered up. It will just attract unwanted attention if you go around with minimal clothing.


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