Things Never to Do in Italy
You want to make a good impression in Italy right? You don't want to be that typical tourist do you? Well then, make sure you NEVER do any of these things when in Italy...
Out & About
- Don't drive a big car. Roads are very narrow in Italy, and I have seen tourists in huge SUVs getting stuck in narrow lanes. GPS will direct you down roads that will take you to your destination, but that does not always mean your car will fit. My advice: stick with a classic little Fiat and celebrate a part of Italy's history.
- AVOID ZTL Zones - you can read what they are and how to avoid them in our guide to driving in Italy. My sympathies go out to the many victims of the dreaded ZTL zones. The pain of these zones is felt across the globe, as victims receive huge fines months or even years later. The zones are actually a good idea, but they really need to do something to make visitors more aware; some cities have tried, but others seem to make it difficult to know where they are on purpose—maybe to raise more money? Whatever the reason, make certain that you are aware of it BEFORE departing for Italy.
- Avoid getting caught by tours promising that you will see Italy in 14 days etc. etc. You won't see anything of Italy that way. Here's why.
- Always validate your ticket before boarding the train. There are little machines on each platform; you insert your ticket in the machine as per the instructions (which are in English and Italian). If you've bought your tickets online, all you need to do is show the ticket inspector your phone with the email you received after purchasing or the purchase itself on the Trenitalia app, and he will scan the QR code.
Bar & Restaurant
- Never ask for a Latte! Latte means milk in Italy and that's what you will get... a glass of milk!
- You don't need to tip in restaurants. Unlike in many countries, the waiters and other staff don't rely on tips to top up their wages, and a service charge is already included in the price. Still want to tip? Go ahead, most restaurants in touristy areas won't take offense; they are used to tourists tipping.
- No cappuccino in the afternoon or evening. Yes, Italian cappuccino is addictive and the best! But Italians only drink it in the morning. If you order it after 12 p.m., they will think you're insane... or just a typical tourist. Oh, and after meals, it's espresso only—never cappuccino.
- Don't ask for butter on your bread at a restaurant. You get wonderfully fresh Italian bread but Italians think that adding butter, or dipping it, is ruining it.
Spaghetti & Pizza
- NEVER ask for pineapple on your pizza. It is so wrong on so many levels and will likely make your waiter feel ill. Just the thought of it is a shocking blow to an Italian's constitution.
- Don't complain your pasta is too hard. It is supposed to be like that, it's called al dente.
- Eat spaghetti with a fork. No spoon and no knife.
- Parmesan on seafood pasta? Never, mustn't happen. This is a worse crime than pineapple on pizza.
- Spaghetti Bolognese? It doesn't exist in Italy - except in really touristy restaurants (the ones with a tourist menu) and such restaurants you should avoid at all costs. Instead of spaghetti bolognese Italians eat this.
- Pasta Alfredo and Spaghetti & Meatballs - these two are also only to be found in restaurants with "tourist menus". This is the real way creamy pasta is made - without cream and, while we do eat meatballs (my mother makes the best), we just don't mix them with spaghetti.
- What about Chicken Parmigiana? Not Italian at all - Italian American... yes... but never to be found in Italy... unless you are at the most touristy restaurant in Venice maybe. If you see it on the menu leave immediately.
- Tinned Spaghetti cannot be bought in Italian supermarkets so, if you really love your spaghetti in a tin, then you will just have to bring a few tins in with you from your home country. If they stop you at Italian customs I cannot be held responsible for the consequences.
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More Travel Tips:
- Book your tickets to museums and other attractions in advance on Tiqets.com
- Book your accommodation. Booking.com and Agoda help you to book accommodation in advance
- Book your excursions. Wherever you go, make the most of your time! Excursions with professional guides will help you do this - choose a location and the best option for yourself on Viator or Getyourguide
- Book your car. At least a month before is best. Use Discover Car Hire.
- Cash Back on Flights: Great deals & money back with WayAway
- Get peace of mind when traveling. Get insured with VisitorsCoverage.com