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 down narrow lanes. GPS WILL direct you down roads leading to your destination, but it doesn't mean your car will always 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 sure you are aware of them BEFORE you leave 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).
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 offence - they are used to tourists tipping.
- No cappuccino in the afternoon or evening. Yes, Italian cappuccino is addictive, the best! But Italians only drink it in the morning. Order it after 12 p.m. and they will think you crazy... 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 real touristy restaurants and such restaurants you should avoid at all costs. Instead of spaghetti bolognese Italians eat this.
- Pasta Alfredo and Spaghetti & Meatballs - same as Spaghetti Bolognese, only to be found in restaurants with "tourist menus". This is the real way creamy pasta is made - without cream. While we do eat meatballs (my mother makes the best), we just don't mix them with spaghetti.
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