Italy and all of its rich culture, decadent foods, world renounced wines, and infamous possibilities for love and romance are what attracts nearly 50 million tourists each year! However before you grab your passport and pack your bags there are some things you should know in order to survive in Italy like a local.
Italians love their wine, food, and good company. Aperitivo successfully combines all 3 for a super affordable and fun way to spend any evening! This is the equivalent to the western world’s “happy hour” and is offered nearly every night of the week anywhere from 6-12 euro which includes your first drink and unlimited buffet style food. Brace yourself for some good conversation also seeing as this attracts students, budget traveler’s, or locals catching up with old friends.
2.) Cappuccino after 10am is frowned upon
The age old stereotype is true after all! We asked some of the locals in Florence to explain why it is such a poor sight to see someone taking a cappuccino after lunch. They politely explained that it is an equivalent reaction to seeing one drink a beer before 6am for those in the Western world. Therefore, if you do not want to look like a total tourist then be sure to order an espresso or a macchiato any time after lunch instead of indulging in a cappuccino.
3.) How to properly greet someone
Every country has their own customs, but how do you avoid that awkward air-dance-sway side to side with someone when you are saying goodbye in Italy? Italians will greet you with a huge hug and begin the air kiss on the right hand side. Therefore you must move your head first to the right because they are going to their right as well. Some opt to air kiss both cheeks, but definitely expect the first one on the right! There is no lip contact unlike some Russian greetings or stiff German handshakes.
4.) Wifi hot spots
Wifi/ a data plan is imperative for traveler’s to think of before their journey. In Italy Wifi is like gold, and unless you have a battery that will last two straight days while searching for data then prepare your data plan. Wifi is usually always advertised on the front of cafes, bars, and restaurants and sometimes even is the reason some people stop in for a bite to eat. In Florence the best free Wifi spot is at the Duomo! Avoid looking like a walking target (yes a tourist) with a big map and download the routes to get to where you need to be beforehand.
5.) Difference between bar, café and disco
Italians refer to a bar as a place to get coffee because they quite literally stand at the coffee bar and sip their espresso without sitting to enjoy it. Unlike the rest of the western world if someone wants to meet you at a bar or if they are telling you a story about the other Monday when they were at the ‘bar’ do not assume they’re a total alcoholic. Cultural differences! To Italians a café is a place where you can get a drink and a light lunch/ dinner like the Aperitivo deal. A disco, of course, is like a club. However, it is easy to confuse these and their meanings all in day to day conversations.
6.) Never eat salad before pasta!
If you are eating a proper Italian meal with real Italians they will think you are crazy if you eat salad before or at the same time as pasta. It’s almost more bizarre then drinking a cappuccino after 10am. Though there is no straight answer to explain this, it is something they all agree with.
Also because Italy is within the Schengen Area US citizens are able to travel here for up to 90 days without a visa and enter only with their passport!