I’ve created this page to forewarn you about a few difference you may encounter when you travel to Italy. Although none of them are earth-shattering, they will at least give you a hint as per what to expect when you head over to Italia!
1. Although making eye contact and smiling in the US is thought of as friendly, in Italy you are either greeted with a glare or a strange look as they stroll by you to their next destination.
2. Some public bathrooms actually charge you a fee to use the toilet. So unless you really need to go, I would suggest waiting for your next stop where hopefully the bathrooms are free!
3. Unlike Americans who normally eat one huge portion for lunch/dinner, Italians eat 2-4 small portions over a long period of time (usually 1.5-3 hours). When dining with an Italian, be prepared to order a first and second plate, a round of dessert and finish the night with a cup of tea or coffee. Although you may just want to unbutton your tight pants, enjoy the complexity of the meal and challenge yourself to order in the Italian language!
4. Water comes in glass bottles in Italy because they are very conservative with their use of water, plastic and waste. You must usually pay for the water and it is normally expected that you finish the entirety of it.
5. Unlike Americans and our “5 o’clock somewhere” rule, it is normal to see Italians drinking beer or wine as early as 8am with breakfast. It may seem strange at first but you will get used to the sight of it eventually… And same goes for a cup of morning gelato!
6. One of my favorite Italian customs is that most apartments are built with shutters on the windows. Since I love to sleep in very dark rooms, this is a great alternative to black-out curtains. Just be careful not to waste the beautiful day away in bed!
7. Very different than Americans who are whole-grain and health fanatics, in Italy it is seriously hard to find whole grain ANYTHING! After 3 weeks, I have finally found whole grain bread rolls but I am still searching for whole grain pasta. Be ready for a complete carb overload while visiting!
8. Showers in Italy are not considered important. Unless you are staying at a nice B&B or hotel, it is rare to find a large shower with continuously hot water. You will learn to master the art of quick showers!
9. Napkins are more like a square of wax paper in Italy. They don’t do very much good cleaning up anything so try to keep the messy eating to a minimum!