Italy is a beautiful country located in the Southern Europe. With Rome as its capital city, Italy is the 5th most populous territory in Europe with about 60 million inhabitants. Despite repeated attacks by German civilization, Italy has endured its rich history. This answers the question as to why Italy has remained a city with the largest number of travelers and vacationers with no signs of decline in number. At present, the peninsula has more o less 46 million tourists every year. For voyagers, vacationers, students and course takers, the following are the 50 Things you need to know before traveling to Italy.
1. Italians are claimed to be the worst drivers in Europe. They are fast and furious.
2. Mind dress codes at churches. Avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless. Always bring a scarf all the time.
3. Italian women are fashion trend-setters. They wear lots of black and love to wear designer glasses.
4. No cappuccino after lunch. This is an Italian Food Rule. Italians believe that the milk in cappuccino impedes healthy digestion. So, do not be upset if waiters might refuse you order a cup of cappuccino.
5. Do not visit Vatican on Sunday. Expect the onslaught of tourists from Sunday! Unless of course you consider the big crowd as part of the attraction.
6. Florence is the best place to buy souvenirs — especially gold!
7. Beware of ZTL zones. ZTL stands for zona traffico limitato. These are basically limited traffic zones where drivers with no permits are not allowed to enter. Majority of the cities in Italy are ZTLs. Expect cameras on these sites. While violators are unlikely to be pulled in ZTLs, drivers with no permits are still likely to receive tickets in their mail box even a year after the violation.
8. Extra caution is advised when visiting Florence and Rome. They have the highest reported cases of theft.
9. When visiting Italy, never miss the ‘Holy Trinity’ cities namely Rome, Venice and Florence.
10. Be careful on using the word ‘Latte’ when ordering for your favorite drink. If you order latte in public places, you are most likely to get only a glass of milk. In case you don’t know, latte is Italian for milk.
11. Cold drinks are often served without ice.
12. GPS software doesn’t work accurately in most cities in Italy.
13. Majority of Italians speak decent English. So, language barrier is not a big issue.
14. Fruits in Italy taste phenomenal.
15. Italian drivers drive like maniacs. They switch to other lane without warning. In case you missed #1.
16. Most Italians are even-tempered. They may be angry now, but 5 minutes later, they turn fine.
17. Italy has the best gelato in the world. Try one.
18. Dinner time in Italy usually happens between 7:30 and 9:00 pm. It is late dinner to some people.
19. In Italy, bread is not eaten with pasta.
20. Many shopping sites close from 1:00pm to 4:00pm to enjoy lunch with friends or families.
21. Tipping in Italian restaurants is not necessary and uncommon.
22. Italian men are romantic lovers, but they can also be cheaters and sex maniacs.
23. Do not show up at someone’s house empty handed. Always bring a gift; a wine or a chocolate, for example.
24. In Italy, table manners are formal. So, tasting each other’s foods is unceremonious. Also, never call waiters across the room. Wait for your turn and be polite.
25. Don’t take a bite until everyone else starts to eat.
26. Always hold fork in left hand while knife in right.
27. When greeting a friend, always start kissing on the left cheek then right.
28. Soccer is Italians’ favorite sport.
29. Florence is a dog-friendly place.
30. Italian men are natural mammonis, meaning they are overly attached to their mothers.
31. Beggars in Italy are not ‘pushy’ and aggressive. If you say ‘no’, they usually do not insist.
32. Most rape cases are recorded in Florence.
33. ‘Accidental kissing’ pretty much happens in Italy.
34. Beware of Gypsies since they are occasional pickpockets.
35. Times in Italy are indicated in 24-hr format.
36. While most Italians speak and understand English, learn some basic Italian words and phrases before traveling to the peninsula.
37. Italy is a pretty formal place. Avoid eating in or near tourist attractions.
38. Do not imitate Italians exaggeratedly such as hand gestures and kissing people. You will get noticed.
39. Italy is expensive. Reports say that you even have to pay for a glass of water!
40. Standing at the bar while drinking coffee is cheaper than sitting down. Table service is a separate cost.
41. Go with cash ALWAYS. Credit cards are not always accepted in Italy.
42. Do not leave bars or restaurants without receipt. The tax police may look for it.
43. Tickets for bus and trains need to be validated before boarding. Purchasing tickets in Italy should be planned ahead of time.
44. Italy has condom vending machines.
45. Taxis are cheaper in Rome compared to other cities.
46. 90% of travelers in Italy are Americans.
47. Do not use the term ‘ciao’ to greet people especially in strangers.
48. Public drunkenness is uncommon and abhorred.
49. In Italy, smoking is banned in all public indoor spaces, including bars, cafés, restaurants and discos.
50. Chrysanthemums flowers are only for funerals.
Italy is not only a beautiful place but a very interesting country. Their customs and etiquette vary greatly from that of Americans and the rest of cities around the world. In saying that, it is always best and wise to research on your own about the peninsula and know the common to-do things, idiosyncrasies and peculiar activities before taking a trip to Italy.