Don’t ask you waiter for cheese on your seafood
Despite recent seafood and cheese combinations on new menus in Italy, the elder generation wouldn’t dream of ordering such a thing. There are theories as to why this rule exists, however the most common being that the Italians believe that the delicate taste of seafood is ruined by adding cheese.
Avoid eating at any food establishments that are named after a city, famous artist or landmark
These are generally tourist traps designed to lure tourists in.
Fountains are not a foot spa
If you are walking around Rome and feel the urge to dip your feet in some refreshing cool water – don’t do it. The locals find this disrespectful and it is forbidden.
Stand up at the coffee shop if you want to save your money
Enjoy your coffee standing around the counter – the prices are higher if you decide to take a seat at a table.
Keep your hands to yourself at the markets
The markets in Italy have an abundance of fresh food as well as clothes, leather goods and home wares. When admiring their selection, always ask for permission to see an item – the vendor will happily help you.
Keep your hands on the table
When dining, wrists should be on the table (but not elbows). Hands should not be crossed. Having your hands hidden under the table is considered rude.
Do not take food into or eat at a Church
When visiting Churches or museums ensure you do not eat once inside. Also, don’t forget to turn off your mobile phone and ensure you are dressed appropriately.
Learn some basic Italian phrases
Italians appreciate when tourists try and attempt to speak some basic Italian. Here are some Italian phrases to get you started:
Hello/Goodbye = Ciao
Good Day = Buongiorno
I don’t understand = Non capisco
Excuse me = Scusa
Thank you = Grazie
Once you’ve learnt some greetings in Italian, remember to always greet people when you enter their smaller shops and say goodbye when you leave.
Ask for the bill at a restaurant – or you will be waiting until close
Italians won’t give you with the bill for your meal until you have asked for it. Otherwise they feel that this could be the waiter giving you an invitation to leave and this would be rude.
When it comes to coffee – know your Cappaccino from a Frappucinno
A Frappucinno doesn’t exist – it’s actually a trademarked line of cold coffees by Starbucks. So asking for one at an Italian café may get you some blank stares. Common Italian coffee beverages are as follows:
Caffè latte = coffee with milk (basically to same as a ‘Flat White’)
Cappuccino = similar to Caffè latte but with less milk – and more froth
Espresso = a short coffee, no milk
Macchiato = basically an Expresso with a shot of milk
Ristretto = same as an Expresso but even shorter
Also, it’s frowned upon to order a cappuccino or coffee with milk in it after 11am. The café is called a bar, and in places used by tourists they will probably serve you a milk based coffee drink (whilst secretly judging you!) – but you will very rarely find an Italian having a cappuccino after noon.
Don’t expect to find chicken or beef on your pizza
Pork products are generally considered appropriate meat for pizzas (prosciutto, salsiccia and salame). Also they generally won’t do half and half for pizza toppings.
Never give chrysanthemum flowers to anyone (living)
Chrysanthemums are considered the flowers of the deceased and the only place you will generally see them is at a funeral and cemeteries.
And one last thing to remember is the popular phrase: “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” So try not to stick out like a sore thumb (aka: a tourist) and enjoy what Italy has to offer.