If you ever visit italy... or move here there are a few things people forget to mention. I have mentioned them here and there when I was cranky but never in depth.
Tipping is not required. Service staff gets paid as high as entry level engineers do. In particular, tipping people you personally know is considered offensive. In general, the attitude toward tipping is that you can’t buy a person off, so be mindful if you decide to tip.
Dates are shown as day-month-year, always.
You push to enter a place, and pull to get out. Exactly the opposite as in America!
Airport and rail stations have public restrooms, often with attendants who expect to be tipped. If someone is guarding the door of the restroom, you’re expected to leave a few coins.
Restrooms in all bars and cafes are for customers only. Order an espresso and only afterward head to the toilet!
In public restrooms, toilet paper is a rarity. Italian women always keep a travel pack of Kleenex in their purses for this reason.
You can’t walk in a church with a tank top or with shorts on. You need to be properly dressed to visit most holy places.
Credit cards are not widely accepted. You can’t pay anything that is less than 10 Euros with a credit card, and even then you’re going to be frowned upon.
Always bring cash with you!
Public phones are now officially extinct. You will need to carry a cell phone for anything you need, from calling the hotel to reserve a restaurant. If you’re going for a brief stay, use your US cell phone and get a calling card. If you’re planning a longer trip, look into getting a SIM card and use it with your (unlocked) US phone- most cell phone calling contracts in Italy are prepaid services, so no need to lock in a plan!
When using an Italian cell phone, all incoming calls are free.
Store exchanges don’t exist. If you buy something and decide later you don’t want it anymore, you’re stuck with it. Choose carefully!
Shops close for lunch between 12:30pm and 3 or 4pm. Everything shuts down by 7:30pm.
National Holidays:- I swear it feels like WAYYY more!
January 1st, New Year’s Day
January 6th, Epiphany
April 25th, Anniversary of Italy’s liberation
May 1st, Labor Day
June 2nd, Anniversary of the institution of the Republic
August 15th (Ferragosto), Assumption
November 1st, All Saints
December 8th, Annunciazione
December 25th, Christmas
December 26th, St Stefano.
In addition, each town will honor its patron with an additional day off.
You have to wear plastic gloves to pick up food in the produce section of the grocery store or old ladies will yell at you.
You bag your own groceries and pay for the bag.
Italians don’t put ice in their drinks. If you must, ask for it, but realize they’ll look at you as if you were a Martian. When (if?) they bring you ice, they will send to the table a small saucer with 5 ice cubes for the entire table
There are no dipping sauces in Italy, so Italians are not really familiar with double dipping rules.
Salad is considered a side dish, not a starter.
No meal in Italy ever starts with a salad.
Tap water is never served, and despite the fact that it’s now as safe as in the US, people keep on drinking bottled water and restaurants only serve bottled water.
Salad dressing is oil and vinegar and that’s it. There aren’t different types of dressings.
If you don’t ask for the check, you’re not going to get it. Italians consider a check put on the table before you’re done with your meal, or without you asking, like an invitation to leave. It is considered a no-no in restaurants, so you must ask for your check if you’d like to pay!
Alfredo sauce is not Italian. Don’t ask for it!
Dinner is past 8pm, not at 5pm. If you’re hungry at 5pm, go to a pasticceria and get a hot chocolate and some pastries. If you’re hungry at 7pm go to a bar and order an aperitivo. Don’t show up for dinner before 8pm (and that’s still kind of early!).
Most Italians under 40 speak some English, but many will be embarrassed to talk
You shower at night in Italy, and you change to dress-up clothes before going out for the evening, whether you’re going to a restaurant or to a bar. Day wear is not considered appropriate for night time.
In Italy it is not socially acceptable to be drunk. People boast about their alcohol resistance and no one would ever admit to be drunk.
You can see a lot of speedos on Italian beaches, and nobody finds it hilarious.
Topless sunbathing is quite common in the northern beaches, and more frowned upon in the South.
If someone flashes their brights behind you, it’s because they want you to move to the right lane so that they may pass.
Before boarding a train you need to validate your ticket. You will have to validate your ticket directly on buses instead. Make sure you allow plenty of padding on your transfers, as Italian train times are, once again, more a declaration of intent than a set rule…
Scooters, bicycles and motorcycles share the road with cars, and they will zip by on your left and right in a one-lane road!
No right turn on red!
Eating in the car is unheard of. Italians would never do such a coveted and social thing like eating in the most unsocial place of all, the car.- and illegal!