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10 Things to Avoid in Italy: A Must-Know Guide

Planning a trip to Italy is an exciting adventure filled with history, art, and delectable cuisine. To ensure your journey is a memorable one, it’s essential to be aware of the cultural practices that can make or break your experience. In this guide, we’ll unveil 10 things to avoid in Italy, shedding light on why sidestepping these common mistakes will help you fully embrace the Italian way of life. So, let’s delve into these valuable insights that will enhance your Italian adventure!

1. Don’t Order Fettuccine Alfredo or Spaghetti Bolognese

While these pasta dishes may be familiar and popular in some countries, they are not part of authentic Italian cuisine. In Italy, you won’t come across dishes like “Fettuccine Alfredo” or “Spaghetti Bolognese” as they are not traditional Italian recipes. Instead, you’ll find a diverse range of regional pasta dishes with unique flavors and ingredients that are true representations of the rich culinary heritage of each area. For example, try authentic Italian pasta dishes like “Carbonara” in Rome or “Pasta alla Norma” in Sicily.

2. Do Not Cut Pasta or Ask for Parmesan on Seafood Dishes

Cutting pasta, like spaghetti, is considered improper in Italian dining etiquette. Instead, use your fork to twirl and enjoy the strands. Additionally, refrain from asking for Parmesan cheese on seafood dishes. That is not a traditional pairing and might offend the chef.

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3. Do Not Tip Excessively or in Certain Situations

Tipping in Italy is not as common as in some other countries. While it’s always appreciated to leave a small tip for exceptional service, excessive tipping or tipping in certain situations (like at cafes and bars) is not expected or necessary.

4. Don’t Order a Cappuccino After 11 AM (or After a Meal)

Italians take their coffee seriously, and drinking a cappuccino after 11 AM is a cultural no-no. The reasoning behind this is that cappuccino, with its milk content, is considered a breakfast drink, and having it later in the day, or after lunch and dinner, might upset your stomach. This is probably the most important of the 10 things to avoid in Italy! Embrace the Italian coffee culture and opt for an espresso or macchiato instead.

10 Things to Avoid in Italy

5. Avoid Eating Pizza with a Knife and Fork

Pizza is a beloved Italian dish that you should enjoy with your hands. Although some Italians might accept this (Cristina does it!), others might consider using a knife and fork to eat pizza as an affront to its simplicity and cultural significance. Enjoy the true Italian experience by savoring each delicious slice with your hands. Check out this article: Where to Eat the Best Pizza in Naples.

6. Do Not Wear Revealing Clothing in Churches

Italy is home to awe-inspiring churches and religious sites with strict dress codes. Avoid wearing revealing clothing like tank tops, shorts, or mini-skirts when visiting these sacred places out of respect for local customs and traditions.

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7. Do Not Skip Cover Charges in Restaurants

In many Italian restaurants, you’ll find a cover charge, or “coperto,” which is a small fee to cover table settings and bread. While it might seem surprising at first, the coperto is a common practice in Italy and contributes to the dining experience. Embrace this cultural norm, and you’ll be welcomed with warm hospitality.

😃 FUN FACT: The number 17 is considered unlucky in Italy due to its association with the Roman numeral XVII, which can be rearranged to spell “VIXI.” In Latin, “VIXI” translates to “I have lived” or “I am dead,” making it a symbol of death or bad luck. Many people avoid the number 17 in various aspects of life, such as avoiding it in addresses or even hotel room numbers.

8. Don’t Think You Can Just Speak English Everywhere

While English is widely spoken in major tourist areas, it’s essential to remember that not everyone in Italy speaks English fluently. In smaller towns or local markets, you might encounter people who can only speak Italian. Learning a few basic Italian phrases and using them during your visit can show respect for the local culture and enhancing your travel experience. Italians generally appreciate any effort made to speak their language, even if it’s just simple greetings or phrases like “per favore” (please) and “grazie” (thank you).

9. Refrain from Touching Fruit and Vegetables in Markets

Visiting vibrant local markets is a treat for the senses, but it’s important to let vendors handle the fruit and vegetables for you. Italians take pride in their produce and believe that touching it without purchasing can ruin its freshness and beauty.

10. Avoid Overusing Hand Gestures in Conversations

Hand gestures are an essential part of Italian communication and it’s great to embrace the local culture, but using them excessively might be seen as exaggerated or disrespectful. Enjoy the art of hand gesturing, but use them in moderation to enhance your conversations naturally.

Steer Clear: 10 Things to Avoid in Italy for a Memorable Journey

Wrap up your Italian adventure with these valuable insights to make the most of your time in this captivating country. Remember, a little cultural awareness goes a long way in creating lasting memories. Ci vediamo presto!

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