Before you go to Italy, you may be wondering what you should pack, what you should expect and what kind of food they will have. Keep reading to find out!
1. Dinner is late & long.
In Italy, people tend to take their time eating, unlike most Americans who rush through meals. Mealtime is meant to be spent with family and friends talking about their days. For this reason, most waiters won’t rush you to leave the restaurant and will let you take your time. It is is common to spend hours just talking, even after all of your food has been eaten.
2. The bread in Florence is bland.
Yes, Italy has great food and incredible bread. But, bread in Florence is not my favorite. The reason for this is the lack of salt. This ingredient has an important history in Florence and there is a historical explanation as to why there is no salt in the bread.
The bread tastes differently in different areas of Italy. Also, side note, bread costs extra and is not included in the meal. Most often waiters put bread on the table without you asking for it. Bread does not usually cost more than a few euros, but you can ask if you want to be sure.
3. Bring a scarf.
This is specifically for people who go to Italy during the summer. Many churches have rules that everyone needs to cover their shoulders and knees. You can use a scarf to tie around your shoulders or around your waist to cover your knees. Scarves are sold all around the cities, but it would be best to pack some clothing that already covers your shoulders and knees. Some churches even sell coverings for a few euros that are basically very thin fabric you wear like a robe, while you are in the church.
4. Restrooms are creative.
Restrooms can be complicated and have different locks than we are used to in the U.S. I know someone who got locked in a bathroom stall. Yes, really! But, don’t be scared. The locks on the bathroom stalls are creative, so pay attention how you shut the lock, so you know how to open it. I even went to a bathroom that had the hinge in the middle of a door, yup. Truth. The Italians are known for architecture and design. Their bathrooms are no exception.
5. Their rest stops are awesome.
The rest stops in Italy are not like the ones on the side of the road in the U.S. Italian rest stops have a wide variety of foods, both healthy and fried. A little of everything, not just greasy fast food like in the U.S. They even had vegan croissants at the rest stop! YES! Way to go Italians!
6. They dress nice.
I always dress very casual, but I did not realize how casual I dress until I went to Italy. Italians tend to dress nice, especially when compared to Americans. To put this into perspective, I did not see a single Italian wear sweatpants or a hoodie while I was in Italy and I was in Italy for 2 weeks. It was always very obvious who was American, just based on the clothes people were wearing. Americans can very easily be spotted in a crowd because of their baseball caps and simple t-shirts.
You can decide what to do with this information. You could decide to bring clothes that are dressier than what you would normally wear, or you could just embrace your Americaness and wear your normal clothes (which is what I did). But next time, I think I will try dressing a bit fancier, just a bit.
7. Hold your valuables close.
Stay aware of your surroundings. Stay aware of pickpockets. Hold your bags close to you at all times. If someone offers you a rose, beware they will probably want you to give them money for it, even if they say it’s for free. Also, if you take something for free, you may be followed until you give some money. Just keep these things in mind, don’t be too worried about it, it’s just something to think about and be aware of.
8. There are many regions of Italy.
Each region of the country is different. They are known for different foods, different landscapes, etc. For example, Capri and Pompeii are known for their lemons (they are the size of a grape fruit), while Tuscany is known for its wine. Therefore, I urge you not to make a judgement about the whole country if you have only been to a few places.
9. English is spoken.
Many places, especially in big cities, know English. But small towns are less likely to speak fluent English. Knowing a few words in Italian, or a few phrases, can be very helpful. Taking time to learn a little Italian before you go to Italy shows you are trying your best and not just assuming everyone there will know English.
10. Enjoy every minute of it.
Enjoy the food, the atmosphere, take it all in and try not to worry too much about getting that “perfect”picture. Be in the moment. That is the advice I would give. Think: 10 years from now, when you look back at this moment, will you want to remember taking a picture at the Trevi fountain, or actually looking at the water and the beautiful art?
So, that is what an American thought of Italy. Well, I am part Italian. I hope I helped you in some way. If you have any more questions, let me know in the comments and I will help in any way I can.
Have a great day filled with pasta and delicious vegetables!