One of the most special parts about travel is branching out of your comfort zone and really immersing yourself in the culture of your new surroundings. You’re excited, you’re awed, you’re overwhelmed… and your guard is probably down. Things are probably going to be different from what you are used to at home, don’t let a silly mistake take away from what could be the trip of a lifetime!
No matter where you go, it’s helpful to do a little quick research about the culture, potential ‘scams,’ and tourist safety information before you leave home. Here are some tips I picked up before, during and after my trip to Italy last spring.
Food and restaurant related:
- Never order anything at a cafe or restaurant without being certain of the price beforehand. If the menu doesn’t have prices on it… ask for one that does.
- Avoid eating in cafes or restaurants that are in very close proximity to major attractions (i.e. the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, etc). Just go one block out of the way and you’ll find the prices plummet and the quality soars.
- Eat where Italians are eating! You can spot a tourist from a local pretty easily. Pay attention before you commit to a place.
- To distinguish good homemade gelato from crappy mass manufactured gelato that you could get at home pay attention to the pistachio flavor: if it’s bright green, avoid. If it’s a more muted natural looking green it’s real. Also if the gelato is in metal tubs that means it’s probably made on site.
- How to not look like a dummy: There’s no ice coffee. Or American-style ‘drip’ or ‘filter’ coffee either. Order espresso and drink it within the cafe you got it from. There aren’t any to-go cups and they’ll probably be offended if you ask for one.
- Italians eat pizza with a fork and knife. I don’t know what that’s all about but that’s how it’s done.
Transportation, shopping and touring…
- Always agree on a price with your cab driver before getting in the cab. If you can’t agree beforehand definitely make sure his meter is ON and WORKING at a reasonable rate.
- A lot of times prices are negotiable. Especially for the leather bags and purses you’ll find in Rome.
- Oh! This is random but like I’ve written countless times in many other blog posts… locals can spot American tourists from MILES away. A popular ‘scam’ in Italy is for a person on the street to approach you, compliment you and offer you a rose. As soon as you touch it/take it they’ll demand money. It is not a gift! Don’t take it!
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!
Are you planning a trip to Italy soon? Check out my other Italy posts below!
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