It is the first time I am writing about Italy and don’t get me wrong I traveled to Italy before, but I just didn’t feel passionate about this country enough or I was just not mature enough for it. If you are in Italy you have to go deep into it, you have to understand culture, history, feel Italy with all your senses. So if you are ready and this is your first time in Italy then expect some amazing things from this country.
Things to Expect in Italy
Authentic Italian Meals
Let’s start with the most important thing in Italy – FOOD. I think one day I will write another blog post just for this topic. Italians are so proud of their meals and you know what? They know how to make amazing meals. Their cuisine usually is quite simple, but they use real, fresh, local products, homemade products and that’s why the taste is something special! I like what Gregg Wallace told about Italian cuisine, you don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant to get a good meal, you can go to cheap restaurants and the quality of food still be amazing, because Italians know what they are doing and that’s definitely true. Traditions of food making go generation to generation and that’s why it makes it so special.
So don’t expect to stick to your diet, actually for the first time in my life when I tried a local pizza I thought “well if I gain some weight during my trip then it was totally worth it”. Also, if you don’t feel full of carbs then you are doing Italy trip wrong.
It’s hard to say what you have to try here because Italians have so many dishes, but the most famous are:
- Pizza (Margherita, )
- Olive oil and Balsamic Vinegar
Mealtime is sacred
Italians have strong family relationships and having a meal together is a sacred time. They always find time for their family. Some people mislead that Italians also have something similar like “siesta” time which Spanish have. Although, Italians close their shops not for chilling, but for eating and meeting family or friends. Mealtime here tends to be later 1 pm for lunch and 8 pm for dinner.
Latte – is just milk
If you ask for a “Latte” in a cafe, then you’ll get ordinary milk which is not so strange to ask here. If you want coffee then say “caffe latte”. Well, of course, if you go to a touristy place then you’ll be probably fine because locals there are used to that mistake.
Italians drink espresso
If you are in Italy it’s a must to try an espresso. Even if you are not used to it still try it. It is part of the experience. Locals go to a cafe order espresso and after a couple of minutes, they leave the cafe. Nobody takes away coffee or sit for a chit chat and drink coffee, they have meal times for that.
Want to sit? Pay more at Italian bars
Italians bars are like cafes which can serve alcohol legally. If you want to enjoy coffee slowly while seated at the table then be aware that it will cost more! An Italian way to drink coffee is usually while standing next to the bar, you quickly drink espresso and go enjoy your day with more energy. Also, the price can be different if you want to sit inside or outside, if you go to a popular place near monuments then it can be super pricey. Also, Italians don’t take away coffee, it’s here impossible to do actually.
You don’t need to tip the waiter, because it will be added to your bill. Again, if you are in a touristic place then it will be quite expensive. If you tip it can also be understood as a rude gesture.
My personal advice is always to ask the prices of food and everything, I was scammed like that. We went to a restaurant near the Vatican and we didn’t ask for the menu or the prices, because the waiter just showed us the food which we can order. When we got a bill it was shocking, even Italian men who sat next to us they checked our bill and were really disappointed. We paid like 25 Eur for ordinary salads.
Also, check my blog post how to stay safe while traveling.
If you are in Italy you should try the local wine, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. On a wine bottle, you’ll see a region where this wine is made. When you start to understand this science then it is more fun. If you know nothing about wine so I recommend you to watch this Youtube course about wine. After watching it, you’ll understand the main aspects of good wine.
No one expects you to be fluent in Italian, but at least try to say simple words like thank you and hi in Italian. I love the saying “You can translate the words, but you can’t translate the meaning”, to understand a specific culture you need to understand the language. Also, it shows that you respect their extraordinary culture and history.
Common Italian words:
- Hello: Ciao
- Goodbye: Ciao; Arrivederci
- Good morning: Buongiorno
- Good evening: Buonasera
- Goodnight: Buonanotte
- Please: Per favorite
- Thank you: Grazie
- You’re welcome
- Beautiful: Bello (masculine); Bella (feminine)
- Good: Buono (masculine); Buona (feminine)
- Well: Bene
The first time when I went to Rome I was so surprised how magnificent and huge Italian monuments are. I didn’t imagine this beauty and size. You feel so small in front of those buildings and all the paintings and walls speak their history. Also, if you see a church even if you are not catholic admire the beauty of the churches by going inside.
Don’t plan too much
I find it hard to stick to your plans in Italy. Firstly, if it is a weekend and you want to go to a touristic place then be prepared for a huge queue. Trains and buses are not on the schedule. Also, it’s hard to keep your plans, because if you choose the wrong road you can find an even better and more beautiful place. I personally last weekend planned to go to one tower in Bologna, but end up in some kind of local cooking event, where I could enjoy wine and fresh food.
Pickpockets and scammers
Sad, but it’s true that in Italy you can find the best scammers and pickpockets so be aware of your belongings, keep your bag in front of you. Especially be careful at crowded places and metro. Check my blog: How to stay safe while traveling
North and south are very different
If you visit only in Rome then you can’t say that you traveled to Italy. The north and south of Italy are so different, sometimes it looks like different countries. Trust me it will be so interesting just to go and try to spot the differences for yourself.
Plan your trip to Italy
Wondering what to pack? Check out my Packing list
Accommodation: find the best deals of hotels and hostels in Italy
Tap water: you can drink tap water in Lithuania so don’t forget your water bottle.
Read my blog post: things to do in Rome, Italy
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