5 things to avoid in Italy


Ian shares a few tips to make you blend in with the locals and not stick out like a sore thumb:

A cappuccino is seen as a ‘morning only’ caffeinated beverage. Anyone ordering a cappuccino after lunchtime is certainly not local. It’s not that you can’t order one; you will just be looked at strangely.

Car Horns
Best avoid the use of the car horn at all times unless you are prepared to have a stand-up row with associated hand waiving, as even a quick ‘pip’ to let someone know the lights have changed can lead to interesting car chases. And I speak from firsthand experience…

If for any reason you have to queue up for something – in the post office, at the delicatessen or even at the bar – throw away any idea of order to events unfolding in front of you. The only way to make your presence known, is to stick your elbows out, keep your chin up and stand your ground. This is of course particularly difficult for the English tourist, but with practise your commanding presence will be obvious to all.

Stressing out
Getting hot under the collar over slow service etc. isn’t worth the energy, and it won’t get you very far. Nothing is more funny to an Italian than seeing a tourist getting their knickers in a twist. Try and remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that looking cool under any circumstances is a national pastime in Italy.

One of the best dishes on the Tuscan menu is the ‘bistecca’. Forewarned is forearmed: it comes rare – not quite trotting round your plate – but it certainly will be pink, and there may be some blood. I’ve seen tourists send it back several times to be put back on the grill. This doesn’t go down well with the waiter or the chef.

Photo credits: cappuccino courtesy of Mike Flemming; steak courtesy of rhosoi.