A good guide for new travelers to the old country: here you’ll find a few peccadilloes that can interrupt those coveted conversations with Italians during your trip.
1. Relying on English
Some Italians are universally gracious toward all tourists, while others, eh, not so much. If you want to improve your chances of finding a great restaurant or hip locale, then try and speak as much Italian as you can. Italians aren’t expecting a master linguist, but they do appreciate a little effort, because hey, you are in Italy after all. Give it your best shot, and you’ll usually come away with some great input, instead of a scoff.
2. Showing too much inebriation
Italian wine and libations are virtually irresistible; however, if you swig too much vino and make a scene, then you’ll likely be met with colorful terms from onlookers and passers-by. Always a respectable plan B: put on your sunglasses and sip an espresso.
3. Questioning Italian mannerisms
Asking an Italian why they talk with their hands is like asking an American why they bother pronouncing vowels. It’s a natural part of Italian communication that flows with conversation.
4. Vocalizing French tastes
Sure, France has Champagne, but Italy ups the ante with more than 350 grape varieties and an unmatched viticulture. Telling an Italian that you prefer French wine is not conducive to diplomatic relations.
5. Assuming northern Italy is anything like southern Italy
In Italy, the north and the south may as well be separate countries. A fellow from Aosta is much different than a paisano from Palermo. Someone from Milan is the opposite of someone from Turin, and they’re not even that far away from each other.
Quick tip: Follow your phone
There will be plenty of opportunities to interact with and learn from Italians, but to save some time and coin, bring your smartphone and set up a temporary international plan with your carrier. This way, access to your phone is inexpensive, which works out well as you spend time googling restaurants, getting directions and quick translations, and hailing Uber rides — which, oftentimes, are cheaper than taxis.
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