Over 46 million tourists visit Italy each year from all over the world, and many return again and again for the magic that only Italy can deliver. As Samuel Johnson wrote, “A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.”
Italians are a very kind, and gracious people. Their country is home to some of history’s most magnificent treasures, and they are used to sharing them. However, there are a few things Italians want Americans to know before you arrive in their country:
1. Dinner: It’s between 7:30-9:00 p.m. Pressing your hungry face against the restaurant’s window at 6:00 p.m. will not change that. Calling for a reservation, and dressing up a bit for dinner, however, will be appreciated.
2. Skin: Not shown so much in Italy. Short skirts and halter tops do not epitomize the classical fashion taste of Italians. So cover up, unless, of course, you are at the beach.
3. Bread: It won’t be served with oil and balsamic vinegar (unless the restaurant caters to Americans), so resist asking the server to provide them. Also, bread is not to be eaten with pasta. It’s used to “fare la scarpetta” or “make a little shoe”, to clean the plate of sauce. To do so in a restaurant is a debatable point, so you make that decision! Basically, bread is provided to accompany an appetizer.
4. Simplify Your Schedule: Leave time to wander the crooked, ancient streets on your own. Often, just a few blocks from the main attractions, day-to-day life is unfolding. Leave the crowds. Pause to listen to Italians converse at a coffee house. Plan some time to get off the tourist path for a gelato, espresso, or traditional meal with the locals.
5. Afternoon Closings: This still surprises and perplexes Americans. Many shops will close down for the afternoon from 1:00-4:00 p.m., especially outside the city center. Italians go home to enjoy lunch as a family and relax. Try it!
6. Taxis: You need to call for a taxi, or go to an actual taxi stand. You cannot hail a cab on a street in Italy, although Italian's get amused at watching tourists try!
7. Italian: It’s what is spoken! Learning a few words and common phrases will make a big difference in your experience. Rather than launching immediately in English, and assuming you will be understood (and talking slower and louder doesn't help), it’s polite to ask, “Parla l’Inglese?” At the villa we will be having short conversational Italian lessons in the mornings to help you.
8. Coperto: The amount charged, per person, to sit down at a table. It’s not a ploy to take advantage of you because you are a tourist. A 'coperto' is not the same thing as a tip, it means cover charge. It all started in the Middle Ages. At that time many people used to stop at inns, but, in order to save money, they only ate food brought from home. The innkeepers, unable to sell them their food, started to charge their customers for the place they occupied (posto coperto) and for the use of cutlery and plates. About tipping, it is not necessary, but if you wish never more than 5-10 percent.
9. Ask for the Check: It won’t be automatically delivered to your table after a meal in a restaurant. That doesn’t mean you are being ignored. Food and conversations are to be enjoyed, not rushed. When you are ready to leave, ask for the bill, “il conto per favore.”
10. Slow Down: You can’t see it all. Trust me on this one. The reason 46 million tourists descend on Italy each year is because there is so much beauty to see and experience. A excess of culture, art, vineyards, food, and museums — a lifetime is not enough. So, slow down, savor and appreciate what you do see.
11. Smile: You’ve made it to a country that has inspired visitors for centuries. Melt into its beauty and lifestyle, its art, music, cuisine and traditions. Exchange smiles with Italians and take home memories of a truly magnificent country, unlike any other in the world.
Villas of Italy specializes in all-inclusive superior villa vacations. We've designed our adventures so Italy can be experienced in intimate tour groups, Tourneo Custom air-conditioned vans, and one-of-a-kind Villa estates. Immerse yourself in Italy's picturesque towns and villages while enjoying exquisite cuisine, vibrant culture, and the spirit of Italy.
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Tony Moglia's grandparents immigrated from Italy in the early 1900's. He's a dual citizen who has traveled extensively throughout Italy for 40 years. He's happily married to a vibrant dancer who together have two children and three grandchildren. Tony has dreamed of Villas of Italy since his first trip to Italy, and now he shares his dream with you.