Home stories 21 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Italy (Or visiting Italy)

21 Things You Should Know Before Moving To Italy (Or visiting Italy)

written by M.E. Evans November 20, 2013

1. Italian men have a reputation for being family oriented and for being wonderful lovers. They’re also famous for being cheaters, liars, and scammers. Dating in Italy can be a lot like playing the lottery. You’ll either win a hopeless romantic or a spoiled man-child who could possibly ruin your life with his two-timing and drama. Here is a great slideshow titled, “Five Reasons To Date An Italian And Five Not To.” 

Gelato Cones (Florence)

Gelato Cones (Florence) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. While you’re in Italy you might lose ten pounds from walking but you’ll likely gain twenty from the overload of gelato. However, not all gelato is created equal. Here is the ten best places to get gelato in Florence. Go where the locals go and avoid the tourist traps where the gelato is anything but delicious. Ten Best Places To Get Gelato In Florence, Italy. 

3. There is a drinking method for Italian coffee. Un cafe (a shot of espresso) is okay for all day. Usually, a Capuccino is only drank in the morning (but I drink it all day cause I wanna). At a bar (cafe) you can order whatever you want but in a home they’re not going to make you a capuccino or Americano so don’t ask for it.

4. Aperitivo is like “happy hour” where people grab a snack and a drink usually from a cafe or somewhere like Kitch.

5. Men are really touchy-feely here. If you’re a dude prepare yourself to be kissed and hugged a lot by other dudes. You’ll live.

6. You cannot go into a church without your shoulders covered. Buy a pretty scarf and carry it with you all day when you’re site-seeing.

7. People do not often smile in customer service. They’re not being mean to you. That “holy shit I’m so excited about life” shit-eating grin that everyone has in the US is not common in Europe. It’s because people are “rude” it’s just not how they are.

8. When going to someone’s house always, always, ALWAYS bring a gift with you. A bottle of wine, some chocolates, flowers, something. Even just a casual lunch with a close friend. Do not show up to a dinner party empty handed.

9. Italians do not use “ciao” for people they don’t know. It’s rude. If you don’t know someone use “salve” to say hello and arrivaderci to say goodbye. Don’t use “ciao” unless the other person does first. This never changes if you’re talking with someone older than you. Even if you know them (unless they are family).

10. Table manners in Italy are formal. Don’t reach across the table, or snap and scream at your waitress. Don’t taste food off of each other’s plates. Even at a casual place or in a house. Also, make sure to fill up empty wine or water glasses for other people at your table. Filling up ONLY your glass when other glasses are empty is not nice. Don’t eat anything until everyone else starts eating. Don’t rest your hands in your lap. Hold fork in left hand, knife in right.

11. When you greet a friend you kiss on the cheek, left first, right second. But you don’t really put your lips on their skin. You just kind of make a kissing sound while you do it. If you plant a big wet one on someone you’ll scare them.

12. American women have a reputation for being whores. If someone asks you out be weary that they might be doing it just out of the assumption that you’re an easy lay. “But he’s so nice to me.” Doesn’t matter. Italian men are lovers. They

are insanely nice to everyone, even one-night-stands. They lay it on thick. Italian women play “hard to get” more. Try, if possible, to at least hang out casually (and non-sexually) a few times before things escalate so he will take the relationship seriously if that’s your goal. Unless you’re just in it for fun, then totally who cares. Here is an interesting article on dating Italian men. However, since I married one, I have to say that there are obviously exceptions to every rule.

13. Wiki has a great page on Italian etiquette. 

14. There are a lot of fascists in Italy. Yep. Seriously.

15. Soccer is the national sport. If you want to make small talk or bond, soccer is always the way to start. Brush up on the regional teams and learn some lingo.

16. Italians do not understand sarcasm or being ironic in the same way that the English or Americans do. Their sense of humor is more “slapstick,” unless they’ve spent time in England or had an American girlfriend (or had sex with multiple Americans which is more likely). You totally won’t get their jokes. And they won’t get yours.

17. Everyone in Florence LOVES DOGS. I’ve never, ever lived in a more dog friendly place EVER. These people LOVE dogs. Pretty much everyone has one too, hence the mass amount of dog shit on the streets. Dogs can go in restaurants, in almost all bars or cafe’s, and in more or less all clothing stores. People will try to feed your dog treats and pet your dog constantly. If you want to bring your dog to Italy make sure he/she is used to being approached by strangers.

18. Italian men are very close with their mothers. Half, HALF of all Italian men live with their parents into their 30’s. Mammoni is a serious thing here. What is mammoni, you ask? Where the mom and son are so overly attached that they still have a relationship similar to the relationship a child would have with his mother.

19. The people who sell things in the streets are usually from Senegal or Pakistan (with the roses and tissues). They are not beggers. They are peddling cheap merchandise in hopes of bettering their lives. Italians are not rude to them (generally) and more often than not they become friendly with the regular ones in their areas. My husband and I chat with them regularly. Treat them with respect. They are working their asses off trying to improve their lives. Yes, it might be annoying to have someone dangling roses in front of your face while you’re trying to romance someone on a date, just smile and say, “no, grazie.” If they persist, say “no.” Usually they’re not pushy. They’re salesmen though. And salesmen can be annoying anywhere. There is a large immigration battle here so while a lot of Italians don’t WANT immigrants here they are not usually mean to them.

20. “Gypsies,” the women in the long skirts, braided hair, and sandals, are originally from North-East India and are an ethnic group called Romani. Most of the ones in Italy immigrated to Romania and then to Italy after they were driven out of Romania. They are all over Europe because they have no homeland due to prejudice (historically they have faced genocide, forced sterilization, among other brutalities). They’re not usually dangerous but they can pickpocket on occasion. When they are near, keep your things close to you. Ignore them when they ask you for money. If you smile and politely say “no” they’ll push harder and next thing you know they are following you for 10 miles shaking their cup in your face. My dog is racist and bites them. I did not teach him to be an asshole. Really. Not all Romani people live an alternative “Gypsy,” lifestyle, many of them try to be good citizens. However, politics and prejudice has made it difficult for them because they are often associated with crime despite the fact that they’re not all criminals. In 2008 in Naples, people at the beach looked on as two little Romani girls drowned, then continued to tan only pausing occasionally to take pictures of their little dead bodies. That gives you the cold, completely insane, racism that exists between Italy and the Romani.

21. Almost all rapes in Florence are reported by American students statistically accusing eastern European men (often from Albania). This isn’t to say that Albanians are evil rapists because that’s not true and most of them are like the nicest people ever and are hardworking, good people. HOWEVER, statistics are statistics most likely because there is also a high number of undocumented post-war Albanians who are nuts and involved in illegal shit in Florence that give everyone a bad name. Don’t get wasted in public and talk with weird dudes you don’t know no matter where they are from and never go to someone’s apartment or leave a club with anyone. That’s how it starts. Practice the buddy system. Also? This absolutely does NOT mean that men from other nationalities are safer. Use good judgement with men.

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