When traveling to Italy, it’s essential to understand and respect the local customs and etiquette. Italians take pride in their cultural traditions, and showing proper etiquette will not only make your trip more enjoyable but also earn you respect from the locals. Here are some do’s and don’ts of Italian etiquette to keep in mind:
- DO ask for the check when you’re ready for it. Italian servers think it’s rude to rush you from the table, so it could be hours before they do.
- DO learn basic Italian phrases: Learning a few basic Italian phrases, such as “buongiorno” (good morning), “grazie” (thank you), and “prego” (you’re welcome), will be greatly appreciated by the locals.
- DO pay for bread. Yes, you do also have to pay for bread. This is the “pane e coperto” charge and is quite common in Italy.
- DO think about tipping. There is no strict rule about tipping in Italy. Leaving a tip is a courteous gesture that shows the person who provided a service to you that you appreciate their help. As such, leaving a tip is entirely up to you, and, in many cases, it will not be expected, albeit appreciated. This doesn’t mean 20%+ like in the United States, but rounding up to the nearest Euro is appropriate.
- DO dress modestly: Italians value style and dressing well. While casual attire is acceptable in most places, it’s essential to dress modestly when visiting churches or formal events.
- DON’T take your coffee or food “to-go.” Unlike some cultures, eating while walking is not common in Italy. Take the time to sit down and enjoy your meal at a café or restaurant. After all, when you’re on a Taste Vacation tour, you’re on vacation!
- DON’T expect a quick meal: Italian dining is a leisurely experience. Don’t rush through your meal, as the main focus is on enjoying the food and company. A typical Italian lunch has an antipasto, a primo (soup, rice, or pasta), a secondo (meat or fish), contorno (vegetables), and a dolci (sweet) — all small portions, of course.
- DON’T expect an early dinner. If you’re someone who often enjoys dinner at 5:30 PM or 6:00 PM, you might want to carry a snack with you. Most restaurants don’t even open until 8:00 PM.
- DON’T talk loudly on public transportation: Italians prefer a quiet and peaceful atmosphere on public transportation, so avoid talking loudly, playing loud music or videos.