Traveling is a chance to see the world through a new lens. And when I travel, one of my priorities is to be a considerate, respectful visitor. I’ve found that being prepared & keeping a few simple things in mind shifts my travel experiences from great to incredible
– While many hospitality and service professionals speak at least a little English, it’s unwise to assume everyone does. When you need to speak to someone – be it the front desk at the hotel, a shop owner, server, or just a person on the street – ask if they speak English before asking your question. Remember, the language of the day is the one of the land you are in. It is on us to adapt.
– Do your part to destroy the myth of “the ugly American”. Be flexible and mindful that we are guests. Know that your customer service and hospitality experiences will not be the same as they would be at home. Remember that speaking English louder and slower to a non-English speaking person won’t make them understand what you are saying. Patience, kindness, and understanding are key. So is Google Translate.
– Speaking of keys, your hotel one may be clunky and burdensome. This is intentional. Hotels in many cities prefer that you leave your room key at the front desk when you are out exploring.
– Wash cloths are not generally found in hotels. Consider bringing one from home
– Public toilets are clean, but rarely free, and may or may not have toilet seats. Keep €1 and 50 euro-cent coins handy. Also, the coin-operated turnstiles don’t give change.
– Coins are far more prevalent throughout Italy (and all of Europe). Paper currency is not used for €1 and €2 denominations.
– Italy’s cities are largely safe, but pickpocket awareness is important. Keep your bags or purses zipped and held closely in front of you when in crowded areas or on public transit.
– In Italian, all vowels are enunciated. That means grazie (thank you) is pronounced grat-see-uh rather than grat-zee.
– Sundays and Mondays in Rome can be tricky for sightseeing due to museum and church closures. Be sure to check online or in person for opening hours and book tickets in advance when possible.
Meals & Restaurants
– Dinner service generally starts at 7:00 PM.
– Italian meals are served in multiple courses. They don’t like everything served all on one plate and don’t rush their meals.
– Pasta is a course, not the whole meal.
– Breakfast in Italy is sweet, not salty or savory. Think pastries and cakes rather than bacon and eggs.
– Water in restaurants is not always free. Be sure to ask when ordering, and also specify if you want still or sparkling.
– In cafes, sandwich shops, gelaterias, etc., you may see “eat in” prices and “takeaway” prices. Eat in prices are more expensive, for obvious reasons. If you pay the takeaway price then try to sit down, you will be asked to leave.