Italians do not understand sarcasm or being ironic. Their sense of humor is more “slapstick,” unless they’ve spent time in England or had an American girlfriend.
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.
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, no gelato is created equal. Go where the locals go and avoid the tourist traps where the gelato is anything but delicious.
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. 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 sightseeing.
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. Unless you’re just in it for fun. Then totally who cares.
13. There are a lot of fascists in Italy. Yep. Seriously.
14. 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.
15. Italians do not understand sarcasm or being ironic. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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. 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.
18. Gypsies, the women in the long skirts and sandals, are from a culture in Romania that was driven out of Romania. They are all over Europe because they have no homeland. Begging is part of their culture and they are aggressive about it (especially the women). 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.