Rome - trevi fountain

11 Things NOT To Do When Visiting Italy

In EUROPE, ITALY, TRAVEL HACKS by Isabella Biava20 Comments

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The most common stereotype about Italians is the immediate association with pizza, spaghetti, and Mafia. 

I am about to tell you a couple of secrets:

  1. It drives us nuts,
  2. because we all know that Italy is much more than that. It’s true that we have the best food tradition in the world, but Italy also prides itself on the best artists, scientists, the world’s best fashion, and the best style and we come from the foundation of western culture and history…to mention just a few of the reasons why you will love my country. 

Now, having said that, we do have an obsession with food and we believe that we have the finest food in the world, which might not be true if you as a Jamaican for example. There is never an absolute truth. 

However, we are indeed very jealous of our culinary traditions and we horrify when we hear all those fake Italian dishes around the world or weird distortion of the original plate. 

We are judgmental when it comes to food and fashion but also culture and tradition as we are too proud of our heritage. That’s not necessarily a good thing, I know.

But as the old saying goes when in Rome do as the Romans do, I thought some guidelines on what not to do when you are in Italy will help you enjoy your trip in Italy the Italian way and finally taste the real Italian flavor, and not the crap that they make you believe anywhere else. 

I promise you will never turn back!

And yes, it’s going to be all about food. 😉

After all, I am Italian.

Are you ready?

pizza margherita

Do not order Pizza with pineapple!

It’s just gross. 

I put it first because it’s the biggest insult, and no matter how much I have traveled and how openminded I think I am, pizza with pineapple is not pizza.

It even feels disgusting writing it. How do you dear ordering such a horrible combination of dishes? 

In any case,  you are free to eat whatever you want, just don’t order a pizza with pineapple in Italy, you run the risk to get deported. 😉 

The face of the waiter if you order a pineapple pizza

via GIPHY

When you want to order an espresso, just ask for a coffee!

I remember that every time I go back to Italy and I go to a bar, I ask for an espresso and they look at me as if I asked the strangest thing in the world. 

The reason is that in Italy there is no other coffee than expresso.

Espresso is THE ONLY coffee. 

If you want something different, such as an Americano, cappuccino, and so forth, you have to be specific, but if you order an espresso, just say a coffee. (un Caffe, per favore= a coffee please) 

espresso coffee

Do not order a latte

In Italy we don’t have such a beverage that is called latte, or, better said, if you order a latte they will serve you a glass of plain milk. So if you want a replica of your Starbucks latte, explain exactly what you want to the waiter, especially if you are in a less touristic area. 

Cappuccino doesn’t go with meals

We don’t drink cappuccino together with meals. 

It’s gross, and also indigestible. 

We normally have a cappuccino for breakfast, preferably with a croissant. 

In rare cases we have another cappuccino in the middle of the day but not with meals. 

cappuccino

Do not order pasta Alfredo

I am sorry to break your heart but Pasta Alfredo doesn’t exist, in Italy. It’s not an Italian dish. 

So forget about it when you are here and enjoy some authentic food. 

If you find it on the menu, it means that it is not a good restaurant and they just want to serve what tourists are expecting.

My suggestion, in this case, is get up and chose a different restaurant.

Do not put parmesan cheese on seafood pasta

I have to confess on this one, some Italians do it, but if you want to eat the real Italian style, avoid this combination. 

It just doesn’t taste correct.

seafood pasta

    Do not order a risotto alla Milanese in Naples

    Although you have a great chance to eat a good pizza almost everywhere, you must know that the original pizza is in Naples, the risotto and osso buco are from  Milan, the tagliatelle and tortellini are from Bologna, and the Pasta all’ amatriciana is from Rome. 

    Italian cuisine is great everywhere you go but you need to choose the local dishes to get the best of every place you go.  If you don’t know what’s the typical dish, ask the waiter, they will be happy to assist you if they speak English. If they don’t, they will communicate in some way. Worry not. 

    You don’t need a spoon to eat spaghetti

    We Italians are very judgmental and we make fun of foreigners when it comes to food and fashion. But in a nice way, of course. One of the things that make us laugh is when we see people eating spaghetti with a spoon because it’s simply not Italian. I know, there is nothing wrong with doing it, it’s not that you are ordering a pizza with pineapple, but still, if you can learn how to roll the spaghetti around your fork without the help of the spoon, you get more “Italian style scores”

    And if you think about it, it’s exactly the same wrist movement, but instead of using the spoon as a base, you would use the plate. Try it and let me know how it goes! I am sure you will do great! 

    Don’t order butter for your bread, instead use it for the “scarpetta”

    When you go out for dinner or lunch you will be served bread, different kinds of delicious bread which you can eat either while waiting for your meal if you are starving and can’t wait for the plate to come or to clean up your plate when you are done. This is called “fare la scarpetta” and although it can seem gross, it’s a common thing in Italy and socially accepted. And no we, don’t use butter on bread. This is something mums used to prepare for their kids for “merenda”. At 4pm it’s snack time for kids and some of the old treats were bread with butter and sugar. Ah, yes we don’t even have salted butter, although somewhere you might even find it now.

    Don’t ask for ranch dressing for your salad

    Forget about whatever you are using to dress your salad and say hello to your new friend the super healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and balsamic vinegar. 

    And now you will finally find out what’s the flavor of salad and you might even like it 😉 

    Don’t ask for pepperoni pizza and expect this

    pizza alla diavola

    I am sorry to destroy a myth, but first of all, “Pepperoni” is not salame (aka salami)  in Italy, it’s peperone  (with one P) and it stands for sweet pepper.

    If you want “salame” in the pizza, it’s accepted (as long as you don’t ask the pineapple with it) and you can either ask a pizza margherita with salame on it or you can order a pizza alla diavola which includes salame.

    Yes, adding ingredients to your pizza is acceptable, as long as it’s not pineapple 😉 I know I am obsessed by this one. Sorry!

    That’s all you need to know for now. I might add more stuff when I remember. If you have something else to add, please be my guest and let me know in the comments below.

    I hope you didn’t get offended.

    I was joking… or not, but for sure Please do not ask for pineapple pizza!! 😉

    You are all welcome to visit our beautiful country and please forgive us if we don’t speak your language or we are not so welcoming sometimes.

    We do love you all and we look forward to showing you our treasures.

    Italian vocabulary essential

    Grazie = thank you

    Prego = you are welcome/ Please (as in Please follow me)

    Benvenuto/a/i/e = welcome M/F/PM/PM

    In bocca al lupo= good luck (literally in the mouth of the wolf)

    Crepi il lupo= (in reply to in bocca lupo, literally, Let the wolf die)

    Buon appetit0 = Enjoy your meal (although according to the etiquette it’s not correct to say it)

    Un caffe’ per favore = a coffee’, please

    Il conto per favore = the bill please

    Biglietto= ticket

    Quanto costa?= how much does it cost?

    Qual’e’ il piatto tipico di qua?= What’s the typical dish of this city?

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    Comments

    1. “Such good tips. You listed almost all the mistakes I made on my first trip to Italy 14 years ago. So funny.

      1. Author

        LOL! I am glad it was helpful, though. I had fun writing it. 🙂

    2. Lol those were some eye openers and fun facts which I never knew.thanks for sharing this interesting post

      1. Author

        JEJE Glad it helped 🙂 thanks for passing by!

    3. This is definitely one of the coolest most fun reads! I can definitely relate haha

    4. This post made me laugh so hard! I encountered so many of these requests when I was living in Rome!

      1. Author

        I am glad it made you laugh. It was fun writing it as well 🙂 I hope you enjoyed your stay in Rome. It’s a beautiful city.

    5. Haha so cool, loved this! Definitely won’t order espresso again in Rome 😀

      1. Author

        Hi Suzanna! Thanks a lot. Glad you like the post 🙂

    6. Omg so many things I didn’t know were actually Italian-American! I agree with you on ranch dressing.. yuckkkk. LOL @ now youo’ll finally know the taste of your salad. HAhaha. Wait.. what about ceasar dressing??

      Also.. this happens with so many other diasporas where things are commonly associated with the country but was actually created/influenced abroad. Like how Cuban sandwiches are actually an American/Miami thing! 🙂

      1. Author

        Cesar Salad is also not Italian LOL. Sorry, jeje. The only Italian dressing is extra virgin olive oil and vinegar (different kinds), salt, and pepper. I am not saying that others are not good but… just not typically Italian 😉 About the Cuban Sandwich I didn’t know LOL when I wasn’t vegan I had one in Cuba actually… so good 🙂

    7. I agree with all of these! While I do love pineapple and ham pizza (it’s a Hawaiian thing), I wouldn’t do such a thing as order it in Italy with all of the other wonderful food they have there. It’s an acquired taste and seems to be only popular in the US, not Europe.

      1. Author

        And I thank you for that 🙂 LOL I am not sure why I freak out so bad about the pineapple thing, when I am totally fine with any other culinary delicacies in the world.

        1. I live in Spain, and people are SO passionately anti-pineapple pizza there, that they sometimes wear patches on their jackets that say “say NO to Pina Pizza” LOL. The first week I moved there, I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said “so have you really had pineapple pizza in the US? hahahah too funny.

          1. Author

            hahaah That’s hilarious! I didn’t know Spanish people were our alleys LOL SO funny indeed.

    8. I have never read any articles on what not to do in Italy, so this was truly such an eye-opening piece and I LOVED it!! Thanks for sharing 🙂

      1. Author

        Thank you so much! Glad you have enjoyed it. 🙂

    9. My husband’s number one mistake was CONSTANTLY saying Gracias XD I love how you have highlighted the important do not’s that surround food! My Italian friends all approve.

      1. Author

        LOL I didn’t think about that. I am sure many people mix up Spanish and Italian thinking it’s very similar. 🙂

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