When preparing for a trip, you find out what the weathers gonna be like, what there is to do and what currency you will need to buy. But every country and culture will throw some unexpected surprises your way, here’s a quick list of things I wished I’d know before visiting Italy for the first time.
1. Public toilets are not free, almost all public toilets are manned and it is a small fee for using the service. Although most bars and cafes have toilets for you will need to buy something to use the facilities, on the plus side every time you want to spend a penny it creates an excuse to stop and buy an espresso or gelato. Supermarkets and train stations also
have toilets, most are free but don’t expect a high standard. After a long train ride I popped to the loo at a station only to be greeted by a hole in the ground!
2. Tickets need to be validated, to avoid paying a fine or the awkward embarrassment of explaining that you’re a tourist and didn’t know to a foreign ticket inspector, make sure you validate your tickets at the little yellow machines scattered around stations and platforms. after popping your ticket the machine will punch a hole in the ticket to validate it for travel. This also applies to buses, the machines are conveniently placed as you board any bus.
3. It’s not a good idea to joke about the mafia, it’s not funny and it could be dangerous (depending on where you are and who is about!). The mafia is serious business in italy and very real, especially in the south and Sicily. If you refer to someones as mafioso you will most likely offend and insult them, and if it is mafia they wont want anyone shouting about it will they?
4. It’s not sociably acceptably to be drunk in public, Although the Italians love their wine, they manage to keep themselves from falling over drunk. Even the teenagers in Italy disapprove and frown upon friends who drink too much, the relationship with alcohol starts at an early age within the safe environment of the home leading to low rates of alcohol-related problems within the country. So a binge drinker from blighty, who just so happens to love Italian vino didn’t learn that lesson until after she had made a fool of herself.
5. Italian waiters are not rude if they are ignoring you, Eating out in Italy is an experience in itself and when it comes to paying for the meal no waiter will ever put a bill on your table until you request it. The waiters will leave you alone to enjoy you food and conversation in peace for as long as you wish and then expect you to let them know when you are ready to settle up the bill. So instead of sitting there for ages thinking the waiters are ignoring you simply get their attention and ask “Il conto, per favore.”
Most of these I have learnt from personal expreiance……Is there anything you wish you knew before traveling to a foreign land?