Going to Italy was a wonderful experience, we ate wonderful food and saw some amazing sights, but it was the little cultural differences that struck me the most. During our trip, I took some notes that I thought would be fun to talk about them on here.
First and foremost English is not the primary language, while plenty of people spoke English, there were plenty of times where the language barrier was present. All I have to say is thank goodness that most people get the awkward pointing and hand signs.
Tiny tea cups was another thing. Maybe it’s because they prefer espresso, but all the tea, coffee, and water cups were tiny. I’m used to a solid 12 to 16-ounce cup of tea in the morning so paying 2,50 euro for less than 6 ounces was a real shock for me. Having an entire apartment in Rome was a life saver.
One of my favorite things about Italy is that there were gardens everywhere. Whether we were in the city or the countryside, everyone had a garden. Even in Venice where there was very little grass to be found flowers and herbs were in nearly every single window, porch or patio. In the countryside, the gardens were larger with lots of vegetables and roses.
Good food matters. I think this one was to be expected, but I think the gardens and potted herbs in the city shows how important local fresh food is to the Italians. We did a wine tour and were told that many of the locals in the countryside grow their own olive trees and have the olives pressed to make their own olive oil, again showing how much they really care about fresh food. I also think the fact that they typically take a 2-hour lunch break each day to partake in several course meals says a lot.
Breakfast is small. A croissant and coffee or hot chocolate is a typical Italian breakfast. For me it was a little lack luster, I like a good croissant but for desert, I much prefer the big breakfast of potatoes, eggs, bacon, toast with endless cups of tea and juice. Needless to say, I’m used to a big breakfast with a smaller lunch, quite the opposite of Italian tradition.
Continuing the food conversation, restaurant etiquette is a little different as well. For starters, the portion sizes are smaller because tradition is to order multiple courses at a meal. It actually took us a few days to get this, and we ended up going to bed hungry before we figured it out. Additionally, waiters do not typically get tipped so that means they aren’t running over to ask you if you need anything, however, they will pay attention and make sure your wine glass is always full. They also will not bring the check unless specifically asked, I think this is because Italians like to linger, relishing their wine and desert, and really who could blame them? Altogether I think dining in Italy is a much more relaxed and potentially pleasant experience than it is in the states (at least the area I’m from).
Now to talk about the puppy dogs: While there weren’t a ton of dogs around the ones we did see we were wonderfully well behaved. Many of them followed their owners around town without leashes, some even waiting patiently outside stores while their owners shop. I pride myself on my own well behaved pup, but these dogs were pros. What amazed me the most is that it is something that we noticed in every place we visited.
These were just a few of the things that we noticed that were very different from our lives here in the northeast. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting but I can always add to this list later right? If you ever get the chance to visit Italy I totally completely suggest that you do, it is a wonderful and beautiful place.