Advise from Modern Day Romans: Blending in with the locals

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Advise from Modern Day Romans: Blending in with the locals

Postby Marcus Aquillius » Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:44 pm


Traveling to Italy is always an experience. But how can you blend in with the locals? Here are a few tips to help you out.

Things you should not do:
1. Talk too loudly. Even though the Italians are known for being loud and emotive, it is generally frowned upon to speak loudly in restaurants, the bus, museums, or any other public place.
2. Order a cappuccino past 11.00. Although they are delicious, cappuccinos are a meal by themselves, so typically one does not order them past breakfast time. Cafe macchiato, espresso, cafe Americano, or any of the other coffee drinks are perfectly acceptable.
3. Dress like a tourist. Italy is one of the fashion capitals of the world and none of our styles involve fanny packs. Stay with simple patterns and colors. Italians prefer black, brown, grey, white, beige. There is nothing a simple navy suit or black leather jacket can't do! A little goes a long way with Italians.
4. Stalling. Avoid stopping in the middle of the sidewalk or in areas near Termini. Always look like you know where you're going. Plan ahead. If you do not have internet, use the hotel's wifi before you leave and you will normally have the directions still working when you leave. If you are lost, stop in a cafe or shop to ask for directions.
5. Wear a backpack. Not only are they easy for thieves to take from, almost no Italian carries a backpack. Unless absolutely necessary, opt for a smaller bag and only carry things that you know you will need. Never ever wear the abominations that are "fanny packs." Please.
6. Have the wrong shoes. Even if your outfit looks Italian, shoes normally give it away. Replace the sneakers with boots or a pair of Oxford's. Even sandals will do it - but no flip-flops. Some good choices are:
7. Ask for parmesan. Never put parmesan on your pizza or seafood pasta. If parmesan should be had with your dish, the waiter will serve it with your plate.
8. Eat the bread right away. The bread is not for eating right away, unless you are absolutely dying of hunger. Also asking for olive oil or vinegar, to dip your bread into is not Italian. Why would you need olive oil? You have the most delectable of pasta sauces for your bread! Use the bread to help you eat.
9. Tip. It is not necessary. Unless the meal or service was truly exceptional, it is not customary to tip - especially not in bars or cafes.
10. Eat a big breakfast. Breakfast is not the same as the United States - there is no plate piled high with eggs, bacon, Rome, it is typically a stop at a cafe and a cornetto and coffee. It doesn't cost more than 3 euros.

Things you are encouraged to do:
1. Speak Italian. Even if it is terrible, we appreciate the effort just as we try to speak English! You do not need to be fluent in the language but being able to say "Hello," "Please" and "Thank you" will put you up one place in the respect scale!
    Hello: Salve, Buongiorno, Buona Sera
    Please: Per favore.
    Thank you: Grazie! Grazie mille!
    Do you speak English?: Parla inglese?
2. Eat with your hands. Eating pizza with your hands is perfectly fine! The pizza, arriving at your table, is usually uncut, so you will have to cut it yourself, but once you do - eat away! !
3. Dress well for dinner. If you are sweaty from a day of traveling or a yoga class, go home and shower! This 10 minute activity will greatly improve your chances of looking more Italian than a sweaty tourist. If you cannot go home, carry around extra deodorant or perfume. You have no idea how many times we have sat next to sweaty people and how it affects the meal!
4. Eat later. Italians normally eat around 21.00. So, if you want a true Italian dining experience, try to eat after 20.30 - you'll be surrounded by a lot less tourists and a lot more Italians!
5. Have wine! We are proud of our wine. It's some of the best and it is cheap! Enjoy it!
6. Relax. Meals are a social event to be enjoyed. They are slow and can last up to 2 hours. Waiters will never bring you your bill unless you ask for it. Unlike in the States, it’s seen as rude for a waiter to bring your bill and whisk away your plates as soon as you’ve finished your food. You’re supposed to have the liberty (and luxury) of lingering at your table, finishing your wine, water and even ordering a coffee. Once you’re ready to go, signal for the waiter and say, “Il conto, per favore.” Or the universal squiggly-finger-in-the-air hand signal will always work, too.

We hope that this helps you on your next trip to Rome!

M. Aquillius
C Cassia Longina
Marcus Aquillius

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