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5 Things To Know Before Going To Italy
Italy is home to some of the most beautiful and historic places in the world. With stunning coast lines and awe inspiring ruins, it's no wonder why it has become a major tourist destination for people from every country. Amongst all of the beautiful cathedrals, the cozy restaurants and the numerous cafés (called bars), there are a few things you should know before visiting.
Cash Over Card
Italy is a cash culture, or Euro culture to be more specific. Walking around downtown Rome, you very well may find a number of shops that will accept your credit/debit card, but for the majority of the country, you will need to have Euro on hand.
My First experience with this was rather humiliating. On my first outing to downtown Naples,we stopped at small bar (café) and when I went to pay, I pulled out my debit card. When everyone started laughing I had no idea what was going on, I was new. A friend of mine was kind enough, to explain that most small Italian businesses won't accept a card. Needless to say, I was a little embarrassed.
No Personal Space
If you are the kind of person who doesn't enjoy people touching you, especially people you don't know, this may not be the best place for you to visit. Italians are a very friendly people, and they show their friendship and affection physically.
It could be a good morning hug, or a “Let me show you this” back rub, but it's their culture and they aren't likely to change it any time soon. They walk arm in arm, kiss on the cheek to say hello and goodbye, and as a rule, sit uncomfortably close.
Try to remember that this is part of their culture and you are in their country. They never developed the physical boundaries that have become part of the American way of life. Be respectful, and if you are truly uncomfortable, tell them, they will respect your wishes.
Beware of Drivers
None of you are nervous drivers are you? For your sake I hope not. Driving in Italy, specifically the Campania region, is a lot like playing bumper cars in F1 racers, only more dangerous. Speed limits here are strictly a recommendation, and if someone wants to pass you, they courteously tell you by getting less than a car length behind you and flashing their lights. This is the national sign for “Get the hell out of my way!” Remember, just because they are driving crazy, doesn't mean you need to.
Also, beware of people on mopeds and motorcycles. There are lots of them, and like their four wheeled counter parts, their driving is quite erratic. We have seen it all, but the most frightening was seeing an entire family (father, mother, teenager, young child, and baby) on a single moped weaving in and out of traffic.
Late Dining Times
It's Wednesday evening, let's say 6pm. You and your friends/family decide that you are hungry and would like to go out for a pizza. Well, before you run off in search of the closest pizzeria, try to remember that their restaurants don't open until around 8-9 pm. Why is there dinner time so late? I have no idea, what I do know, is how frustrating it is to have plans to go out to eat, and have to push them back a few hours because the restaurant isn't open yet. Avoid the agony and learn from my misery. Waiting until 9 to eat is no big deal if you plan on it all day. Have a snack at 6 or so and you should be alright.
There is still quite a bit of animosity between the regions of Italy. For instance, Northern Italy, has on more than one occasion, tried to secede from the rest of the nation because they don't like the south. Many of the southern Italians have resentment towards the north because they are much more wealthy up there.
Different Regions Of Italy
When someone says they are going to visit Italy, they rarely know what region they are visiting. If you were to do your research, you would learn quite a bit about how each region is a completely different entity from the next, more different than two neighboring states in America.
Depending on where you visit, the food, clothing, even the architecture may be completely different. Why you ask? Italy wasn't even a country until 1861. Each individual region was a sovereign state, each with their own government. It's no wonder that they are so different.
All in all, Italy is a wonderful place to visit, with an amazing culture that's sure to give you a warm welcome.