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  • Writer's pictureHunter and Ashley Rae Jones

Things to Know Before You Go: Tips for Navigating the Cultural Surprises in Italy

Updated: Apr 11



As an American traveler exploring the charming streets and scenic landscapes of Italy, I couldn't help but notice a few cultural quirks that added a unique flavor to our journey. These unexpected differences, both humorous and insightful, became the source of some memorable experiences. Here are some of the quirks that caught my attention:

1. Plug Ins and Power Plays: Upon arriving in Italy, one of the first things that became apparent was the completely different electrical plug-ins. It's an absolute necessity to bring adapters to keep your devices charged, or else you might find yourself powerless in more ways than one! 2. Water, Water Everywhere (for a Price): In Italy, it's quite common to have to pay for a glass of water in restaurants. It's almost become a running joke that sometimes it's less expensive to buy a glass of wine than a glass of water. Cheers to wine being the affordable option! 3. Paying to Answer Nature's Call: Restrooms are not free in Italy. You'll typically need to shell out 1 to 2 euros per person for using public restrooms, and many establishments reserve their facilities for customers only. Locals have a clever workaround – they pop into a café, order a quick espresso shot for 2 euros, and voilà, they get a caffeine boost and access to much nicer restrooms, all for the same price. 4. Shhh... We're in Italy: In Italy, a unique cultural nuance is the art of conversation. Italians, renowned for their elegance, keep their voices low even in cozy restaurants where tables are close together. So, when my conversational excitement would get louder, my husband coined the phrase, "use your Italian voice" which became quite the inside joke for us. By the end of our trip we could recognize Americans from a mile away, simply because of their vocal decibel level. 5. All Aboard the Eurorail: If you're traveling through Italy using Eurorail, consider upgrading to first class for a mere $30 more per ticket. It's well worth it, offering a premium experience and even a complimentary meal during the journey. The process can be a bit tedious but is straightforward – purchase your Eurorail pass on their website, download the app, choose your destinations and travel days, and make sure to check if seat assignments are required, as they may come at an additional cost. If you do not purchase your seat on the train in advance on those required, you will have to pay a 50 euro fine on the train. 6. Language, the Universal Connector: Italians are incredibly welcoming, especially when you make an effort to speak their language. Learning some basic Italian phrases not only makes your trip smoother but also earns you a warm reception. Here are a few essential phrases with translations:

  • Ciao (Hello)

  • Buongiorno (Good morning)

  • Come stai? (How are you?)

  • Sto bene (I'm good)

  • Buonasera (Good evening)

  • Arrivederci (Goodbye)

  • Dov'è il bagno? (Where is the restroom?)

  • Aiuto! (Help!)

  • Posso avere..., per favore (May I please have..., this one)

  • Come arrivo a...? (How do I get to...?)

  • Grazie! (Thank you!)

  • Come si dice... in italiano? (How do you say... in Italian?)

  • Parlo solo un po' di italiano (I only speak a little Italian)

By embracing these cultural quirks and making an effort to connect with the locals, our journey through Italy became more than just a vacation; it became a rich tapestry of experiences and connections with the wonderful people and traditions of this beautiful country. Buon viaggio! (Safe travels!) For your Italy trip, here's our itinerary and more tips for visit!


Travel Soon!

Mr and Mrs Jones

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