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The Culture Guide: 5 Things You Should Not Do When Visiting Italy

Oh, beautiful Italy, home to magnificent Florence, Rome, and the Tyrolean Alps. It’s a sight to behold and the home of beautiful villages, lakes, islands, and Mediterranean beaches. Italy also has some of the craziest drivers you’ve ever seen that take pride in their Ferraris and Turbo Fiats.

Italians are proud of their culture, which is often very dysfunctional, engaging, and sometimes challenging. A few things shouldn’t be done when visiting Italy, and we’re here to clue you in.

Never Commit the Ultimate Sin; Cheese on Pasta with Fish

Throughout history, numerous Italian leaders have been exiled from the country. Italians may change their governments as frequently as most of us change our pants, but they’ll want to exile you too if you put cheese on top of pasta that includes seafood. This is a culture that touts the wonderful flavor of its food and takes the greatest of pains to ensure every bite is an experience. The chef wants to know that you found the food amazing, not committed something tantamount to the ultimate food sin of covering the flavor of the fish with cheese.

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Don’t Wear Shorts to a Church

The artwork in Italian churches is legendary. Walking into the Duomo in Florence, you see some of Michaelangelos’ most marvelous masterpieces. As the origination country of the church, Italians truly value their Catholic tradition, and it is important to respect it.

Jeans are acceptable but don’t wear shorts, tank tops, or flip-flops into these hallowed places if your wish to be respectful.

Don’t Plan on the Trains Being on Time

In northern European countries, trains always run on time; that is rarely the case in southern Europe. A more relaxed approach to life results in trains that can be epically late. In fact, don’t expect punctuality at all. Many shops and restaurants will close at lunchtime when Italians slowly savor their flavorful food.

Do Not Expect English to be Spoken

Almost everyone is fluent in English in Germany, as it is a compulsory subject in German schools. This is not the case in Italy, English is not widely spoken, and Italians don’t really have no desire to do so. Thankfully modern smartphone apps are available to help.

Whatever you do, please don’t yell English words. Yelling doesn’t make them any more effective or translatable.

Don’t Cut Your Spaghetti, Ever

Yes, there is pasta etiquette, and an Italian never wants to see their famous noodles end up in pieces. You will see looks of pure terror. The proper method is to roll your spaghetti around your fork with the assistance of the plate. By doing so, the essence of this dish is fully respected.

Don’t let these tips scare you away from Italy, though. It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, filled with incredible, iconic art, amazing views, fashion, historical places, and tasty food. It’s magical and a little crazy all at once, making for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which is also why you’ll find yourself returning again and again.

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