With its never-ending banquet of delicious foods, stunning scenery and historic cities, Italy is the ultimate summer holiday destination. Yet when in Rome – which is best enjoyed in the autumn months after the heat subsides – how do you make sure you’re doing as the Romans do? Here’s our handy guide to your next Italian holiday, with all the dos and don’ts to get your timeshare break off on the right foot.
Learn some local lingo. Even the most broken or uncertain of Italian phrases will win you fans.
Fare un bella figura – or, as we would say, try to ‘make a good impression’. Italians love keeping up appearances, so make an effort.
Love the country – and show it! While fiery Italians can offer up the country’s shortcomings, criticism from outsiders can cause offence. Keep it positive (this would apply to almost anywhere!)
Keep your shirt on, unless you’re at the beach. In particular, keep covered when visiting churches or religious sites (in fact this is good advice to take with you anywhere in the world).
Ask the waiter’s advice about seasonal treats. Try selecting a few options from the menu that make your mouth water, then ask your waiter to recommend the rest. Italians are good at eating with the seasons and with so much fantastic fresh produce – and fish, in coastal areas – it’s easy to stick to a healthy Mediterranean-style diet here.
Squeeze in as many gelatos as you possibly can – nowhere makes ice cream like the Italians do, so fill up while you’re there! You can always walk them off on a sightseeing tour or a beach promenade in late afternoon.
Try a risotto, even if it’s not normally something you’d eat at home. The Italians have a way with rice and a creamy, subtly-flavoured risotto with a good glass of white wine can be something close to perfection.
Drink milky cappuccinos and lattes after breakfast, it’s not what the locals do!
Touch window displays or handle merchandise too much in shops, as this can annoy staff
Ignore social niceties, even if you’re running late. Asking after others and being polite will always win you friends in Italy.
Drive in the left-hand lane on the motorway (unless you’re overtaking). As we know from the movies and experience, Italians tend to drive fast, so if you’re not sure of where you’re going, or driving in the country first time, bear this in mind.