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What do Richard Branson, Madonna and George Clooney all have in common? They have all invested in an Italian property. Italy is a go to for celebrities, playing host to Kourtney and Travis Barker’s, Jessica and Justin Timberlake’s and George and Amal Clooney’s wedding.  With Google searches for “Italian holiday” seeing a 1414.3% uplift, it’s not just celebs flocking to 2022’s must see destination. Here, Wizz Air has put together a handy guide on what you need to know before visiting Italy and how to make the most of your time abroad.

By Wizz Air

No milk in coffee post breakfast

Coffee in Italy has its own culture, with many Italians following strict rituals to get their caffeine fix throughout the day. Traditionally, to get the day started, Italians like to pair their breakfast with a hot milky coffee, for example, a cappuccino or a caffe latte, however, beware that these are purely breakfast drinks. Ordering a milky coffee after mid-morning at the latest is the easiest way to raise eyebrows and be branded as “the clueless tourist.”

Talking of coffee…

Every region in Italy has its twist on the standard Caffe, which is what other countries would call an espresso. In Sicily, their coffee has an Arabian-inspired twist, flavoured with cinnamon and cloves, whereas in Naples, coffee is served piping hot, with a mandatory glass of water to cleanse your palate before sipping within two minutes.

Coperto is not just in Michelin restaurants

Tipping isn’t expected in restaurants, as servers are usually paid a fair salary and are often part of the family that owns the restaurant. That said, your bill will usually come with a few unusual charges. The “coperto” is often the most confusing to diners, which is essentially a per-person charge for sitting at the table. The price must be listed on the menu or in the restaurant, and it can add up for larger groups. A “Servizio” charge is usually found in the most touristy areas of Italy, and it also must legally be listed somewhere obvious, like on the menu. The “Servizio” doesn’t necessarily go to the staff, and it can be anywhere from 10 to 20% of the bill.

It may be hot, but there is a dress code

Known for its Mediterranean climate, especially if you go during peak times, you are guaranteed to bask in glorious sunshine and heat when in Italy, however, there is an unspoken dress code you must adhere to, whatever the weather. Generally speaking, shoulders and knees should be covered along with the possibility of needing close-toed shoes, and this is especially true when visiting religious relics and places of worship. Most churches and cathedrals will simply not let you enter without the correct attire.

Ham and pineapple pizza or a Spaghetti Bolognese? Not in Italy

When in Italy, you may be surprised with what is considered traditional, Italian cuisine and what has been adapted for our taste buds. Italians are exceptionally traditional when it comes to food and drink and some of the most popular so-called Italian food found all over the globe would never be seen served in a genuinely authentic Italian eatery.

Although a Hawaiian pizza is already considered a controversial choice in the UK, in Italy it is simply unheard of, with this variety being too far away from the typical Margareta pizza. The spaghetti Bolognese is although a well-known favourite is not actually an authentic Italian meal. While Bolognese is a traditional Italian sauce, which originates from Bologna, it is not referred to as “Bolognese” but instead a ragu alla Bolognese, which translates to ragu from Bologna. Whether you are partaking in 5* dining or at a local eatery, Italian cuisine is unlikely to reflect that of the UK.

Factor in Riposa

You may already be familiar with the Spanish siesta, where towns and cities seem to shut down for an hour or so every afternoon, but did you know Italians have their own version, Pennichella? In a similar way to the Spanish origins, pennichella is a much-needed respite away from the peak heat hours.

So, if you hope to visit some Italian stores or rest your legs after a long morning of exploring a city, you must remember many places will close until the late afternoon, including the designer stores, so make sure you factor this in. 

…Don’t expect to work in a coffee shop

With Wi-Fi being somewhat hit and miss in Italy, you should be wary to work remotely in Italy. Although bigger cities, such as Rome and Milan, are now welcoming more remote workers and improving their Wi-Fi in numerous coffee shops and co-working spaces, it will still take a bit of shopping around before finding a place you can rely on.

Italy is only ranked 57 out of 68 countries around the world for their internet connectivity, with many rating Italy as the “worst in Europe” for its internet speeds. As this isn’t particularly promising, make sure you do research before heading out so you can guarantee there will be a good place to work. However, lack of Wifi does make it the perfect destination for the 9-5 workforce seeking office rest bite.

Using public transport? You will need to seek some validation

Unless you are in a bigger city, such as Rome, then public transport will take a bit of pre-planning. Tickets for city and town buses are normally cheap but cannot be purchased on the bus itself, instead, you need to buy tickets in newsagents and have them validated once on the bus. As this system is based on trust – you won’t need to show your ticket to the driver and simply need to tap your ticket to validate, don’t think you can easily get away without buying a ticket. Spot checks for fare-dodgers occur regularly, with huge fines issued when caught.

You will always need change

Italy is still mostly a cash-based society, especially compared to other European economies in Europe, however, don’t be alarmed by this. Many shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions, especially in larger cities, will accept card payments, however smaller towns and independent shops will be less likely to accept cards. For public transport, again most cities will accept payment for travel in cards, but it is a must to bring at least a bit of change to cover you.

Vino is cheaper than acqua

Italy is famed for its wine production, so it may not be surprising that often a bottle or carafe of wine can be cheaper than a bottle of water for your table, however, this is not a guarantee. The average cost of a glass of wine is around €3-6 but can be as low as 2, depending on where you are, and this wine is perfectly delicious.

To avoid this, simply bring a bottle and refill with tap water. Italian tap water is, generally, absolutely safe to consume, with many cities even offering free refill points. In rare cases where tap water isn’t deemed safe to consume then bottled water is simply the only way to get around this. Buying bottled water from a supermarket will undoubtedly be cheaper than buying in a restaurant, so it is advisable to stock up and avoid getting a bottle of water for the table.

Ciao

After even just a few hours of immersing yourself in Italy, you may notice Italians greeting each other with “ciao.” This, however, is reserved for greeting people you know, for example, colleagues or friends, so try to avoid it as you may come across as over-familiar. Instead, opt for “Buon Giorno” meaning good morning, or “Buona sera” meaning good afternoon/evening. As a rule of thumb, Italians do appreciate it when you at least try and speak Italian with them, so make sure you learn the basics to keep you see you through.