14 Tips On How To Travel Italy Like A Local

14 Tips On How To Travel Italy Like A Local – original author & creator of content

Vernazza in Cinque Terre PHOTO COURTESY OF GRETA OMOBONI

In many parts of the world, tourists are treated differently than locals. If there are ways you can adopt the local customs, you’ll be able to have an authentic experience and have a better understanding of the culture. When I think of places that culture lovers enjoy most and where people dream to visit, I immediately think of Italy. It’s on the top of most people’s bucket lists and even those who have been to Italy dream of returning. It’s easy to see why, Italy is beautiful and has it all –including history, art, architecture, food and wine. Beyond checking off the major tourist sites like the Colosseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, people visit Italy to experience the Italian way of life. With a unique set of customs, traveling in Italy is a much better experience when you have some knowledge and insights from a local.

Recently, I connected with Greta Omoboni, an Italian born and raised in Milan and Sardinia, Italy. Greta is a millennial who offers travel advice on her blog called Greta’s Travels which has articles on things to do throughout Italy like Venice, Milan, Tuscany, Rome, and more. I asked Greta to share tips on how to travel like a local – covering all the do’s and don’ts like when and how to eat in Italy. Save yourself from any potential embarrassment the next time you’re in Italy and read Greta’s 14 ways to travel like a local. For more information on Italy, you can visit the Italian Tourism website.

1. Greet everyone with two kisses

Regardless of age, gender and how well you know them, when you meet someone you greet them with two kisses, one on each cheek. Italians are very affectionate people and aren’t afraid to burst your personal space bubble to say hello. Two kisses are the common greeting in Italy and anything less will just look awkward.

2. Don’t order a cappuccino after 11 AM

Cappuccino is strictly a breakfast drink. If you order one anytime after 11 AM, especially with a meal, people will think you’re either weird or had a huge night out and only just woke up.

VenicePHOTO COURTESY OF GRETA OMOBONI

3. ENJOY A MID-AFTERNOON “RIPOSINO”

Foreigners often complain about shops closing at lunch break. Unfortunately, that is the reality of things in Italy, especially in summer. The stifling noon heat makes everybody hide from the sun during the hottest hours of the day. Take a “riposino” (a nap) and try again after 4pm, you will have better chances of finding open shops.

4. Don’t put ketchup on pasta or pizza

Every time you ask for ketchup in a restaurant you break an Italian chef’s heart. Ketchup is totally acceptable on a burger or fries, but if you put it on pasta or a pizza you will stand out like a sore thumb in Italy and earn yourself some disapproving nods from the people at nearby tables.

5. Start your day with a sweet breakfast

The classic Italian breakfast is a sweet pastry of some sort, a coffee or cappuccino and occasionally orange juice. Most hotels and restaurants won’t even serve a cooked savoury breakfast. So, embrace the start of your new Italian day by heading to the closest bar and ordering “un caffé” to drink at the counter with your croissant and orange juice.

Manarola in Cinque TerrePHOTO COURTESY OF GRETA OMOBONI

6. Dress up

This isn’t just a stereotype, Italians like to dress well. Despite some Italians being casual, the majority are well dressed. So, on your next trip to Italy show off that new dress or pair of sunglasses and you will blend right in with the fashionable locals, especially in Milan.

7. Don’t visit in summer

Summer is the worst time to visit Italy and when a lot of Italians leave the country. With the school holidays and nice weather, tourists from all around the world flock to Italy, making all the prices skyrocket. If you’re visiting a city like Rome or Milan, the Italian heat combined with the crowds will make it a particularly unpleasant experience. Instead, try to visit in spring or autumn, when the weather is still mild, the prices cheaper and places not as overcrowded. Early June is ideal, when the days are still long and the prospect of the upcoming summer puts everyone in a good mood.

8. Don’t stand in lines

Italians have a special way of queuing, they try to avoid it where possible. You will find there are informal queues everywhere you go – whether you’re buying a ticket at the cinema, ordering food at McDonalds, or waiting to board a plane. Lines resemble more of a mob instead of an orderly line. This is normal in Italy and you have to learn to make the most of it if you don’t want the worst seat on the plane. Wiggle your way to the front and stand with the attitude as if that is your rightful spot in the queue. People will rarely challenge you, mostly because to be at the front with you they probably also cut the queue.

Greta Omoboni on a gondola boat tour in VenicePHOTO COURTESY OF CRISTINA FIORENTINI

9. Embrace the “aperitivo” way of life

In case you didn’t know already, Italians love food. Since three meals a day aren’t enough for us to properly enjoy all our tasty cuisine, we decided to add a meal between lunch and dinner; the glorious “aperitivo”. Intended as a pre-dinner this can often turn into a full-on dinner depending on where you are. If you sit down for an aperitivo between 5pm and 8pm, most bars will bring you crisps, pizzas and all sorts of snacks and nibbles with your Aperol Spritz (the aperitivo drink by definition). A lot of places have evolved into the “aperi-cena” where with 10 EUR you can get a drink and an all you can eat buffet. Aperitivo is usually the most common type of social hangout and if you want to really blend in in Italy, consider trying one out.

10. Stop and talk to people

In Italy, no one is in a rush. Regardless of what commitments you may have, if you bump into someone you know in the middle of the street, you stop for a chat. Yes, you might be late for your restaurant reservation, but chatting with the locals is important to better understanding the local way of life and generally people run late anyway. Be polite when someone says hello and remember the phrase “buona giornata” which means “have a good day” when you say bye.

11. Drink only water, wine or beer with meals

Both at home or in restaurants the most common drinks will always be water, beer or wine. Most restaurants don’t serve cocktails. Children can drink sodas with meals but adults should steer clear as it’s perceived to cover up the taste of the food whereas water will allow you to properly enjoy your meal.

Vernazza in Cinque TerrePHOTO COURTESY OF GRETA OMOBONI

12. Do things later

Everything happens later in Italy. You wake up later, have lunch and dinner later, and go to bed later. If you ask your new Italian friends to have dinner any earlier than 7 PM they will look at you in horror.

13. Speak with your hands

Once again, this isn’t just a stereotype. Italians gesture a lot while talking, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We find it adds to the conversation, especially if you’re explaining directions. Give it a go, next time you talk to someone in Italy, throw in some hand gestures for good measure – it will make you easier to understand!

14. Have your coffee at the counter

In Italy, if you order a coffee at the counter you will never pay more than 1 EUR, 1.50 at most. However, if you sit down at a table they can charge you as much as they want because of cost of service to bring it to you. In prime tourist spots such as Piazza Duomo in Milan or Piazza San Marco in Venice this can be even more than 5 EUR. Be like the Italians and save yourself some cash by having your coffee on the go at the counter. You can order it by saying “un caffè per favore”.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/monicahoughton/2018/01/16/14-tips-on-how-to-travel-italy-like-a-local/#716a0b1c6b62

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Airbnb Will Pay For You To Spend This Summer Living An Authentic Italian Life In The Countryside

Fuck. While many of my posts have been about depressing shit like trying to kill myself.. I’d have to say this is the hardest post to write. But, I started writing on this platform to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even if it means I’ll have more competition. I WILL WIN THISSSS!!!

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03 Snowboarding & Suicide Series: How I Used Snowboarding As A Framework To Effectively Set Goals.

Can anyone relate to the feeling of having a semblance of structure in your life but if we’re being real it is a fucking shitshow? You want to improve but deciding where to start is so overwhelming that you just freeze, get back in bed and turn on the TV and tell yourself tomorrow you’ll figure it out.

Every single resource you read about setting goals and effectively executing them will say not to overwhelm yourself with a million new changes at once. This is something that I 100% agree with, but it doesn’t change the fact that I am someone with constant anxiety who overthinks every goddamn thing that comes my way and I was lost as to where to start.

One day, it hit me. This is the beginning of the journey I am on that showed me that snowboarding is my therapy, my rehabilitation while I learn how to want to be alive again.

Here is how it started. I hate exercising and don’t at all devote energy to it unless I decide to take my pup on a walk. When I was younger, I was involved in sports but as I got older it just didn’t matter to me. I was naturally thin and a stoner with a good metabolism so I have the best of both words. Snowboarding is the one thing I actually will push my body to get up & grind for. I always had the goal of going snowboarding more every year, but I was either living in New Orleans during undergrad, or living on Cape Cod where the closest mountains are 2.5-3 hours away.

Now, I live in Portland, Oregon. Mount Hood is an hour to an hour and a half away, open YEAR ROUND, has lift ticket deals regularly, and suddenly I really had no excuse to NOT try to actually do what I have been saying I would for years, and hit the slopes more. I was happy at this realization but then it hit me that while it took days to come up with, and sort of randomly came to me one day, the concept itself seemed easy enough to be able to relay to others.

I am not trying to become a pro snowboarder//
*Rather, snowboarding is what clears my mind & is a healthy hobby that I can focus on for FUN, happiness, and a foundation for my goals.

So, I started with the fact that I have a shitload of things in my life I would like to improve. From health & wellness, to diet, finances, being more organized, exploring Oregon more, creativity, relationships, self-care the list goes on… it was a lot. When I decided that SNOWBOARDING would be the sort of “umbrella term” on my goal planning strategy, all of the other aspects fell into place.

If you choose an umbrella term type goal like I did, one that takes a little more effort than just doing 4 minutes of jogging a day (which is still an accomplishment, don’t get me wrong, just not enough to set up a blueprint for a life changed by reaching your goals.

If I accomplish my goal of going to the mountain more & improving my skills on a snowboard, I would have to do a few things to do it well and efficiently, and these things happen to fall under the categories that I wanted to improve in overall.

For instance:
1) Health/Wellness/Fitness: If I was going to be able to snowboard more frequently & improve my skills then I would need to be both healthy & improve my physical strength & stamina.
2) Diet & Nutrition: How can I be healthy, fit, and well without a healthy and nutritious diet?
3) Finances: I can’t waste money on delivery & late night Amazon prime shopping if I am budgeting for this new healthy goal plan.
4) Organization: Checking & keeping track of days with reduced lift ticket prices and ensure I clear my schedule that day. If it is a set day of the week, I must be sure to request work off and get my gear ready.
5) Exploring Oregon: There are three different resort sites within 2 hours of my house – that’s exploring in my book!
6) Relationships: I can see if any friends want to join me, or make some friends at the lodge because if all goes as planned, I will be there often!
7) Self-Care: I have been looking for a healthy and exciting way to practice self-care and since the ONLY FREAKING SINGULAR TIME I can shut the overthinking off and be in the moment is on the mountain, this is a perfect fit!!!
8) Creativity: I started this blog because of how much inspiration I felt when snowboarding became the impetus to me jumpstarting my life. I have already begun to integrate riskier little tricks and things on the mountain, which I hope to continue. Lastly, my love of photography has become a part of my life again since the views are insane up there.

By finding one activity that brings me joy, something I already had the gear and experience for, and something that is completely possible with just slight tweaks and positive changes to accomplish, I was able to hit all of my categories of goals without feeling stressed out.

I know that snowboarding won’t be everyone’s thing, but I encourage y’all to give it a thought for a second. I have to say the moment this thought became clearer to me I truly felt a weight lift off my shoulders and I finally felt like I had a direction to head in.

Stay Weird Guys 🙂

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