‘All roads lead to Rome!’
There are two categories of travelers: those who want to travel by their heart’s pleasure and don’t care about labels and those who desperately want to blend in. Whether they see it as a sign of respect or they are simply very bored, people who want to behave like locals can easily fall into ridiculous if they don’t play their cards well.
Meaning: it’s good to try to behave or look like a local but it’s horrible to fall into the other extreme. Thus, take a look at the following list of dos and don’ts and discover how you can understand the Italian culture without pissing off anyone.
How Not to Look Like a Tourist in Rome: the Dos and Don’ts
1. Do salute people in restaurants, bars, coffee places or even the street with a warm ‘Buongiorno.’ Remember that ‘ciao’ used as a substitute for both ‘Hi’ and ‘bye’ is used mostly among friends.
2. Do accept the fact that when they meet, Italians kiss on the cheek. First on the left, second on the right. While some nations might not be accustomed to this, Italians take their kissing very seriously. If you know what I mean!
3. Do wear nice clothes. And by nice I don’t mean flip-flops, sneakers or jeans with giant holes in them. Try substituting them for pumps, discreet heels or a stylish scarf.
4. Do try to speak the language as much as you can. Italians are quite nationalistic when it comes to their country or language so you might find people who are not very good friends with English. Just make sure you have a dictionary close because when you start a conversation with an Italian you will surely have a lot to talk about. And if you don’t, they will!
5. Do respect the elderly. Italians have a very keen sense of family and show respect to their elders even if they don’t have the closest relationship in the world.
1. Don’t accept things on the street, from strangers. At first they will tell you that it’s ‘for good luck,’ ‘because you’re pretty’ or ‘because they need money’ but try to ignore them. Why? Because they don’t normally stop to a few coins. They will want more and they will bug you until you give it to them.
2. Don’t throw coins in every fountain you see. Romans know that the only place to throw coins in it’s the Fontana di Trevi. Think of it if you want as a bar that gives free booze to those who have a drinking problem. It’s the mecca of wishes!
3. If you’re a man, don’t start kissing a man if you don’t know him. ‘But you said’…..I know what I’ve said and I’m not taking it back. But you can surely imagine that two men meeting for the first time and kissing is a bit out there. Even for Italians!
4. Don’t dip your feet into fountains. ‘Again with the fountains,’ you’d say. ‘What are you working for a water company?’ Yes I am a bit obsessed with fountains because there are lots of them and because Rome gets quite hot during the summer. The urge to dive into the fountain is incredible but it must be stopped.
5. Don’t leave garbage on the streets. This is not necessarily specific to a certain country or place. It’s common sense and you should try respecting it. Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like to be done to you!
What about you, travelers? Do you have any other tips on blending in when you go to different countries?