5 easy steps to becoming a good tourist in Italy

COSI good tourist

 

 

This month the COSI crew has been insanely busy from trips overseas, wedding planning, the usual frustrating meltdowns associated with day to life in Italia and vlogging (yes, we are now officially coming at you in all directions!)

Our distinct group has decided to put our clever little heads together to give you many pearls of wisdom for your next trip to Italy.

I haven’t been as organized as the rest of the group so no video from me for now, but I’m sure you will be seeing my ‘ugly mug’ soon enough (sorry for the Australian slang ‘mug’ meaning face, I am reconnecting to my Ozzie roots and have gone all native for now and am loving it 😉 )

Here are my 5 tips on how to be a good tourist in Italy.

1) Don’t complain too much

So it really doesn’t matter if you can’t track down your favorite candy bar or if they do things differently here. Italy is an old country so things are kinda slow, it will be dusty and a little dirty but that’s to be expected.

Nothing is going to be like home so go with it, embrace the difference, stop swiping your smartphone and savor life the Italian way. You will be stepping into another magical world embrace the change. Try to eat, live and drink like the locals, even if you don’t usually drink wine or eat pasta, forget all your diets, leave the beer behind for a bit and be like an Italian. Try each regional and local speciality from fresh pastas, cheeses, cold cuts, breads, drinks and desserts. Just live in the moment and stop being uptight, don’t program every moment just allow yourself to explore and discover Italy, walk around, observe and be open, this country is filled with surprises which will astound you.

2) Dress appropriately

If you don’t want to feel out of place or get stared at. Italians are impeccable dressers and so hot pants, wife beaters and skin tight jeans aren’t going to cut it. Dress neatly, do your hair and try to look smart. I know it will be hot in the summer too don’t strip off your clothes, it is not suitable. If you intend to visit important attractions and churches, bring a scarf to cover bare arms or legs, it is only respectful. Your dress will also identify you as a tourist and could make you a target for pick pockets, shifty souvenir vendors and horny Italian men who can be a little aggressive. What can I say? Italians are superficial, they can read a lot about a person by their dress, so make an effort and you will fit in better and feel a little more fashionable, it is worth the effort.

3) If you are coming to Sicily, don’t make jokes about the Mafia

 No country wants to be identified or recall the worst part of their recent history. Look beyond the stereotypes do not try to reinforce them. Sicily isn’t about organized crime it is about ancient history and art. La Sicilia is made up of nine diverse provinces each with its own distinct traditions and cuisine to explore: Agrigento, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa and Trapani. Explore all of Sicily, it’s the largest island in the Mediterranean and you won’t do it in a couple of days 😉

4) To avoid being ripped off by money exchange rates

Or without the pain of having to track down an American Express office for travelers cheques, try taking money out from an ATM, you will be charged only for using another banks ATM but it is handy. Talk to your bank about it. It is always a good idea to take some cash as some places don’t accept credit cards.

5) Don’t say ‘Ciao’ to everyone

You say ‘Buongiorno’ (in the morning) / ‘Buonasera’ (in the afternoon) and ‘Grazie’ all the time. Be polite rather then friendly, Italians will appreciate the effort. It would be nice if you try to learn a little Italian, just the basics even if you study a phrase book or download a couple of podcasts to listen to on the way to work a few weeks before you leave. It is amazing how friendly Italians can be when they see you are trying to experience their culture and country by attempting to speak in their language. I think Italians get a bad wrap for being arrogant to tourists but often they have seen so many tourists come through who simply don’t say ‘grazie’, try it and you will notice. Having a basic vocabulary will help you navigate Italy better and understand more of what is going on around you too.

Buon viaggio allora ….

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10 thoughts on “5 easy steps to becoming a good tourist in Italy

    1. Yes, I don’t know why some people travel only to be complaining all the time, if they expect Italy to be like home, perhaps they should have simply stayed home?!?

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  1. Italians are gracious and polite, and appreciate us trying to use their language.

    I especially like the manner in which everyone says Buongiorno upon entering a shop, or fronting up at a market stall. I’ve brought that practice home, and have found so many shop keepers look surprised, then pleased, to be acknowledged.

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  2. Great post Rochelle, it astounds me about how many people would go to somewhere like Sicily and start cracking jokes about the mafia as if it was some movie and not reflective of a true, and very sad reality. I really enjoyed this lineup, these are wonderful tips!

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  3. Great read, couldn’t agree more, seems like too many people travel without using common sense. Why would you ever go to another country and expect it to be the same as home?! Seems crazy to me. Oh and we use “mug” here in the US too. 🙂

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