This post originally appeared on The Iceberg Project – check it out here!
Coming to Italy and want to know how not to stand out among the Italians? Read on below.
1.) Harming others with your selfie sticks
Imagine you’re walking down the street.
You’ve got heavy groceries in a thin plastic bag in one hand, and a paper bag full of bread, swaddled like a baby and propped on your hip, on the other.
The plastic bag is threatening to break under the weight of your acquisitions and your arm has gone numb from holding the bread as a result of being bent at an odd angle for the last 15 minutes.
Only two more blocks to go, you think, before I can climb the 100 steps to my apartment and have a break.
Then, out of no where, WHAP!
Someone swings their selfie stick, hitting you smack in the face.
Your bread goes flying into the Arno, and your bag of groceries finally succumbs under its own weight.
You’re distraught – all that hard work, money, and time.
When you turn to face the culprit, the tourist smiles happily, completely unaware.
Who cares what happens to you, dear local, as long as she gets her perfect shot, lips pouty, Ponte Vecchio behind her.
2.) Being loud
Have you ever been to one of those science museum rooms where someone whispers something on one side of a room and you, standing on the other, can hear it perfectly because of the shape of the walls?
The same principle applies in small alleyways in Italy.
Your voice, bouncing off the buildings and cobblestones, carries perfectly into the quiet homes above.
Please use your indoor voice, outdoors, when visiting.
What’s more, if you know that you get louder the more that you drink, then please, drink mindfully.
3.) Random stopping in the middle of doorways, and sidewalks
Despite the fact that you need to consult your map, sidewalks, doorways and streets are still places of movement.
Locals are coming and going, and other tourists are on to their next destination.
This is made even more frustrating when “excuse me”, “scusi”, “permesso”, “scusemoi” and any number of other words across a spectrum of languages for “move” are used, to no avail.
4.) Making gross generalizations
If you’re going to make gross generalizations, the least that you can do is never let a local hear you do it.
Saying “Italians do it like this…” after two days in Florence is like only visiting the strip in Las Vegas and then telling everyone how all Americans prefer fake beaches to real beaches and everything is open 24 hours.
Since you know those gross generalizations aren’t true about Americans, please don’t make them about Italians.
All Italians do not eat their pasta al dente, not everyone rides motorini and not everyone takes 2 hour lunch naps in the afternoon.
Please, leave the generalizations at the door as you exit the plane.
5.) The way you pronounce “grazie”
Unless you were born and raised in Naples, Italy, “thank you” is pronounced, GRAH-tsee-eh.
It is not pronounced grahtz, grah-tzee, grah-zay, or any other combination of the word.
6.) Learning NONE of the language
While this won’t be a problem for the readers of this website, not even bothering to learn “grazie” or “per favore” drives locals crazy.
Since this won’t be a problem for you, you can do locals a favor by encouraging all of your friends who plan on visiting Italy to learn a handful of words.
7.) Visiting major tourist spot without knowing anything about them
While this might not be shared by all locals, it is a particular pet peeve among many when tourists follow the crowd by going to major attractions without knowing anything about them, like looking at the David and not knowing what it is or who made it.
Take the time to read up on the basic facts, and it’s guaranteed you’ll enjoy the sights much more and annoy the locals a lot less.
8.) Buying items from illegal street vendors
The illegal street vendors in Italy are a huge economic burden for the country.
They don’t pay taxes, the goods often come from illegal sweatshops, and often times those selling them, don’t have visas or permits.
If you love Italy, please stop buying from them, and support the Italians who work hard and pay a lot of money in taxes to follow the rules.
9.) Giving money to gypsies
Lesson #1: Gypsies are not poor people who are down on their luck and desperately need a hand out.
They belong to a culture where begging for money is the norm, and despite what their sign says, they won’t use your euro to go feed their babies.
Every “sad” gypsie on the street has access to Italian health care, Italian social services and even food programs, so please stop giving them money.
If you must give them something, just go by them a “ricarica”, or credit, for their smartphone. The gypsies on my street had the iPhone 6 before I did.