If you follow me on social media,
you'll know that my husband and I just recently moved to Italy after spending three years in Japan. Here are some things I've learned so far in the first month of being here:
1.) "Coffee To Go" Doesn't Exist
Back in the States, you see people walking around everywhere with giant cups of coffee from Starbucks, or whatever their favorite coffee shop is.
Here? Not so much.
As a matter of fact,
Italians don't even believe in Starbucks.
They're either downing shots of espresso at the bar, or drinking a cappuccino.
Depending where in Italy you're at, some cafes might even charge you a fee
(could get pretty pricey)
if you decide to sit down to drink your coffee.
Here in Italy, you order your drink at the bar, shot gun it, and head out on your way.
2.) Recycling Is A Religion
Italians take their recycling very seriously!
They recycle and separate everything, and I mean EVERYTHING!
Not doing so can actually result in some hefty fees. It's so serious, that there is actually an app called "Ambiente Servizi" that will tell you how and where to recycle everything.
The main categories include (but are not limited to): biodegradable waste/biodegradable dry waste, glass, paper, plastic, cardboard, metal...
you get the idea.
For biodegradable waste you have to use special small biodegradable bags, so this trash is taken out every 1-2 days. It's so serious, that you have to separate coffee from coffee pods if you use a Keurig/Nespresso machine.
Even after a month, I'm still learning how to properly recycle.
It can be quite the headache in the beginning, but you slowly get used to it.
3.) Dining Etiquette
This is a whole separate topic in itself, so I'll try not to write an entire book right now.
Most restaurants in Italy are open in the morning till about 2-2:30pm
and then re-opened again at 6:30-7pm.
If you are trying to get food during the closed hours, you might get lucky at a Mcdonald's or a kebab spot, otherwise you're going to have to wait. Breakfast in Italy typically consists of espresso/cappuccino and a pastry.
It's definitely not their
most important meal of the day.
Their biggest meal is lunch.
This is probably the time where they will indulge in the majority of their carbs, and then stick to a somewhat "light" dinner.
Italians also eat dinner very late, so places probably won't be poppin' till about 8-9pm.
They can easily spend 4-5 hours enjoying their dinner, and all of the
different courses that come with it.
Domani, which means "tomorrow"
"we'll get to it, when we get to it".
This is a phrase you might hear quite often in Italy.
Italians lead a very stress free lifestyle.
Back in America or Japan, people live to work, meanwhile in Europe, they work to live.
They're not going to stress about getting things done quickly.
If something's not done right away, that's ok.
There's always tomorrow...
5.)Honking Is Illegal
Unless you're an ambulance, or you've got a life threatening emergency, you can't honk your horn at people when you're driving.
If you need to send a message to someone in another car because they pissed you off, use your hands.
6.)Keep Your Receipts
If you're out and about shopping and doing whatever, hold onto all of your receipts until you get home to be on the safe side.
You can get stopped by police at any time to do a random "receipt" check whether you're walking around or driving, so to avoid any extra headache, just don't throw them away while you're out.
7.) Stop For The Lollipop
(image from google)
While we're on the topic of police, there's a military police force in Italy called "Carabinieri",
and if they lollipop you, you better stop your car unless you want to potentially get shot lol.
The Carabinieri will randomly park on the side of the road, and if they decide to hold out the lollipop looking sign to you, STOP!
They can perform random checks which can include checking your receipts, making sure you don't have anything that can be considered a weapon in your car (ex: bats, golf clubs, knives, ect.), or whatever else they want to check.
8.)Save Your Money!
If you rent a home or an apartment, make sure you have some cash stashed away, because unlike back in the states,
a lot of utilities don't get paid monthly.
Instead you might receive one giant bill at the end of the year (trash for example), or you will receive a bill for other utilities every few months.
9.)Hide Yo' Purse
There is a lot of pickpocketing that goes on in Europe, so hold onto your bags!
While I haven't personally been robbed yet (knock on wood), I have been told to always hold on to my purse and not to have any open tote bags that contain valuable goods.
Pick-pocketers here are very slick, and you won't even notice if they snatch something from you.
10.) Cheap Travel
Travelling in Europe is really cheap compared to other parts of the world, so definitely take advantage of it if you're ever here.
Whether it's flying or taking a train, it won't put a hole in your pocket.