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Just returned from Italy - here's what I learned.....

I learned a few things during our recent trip to Italy. Please understand that I am not a seasoned European traveler (this is only my 2nd trip) so for those veterans who already knew this informtation, be kind!

Rick's guide books were ESSENTIAL to our enjoyment in Italy. We bought one for each region/city we visited as well as his Italian Phrase Book. They were invaluable.

Here's some tips I learned as well:

  1. The purple Fanta is ginger flavored (or something of the sort).

  2. Fried mozarella balls and olives are amazing.

  3. The waffles they serve at most Gelato places in Florence have pea-sized clusters of sugar in them. Be advised they are VERY sweet.

  4. Look around before settling somewhere in the city to eat a picnic. If there are no others doing it, don't.

  5. One of our taxi drivers in Rome demonstrated to another Roman driver that the Hawaian "Hang Loose" sign means something completely different in Italy.

  6. Unless you ask otherwise, pork chops are served rare in Florence.

  7. Espresso in much stronger in Italy.

  8. If the curtain is closed on the antique confessional, don't pull it aside to get a better look. (It wasn't me, I swear!)

  9. Leave your cell phones at home. There's nothing worse than trying to imagine Ceaser leaning against one of the columns in the Forum and being interupted by a rude, obnoxious, American tourist talking loudly on a cell phone.

  10. The yogurt-flavored Gelato is amazing.

As far as clothing is concerned, I got away with Travel Smith-type slacks and short sleeve, button-up shirts. Avoid jeans. I brought a pair and they never left my suitcase. I felt comfortable wearing a t-shirt in Florence, but didn't do it in Rome. Nice shorts seemed to be acceptable on "non-church" days.

Thanks for all the tips and comments. We had a great time!

Posted by
606 posts

And thank you, Derik, for YOUR tips and comments. Excellent! I've especially noted numbers 2 and 4.

And yes, number 7 is true, thank goodness. It's coffee the way Juan Valdez intended.

Posted by
3580 posts

I would add that a typical breakfast in Italy is a quick expresso or cappuccino plus brioche at a local bar or bakery. Last year I paid about E2 for this combo.

Posted by
7737 posts

And if you ask for a "caffe'" you don't get American style coffee, you get an espresso.

Posted by
1317 posts

Number 5 & 8 made me choke on my (unfortunately American) coffee!

What is the yogurt-flavored gelato called?

Posted by
2207 posts

Great comments Derik!

My friends always fall in love with all flavors of Fanta when they come over and yes, the fried mozarella balls ARE incredible!!!!

Thanks for the reminders as sometimes when living here we forget the differences and uniqueness of "what is Italy"!!!!


Posted by
187 posts

Derik thanks for your post. I've been meaning to post something similar from our May 2008 Italy trip.

Posted by
331 posts

Thanks Derik, Its great to hear what you've learned. We will be in italy in July and I am definitely going to be trying fried mozarella balls and Yogurt gelato !

Posted by
466 posts

I wore jeans and never had a a problem. Please take note people shorts are acceptable and are worn by many people (non americans as well). You won't be able to enter a church but you will be comfortable on hot days in Italy. Thanks for your comments Derik!!!

Posted by
7737 posts

Oh, Mark, let's not revive the whole jeans/pants/shorts debate here. That's been beaten to death, hasn't it? Let's just say that there are two distinctly different philosophies at work, okay? (^_^)