I spent most of September in Italy working. I visited with trusted, long standing business partners and brainstormed new ideas. I learned about all their fantastic new offerings, (for example a full day trip from Florence to visit the Ferrari Factory & Museum near Modena) and forged new relationships with outstanding service providers such as Michele, owner of Il Mangia Viaggi in Sienna. I also explored new locations and met up with some of my clients who were in Italy at the same time. What a treat!
But whenever I’m in Italy I also get to see my family and friends and spend time simply “living an everyday life” in my home country. So I get to enjoy the lifestyle I grew up with, like catching up with my friends for an “aperitivo” (before dinner drinks), and do mundane things like a grocery store run for my mother or a trip to the post office to ship off a package to my dear friend Maria.
I’m so comfortable with everyday life stuff in Italy that I never gave it much thought. I know that I need to pay first and then place my order for my espresso, to take a number at the Bank, to act like I would here on a “yield” at a stop sign while driving.
I don’t know why but something clicked this trip and I started noticing things that are “different” in Italy from what I’m now used to in the US. Here are a few, very quirky ones. Not all of them may be relevant for traveling purposes, but I thought they would give you an insight into what the Italians do.
Going grocery shopping? Don’t forget to bring coins!
Shopping carts at grocery stores require a 50 Cents or a 1 Euro coin to operate. The mechanism will give you the coin back once you return the shopping cart to the designated area.
Paying the toll on a tollroad? Make sure you choose the right lane.
There are 3 types of tollbooths in Italy: the Telepass ones (equivalent to the US EZ-Pass, I-Pass, etc.); the cash booths and “Viacard” booths. These last ones are for credit cards payments only.
Paying in cash at any establishment? Put your money on the counter.
Italians don’t hand money when paying or providing change for a payment. Both the customer and the attendant put the money on the counter between them and let the other grab them. And the receipt is never put in the bag!
Getting an espresso? Drink your water first.
Especially in central/southern Italy your espresso (caffe’) will come with a shot glass full of water. Despite what a lot of Italians think, the ideas is to drink the water before your espresso, so you can cleanse your palate and enjoy its full taste and aroma.
Do you have any further examples collected in your travels to Italy?