When in Rome… Do as the Romans do and Other practical travel advice

Learn about the culture and customs of your destination. Know something about the politics. So fundamental is this advice that the US government provides Background Notes for you! Check out the Travel Warnings too.

You Call This a Line?

Italians would never make it through American first grade – lining up single file just doesn’t come naturally. Yet, “cutters” are not tolerated. To avoid looking like a total dunce, don’t be polite and let others get ahead of you. Pay attention to who came in ahead and after you and assert your place when the time comes for service at a bar or restaurant.

Those Famous Bathrooms

The most accessible bathrooms are those found in bars – but don’t expect to find toilet paper at most of them. The major tourist sites have the most modern facilities and you can expect to part with coins for both the attendants who work there and the stalls themselves. Fast food restaurants and department stores may provide decent bathrooms, as well. By the way, there is often a cord in the shower/toilet in the small hotels of Italy. This is an emergency cord, so don’t pull it expecting hot water or a toilet flush!

The Almighty Lira, Now the Euro

Offering a shopkeeper a L50,00 or L100,00 note when you’re buying a bottle of shampoo is the equivalent of trying to buy a postcard with a $100 bill. Take care, too, not to use a credit card to pay for items costing L10,000 or so. Don’t be an annoying tourist – observe the same monetary courtesies you would at home And did you know that prices are rounded up to the nearest L50?

No Need to Walk a Mile for a Smoke

Cigarettes can only be sold legally by tabacchi (tobacconists), which are housed in buildings with bold white T’s on black or dark blue signs. You won’t just find tobacco there, which makes the tabbachi fun to visit. Expect to see any or all of the following: salt, postage stamps, official stamps and stationary you need when dealing with Italian bureaucracy, bus/Metro/train tickets, phone cards, lottery tickets, sweets, toiletries, postcards, and souvenirs.

Italian Wolves

Yes, we’re talking about men! Female travelers need to use the same basic common sense that protects them at home. Ignore unwanted advances and they will probably go away. In Rome, the Piazza di Spagna and Fontana di Trevi are the spots where young Italian men prowl for foreign ladies. If you want to avoid being prey, head for the areas around Campo dei Fiori, Testaccio and Trastevere. But wherever you are, expect more attentention than usual form the Italian male.


Condoms can be purchased at supermarkets or at pharmacies, but they tend to be more expensive than they are in America, so you might want to pack a few of your own from home. Feminine products are sold in supermarkets and drugstores.

What Can I Say?

Acceptable topics for conversation: soccer, family affairs, business, local news.

Unacceptable topics: American football and politics (it’s probably wise to lay off religion, as well).

For the Reading Public

Rome has a huge assortment of libraries. If you’re there to do some research, bring lots of patience. You’ll spend more time than you’d like dealing with red tape and longing for the Dewey Decimal System.

Hitting the Best Beaches in Italy

Summer is one of the best times to visit Italy and the southern part around Sicily has some amazing beaches.  The climate and the warm waters of the Mediterranean allow you to enjoy the water and soak up the sun all year long.  The coast has plenty of different regions for you to check out, so if you plan on spending your summer in Italy you can start hitting the best beaches in Italy.


Mondello is close to Palermo, the largest city in Sicily and it is one of the most well-known tourist destinations in the area.  Aside from having an amazing beach there is a pretty cool fishing village nearby that has tons of food and sporting events.  If you love pizza then you really need to try it here.  Here is a closer look at Mondello and everything you can do here.

The Beaches at Taormina

Taormina is the jewel of the Mediterranean and the beach can be found in Mazzaro.  Here you can find marine reserves and sea caves.  Make sure to stop by Isola Bella it is a small island that connects via a small beach to the mainland.

San Vito lo Capo

You can find this beach on the western coast of Sicily in Trapani, it is like going back in time.  You can visit the natural reserve of Zingaro which is famous for the “tonnare” an ancient method of fishing for tuna.  There are reefs, capes and miles of sandy beaches.  While you are here make sure to check out The Island of Currents, it is the southern tip of Europe.

The Beaches of Ragusa

If you want miles of white sandy beaches with crystal clear water then you need to head to the beaches of Ragusa, there are 4 beaches here that you will absolutely love; Marina di Ragusa, Marina do Modica, Pozzallo and Sampieri.  Be sure to check them out while you’re here.

Here are some things that you need to remember while you are checking out the beaches in Italy:

  • Tourist season is July and August, you might find the beaches less crowded in June and September
  • Some beaches will charge admission, bring some cash with you
  • Lifeguards are only available between 8am and 6pm
  • Some beaches are topless, not all, so always check beforehand
  • Don’t swim too far out from the shore the water can get dangerous
  • If you see a red flag that means there are dangers from bad weather
  • To call the coast guard in Italy use 117 and not 911

Italy is beautiful no matter when you decide to travel there but the beaches in the summertime are one of the best times to be there.