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.

Unmentionables

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.

A Quest for Culture

No tour of Europe would be complete without taking the time to stop and see Italy.  Located in Southern Europe facing the beautiful Mediterranean, Italy is rich in culture and history and never fails to impress even the most jaded of tourists.  Italy has some fascinating cities that should be on your must see list including Venice, Florence, Naples and of course Rome.  If you’re on a quest for culture then Italy has everything that you’re looking for, here are some of the highlights of Italy.

Rome

Rome is the center of Italian history and politics.  Rome is still the center of the Roman Catholic Church and millions of tourists come here every year to visit the sacred site.  Many Catholics come to Rome not only to see the Pope, visit the Sistine Chapel but as a devotion to their faith.  Lovers of history also flock to Rome to see all the other sites that Rome has to offer.  The Roman Coliseum is just one of the many sites to add to your bucket list.  Architecturally stunning it stands as a symbol of the majesty of ancient Rome.

Florence

One of the greatest periods in Italian history is the Renaissance period and it all began in the city of Florence.  You can still see evidence of that era in the art and architecture that defines the city.  Stop and visit some of the cities many galleries and museums such as Museo dell’Opera del Duomo or the Medici Chapel.  If you want to see an amazing view of Florence the climb the 414 steps of Il Duomo, Florence will be laid out at your feet.

Venice

No trip to Italy would be complete without taking a ride down the canals of Venice.  Venice is separate from mainland Italy and the locals rely almost exclusively on water transportation to get around.  There is no city in the world that is quite like Venice, it is a haven for lovers.  Venice has a romantic backdrop, soft music and the food is incredible.  Lovers come to Venice for the idyllic honeymoon.  The city has some historical landmarks that you should see while you are here, be sure to check out St Mark’s Square and the Piazzo San Marco.

We could spend days going over the many places to visit in Italy and experience the local culture.  These three cities are but a few, there is also wine country and the Alps in the north.  Italy is one of the most incredible countries in all of Europe, take as much time as you possibly can to tour the country at your leisure.