8 Mistakes People Make When They Move to Italy
By: Liz Flynn
For many people, Italy is a country where they would love to live. There are many reasons why people may choose to make the move, such as a new career, a different type of lifestyle or retirement. However, when people take the plunge and move to their dream destination, they often make many mistakes as they adapt to the Italian culture. Here are eight of the most common.
1. Liking Things
When you first move to Italy, you will want to let people know what you do and do not like. However, the grammatical structure of language is confusing to many foreigners who move to the country and they find they are not expressing themselves correctly. The Italian verb for ‘liking’ is ‘piacere’. You need to say ‘me piace’ if you like something and this literally translates as ‘it likes me’. The plural form for ‘I like them’ is ‘a me piacciono’.
While people in the United States tip for everything, there is not the same tipping culture in Italy or many other European countries. A tip is not an expectation but if you do want to leave one, simply round up your bill to the nearest 0 or 5.
3. Train Tracks
Trains are one of the most common ways of getting around in Italy. However, there is a specific system you must follow when buying a ticket or you face landing yourself in trouble. You must first buy the ticket and then have it validated in a machine at the station. If you are found on board the train having not first validated your ticket, you can get thrown off the train and get given a fine. This is a situation that many foreigners find themselves in because they do not understand the system. If you make this mistake, it is important to find the conductor on the train and tell them you have forgotten to avoid getting in trouble.
4. Using Bank Cards
Strictly speaking, there is an Italian law that forces Italian businesses to allow customers to pay for any purchases totalling over €5 heir cards. However, this law is rarely enforced and many shopkeepers ignore it entirely. Italy consists mainly of small and medium-sized businesses. It is too expensive for them to pay the fees associated with card transactions, so they do not take card payments. Therefore, do not be surprised if your request to pay by card is denied as cash is usually the preferred method of payment.
5. Expecting Fresh Milk
In most countries, it is an expectation that you will visit the local grocery store or supermarket and find a good supply of fresh milk. This is not the case in Italy and if you live there it is something you must get used to when you are shopping. In Italy, UHT is the norm in most shops. Similarly, very few places serve anything other than full-fat cow’s milk.
6. Kissing Rules
Of all the social etiquette rules in Italian society, it is kissing that probably causes the most confusion. What is even more confusing is that different rules apply in different areas. In general, kissing as a greeting is informal, so do not kiss people such as your boss or the bank manager. In informal situations, men and women kiss in greeting and women meeting other women will also kiss. In the central and northern regions of Italy, it is unusual for two men to greet each other with a kiss. In southern regions and Sicily, men kissing in greeting is more common. If you are unsure, following the lead of other people or wait for them to make the first move.
7. Drinking Too Much
As wine is one of the major food and drink products of this country, people often assume that the Italians are big drinkers. However, drinking too much at a party is seriously frowned upon. When attending events, it is important to take this into consideration.
While it is important to turn up for work and for meetings on time, it is the norm in informal situations to arrive late. In fact, arriving punctually to a party is almost considered rude and you will be stood alone. In most cases, half an hour after the time stated on the invitation is considered polite.
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