Here are some cultural differences between the United States and Italy that will help you be better prepared and more appreciative of the places you visit. The key to having a wonderful travel experience is thoughtful planning and, more importantly, awareness of the local culture.
Traveling to Italy? Know These Cultural Differences
Food is the country’s pride
Needless to say, Italians take pride in their food almost more than anything else in the world, perhaps only second to soccer! If you want to experience authentic cuisine, get a local’s advice when choosing restaurants. Or at least, try to look around you when you enter one spontaneously. If there are no Italians, perhaps it’s a tourist trap. Resist the temptation of eating at the first establishment you find when leaving the Vatican hungry. Many “restaurants” in highly touristic areas do indeed serve frozen food. And as long as they can continue to trick visitors, they will stay around. Plan ahead and you will not be disappointed!
King-size beds arrived in Italy for tourism
One of the biggest requests we receive when planning trips to Italy for our clients is to ensure there are king-size beds in all accommodations. Unfortunately, depending on the destinations chosen, that is just not feasible. Unless you stay at a large chain hotel, often US-based, King-size beds are simply not available in boutique, family-owned hotels, especially in southern Italy. And even when you are lucky enough to find a king-size bed, the measurement is actually smaller than those found in the US. If this is an absolute must, let your Travel Designer know and they will advise on the best destinations to ensure your needs are met.
Don’t assume AC is provided in every accommodation
When planning a trip with us, we always educate our travelers on expectations based on destinations chosen and ensure that comfort such as AC/heat are provided in every accommodation. One of the complaints we hear the most is that there was either no AC or it didn’t work well enough. Electricity in Italy is very expensive and it is not commonly used. Those who live in condominiums often don’t have mini splits and their heat/AC is automatically controlled by the administrator. If you’re renting an Airbnb, don’t be surprised if there is no AC and stand-alone fans are provided. Most hotels have AC but even then, a typical indoor temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer is often not tolerated by US travelers. If you require a temperature below 70 degrees, a luxury hotel is recommended. You may also want to consider being mindful by turning off the AC and all lights when leaving the room, apartment or villa.
Driving is serious business
In Italy, getting a driving license is quite a thorough process. It starts at 18 years old, it’s expensive and it requires mandatory practice hours with a driving instructor who cannot be a friend or family member. And even after a driving permit is obtained, restrictions apply for the types of vehicles people are allowed to drive in the first year. All of these reasons, along with the complexities of driving in Italian cities, are why we recommend visitors hire local drivers or use public transportation.
Hopefully those cultural differences between Italy and the United States can help you understand the culture and locals’ behavior in a deeper way and be better equipped for your next Italian adventure!
Travel to Italy with Life Beyond the Room!
Life Beyond the Room (LBR) is a sensorial™ travel concierge dedicated
to creating custom, unique itineraries for travelers seeking authentic experiences
immersed in the lifestyle, flavors, and culture of each region. Learn more about our curated group trips to Italy or contact us for custom Italian Travel.