You've probably heard stories about Americans being loud and obnoxious while traveling abroad. We've witnessed that type of behavior first hand more than once while traveling in Italy. Debbie and I are fairly quiet people, so this is not a problem for us, but we do try to be excellent ambassadors for the US while we travel. While our Italian skills are very limited, we rarely start our conversations in an osteria or a shop with "Do you speak English?" We've taken a couple of night school courses like "Italian For Tourists" and have language apps on our phones which really come in handy. It's always fun to make an effort to speak the language, and most of the time it is appreciated. Don't be surprised if the server corrects your Italian a bit, usually with a laugh or a smile. How else will you learn?
A few other quick notes on how not to be an Ugly American: Don't ask everyone for the price in dollars; know the exchange rate and try to figure it out yourself. Try to be respectful in the way you dress. Saying things like "That's not how we do it in the States," gets fairly tiresome to hear. Most of what happens in Italy won't be how you do it at home, so the best thing to do is get out of your comfort zone and enjoy the wonderful culture. And, there are so many great coffee bars in Italy, that there is no reason to go to McDonald's or Starbucks. Come on, you're in Italy, after all.
Photos below are mostly places you'll miss if you only seek out familiar restaurants...
If you get a chance, check out Smarter Travel's blog for a lot of useful advice and information.
|La Stella Ristorante in San Gimignano.|
|Lucca dining al fresco.|
|On the Rialto Bridge in Venice.|
|At the Duomo in Florence.|
|Off the beaten path in Florence.|
|Off the beaten path in Florence 2.|
|Having snacks and a glass of wine in Cinque Terre.|
|At Cane e Gatto for lunch in Siena.|
|Aperitivi and cocktails in Milan.|
|Lunch in Bergamo.|
|Wine and snacks in Bergamo waiting for the funicolare.|