Published on: 8 April 2014 | Last updated: 25 March 2018
Forgetting to validate your train ticket
It’s easily done - even if you’ve travelled in Italy a lot. If you do forget then go in search of the capo di treno — don’t wait for them to find you
Forgetting to weigh fruit and veg in supermarkets
A few Italian supermarkets have machines for weighing fruit and vegetables at the checkout, but these are a tiny minority: generally you need to weigh them and attach the price sticker before you go to the checkout
Forgetting to buy a gettone
Most Italian campsites have free showers, but a few use gettoni (tokens). Buy a spare one as well - if there’s one thing worse than getting to the showers and finding you need a token, it’s finding that the gettone runs out just as you’ve covered yourself with soapy suds (although usually, they last for longer than you need).
Asking for a latte … and getting what you asked for
Latte is the Italian for milk if you want a milky coffee ask for a caffe’ latte or a latte macchiato
Leaving off the 0 in phone numbers
If you come from a country where, when dialling international numbers, you remove the first zero you’ll need to remember to leave them on.
Caldo may sound like ‘cold’ but it means hot. I can’t be the only person who’s reached, without thinking, for the tap marked C only to find that the results were the opposite of what I expected (although generally taps and shower mixers are colour-coded blue and red)
Prickly pears are a common sight in central and southern Italy, and the flesh is really tasty. The problem is that the skin is covered in tiny spines, and if you grab hold of one, you can be pulling them out of our hands for days to come. If you know what you are doing, you can cut the skin off without ending up with a hand like a pin cushion, but this is something best left to someone who does know what they are doing
If you still send the occasional postcard, then bear in mind that Italy stamps can be enormous - you write and address your postcards then buy the stamps and then find there’s nowhere to fit the stamp. (If you’re thinking ‘what’s a postcard?’ you can safely ignore this.)
Buongiorno and Buonasera
Buonasera means good evening, but you can hear it in the afternoon, particularly in the south, but it varies a lot. I’ve come to think of it as the Italian equivalent of scissors, paper, stone.
Munirsi con il scontrino
This one’s fairly simple: generally you pay when you’ve drunk your coffee etc, but at places like train stations you’ll be expected to pay first get your till-receipt (scontrino), and then go to order. Gelaterie often do the same thing.