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Do’s and Don’ts When Visiting Italy Do try to speak the language. Italians appreciate the effort, but may respond in English as they love to practice what they’ve learned. Here’s a tip on the confusing pronunciations of “c” – Just remember that the letter “c” followed by an “i” or “e” has the English “ch” sound (such as ciao – pronounced chow), while a “ch” followed by an “i” or “e” has the English “k” sound. Thus, che, meaning “what” is pronounced kay.

Do expect to walk a lot – wear comfortable shoes – but try to avoid sneakers unless you really want to stand out as an American tourist.

Do wear stylish clothing if you want to fit in with Italians. They take pride in their appearance.

Do make reservations. If you know there’s a restaurant you want to eat at, call ahead and reserve. Reservations are common at most nice restaurants, especially for dinner.

Don’t be surprised to find businesses and shows closed for an hour or two between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Most Italians take a two-hour break to return home for lunch. Take this time to enjoy a leisurely lunch of your own.

Do dress appropriately when visiting churches. When entering any church in Italy, be sure that your shoulders, knees and midriff are covered. When entering St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, numerous inspectors will give you the once over, so don’t even try to get in wearing shorts or a tank top.

Don’t eat and do turn off cell phones when visiting museums and churches. Do keep your voice down also.

Don’t rent a car with manual transmission (the most common) if you are not comfortable with it. Pay the extra amount for an automatic.

Do ask about a VAT (value-added tax) refund when you purchase more than 155 euros of goods in one store. If the store participates in the “Tax Free for Tourists,” you can get this 19% tax, called the Imposta sul Valore Aggiunto or IVA, refunded at the airport on your way home.

Do keep track of your purchases as U.S. Customs will ask you about them when you return to the country. You can bring up to $800 worth of goods back to the U.S. without paying duty. If you bring back more, don’t even try to lie. The penalties are stiff.

Do expect a 10%-15% service charge to be added to your restaurant bill and do leave a small tip on top of that if the service was good (don’t leave the American 15% however.)

Do tip taxi drivers about one euro, more if it was a longer trip.

Now that you know the “do’s and don’ts” choose from one of our escorted tours of Italy!


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