Do and Do Not in Italy

So you want to blend in as an Italian?

If you do not want to be picked on by street vendors trying to sell you something or approached by some horrible restaurant hawker just off some historical landmark, or be thought less of by a restaurant server, please follow some basic rules:

Avoid this restaurant with your last breath. Even if you are starving!  It's in English dummy.

Do Not do the Following!

1. Eat within a one block radius of a grossly famous landmark, like the Duomo in Florence. In fact, you can avoid eating in Venice altogether. Eat in Verona or Padua.

2. Wear your waterproof jacket from REI or North Face. Remember, stylish and wet is better.

3. Under no circumstances, wear a scarf from Gryffindor.

These are tourists in Venice.

These are tourists in Venice.

4. Put on Tennis/Athletic/Cross trainer shoes UNLESS you plan on actually jogging. Totally appropriate.

4. Wear red pants, not appropriate in winter. Ochre color is the winter color.

5. Wear a Baseball cap. Don't wear one, wear a watchmens cap instead.

6. Wear cargo pants. No. Those are for work related activitiesin the United States of America.

7. Wear flannel. No Italian wears flannel, unless they are out hunting or laying brick. 

8. Use a selfie stick. You will be tempted. It's a scourge that needs eradication.

9. Hipster alert! Please don't be fussy at restaurants by asking that your bottled water is "room temp". It's totally an American trying to show that they know Italian culture, when you actually don't. You look like a jack ass.

10. Ask for more grated Parmigiano on your pasta. In fact don't even think about using the grated Parm your server is going to put on your table; that is bait to see if you're an American. 

Please Do the Following

1. Scarf in winter. Wear one. In fact they asked me at customs in Milan if I had one with me. I thinks it's a new law in the EU, I could be wrong.

2. Consider taking up cigarette smoking again. You may not be able to smoke indoors, but many Italian smoke. I'm a fan of the Man with no Name cigars Clint Eastwood smoked in all those Spaghetti Westerns. Do not underestimate these cigars. They are harsh and smell like an out of control mesquite wood barbecue fire.

There are two kinds of people in this world,  those with cigars and tourists.

There are two kinds of people in this world,  those with cigars and tourists.

3. Down jackets are fine. Excessively gaudy, over-stuffed, brightly colored down jackets are permitted, but you should probably have a shaved head and stylish glasses on as well, as if you just got off the slopes and this is apres ski ware.

4. Jeans are ok. Plenty of Italians wear jeans. Ripped open knees seem to be the trend right now.

5. Leather shoes. A must.

6. Unnecessarily carry an umbrella and open it under THREAT of rain. Very European. It doesn't actually have to be raining at all, just looking like it's going to rain.

7. Consider renting a small dog to walk each evening. The smaller the dog, the better.  Don't worry about picking up after your dog, no one will mind.

8. Rent a bike, ride it through crowded streets while talking on your cell phone, with a bag of groceries lashed to your other hand and the handlebars of the bike. Very Italian.

9. If you are with your significant other, randomly stop on busy streets and go full on High School Make-Out Mode. Age in not a factor. Just do it. Make-out as long as you like. 

10.  When boarding a train, get as close to the door and passengers off-loading from the train as possible. Consider partially blocking the door and offering a 1000 yard stare toward each passenger, for the inconvenience of having to wait for them to leave.