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Travel Advice : 6 Reasons Italy May Not Be For You

Normally I would be the first one waxing poetic about why you should take a trip to Italy.  That being said, I have come to the realization that Italy may not be for everyone {shocking, I know!}.  This Travel Tip Tuesday I wanted to flip the script and talk about how to know if Italy should be on your destination list.

Before you decide to make Italy your next vacation, check out these six reasons Italy may not be for you.

1.  You think that Pizza Hut and Olive Garden are REAL Italian food. Will you be upset and turn your nose up at fresh, authentic food only available in Italy?  Will you whine and complain about the fact that delicious Italian food doesn’t taste like your favorite salt-laden dish at the Olive Garden or that Italy’s pizza doesn’t have a stuffed crust?  Italy may not be for you.

2.  You must have modern conveniences. Are you used to having excellent wi-fi and having elevators at your disposal no matter where you go? Don’t think that Italian’s laundry blowing in the breeze on a clothes line is charming? Italy is an ancient country, full of history – and as such doesn’t always have updated or the latest and greatest in technology, equipment or appliances.  If this will bother you, Italy may not be for you.

3.  You must stick to standard operating hours. Used to hitting the bank or running errands during lunch hour?  Want the flexibility of having a late lunch or early dinner at your favorite restaurant?  Italy has different operating hours than the U.S.  Stores, banks and post offices generally close from around 12pm-3pm and many restaurants have strict lunch and dinner hours, which may require you to put some effort into planning your day. If you refuse to adjust your schedule and expect otherwise, Italy may not be for you.

4.  You hate graffiti. Perhaps you won’t find as much in the smaller village towns, but you should expect buildings in larger cities to be littered with graffiti.  If you expect sparkling clean surroundings free of artistic expression, like you see in the movies, Italy may not be for you.

5. You expect everyone to speak English.  Not even remotely interested in learning a little Italian or bringing along an Italian-English dictionary? Are you just assuming that everyone in Italy must speak English and cop an attitude when someone doesn’t?  Well, not only is that rude on your part, but it is unreasonable.  Many Italians in larger cities speak English, but don’t expect to hold lengthy in-depth conversations in English. If you refuse to learn a bit of Italian {Italians actually love and appreciate when you try to speak their language} or will be annoyed at the locals when you can’t communicate, Italy may not be for you.

6.  You live life in the fast lane. You have limited time in Italy and you want to make the most of it.  You enjoy packing your itinerary chock full and running from place to place.  You set aside exactly one hour for a museum visit and count on having quick, sit-down meals - no more than 30 minutes.  Italians live life at a slower pace and often enjoy 2-3 hour meals. If you can’t relax, slow down and enjoy the moment, Italy may not be for you.

So, have you decided that Italy is definitely for you?  If so, click here to see how I can help plan your trip!

And speaking of Italy, lets see what travel tips Cherrye has for us today?

  • User Gravatar
    Tiffany Eckhardt
    April 6th, 2010

    All the reason to “Not” travel to Italy, sounds like reasons “To” travel to Italy….I’d love the fresh food, slower pace, historic inconveniences and possibly picking up a little of the language. It is a dream of mine to visit someday soon!

    Me too, but not everyone is like us! ;)

  • User Gravatar
    Leslie
    April 6th, 2010

    Those 6 reasons you have just listed above “Why Italy may not be for you” are some of the very reasons I Love Italy!
    Thank you!

    You are welcome. I guess you are in the SHOULD visit camp then!

  • User Gravatar
    Melanie
    April 6th, 2010

    Great! You speak the truth, Robin!

    Well…this time anyway Mel ;)

    .-= Melanie´s last blog ..Murals of Orgosolo, Sardinia =-.

  • User Gravatar
    Loulou
    April 6th, 2010

    SO true! I know people who want to come visit us in France, but I know they will go crazy with the lack of customer service, no ice, lunches that take more than 25 minutes, coffee after dessert, closed shops on Sundays and during lunchtimes, etc. I hope they never come because I would rather they keep their “dream” of rural France than come here and have it shattered.

    I agree 100% on how you would rather them stay home. Saves you from the constant complaining ;)

    .-= Loulou´s last blog ..Moving to France Tutorial – Part Three =-.

  • User Gravatar
    ER
    April 6th, 2010

    Very true. I would add to #1: don’t order pasta with Alfredo sauce at an Italian restaurant! Unfortunately, I’ve seen this is person a few times. And I definitely agree with #5. I can understand someone who is going to Italy for only a week or two and doesn’t have time to learn any Italian. But copping an attitude about someone not speaking English, in their own country (!), is just ridiculous. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen this in person.

    Sadly, they all exist. And I am sure there are others we haven’t even mentioned…

    .-= ER´s last blog ..Announcing italian-slang-dictionary.com! =-.

  • User Gravatar
    tilly
    April 6th, 2010

    Can’t wait to go ! :)

    Great!

  • User Gravatar
    Melissa
    April 6th, 2010

    So on the money! And all the reasons I love it there. Great article Robin!

    Thanks Melissa. I hope it makes more folks want to go!

  • User Gravatar
    Margo
    April 6th, 2010

    If you’re not good at dividing in your head to figure out lire to dollars (okay, I know this is moot with the euro, those were the days) or if you will be offended when the waiter doesn’t bring butter with the bread. Oh yeah – if you expect the electronic boards at the train station to being working.

    Thanks for the additions Margo. All good points.

    .-= Margo´s last blog ..Myrtle Beach 101: Myrtle Beach State Park =-.

  • User Gravatar
    Peter Crawford
    April 7th, 2010

    Great article! Added to my list of client must-reads. Thanks!

    Glad you liked it, Peter. I’m honored ;)

  • User Gravatar
    regina
    April 7th, 2010

    You need a toilet seat cover in order to do your business? Italy is definitely NOT the place for you :)

    Wow. Where have YOU been hanging out Regina ;) But, that is very true!

    .-= regina´s last blog ..Extreme Makeover Termini Station =-.

  • User Gravatar
    Eleonora
    April 7th, 2010

    Fantastic post, how did I miss it?!

    Possible addenda: If you think Fettuccine Alfredo and spaghetti with meatballs are authentic Italian dishes, Italy may not be for you.

    If you’re uncomfortable with young men on vespas staring at your derrière, Iatly may not be for you.

    If punctuality in public transportation is an issue, Italy may not be for you.

    Baci,
    Eleonora xx

    Grazie Eleonora! All great additions to the list!

    .-= Eleonora´s last blog ..3:32 a.m. =-.

  • User Gravatar
    anne
    April 7th, 2010

    @ Regina – toilet seat covers? Hah! How about toilet SEATS? And let’s also not forget screens on windows …

    Wow, seriously? Where have you and Regina been hanging out Anne? ;)

  • User Gravatar
    Alison
    April 8th, 2010

    This is great! I just got back from five days in Sardinia and I would have to add – If you like to drive the speed limit and hate being over-taken on solid lines, Italy (at least Sardinia) is not for you. I loved it :)

    Yes, those are both true. Sounds like Sardinia is like the rest of Italy Alison!

    .-= Alison´s last blog ..Gone Photographin’ =-.

  • User Gravatar
    Crystal
    April 8th, 2010

    Actually, the lack of toilet seats in most places is probably the ONLY thing I don’t really like so much about Italy, but a few minutes of ickiness is worth all the rest of it!!

    I’ve been learning Italian for awhile now and while it was pretty rudimentary when we were there I really think it made a difference in the type of service we received from restaurants, taxis and other vendors. I read reviews of some places we went that we simply loved where instead, reviewers complained about how rude the waiters were and how terrible the service was. I think the fact that I just tried made a massive difference in how we were treated. And you don’t need to know a lot. I found that I had about 10 or so stock phrases that I used a lot and then would just try to supplement with my broken Italian as needed. But I truly believe that those 10 phrases were what helped make our experiences be truly memorable vs. deplorable.

    I totally agree with you. You had the right attitude – and a little (as in a little of the language) goes a long with with the Italians. Glad you had a great trip!

    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..crystallyn: But it looks like Dr. Horrible wins! @nathanfillion fans are dumber than @drhorrible fans. http://bit.ly/cbF3Xi =-.

  • User Gravatar
    John
    April 8th, 2010

    I find some of your comments true but others bother me. Italy has every modern convenience that exits and then some. For example I drive my camper around Italy; plug my internet key into my computer and video conference with my daughters in the US and Switzerland. The slow pace of life might apply to some meals but Italians generally drive faster and even walk faster than most Americans, and they are certainly not against fast food, been to the restaurant at Ikea lately? They are working, taking kids to soccer and ski lessons and swim lessons every bit as frantically as those in any other country.

    What is great about Italy is that one can find a mix of that old culture that makes it unique as well as a very modern one.

    Thanks for your thoughts John. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you would know that I really and truly love Italy. This particular piece was a funny way for me to point out that even though people like you and I love Italy, there are some that will just not get it or enjoy it. My hope would be for them to read this my thoughts on this piece, as well as the comments from others- and if they identifed with any of these things – perhaps they should think twice about traveling there. Or perhaps, just get a chuckle. I agree with finding a mix of the old and new. It certainly is part Italy’s charm.

  • User Gravatar
    anne
    April 9th, 2010

    Back to the toilet seats – bus stations, rest stops along the autostrade, many public toilets just about anywhere. But hey, 40 years ago in France I encountered a few restrooms without toilets – just two footpads and a hole in the ground! And I’ve been primitive camping, where you don’t even have a hole in the ground, so just saying … all things are relative …

    Anne, I encountered a *turkish toilet* in Paris and suddenly realized that I could hold until I got to the nearest McDonalds ;)

  • User Gravatar
    Caitlin @ Roaming Tales
    April 10th, 2010

    I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying Italy but I don’t recommend it to people on a budget. It’s one of the most expensive places in Europe, outside Scandinavia and Switzerland.

    You know I always apprecaite your comments here Caitlin – but I must repectfully disagree. I am only a budget traveler and I get along there just fine. It can be expensive, especially Rome, but there are many ways to save. I think you need some of my secrets before you go next time ;)

    .-= Caitlin @ Roaming Tales´s last blog ..Photo Friday: Gandhi in San Francisco =-.

  • User Gravatar
    Liz
    September 22nd, 2010

    I was in Italy over 10 years ago and often get the bug to go back, but with my husband. The biggest issue is my husband loves doing laundry a lot. Where I was they hung my clothes to dry on a line (I was in a very very small town).

    I don’t want to sound ignorant but what about dryers? Are they more common in the city? I don’t remember seeing any. I’d love to rent a villa with him, but seriously – not sure how long he’d hold out without a dryer.

  • User Gravatar
    aniboy76
    October 27th, 2010

    How about:

    If you expect someone to give you a reciept
    or
    If you don’t like shopowners and taxi drivers taking advantage of you because you are a tourist
    or
    If you expect your beaches clean and don’t like worrying about getting Hep A when you eat shell fish

    The list could go on and on and on

    Yes, I’m sure it could! Thanks for adding your thoughts ;)

  • User Gravatar
    Anne
    November 6th, 2010

    I think it must be more expensive near the big cities, but we found it relatively cheap too..

    One thing might bug them is the plug system and the electricity supplies going off. Didn’t someone do a Plug Post … I am sure they did… let me see if I can find it.

    I learnt a few sentences before I went a few years ago, not too much to get mixed up and then learnt a few more whilst over there. yes how ridiculous to expect them to speak English… you have to accept that not everyone will speak English especially in the small villages .. sometimes they don’t even have menus , now that can be fun, all part of the journey :-)

  • User Gravatar
    Anne
    November 6th, 2010

    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/.....plugs//r:f

    Found the plug post :-) interesting!!

  • User Gravatar
    Vicky
    November 9th, 2010

    On those “turkish toilets”, I’ve never seen one in France – Paris or otherwise – but in Veneto, they are like plagues, everywhere. I found them in night clubs, in trendy bars, restaurants, and even at school and churches. I always hated it. My suggestion is to look for the handcaped toilet.

    Also, don’t expect Italians to be nice and smiley if you are not there as a tourist , but as an immigrant (don’t be fooled, they love dollars). I speak Italian and I am Italian by blood and lived in Italy for a year. I much prefer it as a tourist, although I miss the food and wine, shoe shops and a church in every corner.

    Thanks for popping by to comment Vicky. I’m not a fan of those “turkish toilets” either ;)

  • User Gravatar
    Leah
    February 22nd, 2011

    Italy and Spain seem to have a lot in common concerning these characteristics! I love them both ;)

    Great to hear that you love them both Leah!

  • User Gravatar
    Raffaella
    February 22nd, 2011

    Hi!
    I think John’s comment is the most objective (nice comment about Ikea – I love their salmon!) When I read that Italians “often enjoy 2-3 hours meals” I’m troubled by that “often”. :) I love eating but seriously, i’d die if I spent that many hours at the table so frequently. Of course, at the restaurant or at someone’s place you stay longer (between 1 hour and a half or two, I’d say) but it doesn’t happen often.
    Slow pace? I dunno. Maybe it’s because I live near Milan, but I see a lot of hurried, stressed people – unless they are unemployed, which is not nice. People work 9 to 6 in offices and often commute. I think it’s tourists who see or want to see this “slow pace” because they are on holiday, therefore relaxed themselves.

    I think perhaps the slower pace doesn’t happen in Milan. Any large international city (like NY) will have a different feel and pace than the countryside. I perfer that slower pace. Thanks for popping by to leave your thoughts Rafella.

  • User Gravatar
    Bruce
    February 22nd, 2011

    Fun article and my decade (so far) in Italy is a joy…
    I take issue with your comment concerning graffiti, it is not artistic expression, it is the destruction and defacing of private property. The slime that finds it necessary to deface every vista in most large Italian cities are nothing more than criminals and should be dealt with appropriately. Please do not give them the title of artist until they destroy the front of your palazzo or villa.

    I can appreciate your stance on that. I certainly don’t think I’d like it if it destroyed my ancient palazzo either. Thanks for popping by to comment Bruce!

  • User Gravatar
    Elke
    February 22nd, 2011

    Well,well… excellent topic of discussion. Having lived in both the old and new world and being a big Italy lover myself your post Robin tickled me and made me laugh.I have experienced both… ignorant travelers as well as rude locals. I truly believe if you do your research, travel with an open mind, have tact and class and try to see the beauty in different places other then your backyard you will have a very pleasant time on your trip to Bella Italia.

  • User Gravatar
    Lisa Chiodo
    February 26th, 2011

    What a hoot! I have met all of these people and then some!
    A few I would add would be:

    If you have a baby and need a baby change room to change a nappy…
    If you don’t have thighs of steel to crouch in the loo’s…
    If you don’t like loud “discussions” and waving hands…
    If you don’t love passionate people who wear their hearts on their sleeves..

    don’t travel, stay home!

    Get into the local life, talk to the locals, try everything without judging, love it all, experiance it as a child would…. we travelled extensively and never have a problem (in fact usually end up being asked round for dinner!)

    ciao Lisa

    Thanks for the great additions Lisa! Your last example is the reason I feel most at home, being one that wears my heart on my sleeve too :)

  • User Gravatar
    Toni DeBella
    December 2nd, 2011

    As with any place, there are the positive and negative. Life must be measured and weighed by the person who is living it. For me, the scale tips toward Italy. Love can be irrational and inexplicable. Italy can be challenging at times but there is no denying… it makes me feel alive.!

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts Toni!

  • User Gravatar
    Jessica
    September 4th, 2012

    Super cute post! So much of that stuff are the thing that we gripe about as ex-pats as well. I would add “Don’t expect merchants to give you change for a large bill.” That’s something I was shocked about all those years ago. But, in the end, a lot of this stuff is why we love Italy as well and why we love to travel to other cultures. Many of these things apply across the world and I suppose it just depends on how willing you are to accept cultural nuances and know that things will never be like they are at home.

    Thanks for that addition Jessica! Always nice to have an expat’s opinion

  • User Gravatar
    John Olesky
    December 17th, 2012

    Reason number 1 for not visiting Italy is that you will be robbed there..
    It is not so much IF you will be robbed but How quickly you will be robbed..
    They have refined stealing to a fine art.. From phony taxi drivers to the police to groups of children..
    Just go online and type in “robbed in Italy” and see the thousands of comments from people who have been robbed while visiting Italy..
    there are much nicer and safer places to visit and you don’t have to worry about being robbed.

    You don’t mention actually being robbed yourself and if that happened John, I’m truly sorry. I don’t think Italy posses any more of a threat than any other spot, but you do need to be smart and aware, which is good advice for traveling anywhere in the world. I do hope fear of being robbed doesn’t stop you from visiting Italy someday.

  • User Gravatar
    Alex.G
    May 20th, 2014

    Actually a very good list! and i’d say 6 reason to be italian :D ahaha
    apart the graffiti one…which…surprised me actually.
    very happy about the pizza hut post…
    foreigner 99% of the time…have NO IDEA what real italian food is.
    which is also the only thing i’m really proud of modern italy! and very conservative about!

    Thanks Alex! Italian food is definitely something to be proud of.

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