How to Fit in with the Locals on Your Solo Trip to Italy
Are you are a tourist or a traveller?
Yes, there is a difference between a tourist and a traveller.
A tourist tours the place and gets back home with souvenirs. On the other hand, a traveller ingests a learning experience from the natives—learning the native culture, habits, and stories.
Travelling like a local in Italy is a serious issue. On a high note, your ability to fit in with the locals clutches your position as a traveller. If you choose to be a traveller, you may need assistance mingling with the locals on your travel to Italy.
No worries. I have got some tips that work like a charm. So with that, let us get straight into the business.
To begin with, no one has the right to militarise you. You can wear clothes that make you feel comfortable, and nobody is going to criticise you. But, if you want to not look like a traveller, perhaps there are a few things you can consider before packing clothes.
- Italians wear less revealing clothes. As a general rule, you can avoid skin-showing outfits.
- Athleisure culture is prominent in the U.S. The Italians are not accustomed to people wearing gym clothes.
- Italian don’t wear oversized shirts and baggy jeans either.
- Don’t overdo it, but keep it simple. Dress up in rightly fitted clothes to mingle with the Italian folks.
Follow their Protocol
Hiring a taxi in Italy is a very decent procedure. Failing to keep up your standard unmasks your identity as a traveller. The ethical ways of hiring a taxi in Italy to travel like a local are,
- You can’t cut in front of the taxi to ask for a ride.
- Italians keep up a strict protocol in maintaining the line. It’s not cool to jump in the line for a ride while others are waiting.
Learn their language
The practical way of fitting in with the locals on your travel to Italy is to learn Italian. Of course, you can not take the trouble of establishing fluency in Italian. It is a lot of hard work.
Still, you can manage to learn a few Italian phrases and words to steal the thunder when talking with a local. You can learn simple words like Ciao, Grazie, Per favore, Mi scusi. Learning a few Italian proverbs will also impress the locals.
Travel by Italian train
The only mode of public transport in Italy is Trenitalia. Taking a ride in Trenitalia is a landmark feeling of a local. So, ride in the Italian trains to travel like a local in Italy. Then, when you are in the train station, ensure your safety throughout the travel. Take care of your belongings.
Give a gracious smile
After travel, you will encounter locals in the shopping and food localities. Luckily, it is an unavoidable situation. At the same time, you have to use this opportunity wisely to fit in with the Locals.
So, when you are conversing with a waiter or bargaining with a shopkeeper, be polite and capture their heart with your gentleness. Adding a generous, pleasant smile will do the remaining work.
These people whose work radius is within the tourist locations know a lot about the tourist things both as a local and as a person doing business around the tourist locations. If you impress them with your gentle behaviour, they will volunteer to help you.
Bring small bills
Speaking of shopkeepers, a simple way to travel like a local in Italy is to keep coin changes. As a traveller, you can’t expect all places to be credit card acceptable. And, if you stumble upon a roadside vendor, stretching out your credit card may reach as a rude gesture.
Hence, carry some coins and notes for change. That way, you will have a healthy encounter with the local sellers.
Take part in a local festival
Nothing beats an experience of a local in Italy than taking part in Italian festivals. My favourite local festival in Italy is the masquerade carnival in Venice and the carnival of the battle of oranges in Ivrea. And, there isn’t any festival that fits perfectly to engage you with the locals than carnivals because you can classify the local festivals into three.
They are parades, holy masses, and carnivals. Parades are of historical remembrance, while holy mass is dedicated to the saints. Carnivals source the elements of fun. That said, taking part in a carnival on your travel to Italy engages you more with the locals. Put the Carnivals on your checklist to travel like a local in Italy.
Don’t unfairly judge the locals
Italians are associated with certain stigmas like using hand movements while speaking, the presence of the mafia group, eating only pizza and spaghetti, etc.
In one sense, you may attempt to depict the whole identity of an Italian through a cultural marker. On the other, you may falsely create a cultural marker—for example, misinformation of mafia. Engaging with locals with these stereotypes on your mind goes against your aim of travelling like a local in Italy.
Respect the siesta time
Siesta is a sleeping tradition in Italy. It is usually between 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm, lasting for an hour. At this time, the business centres are closed for people to take a power nap.
Anyway, if you want to travel like a local in Italy, you must know to respect the siesta tradition. Have knowledge of the siesta timing to avoid any frustrations. A better way of looking at it is following the siesta tradition yourself when you are in Italy.
Follow the dining etiquette
This may be new to you. Like any other tradition, Italians sit and dine at a restaurant. In the bars, they usually stand. Yes, in bars and cafés they have their drink in standing. Get used to this culture on your travel to Italy. Nevertheless, some bars have seating arrangements, but that comes with an extra charge. Other dining etiquettes include,
- Ask for a check only if you are ready to leave the restaurant.
- Do not customize the chair arrangement by yourself. Tell the waiter and wait for them to do it.
- Take a sip of coffee after finishing the meal.
- Use a fork to eat spaghetti.
Say ‘no’ to the washcloth
In your world, loofahs, sponges, washcloths may regularise your bathe term, but Italians don’t have the practice of using washcloth or loofah. The hostels/hotels in Italy won’t have washcloths either. Don’t argue with room service regarding the same.
So, if you want to travel like a local, don’t expect washcloths in the Italian room service. But you can find this service if you stay in a place run by non-Italians.
Greet the Italians with a happy face
Whenever you click your eyes with a local, graciously greet them. It could be a waiter, chauffeur, seller, tourist guide, hostel receptionist, or security. Once you see them, greet them with a happy smile. Some of the basic and easy to learn Italian phrases are,
- Buongiorno – Good morning
- Buon pomeriggio – Good afternoon
- Buonasera – Good evening
- Buonanotte – Good night
Know their manners
Knowing the manners of Italians comes with the package of exploring their culture. Tiny deviance in your manners appears disrespectful to the person on the other side. Some of the causal doing that sound disrespectful to the Italians are,
- Talking loud with locals with the assumption that they speak loudly.
- Overpraising a region of Italy creates disputes. Italy is divided into northern and southern regions. As a matter of fact, they don’t go well. So, praising a southern culture in the North is disrespectful.
I hope these tips will help you travel like a local in Italy. Make sure you follow the tips. Fit in with the locals. Spend time knowing their stories. Take them back from your gratifying travel!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.