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Things to know about Italy
- Capital: Rome
- Political System: Constitutional Parliamentary Republic
- State member of the European Union and of the Schengen Area
- Population: 60.5 million
- Official language: Italian
- Currency: Euro (EUR)
- Time zone: UTC + 1, Summer Time: UTC + 2
- Italy is on hour behind Romania
- Phone Prefix: +39, Internet domain: .it .eu
Italy can be found in Southern Europe, being bounded by the mountain Alps region and borders with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. Towards the south, the country contains the entire Italic Peninsula, but other islands as well, such as Sicily and Sardinia. Vatican and the San Marino Republic are included in Italy as independent states.
Whether you come here for the rich history, architecture, gastronomy or stunning natural setting, Italy is one travel destination which will not disappoint you. This is the reason for which, in every year, tourists from all over the world chose Italy for both city breaks and prolonged vacations. In the north, starting from Milan, you can discover the entire Hollywood celebrity filled area of the Como lake.
Places such as Bellagio, Menaggio or Varenna will offer you a charming scenery, with mountainous areas and luscious vegetation, crystalline waters and elegant buildings. If you are in the northern area, Venice is a must-see location on your travel bucket list, and by hiking you can reach the Dolomiti Mountains.
The villages from Cinque Terre National Parc, which are built on the cliffs, will surely remain in your memory. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is worth exploring during multiple days. If time isn’t on your side, you must at least get to Manarola. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites which should not be left out is also the Amalfi Coastline.
Other natural objectives in Italy include: the Chianti region of Toscana, which awaits for you with gorgeous hills, cypresses and delicious wine, Mount Erice of Sicily, but also the Vezuviu volcanic area, close to Naples.
Being a Foreigner in Italy
When you meet someone for the first time, it is customary to handshake and say “Piacere di conoscerti” (Nice to meet you). Meal times are very important for Italian people: the best is to take a seat and spend quietly the lunchtime with family, or colleagues in working days, eating not just a quick sandwich but a hot meal (usually pasta or another main course). “Buon appetito” (Enjoy your meal) is used before eating.
Sweet breakfast is typical in Italy, in cafés you’ll find the classical cappuccino with brioche. Don’t forget that coffee is almost a ritual for Italian people: anytime can be perfect for a quick coffee drunk standing in front of the bar’s counter.
Italians are by their nature talkative and loud and they gesticulate while speaking. Do you want to have a long and rich conversation with an Italian? Talk about football. They love it and they are always updated on last matches and acquisition of players. Italians are crazy for fashion, looks is considered very important both in working contexts and in spare time.
Avoid having negative feedback regarding their food
Italian food is loved worldwide, and for good reason. The Italians themselves are extremely proud of their food, which is why if you suggest other cultures also produce good cuisine, you’ll be setting yourself up for a bad time and very upset faces.
Expect a kiss on the cheek if you make friends there.
It’s customary in Italian culture to greet your friends and family members with a kiss on each cheek — il bacetto. So, if you make friends there, or if you’re meeting an Italian acquaintance expect this very personal greeting!
Italians can be very curious and caring with the people around them, so don’t feel offended when you might get some unsolicited advice from them. Also, most times if you ignore these comments or tell them to mind their own business you might come off as rude!