Looking into immersing with the local Italian life?
Learning from my Italian friends on blending with locals, you must assimilate with the Italian sense of style, embrace the local food culture, and Italian etiquette.
To move into Italy to live out your cottage core dreams or study aboard in Italy, you need travel tips on how you might blend in with the locals.
Italy feels like a long-lost friend among the sea of colors and countries in Europe igniting the urge to flee from your bustling city and horrible bosses to the land of risotto and magnificent architecture.
Observe and assimilate into the Italian sense of style
As an avid fan of Italian style and fashion, I noticed that there are so many aspects of Italian fashion culture which we can assimilate into our daily lives.
Clothing Styles Based on Weather
Their clothing styles are also influenced by the weather and popular styles that fashion role models are wearing currently.
However, you can’t go wrong with flowy robe coats or classy jackets or trench coat for rainy days, flat-top sunglasses, chic scarf, or statement earrings.
Thankfully, you might already be wearing these perfect accessories.
Fast fashion brands such as H&M or Forever 21 already ship these internationally. If you want to save the environment and practice sustainable fashion, you could shop at your local thrift stores or even make them on your own.
Wear Comfortable Shoes, Avoid Flip Flops Except for Beach
You should avoid are flip flops as sightseeing shoes, except for coastal city where beaches are aplenty and it’s perfectly fine to throw on a pair of summer sandals! Socks and sandals are also frowned upon by Italians.
Since we’re on the topic of shoes, visitors should also avoid wearing tall boots, ankle boots, or high heels in the cobblestone streets and countryside. Italy also is known for its uncomfortable stone streets and your feet will thank you at the end of the journey for avoiding sore feet.
Avoid Revealing Clothing At Religious Places
Planning to visit religious sites like the St Peter Basilica? While visiting places of worship, avoid wearing tank tops, spaghetti straps, and sweatpants to show respect.
Avoid Muted and Neutral Colors
While some places prefer muted or neutral colors, Italians are less likely to wear clothing which tones down their personality and nature.
Did you know that they are less likely to wear basic blue jeans? Time to ditch those go-to’s when you visit the Colosseum.
Less Layering and Bold Choices
The art of dressing Italian is to have less layering and more bold choices! Who knows, you might find yourself feeling more confident after trying out their fashion choices.
Embrace local Italian cuisine and try new things
Initially, you might be heavily drawn to the piping hot plates of pasta and wafting fragrance of polenta. Cheers to authentic lasagna and none of that frozen grocery store mush! But like all things, these dishes can grow tiresome.
According to some of my Italian friends, they hardly eat breakfast or have very little food in the morning. This might be of surprise to you if you’re used to having a sole cup of tea or milk in the morning. What I noticed during my research was that Italians actually eat quite little in a day.
In Italy, the breakfast consists of tea and biscuits, cornetti and coffee, or yogurt. By the time lunchtime rolls around, your stomach would be rumbling cacophonously.
Typically, lunch would consist of soft drinks. However, the main courses include pasta, risotto, ravioli, gnocchi, and fruit. You could actually replicate these dishes from the comfort of your home.
Personally, as a small eater, mixed salads really help to settle your growling stomach. Over lockdown, I made a salad consisting of dragon-fruit, pineapple, lettuce, tangerines, tomatoes, and protein. After tossing the salad and adding a dash of vinaigrette, I was stuffed and went on with my day!
Merenda / Tea Break
Merenda is a concept that is common in most cultures. Essentially, it means tea-time and is usually at 4 pm. In Italy, Merenda is usually made up of biscuits, bread, and tea.
Dinner in Italy is a romantic affair before you call it a day. It consists of soup or main accompanied by great company and lots of laughter. Usually, it is more formal at night given the weather is cooler.
We know how the thrill of traveling awakens our inner Annie Leibovitz. We’d whip out our canons from Christmas or pray for enough film in our Kodak cameras as we start snapping away like its oxygen. Often, we don’t really know what we are taking pictures of because we are so enthralled in being far away from home.
One challenge you could pose to yourself is to attempt taking pictures of people and natural life around you. Capture stories and strange places that you thought existed only in the movies or in myths. Hold onto something that you cannot replicate in your native country.
So, the next time you visit the Trevi Fountain in Rome, remember to connect with the local culture and local life around you and try capturing that instead.
Etiquette differs from place to place.
- In my country Singapore, people generally tend to keep to themselves except for the occasional busybody.
- In Italy, people are generally curious, open, and tolerant of others’ manners and uniqueness.
- However, Italians do not tolerate lateness, inefficiency, and rudeness.
- Italians seem to appreciate good humor and can be self-deprecating at times.
When in doubt, be courtesy with some Italian phrases like
- “Voglio quello, per favore” (“I'd like that, please”) or
- Per favore Grazie ("Please, thank you")
Recognizing and understanding the local etiquette when you go to a new place is very important. It prevents unnecessary misunderstandings and you would be less likely to offend the locals.
Blending in with locals helps to avoid being a standout target of pickpocketing whether in the outdoor markets or local events.
With that, here’s a mini-guide on how you can blend into Italy as a tourist or big city escape.