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How not to look like a tourist in Italy?

It is always very easy to identify a tourist in the crowd, but there are those who do not like that “title” very much. The good news is that with a few simple tips, you can look like a local with some ease.


How not to look like a tourist in Italy?

It is common to identify tourists from afar, and this happens in all countries of the world, but not everyone is comfortable with this and does everything to go unnoticed as a tourist, almost making a point of looking like a local. Well, it’s possible! There are some tips for tourists, to avoid ‘mistakes’ and ‘camouflage’ themselves with the locals. Shall we discover How not to look like a tourist in Italy? Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams!!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”

Our Introduction

Today I bring you a subject that, perhaps, is a bit controversial, but which – believe me – has already made me receive some messages like “how not to look like a tourist in Italy?” There are those who don’t mind, there are those who insist on showing the locals that they are a tourist, and there are those who want, at all costs, to camouflage themselves as much as possible!

This, of course, goes from person to person and there is no harm in ‘looking like a tourist’, not least because you ARE a tourist.

But why don’t people want to look like a tourist?

These are personal decisions and this varies on many levels. As I said earlier: there’s no problem with ‘looking’ like a tourist, but if you prefer to walk around in a more ‘I’m a local’ way, today I bring you some tips that will help you to be ‘the non-tourist tourist’. Shall we? Also read Small advices for people going to Italy for the first time!

1) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? THE FAMOUS AND EXCITED ‘CIAO’!

If you want to ‘mix’ with the locals, there are some very simple tips to follow that will make you virtually unnoticed as a tourist.

One of the things that most ‘marks’ a tourist is the famous and excited “CIAO!” when they enter somewhere. Yes, my dears! The way you greet people makes it clear whether you are a tourist or not. Well, the excited ‘ciao’ is one of the ‘complaints’ that you are a tourist. Avoid saying ‘ciao’ to people you are not familiar with, instead you can use a simple ‘Salve!‘; if it’s after 13:00, try a ‘Buonasera’ (or ‘Sera’!), and when it’s time to say goodbye, throw an ‘Arrivederci’ or a gentle ‘Buona Giornata/Serata.

Golden Tip:

  • Address the elderly and strangers using ‘Lei’, not ‘Tu’. We only use ‘Tu’ when we are intimate with people, ok? For people who are older, or who we do not know, we should always use Lei, Signora or Signore.

When ‘Salutare’ (greet)?

When arriving and leaving the places, especially shops, bars and restaurants. If, by chance, you say ‘good morning’ to the bus driver, for example, everyone will know you are a tourist, as locals hardly greet bus drivers as well as other public service workers; it may cause some strangeness, something rude, but this is a cultural issue and, in Italy, it is how things are. 

Another tip for not looking like a tourist: don’t use backpacks! So it is! It may seem obvious, but in Italy this is an item that practically puts you a little neon sign flashing on your forehead where you can read ‘TOURIST’! Opt for smaller, more discreet accessories, and take with you only what you need when you go out for a walk, unless, of course, you’re going on a trail or something. Also read What to know about Italian habits.

2) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? IF YOU NEED A TAXI…

Remember, you’re in Italy, not NY, so for God’s sake! Do not stand on the street making signs, as taxis will not stop, especially if there is no place to do so. In Italy, taxis are parked in places suitable for this purpose; if you don’t want to move around, just use an app (a great app is MyTaxi). What are the best apps for traveling to Italy?

Golden Tip:

  • Never get in a taxi without identification from the city hall. There are clandestine taxis that offer fares, even more expensive, in addition to being unreliable and you can get in real trouble! Always use official transport; all authorized taxis have identification from the city hall and are white, ok?

3) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? ITALIANS GESTURES

Another tip that, perhaps, is obvious, but many sin: do not play with the gestures of Italians and do not try to imitate their accent by speaking ‘Italianish’. They HATE this stereotype and find it very disrespectful. For them, either you speak Italian like an Italian, or you don’t – if you make the effort to use a few sentences in Italian, they will love it, but speak in a normal tone, without an accent, in an elegant and friendly way; otherwise, rest assured that this ‘joke’ will identify you as an outsider.

4) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? AVOID CAPPUCCINO AFTER 11:00 AM!

Another tip? Stay away from cappuccino after 11:00 am! This is controversial, as some say that Italians do drink cappuccino after this time; I personally have never seen it, but, obviously, there must be some ‘outlaw’ Italian who doesn’t mind a mid-afternoon cappuccino, but it’s not common.

If you walk into the bar around 2:00 pm, for example, and order a cappuccino: the ‘what do you mean?’ looks will surely fall on you! But it’s a matter of taste! If you want, and don’t mind ‘being a tourist’, the ‘barista’ will hand you your cappuccino, take your money, return your change, and life goes on. However, if you want to be as ‘Italian as possible’: avoid!

5) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? GOODS ON THE STREETS

Another precious tip I bring you is: ignore people offering you goods on the streets. They recognize tourists like no one else and go straight to the target. If someone approaches to offer you something or start a chat “unpretentiously”, say a loud “NO, GRAZIE!” and go on your way. Italians ignore these people and I suggest you do the same; politely, of course.

6) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? ITALIAN NEWSPAPER

The ‘trick’ of the Italian newspaper! The tip of the newspaper is a classic! Italians LOVE reading the newspaper at all! This is a very simple, but very functional tip: buy a newspaper and carry it under your arm! It is very common to see Italians drinking coffee at the bar and reading their newspaper, or sitting on benches, or even standing, leaning against a wall. Guys, of course it’s not a rule, but it’s worth mentioning, isn’t it?

7) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? DON’T TAKE THE SHOES OFF

Tne thing that may seem trite, but that can ‘denounce’ you as tourists: taking your shoes off in parks and the like. Italians NEVER take off their shoes in public, especially in parks. Again we fall into the cultural issue. In some parks in the US, Brazil or other countries around the world, the practice may seem normal, but in Italy it is not! In other words: it’s not something a local would do!

8) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? DON’T FEED THE PIGEONS

One of the most valid tips to escape the ‘look! A tourist!’ is: DON’T FEED THE PIGEONS anywhere! Never do this! Pigeons are a pest in several Italian cities, including cities like Milan and Venice. It is even worth remembering that in some places it is PROHIBITED to feed the pigeons, as the city halls fight real battles against these birds. No, they have nothing against pigeons, but the animals litter the monuments and spread serious diseases, so some communities have adopted some measures to prevent and/or reduce the ‘transit’ of the animals in places and may also apply a fine for those who break the rules, so stay tuned!

9) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? TOURIST RESTAURANTS

I now bring you another super valid tip that will even ‘save’ you from being poorly served! Avoid tourist restaurants! If you see a restaurant with a menu presented in several languages ​​or someone at the door holding the menu and inviting everyone: run away! Always opt for restaurants such as trattorias or osterias, which are the places frequented by the Italians themselves. In these places, you will hardly have the option of having a menu in a language other than Italian, but you can be sure that you will eat very well and will be very well served.

10) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? THE TIPS

Learn how to tip! How so? Well, in Italy it’s not common to tip, but if you want, feel free to do so. However, keep in mind a few considerations: Italians only offer tips when the service is spectacular. If you don’t want to leave a tip, there’s no problem, ok?! It’s not mandatory! Most people who work with the public in Italy know that they will not be tipped, as it is not part of their culture. Of course, it never hurts to give a treat to a good service, so, if you want, leave an amount between 10 and 15% of the total bill.

11) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? ABOUT FOOD

Do not order “non-Italian” dishes! People, Italian cuisine is known all over the world, but some dishes have been adapted in certain countries! Do not go wrong: order something from the menu! If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or gluten or lactose intolerant, ask the server for specific dishes to choose from; if available, he or she will let you know what you can safely eat, ok? Some restaurants already have specific menus for this audience, others not. For more about italian food.

Attention with “Calabrese” pizza! Italians know inside out that everything related to Calabria tends to be peppery, because Calabria is notorious and known as the land of pepper. Therefore, NEVER order a calabrese pizza in Italy; in addition to not existing, if you insist, in their minds you are asking for a cheese pizza with pepper. Diavola, on the other hand, has spicy salami and its appearance reminds us a lot of “calabrese sausage”, but it’s also spicy and far from what its known in other countries, so stay tuned!

Golden Tips:

  • While in Italy, if possible, try to forget that ketchup exists, ESPECIALLY if you’re thinking of putting it on pizza! For Italians, it is an offense to put any kind of condiment on top of the pizza, at best, a drizzle of oil. I know it may sound ‘fussy’, but once again, it’s cultural!
  • Italians do not put cheese in pasta that is accompanied by seafood! Love cheese? Love seafood? Keep them away from each other while in Italy! For them it’s almost as ‘criminal’ as putting ketchup on pizza! So remember, fish-based foods, including shellfish, don’t go with cheese.

12) How not to look like a tourist in Italy? MAPS

Finally, never take a map to ‘locate’ yourself! This will scream to others that you are a tourist! These days we have several apps that can help us find ourselves if we got lost, so there’s no need to walk around with a map. In time: if you want a map, to frame later, or keep as a souvenir, you can get it at newsstands or tourist information points; try to ask for one at the hotel front desk too, they usually have a small map with the nearest attractions to where you are staying! – and let’s agree, map it’s always a charm, isn’t it?

Watch this video and know 5 things you should NEVER do in Italy!

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How not to look like a tourist in Italy? As I mentioned earlier, there is no problem with ‘looking like a tourist’, even because you are visiting the place, as a tourist! However, there are those who are bothered by this and prefer to be as low profile as possible, although cultural discrepancy can often ‘disturb’ this, so follow our tips, act naturally and have a nice trip!

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