Ten Ways You’re Offending Italians Without Even Knowing

Ten Ways You’re Offending Italians Without Even Knowing

Italians are very peculiar people and I love them this way. However, before you can truly understand and love them, you have to know a few things about how you might unknowingly be offending them:

  1. You don’t get their gestures. You HAVE to know their gestures. Italians do a lot of speaking with their hands and you’d better get it. Here’s a great resource to help you understand what they’re “saying”. I took this photo in Venice – can you see how his posture and smile says it all?gestures
  2. You’re sprinkling your seafood spaghetti with parmesan cheese. That’s an absolute NO-NO. Another item you can never put cheese on is the famous Ligurian pesto. Whenever my mother-in-law sees customers doing that in her restaurant she uses some very strong adjectives, which I cannot quote here, because this is a family friendly blog!Seafood spaghetti
  3. You don’t order an appetizer. When you dine out – you just have to order a starter, otherwise you are considered a cheap tourist and will never be taken seriously! Italians love to have a three course meal with an antipasto, primo and secondo. Then there’s dessert and coffee! Let’s try to keep up 😉
  4. You’re not interested in “prodotti tipici”. Prodotti tipici are the typical products of a given area and each region has their own. Whenever Italians go to another part of their country they always bring something typical from there. For example, when you go to Liguria you always bring pesto or lemons back home. The same goes for their gifts. If you get “prodotti tipici” as a present from your Italian friends, be sure to pay them many, many compliments!Prodotti tipici
  5. You insult someone’s mamma! This you just can’t do or you’re virtually dead! The mamma is an extremely important figure in the family and often the one wearing the pants! Always pay your respects when you meet somebody’s mom and always call her “Signora.”Mamma Italiana
  6. You don’t kiss and touch! Italians like close physical contact even with people they’ve just met and if you don’t reciprocate their enthusiasm you will be considered hostile. The typical “hi” and “bye” involves two kisses on the cheek starting from the left one. You would usually only shake hands the first time you meet somebody. When you say “bye” you would already kiss. Men kiss too!Romantic restaurant
  7. You want to eat at 5 pm. You can’t do that in Italy! Italian restaurants have their opening hours, which depending on the region and time of the year are open from noon to 2 pm and from 7 to midnight. You can sit down and have dinner at 23.00 but you just can’t eat during the Italian siesta, because everything is closed! Your only rescue would be a quick sandwich at a bar (and believe me, Italian food is so amazing that it really is worth the wait!).Pizza bar
  8. You say you don’t drink coffee! Coffee is a morning, afternoon and evening ritual. And they also drink it anytime in between. When I arrived in the office in Italy my colleagues’ first question was “have you had your coffee yet?” It doesn’t matter if you actually drink coffee or not – the idea is to socialize a few minutes every now and then. Always go have your coffee (you can drink tea, juice, water, whatever) or you will quickly be considered hostile and excluded. The picture below says: “Bye mom, I’m going to the bar.”coffee bar
  9. You say no to wine over dinner. Not everybody drinks alcohol but wine over dinner is the beverage of choice. Alternatively Italians would just drink water and nothing else.Wine
  10. You drink tea WITH you dinner. This is just weird. At least for Italians. They consider tea as an afternoon delight and definitely not something you have your meal with. Sorry Tea Lovers!

Here, you have it. I hope from now on you will make more Italian friends and enjoy the country to its fullest. It is quite phenomenal.


  1. […] design of this blog recently and I uploaded a fun post in the “traveling” category: “Ten Ways You’re Offending Italians Without Even Knowing.” It literally went viral! It was quite amazing to look at the […]

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