Five tips for foreign tourists visiting Italy

There's a famous saying that goes, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." Here are five tips for foreign tourists visiting Italy for the first time.

Compared to other countries in the world, Italy is not in the habit of eating early. Restaurants do not open before 7.00 pm and dinner is served from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm. The same goes for lunch. The kitchen opens from 12.30 to 3.00 pm. If you are used to eating sooner, why not treat yourself to an aperitif?

Remaining in the kitchen, in Italy tipping at restaurants is not mandatory and is at the discretion of the customer. Instead of a tip, a cover charge is applied for each person, the so-called "coperto", which does not exceed 5-10%, sometimes 15%, and usually includes extra bread and service.

Lunch is a sacred and untouchable moment of the day for Italians. Although big shopping malls are open all day, small shops usually close from 1 pm to 4 pm, especially outside the city centre. That's the time to enjoy lunch with the family and relax.

In Italy it is not common practice to hail a taxi by waving your hands and gesturing, although it can sometimes work. Taxis cannot be stopped as they pass by on the street. You have to call the number of a taxi service or go to one of the taxi ranks marked with a sign, which can be found in various places.

Tourists are important but must behave decently and with respect for the cities they visit. So don't give in to the temptation to dip your tired feet in the fountains or diving in to cool off. Moreover, when entering religious places, decorum is a must, both in terms of clothing and behaviour. You are advised not to wear shorts or low-cut tops.

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