Cappuccino etiquette (& other Italy survival tips)

2 o’clock in the afternoon!?

The restaurant echoes with metallic clanging as a spoon falls to the ground. As the spoon falls, its user emits a shriek of horror… a shriek mirrored by the other restaurant patrons and the place falls silent with shock… That American woman over there, she… she… OH MY GOD I can’t even say it!  She ordered a cappuccino at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Sacrilege!!!
A cappuccino in Italy is a breakfast drink – as is any coffee with milk actually. Maybe you won’t get such a dramatic reaction, but you’ll certainly be looked at quizzically as the server wonders why on Earth someone would make such a peculiar request!
The way of drinking coffee here is to stand at the bar and drink it quickly – none of this sitting around gossiping in Starbucks business. [Oh, and don’t mention Starbucks to your Italian friends!]

Ciao Bella!

Take everything Italian Males say with a pinch of salt; Be prepared for shouts of “Ciao Bella” as you walk down the streets, and outlandish statements and declarations of love after a short period of time.

Io, Mammeta e tu


If you do take it upon yourself to date an Italian, you will always be the other Woman in his life – always the mistress… to his mother. Oh he’s a 35 year old successful Business man? Yep he’ll still be living at home with mamma ironing his pants…. that is, until he has a serious relationship… then you’ll be the one ironing his pants.

Food is serious business

Italian food is amongst the best in the World and Italians are proud of their culinary heritage – their cuisine is UNESCO protected for Pete’s sake! I watched a particle of sweat drip down my Italian friend’s face as I  told him about the tomato marscapone packet sauce I liked to eat with tortellini. I thought he was going to have an aneurysm.

“Oh she’s from Napoli”

Italians can easily distinguish between someone from the South of Italy, and someone from the North – much like us Brits could notice the difference between say, I don’t know, someone from Chelsea and a Scouser. People from the North tend to be more fashion conscious, those from the South more down to Earth and family oriented. After a few weeks travelling through Italy an Italian can say this to you and you will know exactly what they mean.

Parli Italiano?

“Posso usare il bagno per favore?”
The Italian waiter looked at me with such pride and bewilderment as I utilised one of my four memorised phrases of Italian. As you leave the main tourist trail of Italy, you notice that fewer people speak English – but most are willing to help you, and at least trying to speak their language, even if badly, goes a long way.
[That was “can I use the bathroom please” by the way – got the essentials down!]

Ma cche staje facenn’?  ‘O ppane?

“What are you doing? Making bread?” [What’s taking you so long?]
Different regions of Italy have different dialects and phrases – Neapolitan is practically a language in itself! Even my Northern Italian friends cannot understand some of it!
In case you thought conjugating the various Italian verbs wasn’t enough. Allora!

Cheers to our Pilot!

Italians always applaud when a plane lands safely at its destination. It’s quite cute really. I wait for this every time I touch down in Italy now.

“I’ll be there in 5”

Being perpetually late is just an accepted part of being Italian. When I was studying in Naples, a couple of times I went to the metro station in the Mornings to find the door still chained closed and a chuckling Italian woman peering through the chains like “hehe I guess he overslept again”. The same goes for any attempt at organizing social plans with Italians.

How about you guys? Any observations from your time in Italy?

17 Comments
  1. This was so adorable and entertaining! Loved it 🙂 And good to know . . .last time I was in Italy it wasn’t long enough to really notice these fun things

  2. What great observations about Italy. Good to know about cappuccino, that is really interesting! I think the being late part applies to more than just Italians. Great read!

  3. This is awesome!! I visited Italy (Rome, Florence, Pisa and Milan) last year and definitely agree with a lot of what you said. It’s a beautiful country, would love to go back to explore more. Always nice to be submerged in a lifestyle where people really enjoy life and every day.

  4. We’ve really been enjoying your blogging style. Thank you for the awesome Italy survival tips! We’ve never been to Italy, but we desperately want to go (in fact, we were making plans to go in July before we decided to buy a house instead). We’ll have to remember this post when we gone … hopefully next year now! 🙂

    1. Hey Anna! Aw thanks so much 🙂 pleased you like the blog! I look forward to reading about how you guys get on with your travels! Oooh. Do you have an itinerary in mind for Italy? You’ll love it! I’ve been back and forth so many times. I always look around at new places I should go and then end up going back to Italy again haha. It is THAT good! I’m sure the time will fly by before you know it 🙂 I’m actually going back again for Easter – taking some cooking classes in Bologna so I’ll let you know how it is!

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