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Cappuccino Etiquette (& Other Italy Survival Tips)

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".
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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 Americans could notice the difference between say, I don't know, someone from Park Avenue and someone from Georgia. 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.