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Italy no-nos?

I will be visiting Italy soon and am wondering if there are social/cultural taboos I should be aware of.

Looking for things some countries you shouldn't touch a child's head...or you shouldn't ask for ketchup in a restaurant...or don't use certain hand gestures.

I will be staying with a family and assume that most of my interactions will be fairly casual but I want to be as polite and respectful as I can be to my hosts and others :)

Or if you think there are things I SHOULD know or do, please let me know also! (for example, in some countries you are expected to bring something like a bottle of wine if you are invited to dinner, in other places this might be kind of insulting?) I just want to avoid any "dumb American" faux pas:)

For learning: Italian
Base language: English
Category: Culture



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    Best Answer - Chosen by the Asker
    I would like to add that proper clothing sometimes matters a lot, especially for some italians.
    Please avoid taking off your shirt if you are not on the beach or in a park. Avoid sleeveless shirts and hotpants while visiting churches and museums.

    Touching children isn't usually a taboo, but taking a picture of them can be a problem with some people, so it can be a good idea to ask before.

    If you are invited to someone's house it is always a good thought to bring something (a bottle of wine, something sweet, a small gift and so on).

    If you eat in a restaurant, and you like the food, feel free to tell it to the waiter: they usually like when the costumer show appreciation for their work.
    And tips giving is not the same everywhere, but usually we give it just if we did love how the waiter/barman treated us (so feel free not to give it, it is not impolite at all).

    Be careful when you need to pay with credit card, because some places don't accept it unless you reach a minimum amount (often 20 euro).

    For the moment I can't think of anything more.
    Have fun in Italy!!

    Ciao Christine,
    You may caress childs' head, we are not Hmong :-P you can also ask for ketchup, this will mark you as American but it is not a shame :-).
    Avoid to show the middle finger (it is a universal sign) as well as index and little fingers (horn sign that here means 'cuckold').
    Here ( you can find a list of words to avoid (or at least to know the vulgar or sexual shade).
    If you are invited for a lunch or a dinner, the most suitable present is some flowers.
    Avoid to put feet on furniture (this one of main stereotypes about Americans) if you are not very intimate with home owners.

    I hope and wish you'll have a good time here!

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