How to not be rude in Italy

Jul 26th, 2003, 12:36 PM
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I wholeheartedly agree, Californiagirl. We are not fluent in other lanaguages, but make attempts at the basics in any country we are visiting. It's just a matter of respect.

Thanks, Ira, for the heads up...ha.
Statia is offline  
Jul 26th, 2003, 01:01 PM
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Californiagirl, that's a major annoyance of mine too, English-speaking tourists who apparently don't care to even take a little bit of time to learn how to say "Excuse me, do you speak English?" in the native language.

While tourists certainly don't have be fluent, or even fairly proficient, in the language of whatever country they're visiting, I think they should at least make an effort to learn some basic polite phrases or, in the case of the above, a very common question.
capo is offline  
Jul 26th, 2003, 01:14 PM
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"When in Rome..." definitely a phrase to live by when traveling.

However, I thought sone of you might be interested to know that when our Italian and French relatives and friends come to the U. S. for a vacation, they expect a very large, long and relaxing lunch and a very late dinner. Of course, the younger people go with the flow, but the older folks aren't nearly ready to change their ways.

Que sera, sera....

Lorac1127 is offline  
Jul 26th, 2003, 11:43 PM
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RufusTFirefly, in all the timeI have lived in Italy (not all of Europe but Italy) salad is considered the vegetable accompianament for the main course and is servbed with the main course. Granted, in high end wannabe French places you get the salad after the main but that is the French influence.

Again, in all the time I have lived here, while dining at normal, not high end and not touristy places, I have never seen the salad served afyter the main course.
siena_us is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 08:59 AM
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The salad in Italy is not served with the main course, but toward the end of a meal...
kismetchimera is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 09:11 AM
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I think some of these food issues may be what is customary in certain locales, but it's not an issue of being "rude" if you want a cappuccino in the afternoon or salad served at a certain time. Those guys in the Rome cafe may have found it a nuisance or were just obnoxious themselves, but if someone orders a drink they don't want to serve at a certain time of day, that person isn't being "rude." Most people don't drink the similar coffee drink in France (cafe creme) in afternoon, either, but I don't think ordering it in a cafe is rude.

I also don't think you should touch anyone you don't know on the head or use your middle finger for gesturing in the US, as well as Italy.
Christina is online now  
Jul 27th, 2003, 09:29 AM
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I agree that ordering cappuccino at the "wrong" time of day isn't necessarily "rude", I interpreted the original poster's question a bit more broadly, especially after the "don't rush through meals and the salad timing" post. I too think the men at cafe San Eustaschio were the rude ones and can't imagine a cafe employee in the USA refusing to serve something that is on the menu. On the other hand, you can't get an Egg McMuffin after 10:30 am either. As to salads, I've seen lots of variations. In restaurants frequented by tourists, some waiters will ask a person who is obviously a tourist and orders a salad if they want it before the main course. I've seen it brought with the main course and after the main course. I think Weadles post was meant to point out that many Americans get angry when they believe that they are being served too slowly, or have to wait, and wait and wait for the check to be brought (not realizing that they should request it and may have to do so several times). And some might get upset that the salad shows up after the main course and tell the poor waiter that they don't want it anymore.
Grinisa is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 09:32 AM
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I'm not sure where siena_us eats, but in all my travels to Italy, the salad is ALWAYS served after the main course, unless the patrons ask for it to be served earlier. French influence? Give me a break.

Also, I thought the reason for the salad being served after the main course was because the ruffage helps with digestion, in addition to the reasons Rufus states.
MarkY is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 09:33 AM
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In Annie Hawes wonderful book "Extra Virgin," she describes the reaction of her Italian friends when she puts her salad on the plate with her pasta. They are horrified! She has clearly committed a very large faux pas. She wryly comments that the way to get around that particular Italian custom is to very casually eat bits of salad from its own, separate bowl, while eating the pasta from its own plate! No one notices she is eating both simultaneously. Convention is observed, and Annie eats as she pleases.
Jul 27th, 2003, 09:44 AM
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When my mother-in-law and father-in-law were alive, we always had the salad after the meal, particularly big holiday meals. As noted above, since the salad was dressed with olive oil and vinegar it was felt to help digestion.

In Italy we have had salad served both with the meal and afterward. We also have broken the taboo of having capuccino after the morning hours and no one seemed to care, or pointed and laughed.

I think good manners are admired anywhere you travel, just the common courtesies. And Bashaw you have been given good advice that pertains to Italy in particular.

Have a great trip and enjoy Italy. It is a wonderful place.
Giovanna is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 11:25 AM
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On my first visit to Rome a few years ago, we were fortunate to have a wonderful pasticceria, the Pasticceria D'Angelo, only a few doors away from where we stayed on the Via della Croce. And we were also fortunate to have a friendly English-speaking barista named Eugenio. Curious, I asked him a number of questions, including one about the no-cappucino-after-morning "rule" I'd read so much about prior to our trip. He just smiled and said something to the effect that while most Italian people do not do this, there is nothing wrong with it and that he would be happpy to serve us cappucini anytime.

Contrast that with the unyielding attitude displayed by the barista at the Cafe San Eustachio in Rome, in Grinisa's post.

capo is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 07:03 PM
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The best meal I had in Italy was in Turin. I think we were the only American guests at the hotel. The salad was served last.
WanderingTexan is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 08:16 PM
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A dentist friend of mine told me years ago to eat salads after the main course because it helps clean your teeth.
MizzEve is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 10:01 PM
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When shopping in Italy, ask the clerk to show you the item you are interested in seeing, rather than picking up several items and looking at them. Same as the fruit and veggie thing. They will pick out the best for you, but don't want you handeling their produce. Makes sence.
del is offline  
Jul 27th, 2003, 11:05 PM
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When I was working in a gold shop on the Ponte Vecchio 14 years ago, I was aften amazed by some of the Americans who would walk into our shop and just start speaking English to everyone. They would pop in and quickly say, " I want to see this", run out of the shop and frantically point at the object of their desire. The Italians especially found it rude. The ones who walked in calmly and gently asked if any of us spoke English were welcomed with smiles, excellent service and often a formidable discount. I would say, just be your kind hearted self. Use the same decorum on your travels that you extend to others in your native land. Cappuccino is what Italians drink for breakfast and usually accompany it with a nice brioche. It is sort of like drinking Carnation Instant breakfast for lunch or a snack. Certainly not a major offense and any barista who refuses your good money to purchase whatever YOU WANT is a fool. Salad is always served at the end of the meal as explained by all the epicures here. Have a great trip.
Calamari is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 12:03 AM
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Calamari, as I said, living here and dining out at regular restaurants, the salad is the veggie side dish unless you specify. I don't know who the epicures are here that you refer to but I am just commenting on how we eat here in Tuscany. Growing up with parents from Asti though we did have the salad after the meal. Asti is in Piemonte (as is Torino) and there are very big French influences (yes MarkY, French)so this may have something to do with it. Different areas of Italy do different things so maybe in the places some of you go to it is served after the meal but not in the places that I go (and I live here year round not just on a 10 day vacation).
siena_us is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 12:32 AM
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Hi Siena. I sure hope it has cooled off for you over there. I just spoke to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law in Florence this morning and they said it is getting hotter by the minute! How do you like living there year round? I lived in Florence for a few years and in San Gimingano. While my husband's family still owns two homes in SanGi I think I prefer Santa Lucia. Sorry, if you are upset about the salad issue. Just calling it like I've seen it.
Calamari is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 03:34 AM
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Yep the heat is awful. It is probably close to 103?F today. I cannot imagine being in Florence right now as it must be awful.

BTW, I am not upset about the salad issue at all, just that in all the time that I have lived here, the only timeI have seen the salad served after the main course is in high end type places (high high end) I have also workedin quite a few restaurants here and have never seen it but then the restaurants I worked in were all in Siena so I can't give a really good example there but I have dined throughout Tuscany as well as other parts of Italy.

As for living here, well I love it but then it is home
siena_us is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 04:59 AM
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Hi all,

I think one way to avoid being rude in Italy is not to correct someone who prefers their salad at a point in the meal where you don't have your salad.

Must be the heat.
ira is offline  
Jul 28th, 2003, 05:31 AM
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Like someone said, don't touch the clothes on the selves in a store - ask to see them. Don't touch things on display in the outdoor flea markets - ask to see them - if you do, you will get yelled at. When asking for something, make sure you pronounce it correctly, otherwise, even if they do know what you are talking about, they will tell you that they don't know. We always received our salads with our meal.

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