Ten things NOT to do in Italy

Jan 1st, 2015, 08:58 AM
  #21  
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As was implicit in my original post, tourists can do as they please. But we often see on forums the desire "to live like the locals". Well, that's what the locals do.

vincenzo, exceptionally I'll let you have a quick cappuccino at 13.00, but on the quiet.
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Jan 1st, 2015, 09:23 AM
  #22  
 
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"I shall take some teabags with me to Venice - a good example of the triumph of hope over experience."

What's the point?

Their hopeless waiters - wherever you go - still insist on providing only lukewarm water. One of the great mysteries of this world is how Italian waiters can be so stunningly professional on so many things - but when it comes to serving tea (globally a bigger drink than coffee) they and their bosses insult their customers by serving the undrinkable.

Even in four or five star hotels - including some which pontificate about their excellence in hospitality. In Venice, however often we asked the Gritti Palace for tea in Christmas 2013, we consistently got barely heated water. And nonsensical posters in the room telling us not to use our own kettles "because of the fire risk."

This Christmas in Sicily, the self-styled "luxury" dump couldn't even be arsed providing a lid for the pot of near-freezing water. Or even having real tea (as distinct from the silly Earl Greys, camomiles and all the other wimpish affectations of races who don't drink tea) in their lounges.

It's characteristic of Italians' infinite insularity. Since they don't drink tea, there can't be any point serving it the way their customers want it.

And their hotels aren't interested in providing hospitality: the Gritti's more interested in providing "exceptional art and elegance, reassuringly intimate with a homely feel"

We don't insult coffee-drinking guests in our house with Nescafe: why do places like the Gritti insult us by serving muck?
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Jan 1st, 2015, 09:30 AM
  #23  
 
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flanner you need to go more down market you can get hot water for tea you just have to ask carefully and leave a tip.
bilboburgler is online now  
Jan 1st, 2015, 10:22 AM
  #24  
 
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I agree it's good to know the customs in a foreign country. But, if I want a cappuccino-- anytime of day-- and it's on the menu, I will order it and not give a damn if the waiter makes a face.

Maybe those proprietors need to cater to their customers, not adhere to bygone ideas of what's proper to drink, and when.
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Jan 1st, 2015, 10:26 AM
  #25  
 
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"I shall take some teabags with me to Venice - a good example of the triumph of hope over experience."

What's the point?

Their hopeless waiters - wherever you go - still insist on providing only lukewarm water. One of the great mysteries of this world is how Italian waiters can be so stunningly professional on so many things - but when it comes to serving tea (globally a bigger drink than coffee) they and their bosses insult their customers by serving the undrinkable.>>

flanner - it was a joke!

[though in fact as I will be staying in a private home, i should be able to get access to some boiling water, tea for the making of].

I agree that it is extraordinary that those foreign johnnies can't make a decent cup of char. but then, if they never drink it, how would they know what a decent cup should taste like?
annhig is offline  
Jan 1st, 2015, 01:56 PM
  #26  
 
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Here's a don't for Italy--don't drive into a ZTL zone!
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Jan 1st, 2015, 02:14 PM
  #27  
 
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I had a breakfast meeting at a hotel in Beverly Hills just before Christmas. At a nearby table, a visiting Italian family was eating breakfast, and the kids were drinking Cokes. Some guidebook or travel forum must have told them this was a "local culture" thing. Or do you think the parents were just letting the children order what they wanted?
Jean is online now  
Jan 1st, 2015, 04:32 PM
  #28  
 
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Never ask for grated Parmesan cheese on a pasta dish that contains fish/shellfish. Apparently it is a NO-NO to put cheese on fish.
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Jan 1st, 2015, 08:00 PM
  #29  
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Very much so gh21! A big no-no.

Back to the cappuccini: I believe in the US there is a time after which it is ok to have your first cocktail (well, if films and literature are anything to go by). And what about the seafaring term "the sun is over the yardarm" when it's thought acceptable to have your first whisky? Then there's the whole British concept of afternoon tea.
Sure you can drink your cappuccino in the middle of the afternoon, have your first cocktail at 10 a.m., whisky for breakfast, afternoon tea in the middle of the night, but these unwritten "rules" and traditions add a little je ne sais quoi to life, don't you think?
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Jan 1st, 2015, 08:26 PM
  #30  
 
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Yes, they do, Appia.

Although, whiskey for breakfast and first cocktail at 10a.m.? Not so much.
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Jan 1st, 2015, 09:05 PM
  #31  
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I sympathise with flanneruk.
<>

As I understand it, the competition betwen coffee suppliers is such that some give discounts to bars and hotels while others give stuff free. The free stuff is often tea, but of course the bar/hotel has to take what it is given, hence unknown brands and exotic types of tea. It's quite probable that the tea you pay for hasn't cost the bar a penny.
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Jan 1st, 2015, 09:38 PM
  #32  
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@Tabernash2: <>

Precisely! And I would say "cappuccino in the afternoon... yuck!"

I've just had my first, it warms the cockles of your heart on an icily cold morning here in central Italy.

Btw, talking about warming up, in northern Italy some drink grappa at breakfast time.
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Jan 2nd, 2015, 02:43 AM
  #33  
 
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May I say something about tea?

Last year when I was in London I made the mistake of having breakfast in the garden restaurant of the Wallace Collection, but I will never forget the delicious cup of tea that I had there. They had a tea list, and I cannot remember which one I chose, but I could simply not believe how marvelous it was. I recall thinking that if tea was like this all the time, I would certainly drink it all the time.

I also find it easy to get addicted to the worst, trashy PG-Tips types of tea, but that cup of tea at the Wallace Collection was really a revelation. I have quite a few British friends, and have traveled with a few of them, and I admit I have spent a fair amount of time rolling my eyes behind their backs, listening to them moan and natter on about lack of a "decent cup of tea" everywhere they go.

But now I understand. It is genuinely heartbreaking, because it does seem like it would be so simple to learn how to make tea -- boil water, right? And yet until you've actually tasted it perfectly done, you really have no idea what the problem is with a poor cup of tea.

During the same trip, when I was staying right in the neighborhood of the Wallace Collection, I could not find a drinkable espresso or cup of coffee of any description anywhere near my hotel in any direction -- and this neighborhood of Marylebone is just the sort of London neighborhood now bursting with euro-style cafes. Utterly lousy when it comes to espresso.

So in the end I think we all need to accept that the character of the water, the vessel-types, the inherent "knowledge", the shape of the cups and so many subtle factors are crucially necessary to produce a great cup of tea and that is really only possible in Britain and that a great shot of espresso is really only possible in Italy. it's an alchemy and an art that doesn't travel. All the elements stay home.

Hopefully that will put an end to all this berating of Italians for not producing something they simply do not have the ingredients and elements to produce, no matter how much you bang on that they "ought" to and that is their fault and they are stupid for not trying harder. It doesn't matter how many Italian baristas you hire in London or how many machines you import. Britain is never producing good espresso because, likewise, it will never have the right stuff to make it happen through no fault of its own.
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Jan 2nd, 2015, 02:55 AM
  #34  
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Well said sandralist!
Appia is offline  
Jan 2nd, 2015, 03:36 AM
  #35  
 
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What about pizza for dinner?
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Jan 2nd, 2015, 03:36 AM
  #36  
 
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Appia, your rules are full of it.
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Jan 2nd, 2015, 03:41 AM
  #37  
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Yes, it's no use. Drink coffee here and tea in the UK. Period.

On the caffe latte thing in the UK....I've heard (because it's 40 years since I lived in the home country) that when ordering it they abbreviate to "latte". Then they come to Italy and do the same and of course get just that, a glass of milk.

I have a chuckle at my favourite bar when someone really does want just milk (often young ladies) and to be sure of it they ask for latte bianco (white milk, as it there were any other).
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Jan 2nd, 2015, 03:42 AM
  #38  
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Full of what Dukey1?
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Jan 2nd, 2015, 05:16 AM
  #39  
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No problem with pizza for dinner traveller1959 as far as I know. Drink beer with it.
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Jan 2nd, 2015, 05:32 AM
  #40  
 
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Gosh, that's good to know.
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