Gazing into the Tyrrhenian Sea
europe,  travel

18 Things I Found Interesting About Italy

If you’ve been to Italy, you cannot say it isn’t beautiful, but it is an interesting place.

It has been high on my list for a while and I’m pleased I was able to visit.

But I have to admit that I knew very little about the culture, history, or food prior to booking my flight. But you can bet that I did a lot of reading before embarking on this trip.

Disclaimer: Many of these statements are general observations based on the places I visited as a first-time visitor (which are: Rome, Palermo, Catania, Peschiara del Garda, Malcesine, Venice, Viareggio, Lucca, Pisa, Florence, Cinque Terre villages, La Spezia, Porto Venere, Biassa, Bolzano, and Merano).


An Italian breakfast is simply coffee and a slice of cake.

I’m still discombobulated by this. With all the countries I have been to, they each have their own kind of breakfast. But a cup of coffee and cake? Hmmm…. 

Photo credit: Illy


Whenever I said “parla inglese” to any Italian, 95% of the time, their reply was “a little.” (It means do you speak English)

Prior to the start of this trip, I read that a lot of Italians don’t speak English, but I was still surprised by the amount of locals that have a limited understanding of English in the city or touristy places. The other 5% would say either yes or no. More no’s than yes. 


Italians don’t really smile.

In comparison to other Europeans (not all), they barely smile while walking down the street.


God must have done something special to their gene pool because Italian men are VERY attractive!

I’ve heard over and over again that they are, but I had to see it with my own eyes. And it is so DAMN true! Like seriously, I have never seen so many good-looking White men in my life! LOL. Well, just the men below their 40s.


Italians kiss on both cheeks once. Noticed some men greet other men in the same manner.


Italians don’t really eat much vegetables.

So maybe it depends on the region. I have no idea. But I noticed that their dishes are full of carbs and animal protein. Besides seeing a salad on the menu, there wasn’t many dishes that include a variety of vegetables in a course. You might see eggplant or zucchini though. Their menu follows a particular structure, which usually includes antipasti (starters), primi (no meat, maybe seafood options), secondi (meat & seafood options), and dolce (dessert).


So many of them smoke!

If you were in a room with 10 Italians, I can assure you that at least 4, are smokers. Probably an exaggeration, but it felt like every other Italian I saw was smoking a cigarette.


Couples are not afraid to show affection in public.

On the streets, at the beach, in the park; they will make out with zero regards! Even in the Tyrrhenian sea!

Italian Couple kissing in the sea - Cefalu BeachCefalu Beach


Italian men carry their lady’s purse.


Italian kids are typically naked at the beach.


Scooters are very commonly used.

Photo credit: Pexels


The Alto Adige (South Tyrol) region is very unique from all the regions I visited.

In South Tyrol, you’ll find people who speak German and Italian or only one. Everything is translated to both languages. For instance, restaurant menus, train station signs, tourist maps, tourist brochures, and so on.

As a tourist, you can use the mobilcard pass to go on any bus, regional train, and certain cable cars in the region. The laws in this region are different than the rest of Italy due to its Austro-Hungarian past.

Merano - Italian Alps of South TyrolMerano, near the border of Austria


All the homes I entered have a bidet next to the toilet.

If you are clueless as to what it is used for, well, it is used to wash your private parts.

Photo credit: Wikipedia


They are big on recycling. They have a bin for plastic, organic waste, glass, metal, and regular trash.

I was impressed and I love it! You’ll see separate bins at the train stations, on the streets, some hostels, and at people’s homes. Houston does not have a recycling culture so it took me some time to adjust.

Photo credit: Italy from The Inside


The African population in Italy appears to be massive.

Truth be told, I was not expecting to see Africans in the villages or small towns. Of course Rome or Florence, but not Peschiera del Garda or Merano. Peschiera has an estimated population of 9,000 and Merano has an estimated population of 40,000.

I met Africans from Morocco, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Gambia, and Senegal. And I am sure there are many others. I guess this means Africans can literally be found everywhere. Even if it’s 1 out of 1,000.


Authentic Italian food is good!

Everyone has different tastebuds, so for me, Italian cuisine is the only European food I actually like. (Still have 41 countries to visit.) I have always loved pasta so visiting Italy is a foodie dream come true!

During this trip, I’ve had to unlearn and relearn a lot of things about Italian food. For instance, ricotta cheese in the US grocery stores is nothing like the one from Italy. Good-quality balsamic vinegar is quite expensive and is meant to age like wine. If it contains coloring, it’s a fake. Never saw fettucine alfredo, lasagna, garlic bread, or mac & cheese at any restaurant I went to.

The best dishes I had was cooked by a local chef (see photo below) during a cooking lesson offered by Sapori e Saperi. Tied with Niko from Ostello Tramonti. If someone gave me an all-expenses-paid-trip, I would fly out just to eat their food in a heartbeat! Not even kidding.

Italian Chef cooking spaghetti with prawns


If dining with someone other than yourself, it might be hard to separate the restaurant bill if you want to pay by card.

They don’t ask if it’s a separate check or all together like here in the States. They’ll just print 1 bill with all the orders. However, they might be able to bill you separately, if you ask. One last thing, I am not a fan of the “coperto” on every bill, which is a service charge of 1.50 euros per person when you choose to dine in. It was 2.50 euros in Cinque Terre.


And of course, I got so many stares!

No matter the age. Toddlers, kids, young men, older men, older women. I think I got more stares from men. Had older Italian men shout out “bella” (means beautiful) as I passed by. I also had a few people touch my braids without permission (*eyeroll*) and questions were asked about my braids from strangers in Italian and English.

Have you been to Italy and have similar findings? Comment down below!


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  • Jamie

    Interesting to read this! Although I’m American, I’ve lived in Italy quite awhile now so sometimes I forget how it seems to someone who hasn’t experienced this culture before. It truly is such a beautiful country with such welcoming people… As far as the breakfast thing, I still can’t stand it! As an American I’m used to having a hefty breakfast and many Italians have a coffee and call it good… WHAT?! HOW ARE THEY NOT HUNGRY?! I’ve never understood that… Ha! Happy travels! 🙂

    • Ann

      Lol. That’s what I was wondering……are they not hungry all morning? I don’t drink coffee on a regular basis, so I could never get used to it.

  • Clare

    I love Italy it is such a great country. The food is amazing, I love Italian food so was in heaven while I was there. It is a crazy country, but I always found everyone very friendly and helpful. Have to agree the men are very good looking!!!

  • Jurga

    I’ve been to Italy many times and somehow none of this really struck me. Well, except maybe for the undrinkable strong coffee and men shouting ‘Bella’ to any woman under 50… 🙂 It was fun to read this look on Italy by a non-European.

    • Ann

      That’s interesting that you did not notice a lot of what I saw. The first espresso I drank was disgusting, but then I had illy espresso at a hostel and it wasn’t bitter. Thanks for your feedback and reading my post, Jurga!

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