- Never eat alone in public. Food is meant to be shared with friends and family especially in Italian culture, so eating alone is frowned upon.
- Ask for the discount. If you are traveling past 9 PM in a taxi and you are a female, you are eligible for a discount, so just ask the driver.
- Always always always validate your bus pass. If the authorities conduct a random inspection on the bus and your ticket has not been validated, they will fine you 50 Euros, which increases to 240 Euros if the fine is not paid within 5 days.
- Use the Duomo as your landmark. If you ever get lost in downtown Florence, ask anyone for the Duomo. The prominent dome of the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral is a great icon in the city especially if you do not have a data plan to use Google maps!
- Say “prego” when you don’t know what to say. “Prego” is a very versatile word. It means “you welcome”, but it also means a host of other things, namely “of course”, “can I help you?” and “I beg your pardon.” This word is a household favorite of cashiers and waiters in restaurants around the Duomo.
- Become a connoisseur of gelato. Do not buy 7 Euro gelato that appears as a pile of cubes on a tray. Authentic gelato should be one homogenous mixture of cream. A small cone should cost you between 2 to 3 Euros.
- Bring your passport when you want to exchange cash in the post office. The post office has one of the smallest transaction fees, but if you want to trade your dollar bills for Euros, be sure to carry your passport. The post office workers insist you have it to make your transaction.
- You don’t have to tip in Italian restaurants. Tipping is an American concept, not a European one.
- Queuing is rather rare in Florence. Sometimes, you just have to nudge your way through crowds to get to your destination, as people do not always stand in neatly formed lines.
- Splurge on designer brands in Italy. Guicci, Prada or Longchamp bags will be cheaper here than in the US.
By: Anam Momin
USWIB Abroad Blog
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