5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Going To Italy

5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Going To Italy
Carly Jacobs

ne of my favourite things about travelling is discovering all the nuances of other cultures. I’ve just spent the last week Italy and today we crossed the boarder into France where we ordered a coffee with our lunch. The waiter was horrified. Not fake horrified, genuinely horrified. Apparently it’s not the done thing in the French riviera. I love weird stuff like that. Something that seems so normal to me is something that’s super weird in another country. I love it. Before I get my head stuck in France I thought I’d write a few things I wish I had known before going to Italy.


1. Time is useless

Everything takes ages. Service, public transport, taxis… everything. Lots of things are broken too. I asked for the nearest ATM in the middle of Rome and the guy behind the counter said ‘There’s one next door but if that one is broken, go to the one opposite the post office and if that one is broken go to the one in the galleria. If that one is broken there’s a restaurant a ten minute walk away that has EFTPOS.’ I’m rarely in a rush when I travel so it’s fine but I’ve had to readjust my thinking because there’s no such thing as a ‘quick’ lunch and my usual half hour travel buffer has been extended to an hour and a half because sometimes things just don’t work out in Italy. It’s fine though because you can buy booze everywhere and the locals are hilarious. It makes 50 minute train delays seem heaps less annoying.


2. All Italian women are cooler than me

I promise I don’t have tickets on myself when I say this but I’m rarely the dullest person in the room. I’ve got weird crazy hair and no filter so even if people don’t like me, they usually remember me. In Italy, I might as well be invisible. The women here are off chops. They wear incredible tailored outfits and drive around on scooters in high heels. You know how when you go to a mall in Australia and there are groups of girls walking past you and they all look identical? That doesn’t happen in Italy – each woman has her own unique style and rocks it like a total badass. They even argue spectacularly. I walked past a fiery women passionately yelling in Italian at her lover last night, wildly gesticulating has she spoke. I was mesmerised and the dude she was yelling at looked like his world was being ripped apart. I live right next to a pub in Melbourne and I see couples quietly and awkwardly breaking up almost weekly. I’d love to see a little more passionate Italian action in my part of town. It’s made me self conscious about how much Australians like to pretend they don’t have feelings.


3. Eating gluten free is super easy

It’s been ridiculously easy to eat gluten free food here. Most places do gluten free pasta, at least half do gluten free pizza and failing that there’s always risotto. There’s also a fantastic brand called Schaar that has everything you could want with out gluten including gluten free cornettos in the ice cream section. Mr Smaggle had a rather holy experience with one of those bad boys last week. He’s better fed here than in Australia – he’s loving it.


4. Italian summer isn’t that brutal

Summer isn’t really my friend so I tend to panic a bit when it’s time to head to warmer climates but the weather here is spectacular. It’s still 30 degrees every day but it’s not as dry as Melbourne and the sun isn’t as ouchy. I’ve been walking around all day in the sun (wearing sunscreen, hat and long sleeves of course) and I haven’t even turned pink once. I could wear a hazmat suit on a shady balcony in Australia and still get sunburnt. It’s like the sun is different here. I may well have a proper (light) tan for the first time in my life. What a treat!


5. Italy is freaking spectacular

I’m ashamed to admit that Italy wasn’t really on my hit list of travel before I came here. I never had anything against it and I definitely planned to visit at some stage but it wasn’t on my urgent list. This trip happened very quickly and I was delighted to go but when I got to Italy I felt like the biggest chump. It’s amazing – incredibly diverse, breathtakingly beautiful and the food is just as amazing as everyone keeps banging on about. My biggest take away from Italy? Everyone should move it to the top of their travel bucket list immediately.

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Have you been to Italy? Do you plan to go sometime soon? What place is currently number 1 on your travel bucket list?


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  1. Italy stole our hearts too! On the GF front, if you’re travelling in the south, sadly you will not find GF pasta or pizza. We spent most of our time there and I was unintentionally carb-free the whole week.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Oh bummer! Mr Smaggle has also been eating a lot of salads – but it’s good! I feel so healthy here. All my weird digestive issues are gone. Bloody Australia.

  2. lubbie44 6 years ago

    Going to Italy for the 4th in a month. Absolutely love it and wish I didn’t so I would choose some other spot on the globe.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      We will definitely be back. It’s just magical here.

  3. Whitney 6 years ago

    Taking the fam bam this time next year! Italy, Austria, Germany, France, and Spain then home again…screw you term 3 2017, we are gone!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Oh that sounds amazing! We’re doing pretty much the same thing! 🙂

  4. Missy D 6 years ago

    Oh yeah… the Italians don’t order coffee with milk after lunch time – that’s purely a morning time thing. Espresso only after lunch (and not with food – I tend to agree with this as I feel coffee processes like food and have never been able to have two together).

    Definitely an awesome thing about Italy is the understanding about gluten-free. 🙂 Some of the world’s top coeliac specialists come from Italy.

    Well, Italy’s on my list because that’s where I’m going next, but I’ve been many times before so I’ll say after that… Argentina is up there on my list. 🙂

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Yes I’ve learned that now! I get strange looks when I order milky coffee in the afternoon. 🙂

  5. Steph Allen 6 years ago

    We were just in Italy last month. We found Rome in early July unbearably hot. There is no breeze and the stone buildings hold the heat like nothing else. Also my husband rarely burns as he works outdoors in Brisbane but did have to watch himself in Europe and wasn’t expecting that. We both got burnt on a walk in Nice! Avoiding dairy was impossible!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      Oh no! Rome is all white as well which makes it super hot and reflective. Not fun! We nearly died outside the Colosseum.

  6. Lifestyle Lodestar 6 years ago

    Italy is just twenty mins on the train from where we are based in Nice. All of the things on this list are so accurate! We love popping over there for amazing food, fashion, coffee and shopping.. Viva Italia 🙂


  7. Harlow 6 years ago

    It’s probably time I went to spec savers, but does that building have FANNY written on it?! You’re totally right though, the sun in Europe is so much less burny than it is in Australia, it’s nice that you can actually be outside in summer over there.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 6 years ago

      It sure does! I thought it was hilarious. I pointed it out really loudly and heaps of English speakers laughed. It was a swell moment.

    • Melanie Lindner 6 years ago

      So glad I’m not the only one who giggled at that!

      On a related note, I’ve just spent the week in Vietnam for work and the women here look so elegant and put together even though it’s 30+ and high humidity. I felt like a total mess… Will have to learn the secret before I come back for a holiday.

  8. Kathryn 6 years ago

    I’ve heard so much about the coffee thing in Italy but no one ever reacted when I ordered my cafe latte with lunch or dinner. Maybe because I had on my “don’t come between me and my coffee” face. I also found that women weren’t that stylish. Every second woman I saw wore leggings and a t-shirt – comfortable but not shatteringly stylish. I’d say it was because it was the middle of summer and full on tourist season but then you travelled at around the same time. Although I was staying in some working class neighbourhoods so that might explain it.

  9. Maya 5 years ago

    Nice share! Its always great to travel to some of the finest places on earth, Italy one of them. I have beautiful being in Italy. I and my husband stayed there for 2 weeks. Couldn’t really explore much but the food is something I still miss a lot. Have fun.

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