Another 3 Things you shouldn't do in Italy
DON’T take a tourist gondola ride in Venice unless you’re prepared to pay EURO 80-100 per gondola for a 40 min ride. These are official rates so don’t get taken for a ride by shady gondoliers who charge random prices. On a budget, try hopping a Traghetto, one of the water taxis used by locals to cross the Canale Grande. The ride will be shorter, but the boats are similar except that tickets will cost around 5 EURO.
DON’T expect the “Italian” food served in other countries to actually be served in Italy. Italian food is VERY regional. It’s also seasonal. Try local specialties, e.g. Genoa for pesto; Naples for pizza; Bologna for Bolognese sauce and filled pastas like ravioli, tortellini, lasagna; Milan for risotto and Ossobucco alla Milanese; Rome for Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Spaghetti all'amatriciana, and lamb. Gnocchi, bresaola, polenta dishes, and Tiramisù are found all over the country, but they’re native to North Italian regions like Lombardy and the Veneto. Prosciutto/Parma ham is most commonly associated with central and northern Italy. Oh and Americans, NO PEPPERONI PIZZA (lol).
DON’T tip, no matter what they tell you abroad. Tipping is not obligatory or common in Italy and can be an insult. However, tourist-savvy service people may have heard that other nationalities (especially Americans!) are genetically programmed to tip everything from waiters to performing rabbits, so the cheekier ones might try to work you for some spare change. Unless they gave you the best service in the history of the planet, resist. People earn a living wage so there’s absolutely no need to tip.
DON’T ask your waiter for Parmesan to put on your seafood pasta unless you want to see a grown man cry. One of the holiest commandments of traditional Italian culinary etiquette is that cheese and seafood never, ever mix. Only very recently have certain cheese/seafood pairings cropped up - i.e. ricotta with sea bass, gorgonzola with clams - but this is considered very avantgarde;a purist won’t touch such dishes. Also, for the love of Saint Peter, don’t let an Italian see you cutting spaghetti with a fork and knife or roll it on a spoon.