This is a question many people argue about before they go travelling in southern Europe. "Do they greet with two or three cheek kisses?"
Mostly people think that it's always three. The fact is, that three kisses is the French way, but in Italy they do only two kisses to greet. Remember this when you greet people, or they will think you have a crush on them if you kiss them too many times ;). Well, not exactly, because three kisses are also used in Italy, but it makes a better impression if you know the original Italian way, too :).
This is very basic for most people in the world, so this tip is dedicated to Finnish people (see my Rovaniemi Local Customs Tip about shoes if you're not Finnish).
In Italy they wear shoes inside. When you go into someone's house, make sure you're shoes are clean, but generally you don't have to take them off! If you REALLY need to take your shoes off, ask the host if he minds.
If you are going to Italy, this is very very important!!!
Gelato is one of the most delicate aspects of the italian culture. It's soft, it's colorful, there's a lot of it, it's cheap and the most important thing: it's refreshing in the heat! It is ICE-CREAM. Here is a brief introduction to the art of choosing, buying and eating ice-cream.
Where to buy it?
An ice-cream shop is called a Gelatería. A gelatería is usually a small shop with a counter and some chairs and tables, usually also outside. On the counter there are cold pools full of packages of gelato. In normal, good gelaterías there are about 20-35 tastes of gelato.
What to buy?
What to buy, then? In most places they offer three sizes of cones and three sizes of cups, plus they have their own special super-size offers. The "cono piccolo", the small cone, costs in non-touristic places 1.50-1.70 euros. The biggest one costs 2.00-2.20 euros and the middle one something in between. However, during my one-month stay in Italy i NEVER tried anything else than cono piccolo, because they are HUGE!
This is what is included in the 1.50 price of cono piccolo:
- A normal size ice-cream cone.
- Three tastes of ice-cream.
- Cream. Loads of it.
- Sometimes a decorative bisquit.
HERE IS A REAL GOOD INSIDER-TIP, which you have no other way of knowing! In non-touristic places, like Fano, people are very generous in the gelaterias. So, if you ask "Panna sotto, grazie" (meaning: cream inside), before telling the ice-cream-man what tastes would you like, you will get cream INSIDE your ice-cream cone!!! Isn't that awesome? And it doesn't cost anything extra!
NOTE: In touristic cities like Riccione or Rimini these standars may not apply. Compare the prices and ask locals for a good and cheap gelatería. All locals have an opinion about this issue!
And the ice-cream tastes?
Now it is neccessary to talk a bit about the tastes.
Since there is so many tastes to choose from, I can't possibly list them all here and explain what they are. Some gelati have names like "Banana" or "Cioccolato", and those are easy, but here I'll give some very basic tastes that have italian names.
Fior di Latte.
The word "Fior" di means literally "Flower of..", and it's meaning is: "The best of....". So if you buy ice-cream with the title Fior di Latte or Fior di Panna, you are buying ice-cream made of the best parts of milk or cream. That is almost the same as vanilla, but even better, if you ask me.
Stracciatella is an ice-cream with white, creamy base and small, tasty chips and drops of chocolate inside the ice-cream. Very good!
Crema is not cream. Cream in italian is panna, but crema means caramelle. This taste of ice-cream is very delicious, in my opinion!
The word means orange. This ice-cream is quite sparky, but it's very tasty and refreshing in a hot summer day!
How to eat it?
This is surprisingly important. There are some dangers in eating ice cream. They have to do with messing yourself up and not looking elegant while eating your ice-cream. ;). Here I have listed them and given some tips how to avoid these dangers.
1. The gelato melts faster than you can eat it.
In all gelaterías they have spoons. They might look funny, but with a cone of three balls of ice-cream it really helps. It's a good way to eat it faster and still enjoy it! So take a spoon from the gelatería or ask for one if they are not visible. "Vorrei un cucchiaino, grazie!" (Means: I would like a little spoon, thank you!"
2. Another part of the gelato is falling down when I'm eating the other part. Don't worry. If you use a spoon it will be easy to control your ice-cream.
3.The cream inside the cone bursts out.
Be careful! If this happens, you're sure to have cream all over your pants/skirt. So once you've eaten the gelato and the cone and the cream inside it is all that's left, don't start taking big bites, cos the pressure might break the bottom of the cone and then the cream will fall on your lap. So be careful!
This is basicly all. Besides this, gelato is nothing but a pleasant experience. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND IT!