Twelve things Italians never do - superstitions and traditions -

What do Italians Never do?

Ahh, mamma mia… Italians never do certain things – some of it is because of tradition, while other things have to do with superstitions. This post will take a humorous look at things Italian never do. Let me state for the record that these is not “hardcore facts,” but my witty way of observing my new heritage.

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Italy is probably the most admired and disliked country all at the same time. For the most part, people love Italians and Italian culture and possibly… a tad bit jealous. Jealous of the food and the leisure way of life… “la dolce vita.” How Italians really live for the moment, so to speak.

Italians are world-famous for being loud, very kissy and affectionate, passionate, and for talking with their hands. Oh yes, and for not respecting rules, including at times – the laws. Disclaimer – remember this is my opinion, not facts pulled from statistics I found somewhere on the web.

However, with all this being said, there is a specific set of rules Italians never do.

Here they are in no particular order:

Order a Cappuccino After 11:00 am

Cappuccino is considered one of the most famous Italian drinks for breakfast only! It is consumed in the morning – period. End of story. Italians believe consuming milk after a meal, will totally mess up your digestion. This is a big concern in Italy.

Espresso – not expresso – can be consumed anytime in the day and literally drunk within 30 seconds. Down it and gone.

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Put Cheese on Pasta That Contains Fish or Seafood

Italians are passionate about food and very precise about their ideas of what can and can’t be done when it comes to certain food. Parmesan cheese overpowers the flavor of the seafood as is the same for dishes containing truffles. Cheese takes away the delicate balance of flavors. Putting cheese on a seafood pasta dish is an offense comparable to high treason. You will never see an Italian doing this.

Overcook Pasta

Always – always – always Italian cook their pasta al dente which means “firm to the bite.” I don’t want to start an international culinary war, but Pasta that is al dente takes longer to digest, keeping you full longer. How do you tell if your pasta is correctly cooked? Always begin two minutes less than the package if cooking dried pasta in a bag or box. At that time, take a piece out of the pot, cool it off a little by blowing on it (have to put that disclaimer here – don’t want any comment about a burnt mouth!) and if your pasta has homogeneous color and consistency, it’s ready to eat!

Staying with the food discussion…

Italians Never Cut Spaghetti With a Knife and Fork

spaghetti with twirled fork eating -

Pasta etiquette is important to Italians – especially Italians in Italy. The correct way is to rotate your fork, wrap it and get the strands entangled on your fork – using your bowl or plate to assist you. Also, don’t use a large spoon to assist – just the plate.

And while we are on the subject – it’s a no-no to break your pasta before cooking it in the pot.

Eat Fettuccine Alfredo

Sorry, Avery – my lovely granddaughter who loves this dish but it is not Italian. It is an American invention and maybe a very Italian dish everywhere – but Italy. Try to order in Italy and they will not know what you are talking about!

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Butter Bread

buttering bread, something Italians never do -

Bread is not an appetizer. It will be on the table for the entire duration you sit and eat. You will also not get butter, or a bowl of olive oil to dip it in. Plain good bread is meant to enjoy naked – try it, you’ll like it.

Moving on out of the food categories…

Be On Time

Art by Salvador Dali in Matera, Italy,

Opening times for stores and restaurants in Italy is a suggestion. They mainly abide by it – but… you never can be certain. Guided tours will more than likely start 15-30 minutes after they are supposed to if you have an Italian guide. Many times when we were in Foligno, we went to a restaurant that “should” have been open and they weren’t to our disappointment. We just kept trying back.

Italians Never Wear Beach Attire to a Church

Entry sign for church - what you can't wear -

Don’t wear shorts, sleeveless tops, or flip-flops when visiting a church. A sacred place in Italy and they prefer to dress as such. In summer, you will notice some churches have a sign for tourists indicating your shoulders must be covered. This is one reason I always carry a scarf. In Assisi, the Duomo had a paper shawl by the entry door for those who did not have the means to cover their shoulders. Men’s hats should always be removed.

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Hail a Taxi

what you need to know about tipping in Italy, the etiquette, the places and how much is in our post, -

Taxis are not allowed to stop when you raise a hand like in the States or Hollywood movies. Don’t even bother trying it. You have to call ahead of time or go to a specially designated stop like a train station or in front of a large tourist sight.

Drive Slow

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Italians don’t just simply drive – they fly like they have wings. If you don’t drive the speed limit, just be prepared for some hand gesture, flashing lights and most certainly a “honk” when they go around you on the streets or autostradas.

Sit in a Draft

Italians will find the perfect spot in a restaurant, movie theater – anywhere not to sit in a drafty spot. Drafts put you at risk for illness and Italians are big on avoiding them. Italians do not like air conditioning!  

For that reason, Italians – both men and women alike, will always carry a scarf. Not only for beauty but protection. The benefit, of course, is that Italy produces the most beautiful scarves, sweaters, wraps, shawls, and other apparel in silks, cottons, cashmere and wool to protect the neck and shoulders from the dreaded draft.

My Italian friends have a saying: Sole di vetro e vento di fessura mandano l’uomo in sepoltura. Meaning… It seems that the sun through a glass window and the dreaded draft will send a man to his grave. 

And last but not least Italians do not have…

A Bathroom Without a Bidet

Italian bathroom -

Italians are very hygienic people and you will not find an Italian bathroom without a bidet. It is no laughing matter. Indeed, the bidet is in fact, a regular fixture in Italian buildings and hotels. Ninety-five percent of Italian households are said to contain a bidet.
Twelve things Italians never do - superstitions and traditions -


  1. Nice article! You’ve covered some important points that will help those visiting Italy. I wanted to add a word about taxis — in Italy, and everywhere for that matter — the safest thing to do is to go to the taxi stand in Italy. These are the taxis that have been licensed by the government. If you try to wave a taxi down in the street and they stop for you… they probably are not a taxi you want to get into!

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