10 things not to do in Italy

10 things not to do in Italy

From pineapple on pizza to cream in carbonara, discover 10 things that drive Italians crazy.

Italy is rife with unspoken rules, many of which revolve around food and cooking. And as you might imagine, such topics are guaranteed to ignite the passion of all Italians.

Though these customs may seem perfectly normal to those who call the bel paese (beautiful country) home, to visiting tourists or expats living in Italy, they often appear as quirks or oddities that are followed religiously by locals for no apparent reason.

Curious to know what they are? Continue reading to discover 10 things you should never do in Italy:

1. Never put pineapple on pizza

Despite Hawaiian pizza’s popularity abroad, Italians believe that pineapple has no place on pizza. But the Italian rules of what should or should not be on a pizza don’t stop there. The mere idea of pizza with eggs, chicken, or Bolognese sauce is cringe-inducing for locals. Additionally, every good Italian knows, cooked meat should never appear on pizza, only cured meats like salami.

2. Don’t order a cappuccino after noon

A rule ingrained in the DNA of Italians, it’s one that often gets overlooked by foreigners. Cappuccino is a breakfast beverage that Italians rarely order at any other time of the day, especially not after noon. It’s perfect for accompanying the classic Italian sweet breakfast. Ordering a cappuccino after a meal is particularly frowned upon and will most likely earn you a disapproving look from any Italians at the table.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da ℳℴ𝓃𝒾𝒶 (@cose_dicasa_mia)

3. Don’t ask for a croissant; ask for a brioche (or a cornetto)

On the topic of breakfast, one of the joys of Italian life is going to a bar/cafe for a breakfast of coffee (a cappuccino is deemed appropriate at this hour), fresh juice, and a brioche or cornetto, depending on where you are in Italy. Although the origins of this pastry are French, it’s unusual to ask for a ‘croissant’ in Italy, and if you do, you might need to repeat your request a couple of times to be understood.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Nacho Ramiro (@nachoramir0)

4. Drink coffee at the counter

Except for breakfast, there’s really no need to sit down to enjoy your coffee. During breaks, after lunch, or in the late afternoon, Italians go to the bar and order espresso at the counter. In less than 10 minutes, this small ritual is complete, leaving just enough time for a quick chat with the barista.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Caffe degli Specchi (@caffe_degli_specchi)

5. Never wish someone happy birthday before the day

Italians have always been (and still are) rather superstitious. Despite the declining belief in superstitions among the younger generation, there’s one belief that unites everyone: birthday wishes should never be made before the actual day; it brings bad luck! According to local folklore, wishing someone a happy day early attracts negative energy. Even if they don’t believe it, many Italians prefer not to take the risk.

6. If Grandma offers you food, you must eat it

Italians are obsessed with food, and this obsession passes from generation to generation, becoming a deeply ingrained cultural trait. Italian mothers and grandmothers have long showed their love by cooking for their loved ones. But while mothers can be refused from time to time, grandmothers should never be denied. If they offer you food, you must eat, even if you’re full! They simply won’t accept no as an answer and will find use every weapon in their arsenal (including guilt!) to make you take another bite.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Archivio Balneare (@archiviobalneare)

7. Don’t break spaghetti

It might seem more practical, but for Italians, breaking spaghetti before cooking it is nothing short of a sacrilege. It’s considered an act so blasphemous, much like cutting spaghetti with a knife or using a spoon to eat it, that sooner or later it’s believed you’ll be punished for it. Spaghetti should remain perfectly intact and twirled on your plate using only a fork. Cleaning the plate with a piece of bread is always recommended.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Fabio Demasi (@fabius_2908)

8. Never look away during a toast

When making a toast in Italy one says salute (health) while making eye contact. This is not just an Italian tradition; it dates to the Middle Ages. Back then, it was considered dishonest to look away during a toast, whereas looking someone in the eye showed that you had nothing to hide (ie hadn’t poisoned their drink). In informal settings, after the toast and before drinking, you should tap your glass on the table—a tradition dating back to the 17th century, when it was done in taverns as a sign of gratitude.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Salotto Cairoli (@salotto.cairoli)

9. Don’t put cream in your carbonara

Italians don’t care if it makes the dish creamier or if you believe it makes it taste better (it doesn’t!). In carbonara cream simply has no place. It’s not part of the recipe. And it’s not enough for the rest of the world to take note of this; the rest of the world needs to stop doing it. For every carbonara with cream, Italians dies a little inside.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Will Pierson (@chefprah)

10. Avoid adding cheese to seafood dishes

A debatable rule, but if broken, it horrifies traditionalists. Neither Grana nor Parmesan cheese should ever be added to a fish or seafood dish (whether it be pasta, risotto or something else). Officially, it’s because the strong flavor of Parmesan clashes with the delicate taste of the fish. However, in reality it’s just not done. It’s yet another unwritten rule that has simply become part of the way Italians live.


Visualizza questo post su Instagram


Un post condiviso da Puur Piemonte (@puurpiemonte)

Are you planning a trip to Italy?

Checkout our experiences in some of the most popular destinations:

And for more inspiration, read our research on Italy’s most popular attractions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.