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Local Customs Tuscany

  • Customs

    While travelling in Italy you’ll be able to tell that habits, landscape, cooking and even language change considerably from north to south. Italy is a very young nation compared to other European countries and it’s been divided in several lordships and under foreigner kingdom, not to mention the Papal States, until 1861.

    However there are some common habits and customs found throughout Italy and you might find that they are quite different from the ones in your home country. Here are some of the most common to help you understand the locals.

  • Sweet breakfast

    Italian people, no matter where they live, start their day with sweets: biscuits, cakes, marmalade and jam, chocolate, pastry with custard. They go along with coffee, tea or cappuccino. Note that a cappuccino is usually a breakfast hot drink and Italians never drink it after 11.00, not to mention after lunch or dinner.
    A typical habit is to have breakfast at a bar/café of 'pasta e capuccino' (pastry and capuccino) which an Italian will eat while standing at the counter.

  • The Three Ms

    Italian society is said to be dominated by the three ‘M’s – Madonna - Mamma - Mangiare
    This is an exaggeration, but like all good generalisations, it contains several grains of truth.

    The Italians are certainly a religious people, as the numbers and splendour of their churches testifies. Even quite small villages may have several churches and Sunday morning brings out scores of people and many family groups walking their way to mass. Most Italians devote the afternoon to play. For many this means walking or climbing, both popular sports. As the Sunday driver will find, many go cycling, Italy sharing with France a national passion for the sport.

    Whether Italian society is matriarchal depends on who you ask. It is certainly true that, until a few years ago, Italian life was family orientated, and children were the focus of the social unit. Mothers were therefore of prime importance, caring for the children and ensuring their needs were satisfied. The system created a good number of spoilt children, but adult Italians seem none the worse for the experience – unless you include fanatical support for football or growing support for a more liberal attitude towards women.

    The final M is ‘mangiare’ – eating. This really is an important feature and Italians enjoy both the eating and its social side. For visitors this can only be good news.

  • Bell Chimes

    Churches in the area are an excellent way to keep a check on the time; just listen out for the chimes. Nowadays not all the churches mark the time of the day, but they usually still do it in the smaller villages in the countryside.
    Depending on the priest’s choice, you can hear two different sets of chimes:  
    Once  -- quarter past
    Twice  -- half past
    3 times -- quarter to
    Then bell chimes denote what hour it is, for example: Once – 1 o’clock

    Chimes for the number of the hour
    and once to mark half past

  • Kiss me!

    Italian lovers are supposed to be very passionate and which is the best way to express it than kissing each other? Although you are in a  Catholic country, it’s very common to see young and less young couple that kiss each other on the mouth in public, while walking in the streets or sitting in gardens. A habit that Italians share with French but not with many other countries.
    Italians will also kiss friends and acquaintances, once on each cheek, when greetings them or saying good bye.

  • Breast feeding

    If you have a baby and you are breast feeding, please feel free to do it while sitting at restaurant tables, public gardens and so on. There’s also a popular web site where you can find a list of baby and mother friendly shops where you can sit down and feed your baby, no need to buy anything! This website is in Italian only, but you just need to move your mouse on the map to see the shop’s name and location: children’s clothes shops, bookstores, public library and so on.

  • Dining out

    Dinner out at a restaurant, osteria, trattoria or pizzeria?              
    Italian menus are divided into starters, first courses (pasta and risotto), second courses (meat or fish), side dishes and desserts, plus a wine list. Please note that you cannot consider any of item as a single course and that Italian people usually have one of each for dinner, or at least they ask for starter and first course at lunch and opt for starter, second course and side dish at dinner.
    Trattoria and osteria were originally family runned, small cosy places where you could sit down and eat homemade local food reasonably priced. Nowadays they almost have the same prices or they might be even more expensive than a good restaurant.
    Pizzeria usually serves a wide choice of piazza plus starters, side dishes and desserts.
    Look at our list of suggested restaurants in Tuscany to help you choose one near you. These have been tried by ourselves or suggested by our villa owners

  • Let’s go in holiday!

    Until a few years ago 90% of Italian people used to take their weeks off work in August, also because school holidays run from the middle of June to the middle of September. This causes more traffic on the weekends, overcrowded costal towns and busy mountain villages, while the major cities were almost empty of locals.  The most common summer destination for the Italians is the seaside although many will also go to the mountain resorts.
    The situation has slightly changed recently, since the economic crisis has made people work all year long and be more keen on choosing their holidays in cheaper periods. However, July and August are still the most expensive and busy months if you want to travel in Italy.
    Once at the seaside, how does Italians spend their holiday? Sunbathing, sea swimming, reading and chatting on the beach. 
    Another typical Italian holiday is the so called white week: January and February are the best months to go skiing in the Alps or Apennines mountains, and many Italians will take a week to go skiing at this time of year.

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A full day tour in Florence with skip-the-lines entrance to Uffizi and Accademia. Admire the most important sites of Florence in one day! The tour will give you an overview of the city center, starting from Piazza della Repubblica, admire the Cathedral, Brunelleschi's Dome, Giotto's bell tower, the Baptistery, Piazza della Signoria and cross the Ponte Vecchio to explore the Oltrarno area, and the Pitti Palace.  Visit the Uffizi and its world famous collection of paintings by Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio, and the  Accademia museum, where you will admire the famous original David by Michelangelo.

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