Live like a local: Top 10 tips!
Thu Jun 2015
Travelling is intrinsically tied to immersing oneself in cultures, histories and experiences foreign to your own. With so many fabulous possibilities and often only a couple of days to get away, it is ever more difficult to truly get to know the real Verona, or Puglia or whichever destination you have chosen!
To help you make the most of your next trip to Italy, we've written our top 10 tips on how to really get under the skin of the country and live like a local!
1. Discover hidden corners
When you are done with the main sights, leave tourist areas behind and discover the city’s side streets. Go where only locals go. Residential areas are those where you can witness the everyday life of Italians.
2. Have a quick caffé al banco
Find a small lively bar and pop in for a ‘caffè al banco’. When they order an espresso, Italians often don’t stop to sit down and drink. They have it while standing at the bar counter, exchanging a few words with the barman. Moreover, ‘caffè al banco’ is usually cheaper!
3. Try a rich aperitivo
The Italian happy hour drink with nibbles can be just a glass of prosecco with crisps and olives, but some bars offer much more. Italians then call it ‘apericena’, a fusion between aperitivo and dinner. The apericena is usually a bit more expensive than a regular aperitivo, maybe in the region of €10. However, you will find an abundant buffet waiting for you, with pasta, rice salads, omelettes, cheese, marinated vegetables, pizza and meat according to the chef’s fantasy. Italians love it because it’s cheaper than a dinner and great for socialising!
4. Sunday night pizza with friends
The Italian Sunday roast equivalent. Of course, pizzerias are busy on Friday and Saturday nights too, however Sunday nights are great for a chilled and relaxing gathering with friends in front of a pizza. It’s like a farewell to the weekend while already thinking about the next one!
In Italy, good gelato is a pleasure nobody says no to. The best gelaterie have longer queues than museums, that’s how you recognise them! Ask for their signature flavour and be adventurous. There are many ingredients you will not find in a gelato in the UK and it’s definitely worth trying them out. If you are just wandering around the city, do it with a gelato in your hand.
6. Have water with your meals
Or wine, but certainly not cappuccino or orange juice! While wine can enhance the taste of a dish, all other drinks will change flavours. A fizzy drink is ok with a pizza or a sandwich, but if you are having a proper restaurant meal it is best to stick with water. Still or sparkling, in Italy it usually served bottled since restaurants don’t normally serve tap water.
7. Explore local food markets
Go and have a peek into what Italian ‘nonne’ (grandmas) buy for dinner. Discover new fruits and vegetables while enjoying the noisy atmosphere. Here you will really see what everyday Italian food looks like!
8. Meet up on the piazza
Italy is famous for its piazze. Every city, town or village will have at least one square on which everybody meets. If you go there in the afternoon or in the evening, you will see groups of young people chatting, children playing football, ‘nonni’ playing cards. The piazza is the centre of public life in Italy!
9. Get to know the actual locals!
Nobody can give you better advice than someone who lives in a certain place. Smile and show interest in their city. People will appreciate it and be happy to share their best tips for you to enjoy the place as much as they do.
10. Enjoy it!