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There are many culture shocks an American will experience when visiting Italy and adjusting to a different way of life. Here are just a few of many unique cultural differences I have noticed in my short time so far here in Milan.

1. Italians Don’t Believe in Air Conditioning

You will rarely walk into a room and feel that refreshing cold air blast that you can find in almost any place in the United States. This is partly due to the many conservation and sustainability efforts that Italians have implemented, but also due to a genuine fear of air conditioning and fans. There are countless urban legends that tell of Italians catching illness from cold air which has led to a tradition of protecting themselves from getting sick by not using air conditioning. 

2. No Need to Tip at Restaurants

Italian employees never expect to receive a tip from customers unlike American waiters and waitresses, who essentially live off of tips. Of course, you are welcome to leave a tip for excellent service but it is never expected in the first place.

3. Drinking Culture

Back in the United States, it could be frowned upon to order an alcoholic beverage during the middle of the day at lunch. Here, you will rarely visit a restaurant and see no one drinking alcohol. Alcohol and fine wines are very integral parts of Italian culture, and Italians like to enjoy alcohol in a conservative and classy way.

4. Bring a Water Bottle!

Italians drink very little to no water. It is almost impossible to find a place that gives you water for free, so I highly recommend bringing a water bottle with you when you go exploring during the hot summer days. Furthermore, because Italians drink very little water day-to-day, it can be difficult to find restrooms. Definitely important to keep in mind!

5. Dress to Impress

When you come to Milan, there is an expectation for the clothing that you wear. Unlike America, where you can essentially wear anything out-and-about, you need to put at least some thought into the outfits you choose. Milanese people adore color coordination and have excellent senses of fashion. Unless you want to stick out or even offend some locals, make sure to dress yourself accordingly!

Need help packing? Make sure to check out our packing guide for some inspiration!


Image Source: https://traveldir.co/milan/info/maps/lombardy/

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