Do you remember the feeling you get after you have booked your flight and the hotel where you will stay during your next vacation?
Only you can know…
My guess is probably feelings of excitement or fear because of the language barrier. Or maybe you belong to that kind of group of people who go for it without too many problems.
I want to share with you, from my personal experience, the way I feel sometimes after completing the hardest step of my next vacation of booking the hotel and buying the flight ticket: I want to impress the people I will meet along my next travel adventure. Well, impress maybe is not the right word to be used in this case. What I probably meant to say is that I want to give a positive image of the country I call home. I want my home country to belong to one of those famous lists of most intelligent country or the country that speaks multiple languages or simply most funny or sunny country in the world.
The first thing we all probably try to do is to give a fast look on the Internet to find the most interesting attractions to visit once we land for our vacation. The sad thing is that we get lost with amazing options and we fill up our desktop with hundreds of new web pages.
Then we probably say to ourselves that we will definitely spend some more time before our departure and better organize our itinerary.
Here comes the technology and our huge trust of it.
But sometimes it is a trap to be aware of…
Why? You don’t want to return back home with a $300 phone bill because you needed to use Internet abroad for only 5 minutes.
There are wise people that go to the bookstore and invest 40 bucks on a travel book. I really appreciate and respect those people!
From my experience as a traveler, before I leave for a new adventure, I always go to the bookstore and…
…I never buy a travel book. I never feel like I want to spend 40 bloody bucks on a book that I will use only for a week (the incredible and funny thing is that you will find that same book 1 week after you return from the trip, in a thrift shop for only $2).
Well, be sure to know, that when you will be wandering around a new place, your idea of finding free Wi-Fi will turn out badly. Never rely on free Wi-Fi…and you would probably agree.
And here comes the genius, or maybe the first, thing I learned from my 2 weeks work experience in a tourist information office back in my university years:
After you land in a new place, in 99% of cases, you will be able to find an Info sign. That means you have a tourist information office close to you, and you are safe (that means you will not find a $300 phone bill upon your return back home). That also means that you will have free access to a detailed city map and a person who actually might even give you tips while talking in your language or one of the most popular languages like English, French, Spanish…
Now let’s go back because I want to share with you what I like to do when I go on a new adventure….
Let’s say I like to impress or be funny to waitresses or new people that I meet during my time there. The number one rule is to learn common words used to ask for directions or to order the food. That is always a good way to make a person smile or be more cooperative. Everybody appreciates somebody else’s efforts to speak in their same language. I definitely appreciated it during my work experience in the food service industry in Italy back in my early 20’s.
Returning to your probably trip on the “boot peninsula”…
Did you get it?
Yes, I’m talking about one of the most gorgeous and complete places in the world, Italy, with a rich and deep culture.
Well, you might have the luck to spend some quality time with an Italian family or just by yourself…
A huge thing to know in order to fully enjoy the Italian experience: remember the Fare la Scarpetta!
From north to the far south (all the islands included) Italians will appreciate you doing that one important gest.
Fine, I want to finally explain what it is all about!
I can feel how excited and impatient you are…
Follow this plan, step-by-step, and you will be the happiest person in the world in that moment!
I am sure (and I can bet on it) that you will only have amazing dishes while you will have meals out (even if you are a strong loyal lover of hash browns & sausage gravy).
First step: during your order, use “per favore = please” and “grazie = thanks”. That will make them (the waiters) not to forget to bring the drink in time with some ice or the bread (the bread is fundamental for the third step below).
Second step: enjoy the food but not like a dog. Take small bites and truly savor the taste. It might be your first and last time in Italy where you can eat an authentic Italian meal. Chew the food. Tasty right?
Third step: I hope you didn’t finish the bread (don’t fall in the trap of the bread). Just for your personal knowledge, the Italian bread fills you up quickly.
“Do not fill your stomach with bread leaving no room for the main course.” – Tanzanian proverb
If you used words like “Grazie & Per Favore”, they will probably bring you a second free breadbasket.
Scarpetta is that moment after you finish the food from your plate. Scarpetta is the last thing to do in order to remember that dish and have the necessary information to use when you will narrate the experience for years to come. Scarpetta (which means “small shoe” in Italian) is breaking a small piece of bread (you can use your hand or a fork) and use that bread to shovel the rest of the food/sauce from your plate. Open your mouth and put that saturated piece of bread in your mouth!
It is in that precise moment that you will grab the attention of your friends in your future storytelling at dinners about your trip. You didn’t just go to Italy as a regular tourist. You came back richer. You know a genuine Italian custom. It is then, when they will consider you a cool person. They will adore you…
Thanks for reading it till the end!
Because I’m nobody without my loyal readers…