When in Rome, don’t do as the Romans do

The famous English saying encourages people to behave like local inhabitants when visiting a place and adopt to the local customs so as not to make mistakes. However, even if this is also a nice way to integrate with local people and feel part of the place and culture, it is not always a good idea to do as local people do when it comes to bad habits that can be unknown to foreign people.

When visiting Italy there is a number of habits you will find that are shared by some people but that are not part of good manners or rules belonging to correct socio-cultural behaviors. As misunderstandings can easily come about, it is better to make clear that there are some Italian widespread customs that are not part of Italian culture and, therefore, should not be taken as example. 

Here is a list of some bad manners and habits you should not follow when in Italy:

- non attraversare sulle strisce pedonali (not crossing on crosswalk). If you drive in Italy it could happen that you find some people not crossing on the strisce pedonali. It is the Italian word to say crosswalk, which exists and should be used to cross street. However, some Italian people seem to forget it and often cross the street without respecting road signals or they run to reach the other side of the street.

- suonare il clacson (sounding the horn). Sounding the horn is a widespread habit, which mostly would say frequent in the South and some parts of the center, that you will find among several Italians. Stressful life rhythm, rushing, traffic make sometimes people feel nervous and angry at the wheel and they start to honk in order to incite other drivers to go faster. Another situation in which this could happen is when drivers stop at the traffic lights and they don’t go through when it is green light as they don’t realize it and waste time.                            

- Passare con il rosso(going through red light). Going through a red light when there are traffic lights is another bad habit on the Italian roads that you may find in some parts of Italy. Some people, despite fines and electronic surveillance, often don’t respect road signals when driving and they risk their life and put other people’s life at risk.

- Urlare in macchina (shouting at people in the car). Shouting at people when in the car and making gestures is a habit some Italian drivers have. Due to the pressure of everyday duties and problems some people seem to consider driving as a relief valve.

- Non rispettare la fila (not respecting the line). It is another frequent habit foreign people always complain about. Some people still want to go first without waiting for their actual turn. Nevertheless, places like the post office and other offices use the system of numbers in order to avoid inconvenience.

- Parlare ad alta voce (talking aloud). Talking aloud is something more typical among the people of Southern Italy. If you hear people talking not in a low voice is not because they are angry or they are shouting at you but simply because it is something typical of Southern Italians but there are always exceptions.


These are some habits and behavior you can find in Italy. This is not part of Italian good manners’guidebook and, therefore, shouldn’t be seen as local cultural habits socially accepted. There are some towns and parts of Italy that are considered often as being the greatest representative of bad driving and lack of rules in road signs: towns like Naples or Rome are particularly mentioned in this field. However, these are often common stereotypes but you may always find some people behaving like this. Should you go to Italy, be aware of some manners you could find but don’t do as Romans do when it comes to bad habits!