Things to avoid when visiting Tuscany

Radda crossroads

Tuscany is a region in central Italy with countless views. However, there are certain mistakes that you need to avoid as a tourist, in order to have an amazing experience in your trip. Before preparing your luggage, let’s discover essential tips and crucial advice on things to avoid when visiting Tuscany to ensure a smooth, enjoyable, and unforgettable trip experience.

Dress Code in Churches

Monopoli Cathedral

One of the top things to avoid when visiting Tuscany is dressing disrespectfully when visiting churces. Churches in Tuscany, like most of Italy, are held in high regard as sacred spaces. Visitors should be aware of dressing modestly when entering, out of respect. In order to avoid disrespectful behavior in churches and museums, both men and women should avoid wearing revealing clothing such as shorts, short skirts, or having their shoulders bare. Instead, try wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts, or carry along a light jacket for the warmer months. Additionally, avoiding loud talking is also of significant importance, since people are there to pray and require quiet.

Say“Ciao”at first sight

The word “Ciao” is a very common greeting among Italians. They normally use it around the clock, and it is a casual way to greet each other. However, when tourists use it, it can seem a bit impolite to them. Try greeting them by saying “Buon Giorno” or “Buona Sera”, which mean “good morning” and “good evening”. Italians appreciate either way when visitors try speaking their language, and they are totally willing to help you out. Noticing this small cultural norm will surely satisfy them.

Respect the Space

It might seem like a very tempting idea to enjoy a picnic in a remarkable landmark of Tuscany, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Piazza del Campo, or Ponte Vecchio, but eating there is prohibited by law. In the best case, you may be asked to move along by security or local authorities, of course, in a polite way. However, there are cases where you could be fined a couple of hundred euros. Alternatively, you can find a cozy café or restaurant nearby where you can relax and enjoy a meal or a snack. Another option is to taste one of Tuscany’s famous gelatos and admire the sights at the same time. Of course, Tuscany provides many designated areas for picnics, such as Bardini Garden, Boboli Gardens, Cascine Park, and La Limonaia di Villa Medicea di Artimino.

Be Aware of Pedestrian Crossings

Radda crossroads

Even though pedestrians have priority on the crosswalk, most of the drivers do not always wait for them to cross the road. Visitors should be alerted when it comes to traffic, meaning looking both ways before start crossing, even when it comes to marked crosswalks. Avoid using headphones or looking at your phone. Make sure to use a hand gesture and make eye contact with the driver to signal your intention to cross. By implying the above, you will navigate in the streets with no stress!

Drop the Flip Flops

Tuscany’s charming towns are the best to be explored on foot. One of the things to avoid when visiting Tuscany is to wear flip flops. As a traveler there, you will definitely need comfortable shoes. Flip Flops might seem a good idea especially in the warm months but in some streets where the road is full of stones, irregular in shape and size, it will be a challenge to walk. Tuscany travel essentials include sturdy sneakers that will provide good ankle support while navigating the picturesque streets.

Be Patient with Lines

Lining properties can differ between the cultures. Locals in Tuscany do not bother on high-speed service. You will see them chat, cut in line or sometimes appear in front of you. However, there is no reason for you to get upset. Sometimes a simple “Scusi” (excuse me) can usually solve your problem. Either way, do not forget that you are on vacation for loosening up. Tuscany etiquette is all about enjoying the moment and connecting with others.

Ice in Drinks: A Local Preference

While some restaurants in Tuscany may offer ice in their drinks, it is a bit unusual in the majority of them. Italians prefer their beverages at room temperature, especially water and wine. Nonetheless, do not hesitate to ask for ice since it is a personal choice and it is always acceptable. Tuscany travel tips include skipping the ice and opting for “frizzante” (sparkling water) with your meal – it’s refreshing and a popular choice. If you prefer wine, try maybe a local one to experience the region’s flavors.

Leave your belongings unattended

Tuscany is overall a safe place but we cannot neglect the fact that is a popular tourist destination. Avoiding pickpockets in Tuscany requires some vigilance, especially in crowded areas like train stations, markets, and tourist attractions. Tuscany safety tips include ditching the backpack in favor of a secure crossbody bag worn in front of you.  Carry along only what you need for the day. It is not necessary to have jewelry or extra credit cards with you. Do not forget to keep an eye on your stuff, even if you are relaxing in a café or a restaurant.

Cutting your spaghetti with a knife and fork

While it is common to see people around the world to cut the spaghetti, Italians consider it as a huge no. The traditional way to eat spaghetti is by twirling it around your fork, often against a spoon to assist in gathering the noodles. Cutting spaghetti is seen as a sign of laziness or lack of elegance in dining habits. Locals support this way of eating with arguments. Twirling allows you to take manageable bites of spaghetti and helps to cover the spaghetti strands with sauce for a more flavorful experience.

Thinking you can just speak English everywhere (and that everyone will understand you)

English is a well known language by the most people. You will meet many local Italians speaking English, especially in large cities and popular touristic destinations. However, many Tuscan, particularly outside these areas, may have limited English proficiency. Avoiding language barriers in Tuscany is easy with a little preparation. What a visitor can do to approach the locals and communicate is learning some important phrases like “Buongiorno” (good morning/afternoon) and “Grazie” (thank you). This way will not only help you but also shows respect to the local culture. Otherwise, you can also carry a dictionary along or install a translation app. Even if it might be time-consuming it can be a lifesaver.

Breakfast is small and quick

Tuscan and Italians in general prefer their breakfast light and quick. The basic element of their breakfast is the coffee, strong espresso or cappuccino. Usually they prefer to company it with a buttery croissant or a slice of sweet focaccia. Most of the time you will see Italians standing and taking their breakfast. That is not only because the consider it a quick meal but sometimes the table comes with a price tag. Essential note for Italian bars is the plethora of “bar” signs! In Italy, a “bar” is a place to enjoy coffee, pastries, and light snacks, not necessarily alcoholic drinks, although some may offer them.

Coffee Culture in Tuscany

In many countries, it is used for people to sit in a coffee shop and work while they enjoy their coffee. In Italy, you might face a problem doing that since the culture there, is standing at the counter and drink a quick coffee. Sometimes this procedure is the break that someone has from work and not going there to work! Italians consider the coffee time as a mini break of relaxation. You will find many ”historical cafés” in Piazza Della Repubblica in Florence where writers, painters and philosophers were spending their time discussing their thoughts about work and more, but they still don’t “work”. Smaller towns have small bars (as they call them) that have tables to sit down and take your time but again as a social gathering place. Don’t expect to sit and work there while the Wi-Fi coverage is erratic, or they do not offer this as a service at all.

Only Staying in the Big Cities

Beyond Italy’s popular cities, real gems are waiting to be explored. A common mistake being made is that tourists, only visit the big cities. While they offer a wealth of activities, avoiding tourist crowds in Tuscany is possible by exploring smaller towns. Smaller cities offer a relaxed atmosphere, local museums, medieval villages yet avoiding tourist crowds. You can explore a city not being crowded, wandering with no worry about the traffic and enjoy your coffee at the local ”bar” in your neighborhood. It is hard to explain it with words but the feeling that occurs when seeing a quiet little church or a lovely stone staircase can seem just as monumental as the Colosseum.

Eating next to attractions

Eating at restaurants near attractions can be a tourist trap. Most of them are overpriced and lack authenticity. What we did, was asking locals and our hotel’s staff about their favorite places to eat.

Forgetting to Validate Your Train Ticket

Eurail is the rail pass range for overseas visitors, giving unlimited train travel across most of Europe. If you have secured it or your transportation through Italy you have done the best choice. Avoiding unexpected costs in Tuscany includes being aware of Eurail’s details. You just have to validate it, at a train station and always keep checking the timetable, expiration date, seating class, and other details, so you don’t run into any surprises. If you intend to explore into Italy by train, keep in mind that there are occasional rail strikes, but they are scheduled in advance, and Trenitalia, Italy’s national railway, still guarantees some service on strike days.

Planning to Sight see on Sundays

For Italians, Sundays are considered as a day of rest. That means that some stores, attractions and restaurants are closed or have limited open hours. When planning your day trip take a look on what is open and what is not. But do not do it thoroughly and ruin your vacation’s mood. Go with the Italians flow and take advantage of your day relaxing.

Not Buying Tickets in Advance

As mentioned before, Italy and Tuscan as well, have many popular attractions. Most of the time and especially during the peak season these attractions have long lines and the tickets sell out instant! Do not forget to buy your ticket in advance in order to not miss anything. Always purchase your tickets from official sources, such as the museum ticket office or the authorized ticket vendor. This not only helps you avoid long lines but also ensures you don’t fall victim to scams targeting tourists at popular attractions. If you have any hopes of seeing St. Peter’s Basilica, for example, planning ahead is a must.

Avoid littering and public urination

In Tuscany, littering and public urination are considered not only disrespectful but also illegal. These prohibited acts can fine someone from 50 to 500 EUROS. If you’re caught littering or urinating in public, you may also expect to clean up the mess. That is why many establishments display signs with the litter and urination fines to warn offenders.

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