8 Italian Travel Tips for Visiting America

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istock

If the world was high school, America would be the big, dumb jock—at least according to many of the travel sites that advise people of other nationalities what to do when they get stateside. So it’s nice to find a people, who, according to the travel advice they give their own countrymen, don’t seem bothered by American peculiarities. That nation is Italy.

1. AMERICANS WILL EAT ANYWHERE.

In America, eating etiquette is less strict than in most other countries, according to Marco Scandali at his blog, Un Italiano negli USA. Particularly, it is acceptable to eat anywhere, even during a business meeting. Though Scandali lauds the American tendency to only use first names in the workplace, “Their meetings are often a torture,” he writes, “since eating inside the conference room is universally accepted. I, however, cannot discuss work with someone who licks dirty smelly sauces off his fingers. We are not at an actual table, dammit!”

Also, since Americans tend to eat one handed, you will find it perfectly acceptable to eat with your left hand in your lap under the table. This, according to the advice website Tropiland, “is a custom derived from the Wild West, when the hidden hand was ready to grab the revolver.”

2. MEN'S BATHROOMS HAVE NO RULES.

According to Scandali, in men’s bathrooms anything is permitted, including smelly flatulence and loud dropping into the urinal, regardless of the victim at the next urinal. Take no prisoners.

3. AMERICANS DON'T REALLY CARE HOW YOU ARE.

Scandali tries to explain to his countrymen that Americans don’t want an honest answer when they ask you how you are. Honesty equals whining to Americans:

Americans ask me how I am ("How are you today" or "How do you do"): It is actually an expression of greeting, nothing more: he does not care how you are really, and even expects that you will lie about your problems. You will understand, we Italians have the opposite nature; we are whiners and we cannot wait for someone who is willing to listen to us complain a little bit.

Tropiland reminds readers that this surreal fake intimacy extends to any non-specific invitation, too: “The invitation to the house is almost always a pro forma and therefore you should not give it great weight.”

4. BUT AMERICANS ARE EXTREMELY SINCERE WHEN TALKING ABOUT MONEY.

“Don’t be surprised if you come to hear someone ask what you earn, even though you just met,” warns the Pianeta Donna blog. Money matters to American culture. You can see it in their coffee, according to Scandali. “[Good coffee] is not cheap…but it's the price you pay for access to a kind of exclusive club,” he writes. These are the rules of the market, and in America the law of consumerism is worth even more than the official legislation. It is their pride, after all.” 

See Also: 11 French Travel Tips for Visiting America

5. KISSING AND PETTING OTHER PEOPLE IS NOT OK IN AMERICA. 

Pianeta Donna explains there are certain behaviors that will cause American grooviness to grind to a halt. Touching strangers' children, for instance: “Generally, in the United States of America men avoid petting the children of strangers on the street, or even when invited into a home.” In fact, rein in the physical affection a bit altogether. No kissing people you’re not immediately related to—just handshakes.

6. UNDERAGE DRINKING IS ALSO NOT OK.

Like many other nations, Italy is perplexed by America’s attitude toward underage drinking. According to the travel information site America4you, Americans will take every opportunity to separate a boy and his booze:

In America you can safely buy a gun and carry it around, but regarding alcohol, no chance. If you go into a club, the man at the entrance will ask you for a document proving your age; same thing in a bar when you order a beer or even just in a supermarket!

But at least this explains the mystery of the bum-bottle. “Also it’s forbidden to drink alcohol in the street in most states,” the site notes. “[H]ere it is finally explained why in American movies people drink from bottles wrapped in paper.”

See Also: 8 German Travel Tips for Visiting America

7. DON'T HAVE EXTRAMARITAL RELATIONS (IN VIRGINIA).

Scandali warns, “Finally, remember that in Virginia he who has sex outside of marriage is severely punished by a fine.” Don’t think it’s a coincidence that state is named as it is.

8. AMERICANS ARE IGNORANT, BUT NICE. 

Of course not all Italians think Americans are nice. Yahoo poster bg says that “The average American has a low level culture and education, most only know English and that inadequately. With the excuse that they are the first country in the world, their arrogance does not allow them to recognize that there are other cultures. The strength of their culture is sports, junk food and Hollywood.”

But, as poster Alessandro notes, “The ignorant are everywhere, but at least in the U.S. they are friendly.”

Special Section: The Delightful Nuances of Hillbilly Talk

The website LaHoraDigital shows that little extra touch of bella vita that makes Italians so lovable. Sure, anyone can learn to speak English. But English with a Southern accent—that’s where it’s at. They give detailed instructions on how to turn plain Italian-accented English into a fantastic and disturbing hybrid of Italian and Yosemite Sam-accented English. “When I’m talking with a hillbilly,” says the author, “I already imagine the smell of home cooking. And if you want to talk with a southern accent, may be easier than you think.”

See Also: 10 Japanese Travel Tips for Visiting America

Hillbilly Talk Tips:

- Use "y'all" whenever you can. This term refers to a single person or a group of people. Never say "go,” replace with "fixin' to."

- Take the words, and add a few syllables. The "why" should be pronounced "waa" followed by "eye."

- Take the words of two syllables and reduce them to one, how to change the "tar."

- Use “Purdy” for appeal; “reckon” for recognize; the awfullest, gol darned horrible; critter rather than creature; breetches; and Tarnation.

This Island Full of Penguins Can Be Yours for the Right Price

iStock.com/SteveAllenPhoto
iStock.com/SteveAllenPhoto

Most people who live on a private island value solitude. But on Pebble Island, a landmass in the Falkland Islands that's currently for sale, you aren't exactly alone. Whoever buys the island from its current owner will have the company of colonies of penguins representing five species.

According to the BBC, John Markham Dean purchased the island for £400 in 1869 (about £35,100 in today's money, or roughly $45,800) and it's been in the same family ever since. Now, Sam Harris, Dean's great-great grandson, is looking to pass it off to a new owner. Pebble Island is currently managed by Harris's mother Claire, though no one in the family has lived there full-time since the 1950s. Speaking on his decision to sell, Harris tells the BBC that it's become too difficult for his parents to maintain the property.

Pebble Island isn't just home to a bustling penguin population. It also comes with sea lions, 42 species of birds in total, and a farm with 125 cattle and 6000 sheep. The island itself is one of the largest in the group, with beaches, lakes, and mountains spread out over 40 square miles.

Located off the coast of southern Argentina, the remote island isn't easy to get to. The farmland also needs to be taken care of, which is why Harris is hoping to sell it to someone with an interest in farming.

If those condition aren't deal-breakers, you can still find Pebble Island on the market. The property has proven difficult to value because it's remained in the same family for so long, so Harris says he's open to offers.

[h/t BBC]

15 Uplifting Facts About the Wright Brothers

Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Before they built the world’s first powered, heavier-than-air, and controllable aircraft, Wilbur and Orville Wright were two ordinary brothers from the Midwest who possessed nothing more than natural talent, ambition, and imagination. In honor of Wright Brothers Day, here are 15 uplifting facts about the siblings who made human flight possible.

1. A TOY PIQUED THEIR PASSION.

From an early age, Wilbur and Orville Wright were fascinated by flight. They attribute their interest in aviation to a small helicopter toy their father brought back from his travels in France. Fashioned from a stick, two propellers, and rubber bands, the toy was crudely made. Nevertheless, it galvanized their quest to someday make their very own flying machine.

2. THEIR GENIUS WAS GENETIC.

While they were inspired by their father’s toy, the Wright brothers inherited their mechanical savvy from their mother, Susan Koerner Wright. She could reportedly make anything, be it a sled or another toy, by hand.

3. THEY WERE PROUD MIDWESTERNERS.

The Wright brothers spent their formative years in Dayton, Ohio. Later in life, Wilbur said his advice for those seeking success would be to “pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.”

4. THEY NEVER GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL.

While the Wright brothers were undoubtedly bright, neither of them ever earned his high school diploma. Wilbur became reclusive after suffering a bad hockey injury, and Orville dropped out of school.

5. THEY ONCE PUBLISHED A NEWSPAPER.

Before they were inventors, the Wright brothers were newspaper publishers. When he was 15 years old, Orville launched his own print shop from behind his house and he and Wilber began publishing The West Side News, a small-town neighborhood paper. It eventually became profitable, and Orville moved the fledgling publication to a rented space downtown. In due time, Orville and Wilbur ceased producing The West Side News—which they’d renamed The Evening Item—to focus on other projects.

6. THEY MADE A FORAY INTO THE BICYCLE BUSINESS.

One of these projects was a bike store called the Wright Cycle Company, where Wilbur and Orville fixed clients’ bicycles and sold their own designs. The fledgling business grew into a profitable enterprise, which eventually helped the Wright brothers fund their flight designs.

7. THEY WERE AUTODIDACTS.

The Wright brothers’ lifelong interest in flight peaked after they witnessed a successive series of aeronautical milestones: the gliding flights of German aviator Otto Lilienthal, the flying of an unmanned steam-powered fixed-wing model aircraft by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Langley, and the glider test flights of Chicago engineer Octave Chanute. By 1899, Wilbur sat down and wrote to the Smithsonian, asking them to send him literature on aeronatics. He was convinced, he wrote, “that human flight is possible and practical.” Once he received the books, he and Orville began studying the science of flight.

8. THEY CHOSE TO FLY IN KITTY HAWK BECAUSE IT PROVIDED WIND, SOFT SAND, AND PRIVACY.

The Wright brothers began building prototypes and eventually traveled to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1902 to test a full-size, two-winged glider with a moveable rudder. They chose this location thanks in part to their correspondence with Octave Chanute, who advised them in a letter to select a windy place with soft grounds. It was also private, which allowed them to launch their aircrafts with little public interference.

9. THEY ACHIEVED FOUR SUCCESSFUL FLIGHTS WITH THEIR FIRST AIRPLANE DESIGN.

The Wright brothers started testing various wing designs and spent the next few years perfecting their evolving vision for a heavier-than-air flying machine. In the winter of 1903, they returned to Kitty Hawk with their final model, the 1903 Wright Flyer. On December 17, they finally achieved a milestone: four brief flights, one of which lasted for 59 seconds and reached 852 feet.

10. THE 1903 WRIGHT FLYER NEVER TOOK TO THE SKIES AGAIN…

Before the brothers could embark on their final flight, a heavy wind caused the plane to flip several times. Because of the resulting damage, it never flew again. It eventually found a permanent home in the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum—even though Orville originally refused to donate it to the institution because it claimed that Smithsonian Secretary Samuel P. Langley’s own aircraft experiment was the first machine capable of sustained free flight.

11. …BUT A PIECE OF IT DID GO TO THE MOON.

An astronaut paid homage to the Wright brothers by carrying both a swatch of fabric from the 1903 Flyer’s left wing and a piece of its wooden propeller inside his spacesuit.

12. THE PRESS INITIALLY IGNORED THE KITTY HAWK FLIGHTS.

Despite their monumental achievement, the Dayton Journal didn’t think the Wright brothers’ short flights were important enough to cover. The Virginia Pilot ended up catching wind of the story, however, and they printed an error-ridden account that was picked up by several other papers. Eventually, the Dayton Journal wrote up an official—and accurate—story.

13. THE BROTHERS SHARED A CLOSE BOND...

Although the Wright brothers weren’t twins, they certainly lived like they were. They worked side by side six days a week, and shared the same residence, meals, and bank account. They also enjoyed mutual interests, like music and cooking. Neither brother ever married, either. Orville said it was Wilbur’s job, as the older sibling, to get hitched first. Meanwhile, Wilbur said he “had no time for a wife.” In any case, the two became successful businessmen, scoring aviation contracts both domestically and abroad.

14. …BUT WERE OPPOSITES IN MANY WAYS.

Although they were much alike, each Wright brother was his own person. As the older brother, Wilbur was more serious and taciturn. He possessed a phenomenal memory, and was generally consumed by his thoughts. Meanwhile, Orville was positive, upbeat, and talkative, although very bashful in public. While Wilbur spearheaded the brothers’ business endeavors, they wouldn’t have been possible without Orville’s mechanical—and entrepreneurial—savvy.

15. OHIO AND NORTH CAROLINA FIGHT OVER THEIR LEGACY.

Since the Wright brothers split their experiments between Ohio and North Carolina, both states claim their accomplishments as their own. Ohio calls itself the "Birthplace of Aviation,” although the nickname also stems from the fact that two famed astronauts hail from there as well. Meanwhile, North Carolina’s license plates are emblazoned with the words “First In Flight.”

This article originally ran in 2015.

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