Your holiday in Italy will be more enjoyable and less stressful and awkward if you ensure that you are respectful of the Italian culture. This means avoiding certain behaviors or actions that Italians may view as disrespectful.
Italians tend to be polite, so it is wise for you to be polite as well and avoid being critical or saying something that can be seen as rude of their culture, this includes their cuisine, heritage and culture. It is probably best to avoid telling jokes too, as it will be hard to know what they may view as offensive. Remember that Italians are very proud of their arts, culture and cuisine. They also highly value family.
The Italian people are somewhat reserved so avoid being overly loud, garrulous or boisterous even if this is your natural personality. Also remember that Italians who act in reserved manner are not being unfriendly, they are simply being polite. Don’t be offended if your waiter does not worry you every few minutes to see how you are doing. Italians tend to let you eat your meal in peace.
Most of the country is Roman Catholic, but other religions are still present, and, like in many other countries, it is not a good idea to discuss religion, or even gender roles, since many Italians still hold traditional views when it comes to gender roles.
You should try to have some idea of the regional food dishes that you can get in Italy, or you can ask your waiter to recommend something. But never ask for parmesan cheese on a seafood pasta, apparently this is considered offensive to Italians who believe that fish and cheese should never mix, and neither should chicken and pasta.
Italians value family and large family gatherings, so do not be surprised to see large family groups eating out together. When eating out, be sure to act in a formal manner, avoid getting drunk. Also, be aware that smoking has been banned in several places so be sure to check before lighting up.
Be respectful when shopping. You are likely to draw some ire if you leave the clothing that is neatly folded in disarray or if you handle vegetables or fruit with your bare hands, as they provide plastic gloves for such a purpose.
While sightseeing and entering churches, you need to be sure to be dressed appropriately. It is best to not wear shorts and tank tops or shirts without sleeves. Do not eat food or drink from a water bottle while in a church. Also, do not leave your cell phone on while in the church.
Although nobody will expect you to be fluent in Italian, it would be a sign of respect to at least try to learn a few key words or phrases. The locals will certainly appreciate your efforts. If you follow these few simple suggestions that show you respect the Italian culture, then your trip to Italy is sure to be pleasant and enjoyable.
All of these things are very important and good to keep in mind when heading to Italy!