8 Italian Travel Tips for Visiting America

istock
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.

14 Retro Gifts for Millennials

Ravi Palwe, Unsplash
Ravi Palwe, Unsplash

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996, which means the pop culture they grew up with is officially retro. No matter what generation you belong to, consider these gifts when shopping for the Millennials in your life this holiday season.

1. Reptar Funko Pop!; $29

Amazon

This vinyl Reptar figurine from Funko is as cool as anything you’d find in the rugrats’ toy box. The monster dinosaur has been redesigned in classic Pop! style, making it a perfect desk or shelf accessory for the grown-up Nickelodeon fan. It also glows in the dark, which should appeal to anyone’s inner child.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Dragon Ball Z Slippers; $20

Hot Topic

You don’t need to change out of your pajamas to feel like a Super Saiyan. These slippers are emblazoned with the same kanji Goku wears on his gi in Dragon Ball Z: one for training under King Kai and one for training with Master Roshi. And with a soft sherpa lining, the footwear feels as good as it looks.

Buy it: Hot Topic

3. The Pokémon Cookbook; $15

Hop Topic

What do you eat after a long day of training and catching Pokémon? Any dish in The Pokémon Cookbook is a great option. This book features more than 35 recipes inspired by creatures from the Pokémon franchise, including Poké Ball sushi rolls and mashed Meowth potatoes.

Buy it: Hot Topic

4. Lisa Frank Activity Book; $5

Urban Outfitters

Millennials will never be too old for Lisa Frank, especially when the artist’s playful designs come in a relaxing activity book. Watercolor brings the rainbow characters in this collection to life. Just gather some painting supplies and put on a podcast for a relaxing, nostalgia-fueled afternoon.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

5. Shoebox Tape Recorder with USB; $28

Amazon

The days of recording mix tapes don’t have to be over. This device looks and functions just like tape recorders from the pre-smartphone era. And with a USB port as well as a line-in jack and built-in mic, users can easily import their digital music collection onto retro cassette tapes.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Days of the Week Scrunchie Set; $12

Urban Outfitters

Millennials can be upset that a trend from their youth is old enough to be cool again, or they can embrace it. This scrunchie set is for anyone happy to see the return of the hair accessory. The soft knit ponytail holders come in a set of five—one for each day of the school (or work) week.

Buy it: Urban Outfitters

7. D&D Graphic T-shirt; $38-$48

80s Tees

The perfect gift for the Dungeon Master in your life, this graphic tee is modeled after the cover of the classic Dungeons & Dragons rule book. It’s available in sizes small through 3XL.

Buy it: 80s Tees

8. Chuck E. Cheese T-shirt; $36-$58

80s Tees

Few Millennials survived childhood without experiencing at least one birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. This retro T-shirt sports the brand’s original name: Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatre. It may be the next-best gift for a Chuck E. Cheese fan behind a decommissioned animatronic.

Buy it: 80s Tees

9. The Nightmare Before Christmas Picnic Blanket Bag; $40

Shop Disney

Fans of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas will recognize the iconic scene on the front of this messenger bag. Unfold it and the bag becomes a blanket fit for a moonlit picnic among the pumpkins. The bottom side is waterproof and the top layer is made of soft fleece.

Buy it: Shop Disney

10. Toy Story Alien Socks; $15

Shop Disney

You don’t need to be skilled at the claw machine to take home a pair of these socks. Decorated with the aliens from Toy Story, they’re made from soft-knit fabric and are big enough to fit adult feet.

Buy it: Shop Disney

11. Goosebumps Board Game; $24

Amazon

Fans that read every book in R.L. Stine’s series growing up can now play the Goosebumps board game. In this game, based on the Goosebumps movie, players take on the role of their favorite monster from the series and race to the typewriter at the end of the trail of manuscripts.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Tamagotchi Mini; $19

Amazon

If you know someone who killed their Tamagotchi in the '90s, give them another chance to show off their digital pet-care skills. This Tamagotchi is a smaller, simplified version of the original game. It doubles as a keychain, so owners have no excuse to forget to feed their pet.

Buy it: Amazon

13. SNES Classic; $275

Amazon

The SNES Classic is much easier to find now than when it first came out, and it's still just as entertaining for retro video game fans. This mini console comes preloaded with 21 Nintendo games, including Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Planters Cheez Balls; $24

Amazon

Planters revived its Cheez Balls in 2018 after pulling them from shelves nearly a decade earlier. To Millennials unaware of that fact, this gift could be their dream come true. The throwback snack even comes in the classic canister fans remember.

Buy it: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The 10 Most Visited National Parks in 2019

Josiah Weiss, Unsplash
Josiah Weiss, Unsplash

The U.S. National Park System comprises more than 400 sites, 62 of which are national parks. Within the parks, visitors can explore forests, deserts, volcanoes, and more. But even with the diversity the National Park System has to offer, many visitors find themselves going to the same iconic parks year after year. To see the most-visited national parks in 2019, check out the list below.

This list comes from recreational visitation data gathered by the National Park Service. It doesn't include national monuments, parkways, or similar units—just the sites with the official "national park" designation.

The Great Smoky Mountains tops the list with roughly 12.5 million visits last year. Stretching across five counties in North Carolina and Tennessee, it's less than a day's drive away for one-third of the U.S. population. The accessibility plus the free admission and gorgeous mountain scenery help make it the country's most popular national park.

It's followed by Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park, which saw 5.97 million visits in 2019 to witness its world-famous views. Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park takes third place with 4.7 million visits, and Utah's Zion National Park takes fourth with 4.5 million. Read on for the full top 10.

The National Park Service was established just over a century ago, and it's amassed a fascinating history. Here are some more facts about the United States's national parks.

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  2. Grand Canyon National Park
  3. Rocky Mountain National Park
  4. Zion National Park
  5. Yosemite National Park
  6. Yellowstone National Park
  7. Acadia National Park
  8. Grand Teton National Park
  9. Olympic National Park
  10. Glacier National Park