Thou shalt not order a cappuccino after breakfast

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Us Melbournians are used to delicious coffees all day, every day. There are usually coffee stores ridiculously close together. I mean, we are the coffee capital, apparently.

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Romans have many rules regarding the proper etiquette of coffee consumption, one of which is that it is considered bad taste to order a coffee with milk in it (cappuccino, flat white, latte – you get the picture, all the good stuff) after breakfast-time and after any meal – they cringe at the thought of milk hitting a full stomach.

So what’s the big idea?

There are two main reasons why this is such a bit no-no:

1) It is said that by ordering this milk-filled coffee, one is intaking an immense amount of calories (because its more milk than it is coffee) and as such should be considered as a meal on its own, and only possible to be consumed in the morning where calorie-burning is at its optimum.

2) Italians are firm believers that drinking milk after any meal will disrupt proper food digestion, and thus ordering it after lunch or dinner is utterly unthinkable.

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When I told my friend this, she said: “screw it, I’m going to order it anyway”

It appears that many people have come up with similar conclusions from what I have read on blogs and articles, yet it appears that this behaviour will elicit anywhere from a frown to refusal of service for the sake of one’s own health.

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So if you’re a big coffee drinker and plan to visit Rome anytime soon, I suggest that you try separate yourself from your beloved cap, latte and/flat white and try some of those espresso shots in preparation.

  I know I will be…trying…to… 😥

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Confusion over fruit and veg etiquette

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Have you ever been grossed out by the fact that people have touched that apple that you’re about to buy and squeezed that avocado you’re about to eat? Probably not.  Because us Aussies are quite content to poke and prod any produce we see in order to ensure it’s the best that we can buy.

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However, in Rome it is considered rude for a person to touch fresh fruit and vegetables with their bare hands. They believe that doing so is likely to spread communicable disease more quickly and affect the quality of the produce.

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Many tourists have recounted embarrassing memories from their trip, when they touched the produce and were confused and/or shocked to receive death stares from locals and shop-owners.

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In attempt to minimise this cultural confusion (and many others) it may be wise to research the customs and etiquette that a culture uses, in order to avoid the ever-so-nasty death stare and have no clue as to what it refers.

The etiquette in Rome is for visitors to use plastic provided gloves (like the ones below) before touching and/or selecting any form of fresh produce and placing it into plastic bags.

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Another cultural clash that many Aussies wouldn’t know about is that in Rome, one is expected to manually weigh and print out a price label themselves before proceeding to the check-out. Further tourists have recounted stories of embarrassment and confusion when they are asked to return to the produce isle and print out the label if they have not done so.

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Should you ever find yourself in search of fresh fruits and veggies in Rome, follow these simple procedures in order to avoid confusion and embarrassment.

Perpetuating Mafia Stereotypes

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The Italian Mafia are a network of organised crime groups based in Italy and some parts of America. These groups engage in practises such as drug-trafficking, loan sharking and fraud. However, they mainly engage in protection racketeering where they use violence to intimidate people into doing whatever they desire, particularly to manipulate the economic activities in their favour.

They are mainly found in Southern cities of Italy, like Sicily and Naples, but the stereotype has spread to make people believe that it encompasses all Italians, thanks to Western movies, like the Godfather and the controversial Italian-American car ad below.

These stereotypes perpetuate fear in prospective visitors causing avoidance of the country and affecting tourism all over Italy, including cities like Rome. Whilst, not a lot can really be done about stopping the Mafia (otherwise it would have been done already) the fear can be distilled with the facts.

Not every Italian is in the Mafia, in fact most are ashamed of that culture and would be very offended to know that some people avoid traveling to the country in fear of them. True, they are dangerous, and true, they do exist. But 99.9 times out of 100 they’re not going to care about what some tourist is doing; they’ve probably got bigger things to worry about.

The story behind the roof of the Sistine Chapel

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The renowned Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City is the place where a lot of important ceremonies occur, including the selection of the next Pope. But that’s not the only cool thing about it, its actually covered floor to ceiling in artworks, from mosaic-ridden floors to Fresco painted walls and ceiling. 

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The most famous part of the chapel is surprisingly its ceiling, painted by Michelangelo (1508-12). 

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The fresco paintings depict nine scenes from the Book of Genesis, including scenes of God creating light and dark, Adam and Eve and scenes of Noah also (check out the video below for more details).

The most famous of the nine, being the Creation of Adam.

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Possibly most famous due to it’s being reproduced many times over:

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 Michelangelo was originally commissioned by Pope Julius II, and very reluctant to agree to the job, as he was a sculpture and wanted to continue with that. He built his own scaffolding and spent four years painting the ceiling of the chapel, arms going numb above his head, paint dripping on his face, back twisting in unnatural angles (and you thought your job was bad?).

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Michelangelo was so unhappy he even wrote a poem about his despair and horrible working conditions. Above is a self portrait of him painting the ceiling, drawn next to the original poem.

Bucket List #28: Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain

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When people think Rome, they think history, art, romance, possibly carbs. One thing that incorporates them all: The Trevi Fountain (while eating pizza).

The iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome is the biggest and arguably the most beautiful Baroque fountain in Rome. It took 20 years to build and was completed in 1762 to mark the end of the aqueduct that provided water to the Ancient Romans.

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The fountain has a clear symbolic link to the Ancient Roman God of the Sea: Neptune, as he is the focal point of the Fountain headed by two horses: one – calm and obedient – the other – restive – symbolic of the unpredictable sea.

Can you believe that was all hand sculpted?

Sadly, over the years, as the Trevi Fountain has become more iconic the focus has been less so about the history and  symbolism, and more so on the romantic life that tourists’ desire. There is a legend that if you toss coins into the fountain you will return to Rome, find a lover and get married, and this seemingly appears to be the main reason people come to this fountain; yet another task to cross of the bucket list, so to speak.

On a daily basis €3-4000 worth of coins are tossed into the fountain.

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There’s obviously nothing wrong with an increase in tourism (and who doesn’t want to find the easiest route to love?) but with it does come its challenges: an increase in beggars and coin stealing. A man nicknamed d’Artagnan has been banned from the fountain after fishing for coins for 34 years

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Fun Fact: The money is collected at the duration of each day by a Roman Catholic charity group and distributed amongst the needy.

Who needs another reason to go to the fountain? I know I don’t.