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Permanent link for What Rome Taught Me on September 22, 2021

By Michele Minghetti

“I could fill volumes with the time spent here in Rome. I could write books about all the people I have met, the adventures I’ve experienced. And I ask myself: What about them? All the new faces I’ve encountered, the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made. Would I appear in their books? Would there be a chapter about me? A page? Or at least a sentence?”  - Alice Minghetti

When visiting a new country and a new city, especially one such as Rome it is easy to get lost in the sprawling views, rich history, and beautiful architecture that can be found around every corner. Italy is a country that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime! Italian culture offers travelers the opportunity to escape their daily routines and immerse themselves in a lifestyle focused on slowing down and enjoying life, delicious food, and the people who surround them.

Having grown up visiting family in northern Italy near Bologna, I found myself presented with an opportunity to travel to Rome one summer to visit my sister, who had moved to Rome the year before. Spending so much time with my sister, in such a beautiful city turned into one of the best experiences of my life. We often reflect on that time spent and together have come up with some essential insights to make note of before visiting, working, living, or doing business in Rome or Italy in general.

Most Importantly When in Rome…

  • Keep your eyes open for wonder. Rome offers wonders in every street, at every corner, in every Piazza . Take your time to appreciate them.
  • Get lost every once in a while. You will end up in unexpected and wondrous places.
  • You are never late in Rome ( Roma, Città Aperta )
  • There is no point in leaving the house before 9:30 am since most places open around 10, some even at 11.

Making Friends in Italy

  • 99% of the time there is no need to rush. No one is on time anyway. Appointments by time are only rough estimates.
  • If no one listens to you, just repeat what you said in a louder voice.
  • Italians like to talk. A lot. Especially about themselves.
  • Thank the bus driver/waiter/cashier/barman. They will remember you. Always thank the host.
  • Greet your neighbors and offer to help with the groceries.
  • Let people join your table.
  • Offer caffè to friends. It’s a pleasure (almost an honor).
  • Once in a while pay for your friend’s pizza. For the simple reason that you want to.

Eating Out in Rome

  • There is good pizza and exceptionally good pizza.
  • It’s socially acceptable to eat gelato more than once a day.
  • Local markets have the best quality. Don’t get ripped off and beware of the old ladies, they are witches in cutting lines.
  • There is always time for a coffee. Even if lectures start in five minutes, chances are you will meet your professor at the bar, stirring sugar in his espresso without the slightest hint of a hurry.
  • Serve white wine with fish and antipasti, red wine with the meal, digestive after dessert.
  • Don’t fill up on bread. There is better still to come.
  • Learn to know your barman. Compliment food and coffee.
  • Talk to the waiters. It will be worth it (usually in the shape of free Limoncello). Be friendly, always.
  • Learn to order real coffee. Evolve from cappuccino to caffè macchiato to caffè amaro.

Getting Around the City

  • Walking may often be faster than public transport.
  • Traffic lights and street signals are only suggestions.
  • If you want the bus to stop, you need to give a clear signal.
  • Don’t wait for the cars to stop. You will wait indefinitely. Cross the street but never run.
  • If you have the right of way, take it. Take it even if you don’t have it.
  • Toilets don’t flush and locked bathrooms are a privilege.
  • Watch out for pigeons and seagulls.
  • If a street artist makes you stop you owe him spare change. Always listen, beauty surrounds you in unexpected places.
  • Don’t wear high heels if you plan on walking in the city center (sanpietrini ).
  • Roundabouts become parking spaces at night.
  • Strikes of public transport are custom.
  • Swearing is accepted.
  • Light a candle when you visit a church. For your friends of the past, your loved ones, your departed, and the friends of the future.
  • Keep some cash with you at all times, not every store or shop accepts cards.
  • For an accurate weather forecast check what the Bangla are selling.
  • And my personal favorite: Life is too short not to eat Gelato. Try new flavors.

Have you traveled to Italy or Rome? What have we missed? Join us virtually on September 29, 2021, for Navigating Italy! We will discuss various aspects of Italy's culture from business meetings and gift-giving to communication and negotiating tactics, and more! Visit Van Andel Global Trade Center's Events page to register !



Michele Minghetti
Graduate Assistant, GVSU's Van Andel Global Trade Center

Half Italian and half American, Michele, grew up in a trilingual household and has spent much time both traveling and working in Italy. Michele is an independent and self-motivated international graduate student from Switzerland. With a diverse international background and global mindset, he has a proven ability to build strong intercultural relationships. Michele is an extremely active individual with a passion for sports. He spends his free time exploring nature, reading, running, and skiing. He also enjoys cooking/baking his nonna’s (grandmother's) recipes. Particularly, as recipes and cookbooks from Italian matriarchs are among the most passionately contested objects upon the death of an Italian grandmother—all of his siblings have one, and they treasure them, especially if they include family recipes or handwritten messages from "nonna."

Michele has earned his Bachelor of Science degree in International Management with a concentration in International Entrepreneurship and a Master’s degree in International Business in Switzerland. He is currently pursuing his MBA degree at the Seidman College of Business, at Grand Valley State University.

Categories: Culture Italy
Posted on Permanent link for What Rome Taught Me on September 22, 2021.

Page last modified September 22, 2021