If you’re considering taking a trip to Italy, there are a few things that you should consider before packing up and traveling there.

Culture: Italian culture is centered greatly and food and family. Big family meals are very important to Italians, and you should expect to see a lot of businesses that close for lunch so that workers can be together with their families. Famous Italian cuisine and world-renowned wine are the epicenter of Italian culture, and you are sure to experience them greatly on your visit.

Food: Italian food is incredibly important Italy’s culture and something that all visitors shouldn’t take for granted! While the cuisine varies throughout the country, it is bound to be undeniably tasty throughout! However, a something to consider before you dig in, meal times in Italy are slightly different than what is normal in America. For instance, dinner is usually served later, usually between 7 and 9. Make sure you save room for dessert!

Style: Dressing nicely is a norm in Italy! Packing more semi-formal attire would be wise for occasions and events that call for such. However, since you’ll be walking and touring a lot of places, make sure to pack comfortable clothes as well! Except to see Italians dressed up everywhere from the workplace to restaurants to walking on the streets.

Weather: While the average temperature of Italy varies based on location, the overall temperatures and weather patterns are generally mild, but they can reach warm average temperatures in the summer months. Some locations can become very hot at times, but generally in northern Italy and areas by the sea, the weather is much more mild.

Shopping: Since style and fashion are such important influencers of Italian culture, shopping is something that many travelers are interested in on their trip to Italy. Whether you’re interested in shopping for Italian clothes or souvenirs from your trip, it is important to make sure that you have cash with you. Credit cards aren’t widely used in Italy, so you should have cash handy. Remember to leave room in your suitcase!

Customs for Dining: Unlike in America, it is necessary to ask the waiter or waitress for the check while dining out in Italy. Also, tipping isn’t custom in much of Europe. Don’t feel like you’re being rude by asking or not tipping, it’s the norm! Also, feel free to sit and enjoy your dining experience as long as you wish. The server isn’t rushing you at all.

Brush Up on Your Italian: While many people in tourist areas know English, it wouldn’t hurt to learn a few basic phrases in Italian. This could be beneficial to you as well as a polite custom to demonstrate!

Go With the Flow: Italians run on their own time. Although you might want to have a set schedule so that you can really experience all of your vacation spot, you’ll take more in if you just play things by ear and really experience Italy as it’s happening. Don’t stress over not meeting schedules and enjoy the moment!

Be Careful with Your Money: Because Italy has such a high volume of tourists, theft and pick-pocketing can be common. It is important to bring bags and wallets that are easy to secure, just for your protection. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Italy is a Holy Place: Make sure you bring some kind of clothing that covers your shoulders to have along with you while visiting holy sites. Many places don’t allow people to enter without proper attire, and many of the best attractions that the country has to offer may have more conservative dress codes!

And last, but not least, Buon viaggio!  Safe travels!