Travel Tip Tuesday: How Not to Look Like a Tourist in Southern Italy … for Men

A few days ago I received an email from a guy who is planning his first trip to southern Italy. He’ll be visiting his grandfather’s homeland in Calabria-just about 50 minutes north of me in Catanzaro-and like any would-be international traveler worth his passport, he’s researching the area.

He bought my Calabria travel tips ebook-thanks, Robert!-and browsed through the travel tips and Calabria travel sections on this site.

But he still had a problem.

“I saw your post on How Not to Look Like a Tourist in Southern Italy,” he told me, “but that seemed more geared towards women. Do you have some tips for guys? I get the sense my Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirts won’t be a good choice!”

Well, Robert. You are right. I’d leave the Steelers t-shirt out of my bag. Of course, I’m a Cowboys fan, so I’d leave the Steelers out of any bag, for any trip, regardless of the destination, culture or climate.

But maybe that’s just me …

With that in mind, here are three more travel tips for men traveling to southern Italy.

1. Follow Robert’s Rules

and by that, I mean the Robert who mentioned the sports shirt. He was right on target with that idea, but in addition to ditching American sports paraphernalia, you guys should also leave out graphic t-shirts that talk about how much beer you can drink, when you went to Hard Rock Cafe and why or why not you voted for “the other guy.”

And really, nobody cares if you are with “stupid,” or if she’s with you.

2. What’s Good for the Goose

also goes for her well-dressed gander. Even though the post about dressing in southern Italy seemed like it targeted women, many of the tips apply to men. They still dress in season-translation: no shorts in winter months, carry bags instead of backpacks and are pretty big on designer sunglasses.

Men in Italy take pride in being well-dressed and rarely go out in slouchy sweats.

3. Think Solid Colors (and long pants)

I knew a guy who came to southern Italy last year who was hell bent on fitting in with the locals. The problem? “I’m American,” was stamped on his forehead (and no amount of over-the-counter bronzers or hours basking in the Calabrian sun would fade it).

Personally, I think that is ok. I love American tourists, remember?

But if you really want to look the part, wear long pants, dark-colored jeans and solid colored t-shirts or polos. (Please forgo the red and purple pants, even they can’t pull them off all of the time!) Add dark socks and dark shoes and you’ll be on the right path to southern Italian style.

What other tips do you have for men who want to blend in with the locals in Italy?

Until next time … Buon Viaggio!

10 Responses
  1. I’ve been hanging out regularly in Sicily for many years, and no matter what you do, you’re revealed the very second you open your mouth. I’m fluent in Italian, but most Italians spot some undefinable foreign accent anyway, even if a few have taken me for a Roman or sometimes from way up north.

    We can change our clothes, but I’m 6 feet something, blond with bright blue eyes, and there’s no way I can dress that up to fit in with the locals. My physical appearance is why some Italians guess I’m from Alto Adige (the German speaking part of Italy), even if I’ve never lived there and I don’t think my accent leads that way.

    Dressing up is only the first very little step of a very very long journey.

    Well said, Rene. I actually think we should be proud of our American’ness, but I wouldn’t want to stand out (more than I do). he he. I get a lot of people thinking I’m from Poland. However, when I lived in France, they (even the Italians!) thought I was Italian. Too bad they don’t think it here! he he

  2. Great tips. And I am pretty sure I sent Robert your way, since the guy I sent here bought the book, is a Steelers fan and is possibly coming to Italy. Way cool!

    I bet you did, Michelle. He told me he was referred from a FB friend. Thank you. I owe you an email, don’t I? 🙂

    .-= Michelle @ Italian Mama Chef´s last blog ..It’s in the cheese =-.

  3. Thanks for this. My husband is a lost cause. He refuses to take off his tatty Caribbean attire and Crocs, even in Italy. He’s also six and a half feet tall. No chance at all of blending in.

    I did a piece on my blog a while back confirming that we in the Caribbean can tell where our tourists are from by their clothes. The Italians are the already deeply tanned tourists with skimpy swimsuits and lots of shiny clothes and jewelry 🙂

    “shiny clothes and jewelry” I love it! I’m gonna try to find that post on your site now.

    .-= Sugar Apple´s last blog ..Why I Cook =-.

  4. Ciao Cherrye, Very funny but in reality you can take the boy out of America but you can’t take America out of the boy and why would we want to? Absorbing local culture is enjoying your surroundings and not trying to melt into the background. The biggest thing that will be appreciated by the locals is good manners and not demanding anything. Italians are very helpful and will offer a hand if you have a hard time getting around. Although, in southern Italy, you can be a distant relative and it will take them at least 25 years before you’re actually welcomed into da hood. LOL
    All of your tips are good even if they stay home – those shirts have gotta go!
    BTW – you will see Italians now wearing our baseball caps but be easy on them. They haven’t yet figured out how to gently cure and bend the brim nor do they wear it correctly. Somehow they think it’s supposed to sit atop your head without being fitted snuggly, much like a child’s party hat won’t fit on an adult’s head. 🙂

    Ha, very funny, Lisa. I have seen that a few times! ha ha Gotta love ’em for trying, though, right?

    .-= Lisa at Wanderlust Women´s last blog ..Wanderlust women offers tips for preserving souvenir travel memories =-.

  5. I am thankful that my guy isn’t really into sports – at least not to the point of spending beaucoup bucks on the clothing. This way, I don’t have to run behind him and take stuff out of his suitcase 🙂 Nice tips!

    Ha. Me, too!

    .-= My Melange´s last blog ..Five Chateaux in France =-.

  6. Amy

    Am I alone in wondering why everyone wants to fit in? I stick out like a sore thumb and I love it!

    I think people like to know what to expect before they stick out so it can ease some tensions they might have about international travel. It is also a safety issue, as tourists are usually more targeted than locals.

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