Europe Travel

Interesting things about Italy

It’s January, I’m spending every day thinking of one assignment or another (one of them is the dissertation), so I thought I should make a couple of posts on Italy, just to remind myself of the holiday we had last year. I still have some pictures from places we visited last year in UK, but it seems a bit late to talk about those somehow. So, today my post is: Interesting things about Italy. I talked about how is for vegans in Italy last year and I will make another post on if you should or should not rent a car in Italy.

Now though, let’s talk about what I found interesting in Italy. I visited the north of Italy, for about 2 weeks, so I can say it’s a good representation of that area (from Milan to Venice).


Espresso, of course, is the first item on the list. In a coffee shop I was adding some water to my espresso when I noticed a guy looking at me upset. He was thinking why I’m destroying such a good coffee by adding water. I smiled and he smiled back, but it made me want to avoid pouring water over my espresso.
I came back after 2 weeks in Italy with an appreciation for espresso and now I am ordering this at coffee shops and sometimes make it at home too. I was drinking only black Americano before. There are lots and lots of coffee bars in Italy and people are buying a lot of coffee.


Mosaic in a mall, just after it opened on a weekday, so very quiet and I could snap this photo. It’s lovely, isn’t it? Also, it’s an over 2000-years old tradition of installing mosaics everywhere. Some of the ones in England were made in Italy and installed by Italian craftsmen.

fruit stall

They eat healthy. Fruit stands were not uncommon and they were quite popular.

poke bowl

Also, poke bowl places were common. I noticed that there were everywhere. There was only 1 vegan option, but the non-vegan ones were filled with all sorts of veggies too. It’s easy to have your 5-a-day in Italy while eating out. I loved that.


Plastic lids remain on the bottle and they are recycled together. Unlike the ones in UK, where the lid can easily go missing, these ones stay in place. How great is that for recycling? That was a surprise because I had no idea they are so much into recycling.

Italians are into books too, by judging how many book shops are in Italy. I was also pleasantly impressed by news reporting in Italy. Each time I go somewhere I listen to local news, even if I barely understand a few words, although this time I even understood perfectly what they were saying. I remember a story about climate change and a farmer (crops) who was explaining what was happening and what can be done, what challenges he might face next in a very clear way. It was much better than BBC.

Book about the Queen

There were quite a few books on the Queen. I particularly liked this one, as its name is: Elizabeth, the “Italian” Queen. A long love story which binds Windsor to our country.

book by Boris Johnson

I wanted to get a history book, so went to the history section to search for something on Roman history and I found this one! How funny is that. Boris Johnson read Classics at Oxford and he wrote a few books on history, but I thought I can buy this back in UK, in English.
I picked a book written by an Italian author, on Rome. I will read that one before we are going to Italy again, as we might go to Rome. We both loved Italy, so we’re going to visit the country again.


I also noticed a lot of support for Ukraine. There were flags on Italian buildings and all the shops had a lot of books on the history of Ukraine and biographies of Volodymyr Zelensky. I would have preferred not to see Chomsky, but, well, at least there is support for Ukraine.


This is from a McDonalds! Yes, they are serving coffee in crockery in some McDonalds at least, it’s incredibly clean (like almost everywhere in Italy), and they have macaroons, croissants, and cakes. Nothing vegan though, which was a disappointment.

Another interesting thing is that many toilets lacked mirrors. Some even had a bidet, in a public toilet, at a restaurant, but many had no mirrors. It must be one of the strangest things ever.

vending machine

Vending machines are everywhere, including these, for cigarettes. In Italy a lot of people smoke, which is something I didn’t like at all. There are shops with only vending machines. A whole “store” with only vending machines, which stock food, drinks, pet food, and other bits and pieces. It’s so strange, but I did buy from these quite a few times.

Have you been to Italy? Are you surprised by anything I shared?

6 Comment

  1. What a beautiful collection of photos, Anca. I love the fruit display and that book on the Queen is wonderful. But then all your photos make me want to book a trip to Italy!

  2. I like my coffee strong, black and sugarless, but I usually stick to American, as Espresso is just a bit too bitter for my liking. You certainly wouldn’t need to add sugar anyway, if those pastry counters are that plentiful that you can even find them in a McDonalds – That did surprise me!

    Even though I try to avoid looking at myself in a mirror these days, not having one readily available in restroom facilities does seem rather odd! I must see if I can find out about the rationale of such a decision.

    And of course, all those vending machines together in one place – a bit like an amusement arcade – is just so wrong on all fronts, especially those selling tobacco products, as there is no way of checking age verification.

    A great post, it isn’t often that one notices all those quirky litle things which separate our cultures 🙂

    1. It takes a bit to get used to Espresso, but now I enjoy it once in a while. The McDonalds was such a surprise, didn’t expect that at all.
      The cigarette machines had a camera for identification, so it is a verification, but it still seems strange. The machines were so popular there, at the train station (including dog treats), in hotels (a 4* one!!), even in the press room at the F1 tracks. It’s bonkers, but fun, and quite useful too.
      I’m glad you liked the post, it’s nice to notice these differences. 🙂

  3. It’s been 50 years since I was last in Italy! I’m surprised about the lack of mirrors in a bathroom. How is one supposed to check their hair/makeup (and teeth after dining)?

    I’m not sure I’ve ever had a straight up espresso. In the Donna Leon Brunetti series they are always adding sugar to theirs, then downing them like a shot of whiskey.
    Kelly recently posted…iPod Roulette – January 2023My Profile

    1. I never add sugar in my coffee, I couldn’t drink it. The only way to drink espresso is like a shot of whiskey, it’s too bitter otherwise. I do enjoy it, for some reason.
      The lack of mirrors was really strange.

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