I’m taken aback. What? What do you mean no? You crazy lady.
All this runs through my mind as I stare at the little old lady shaking her head ferociously. I was sitting in a little Italian restaurant 10pm with my professor, trying to get some food before I fell flat on my bed into blissful sleep. I had just landed in Rome, Italy and made my way to the adorable hotel where my class was staying and wanted to get some food before I passed out. My teacher was kind enough to walk with me (so I wouldn’t get kidnapped) but the crazy lady at the restaurant wouldn’t let him sit at the table without ordering something.
That was not the only weird thing either. When we first walked in the guests stared at us, up and down, up and down, no shame. Our waitress? No English. In fact no one I had meant seemed to know any English at all. I quickly picked up the phrase “mi dispache” to apologize for every time I did something wrong.
Just like that night. Dr. Morvant finally ordered cheese and we were good to go. I looked at him like her was crazy when his food finally came out and I realized it actually was cheese… A giant block with honey poured over it! (It was actually delicious!) I also got a spicy pasta that was possibly the best thing I had ever tasted in my life!
Finally I try to pay. Yes I do say try because the lady never brings me a check! She walks by once…twice…three times…ok that was enough. I try to wave her down but it almost seems like she is ignoring us, the rude Americans who tried to order only one dinner! What was going on? Apparently they think it is rude in Italy to bring the check before someone asks for it!
When she eventually gave me the check I go to tip and am told by Dr. Morvant that “they don’t tip here”…. What? “Mi dispiace” I say for the hundredth time…
And that was my first night in Rome! Total, utter, culture shock! I couldn’t believe how different it was here! The phrase “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” needs to be updated to “When in Rome, try your best to do as the Romans do!”