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Frequently Asked Questions

When will I receive my tour documents from Perillo?

You will receive final instructions, hotel lists, e-tickets and information approximately 2-3 weeks prior to departure. The detailed daily itinerary will be given to you upon arrival by your tour guide.

What are optional tours?

Series of optional tours will be available for purchase from your tour guide while on the tour - they cannot be purchased before the tour starts. You are under no obligation to take any, they are strictly optional.For an updated list of optional tours, please select your tour on our website and then click on the optional tours link. Depending on the tour, if you avail yourself of all optionals, the total cost will be about $200 to $600. On Italy tours, payment can only be made in Euros or with a credit card.

What are the airline restrictions on bottles and containers?

All containers for gels, liquids and aerosols must be 3-oz. or smaller and placed in a clear plastic bag. Each traveler is limited to one quart-size plastic bag which must be placed in your carry-on baggage. For a more in-depth description of these and other travel restrictions (including prescription medications), please visit www.tsa.gov.

Is smoking allowed on the Perillo Tours buses?

There is a no smoking policy on our buses but there are plenty of opportunities to smoke during the frequent stops.

How many pieces of luggage can I bring with me?

Each tour member is limited to one large suitcase and small carry-on bag due to limited space on our buses. The airlines are charging extra fees for checked luggage exceeding 60" (calculated by adding the width + height + depth). The luggage should not weigh more than 50 lbs and should not exceed 62 inches total. Carry on bag should not exceed 45 inches total and no more than 11 lbs.

Can I request special dietary meals?

Yes, please advise at time of booking if you require special meals.

Can I travel with a wheelchair?

We allow collapsible wheelchairs on our tours. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance to a tour member for walking or getting on and off motorcoaches or other transportation vehicles. Travelers who need such assistance must be accompanied by a qualified companion.

Can I request certain seats on the plane?

Seats are assigned by Perillo Tours as a courtesy at time of ticketing. If you have special requests, please call the airline directly after receiving your airline tickets. Please note that the airline can change your seats at any time.

Are tips included?

Tips for luggage handling, doormen, housekeepers & restaurant personnel are included; tips for tour guides, local guides and bus drivers are not. Such gratuities should be extended on a voluntary, individual basis. The SUGGESTED tip for a tour guide is $3.00-4.00 per day per person and for a bus driver and local guide is $1.00-2.00 per day.

What type of payments do you accept?

We accept checks, Visa, Mastercard, Discover & American Express.

When is my final payment due?

Final Payment is due 60 days prior to departure.

What documents will I need to travel?

United States citizens require a government issued picture I.D., including a driver's license. United States security procedures state that all passengers 18 years and older must present official photo identification, such as a driver's license, at the airport. Your first and last name must appear on your airline ticket exactly as it appears on your documentation.

What’s the proper way to greet a stranger in Italy?

SALVE or Buongiorno/Buona Sera  How about someone you know? Ciao

Nonverbal communication - examples of handy hand gestures and what they mean?

Finger purse – Italians use it as a general exclamation of annoyance, confusion and can mean Ma che vuoi? ("But what do you want?"), Ma che fai? ("But what are you doing?"), Ma che dici? ("But what are you saying?") and express questions in general (i.e. "where", "who", "why"). You can perform it by pressing the thumb against the other fingers and holding the hand upwards.

The perfetto gesture - You can do it by putting your index finger and thumb together and drawing an imaginary line in the air, as if you are pulling a zipper closed (horizontally) . Italians use this to show that something is perfect or delicious.

The chin flick means "I don't care" or "I don't give a damn". You can do this by flicking the fingers out from under the chin.  

The “buono” (yummy)  gesture –Italians use the “buono”  gesture to say that a meal is delicious. You do the “buono” gesture by poking your index finger into your cheek.

Come on” gesture – putting your hands together (like in prayer) and moving them up and down.

Having Dinner At Someone’s House

What is the proper etiquette if you’re invited to someone’s house for dinner? Should you bring a gift for the host? No gift. Its customary to bring Dessert or wine/prosecco.

Do Italians customarily take off their shoes when entering someone’s home like some other cultures do? - its a personal preference. Some Italians find it rude to take off one’s shoes in front of others. Some (not many) expect you to take them off.

What are some other etiquette basics that Westerners should take note of? Usually Italians dont call friends/family between 2pm and 4pm, since this is when many people have a ‘pisolino’ (nap). If they must call during these hours, they will first apologize for disturbing the household at this time.

Restaurants, Bars, And Cafés

Explain the different types of eateries in Italy and the proper seating protocol for each. For example, do you have to wait for someone to seat you at cafes, or just restaurants or bistros?

Ristorante (restaurant) or pizzeria/trattoria you wait for the host to seat you.

At a cafe/bar you can seat yourself.

Are you supposed to tip Italian servers? If so, what percent? Does it differ based on where you go? You are not expected to tip restaurants in Italy but it is appreciated. Keep in mind that there is sometimes a charge called a coperto. This coperto should be clearly stated somewhere on the menu and may range from 1-3 euro per person. A coperto is not a tip, it is a cover charge to offset the price of bread, oil, salt, and anything else you might be using. Servizio: Another charge that you may be charged is called the servizio. This should also be clearly stated on the menu and should be used for groups of 8 or more. The servizio IS a tip, so there is no need to leave anything more if you have been charged this fee. You can tip as much  or as little as you like but the tip is not anywhere near the 20% that has become standard in the US. A good rule of thumb in a restaurant is about 1 euro per person. Or you can round up the bill. (if the bill is $91.00, you can leave $100.00).

If you are sitting down or standing for coffee, you can leave 1 euro, which is more than enough.

Are reservations recommended for dinner? Yes reservations are recommended! (Especially in major cities).

Do restaurants have dress codes? Unless it is a fancy restaurant that enforces a dress code, one can wear slacks with a nice shirt or blouse. Jeans are also fine unless it is a fancy restaurant.

How many courses are in a typical Italian meal? A typical Italian meal consists of a first course "il primo" (pasta or soup), a second-course "il secondo" (meat or fish) served together with a side dish "il contorno" (vegetable or salad), dessert and coffee. No pasta dish is complete without the act of "fare la scarpetta", which literally means make a little shoe, and mop up the leftover sauce on your plate. Its a widely used ritual in Italy. This is why bread is usually left on tables in restaurants. Butter and oil is not served with bread in Italy.

Any other table manners we should be aware of?

DON’T cut your pasta with a knife.

DO fill up your neighbor’s glass, before your own.

DON'T ask for salad dressing—oil and vinegar are all you need.

How to order coffee like a local? - Cappuccino is considered a breakfast coffee and is never drunk later than mid-morning. The classic Italian caffe` is an espresso - though the term espresso is hardly ever used in Italy. it's simply called a caffe`. The word latte` means milk, so if you order a "latte" at an Italian bar, you'll get a glass of cold milk. As for a caffe` con latte if you want the Italian version.

If you stop at a cafe for a quick coffee, do it like a local - first pay at the cash register, then take your receipt to the barista and give him/her your order.

There are tons of water fountains in Italy. Is there any certain water fountain etiquette?   Italian fountains contain some of the freshest water in the country. Rather than buy multiple water bottles, do as the locals do and bring your own disposable bottle and refill it from these fountains. If you don’t have a water bottle handy, (on most fountains) you can plug the side spigot with your thumb and the water will come out of a top spigot so you can drink.

Other Social Protocols

Punctuality is not a priority for Italians. It is acceptable to arrive 15 to 30 minutes after the designated time.

Italians don’t wait in line. Unlike Americans, Italians don't really believe in standing in lines. The unspoken rule is whoever is the most aggressive and gets to the front first, goes first. Lines are simply not respected.

How to Dress Like An Italian. Dress for the occasion and make sure you present yourself neatly. Italians take a lot of pride in their appearance and usually dress nicely for any kind of public outing. Even when going shopping, Italians dress nicely.

Dress codes to follow at certain places, like churches? Shoulders and knees must be covered.

What does “bella figura” mean? To make a good impression.

Italian Concepts Explained

Describe the Italian concept of campanilismo. The best way to describe is it a strong sense of pride for one’s local area. Sometimes people will even define themselves right down to the particular quarter of the city they live in.  Italians are more proud of being "Romano" (from Rome) or Toscano (from Tuscany) than being Italian.

Do Italians really take “la passeggiata” after dinner?  (passeggiata = stroll) Yes. Passeggiata is a daily ritual that Italians really enjoy – just taking some time later in the day to stroll through the streets, chat with friends or do some window shopping.

Why are stores closed on Sundays? Before 2012, stores except supermarkets, were always closed on Sundays in order to give workers time to spend with their family and go to church. After 2012, this changed and now you will find more stores open.

Explain the concept of “pisolino”. Pisolino refers to a nap that Italians take after their mid-day meal each day, also known as siesta. 

Regional Variations

Lumping all Italians together is like lumping all Americans together. Yes, we are one country, but customs and manners in the south are different than those in the north. How do northern and southern Italy differ in terms of social protocol? There is a stereotype that Northern Italians tend to be more hardworking and business-oriented, but can also be a little snobbish. Southern Italians are thought to be more laid back and sometimes considered borderline lazy. Those from Southern Italy are usually much warmer and friendlier than those from the North. 

Safety

What should travelers do to avoid being pickpocketed in busy touristy areas? If you don't need it, don't bring it with you - especially not your passport. Always keep your hand on your bag that's hanging on your shoulder or keep your bag in front of you. Don't keep  our wallet in your back pocket. Use a cheap luggage lock that you can use to lock your zippers on your backpack or purse in busy areas. At restaurants and cafés, leave your purse in your lap instead of hanging it off of your chair and don't leave your phone on the table if dining outside.  

General do’s and don’ts?

Don't expect ice in your drinks! Italians do not drink ice cold drinks and normally do not put more than 1 cube in a drink unless you ask for it. 

Don't put any cheese on pasta with seafood.

Don't ask for a doggie bag at a restaurant.