Clichés sometimes are true, others not. But there is something that is always better to remember:
1) Never use a knife when eating pasta, if you cut your pasta it then become impossible to twirl. To eat spaghetti, use only a fork.
2) Such thing as spaghetti alla bolognese, exists only for tourists. You can, however, usually find pasta al ragù, which differs from region to region and, to be honest, maybe, from village to village.
3) Generally restaurants in Italy are not looking to “turn over” tables every 1.5 hours; once you sit down, that’s it, that’s your table. It’s yours as long as you’re there. So when you’re ready to leave, you just flag down your waiter the next time he passes by and say, “Il conto, per favore”.
4) Coperto: Not a service charge that goes to the wait staff (there is a separate “servizio” for that), but the price of bread, water, and any other amenity.
5) Please remember not order a cappuccino after a lunch or a dinner!
Italians believe that milk after lunch is not good for your digestive system and some waiters could answer to your question with a simple “Sorry, we don’t have”.
6) Standing at the bar is generally cheaper than sitting down. Have you ever noticed that all the Italians standing at the bar drinking their cafes? That’s because there is one base price for coffee and pastries and another price for table service if you sit down.
7) In Naples they use to eat pizza walking on the street although in in this city you’ll find the world’s first pizzeria: “Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba”.
8) The margherita is topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. It is widely attributed to baker Raffaele Esposito. The legend says that, in 1889, he baked three different pizzas for the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen’s favorite was a pizza evoking the colors of the Italian flag: green (basil leaves), white (mozzarella), and red (tomatoes). According to the tale, this combination was named Pizza Margherita in her honor.
9) Always cash with you. Most Italians pay for things on a day to day basis with cash from their morning coffee to dinner that evening and everything in between. For those who have grown accustomed to paying for milk and bread at the grocery store with a debit card, it can be a little jarring but in Italy it’s quite impossible to pay a coffe with the credit card.
10) Pay attention to the time for shopping because many little shops in the afternoon are closed. Some stores have a day of the week that they are closed and they will call it a day of rest (riposo settimanale), and most stores will also be closed Monday mornings, opening in the evening directly.