We all know it’s bad form to have a drink until the sun is over the yard arm but on a recent holiday to Rome I was all too aware of myself and my fellow Brits not abiding by local drinking customs. On home turf it is simple, you know the rules. But when we go off on holiday and make a temporary abode in sunnier climes – ooff! – it is possible to get it so wrong. Is it a beer for breakfast? An Aperol Spritz at Pimms O’Clock? Red wine with lunch? Each time I ordered a drink at a different Rome bar the glamorous locals would look disapprovingly over my choice of beverage. The more I tried, the more I drank and soon I was a typical Brit abroad, incapable of ordering a drink without shouting and staggering around in search of an Irish Bar for a pint of Guiness.
So with a little research I found that when in Rome, don’t do as you do at home; learn the ropes and be cool. When in Rome, sip an aperitif before dinner and make it last a little. When in Paris have a glass with lunch but wait for supper to finish the bottle. In Spain a cerveza will do at any time but keep the yayos until later, there’s a dear.
There is no doubt that there is a great joy in behaving scurrilously and getting it very wrong and getting away with it. Dancing on the tables in the mid-afternoon and wearing your shirt around your head whilst swinging from the chandeliers. But it’s less attractive being flat on your back, for when you are on the floor everyone’s nose looks like it is upturned. If the trick to travelling well is being mistaken for a local, better still a classy one, then learn the liquid lingo and leave your pub patter at home.
So when in Rome, don’t do as you do at home, unless Rome is your home.