Good day to all.
We're about to leave for a 10 day tour of Venice, Florence and Rome, plus days to ourselves on either end. We'll also have some time on our own during the tour itself in each place. Unfortunately, due to our apartment flooding and needing to move house very suddenly, I have not been able to do my usual exhaustive pre-trip research. I'm hoping some kind souls will offer some tips and advice on the following to help us out. We've been to Rome in the past, but it was about 15 years ago. Venice and Florence will be new. We're both fit, in our 40's and well-traveled, so we're aware of basic packing and safety rules and things like cover charges etc.
What are the big cultural "don't do that" or "please do this" to make interacting with folks smoother? Will we have any difficulty with the fact that we speak/read very very little Italian? (Learning a bit was intended, but the time evaporated.) Are there differences specific to each of these cities that we should be aware of?
What are the "rules" for supermarkets/grocery shops? Traditional opening hours? Navigation and use techniques? (As in "don't touch the fruit" type things. We always carry our own bags to pack ourselves.)
How does one find a toilet when out site seeing? Is it acceptable to use cafes or fast food restaurants without being a customer? Or to go into a hotel lobby if you are not staying there? Is there a specific procedure or etiquette for making use of toilets? (Pay as you go in, pay as you go out, attendants etc.)
Is it common in restaurants (for dinner or lunch) to seat yourself or wait for someone to direct you? Any other tips on restaurant etiquette?
Thank you in advance for anyone who takes the time to respond. We would be most appreciative. We've been looking forward to this holiday for some time and it would be incredibly disappointing to have it be less than great because of an unfortunate twist of fate. I've always had such good results with questions I've asked on TA forums due to the generous nature of most users.