Russian tourists: more money than manners. Photo: Getty Images
As the summer tourist season approaches, Italians have a message for their rich Russian visitors - you may have money, but you have no manners.
Big-spending Russians have proved a lifeline for the Italian tourist sector during the past few years of economic recession but they are often perceived as brash, boorish and rude.
Now a hotel owner in Tuscany - the Russians' favourite destination - has produced a television commercial that aims to educate wealthy Muscovites and other Russian visitors about the finer points of Italian etiquette.
Salvatore Madonna runs hotels in Forte dei Marmi, an upmarket resort on the Tuscan coast that caters to Russians with menus written in Cyrillic and plentiful designer outlets, and has been nicknamed "Moscow-on-Sea".
The three-minute advertisement advises Russians to "smile more", to say thank you more often and to be more pleasant in their dealings with waiters and hotel staff.
They are told that ordering a cappuccino after lunch is an unforgivable faux pas - in Italy the frothy coffee is seen as an exclusively morning drink. Italians instead would order an espresso or a caffe macchiato - an espresso with a dash of milk.
Nor should red wine be ordered with fish - for seafood, it has to be white wine every time. Wealthy Russians are also warned that it is vulgar to choose the most expensive wine on the list. The advertisement, which will be shown on television in Russia and on Russian social media networks, features Ljudmila Radcenko, a Russian model who lives in Italy.
"The first rule when you enter a hotel is to say hello, smile, and to look the person in the eye. In Russia we're maybe not really used to doing that," she says, speaking in Italian but with Russian subtitles on the screen.
Even showy Italians balk at Russian women wearing barely-there, sequinned bikinis and swimming costumes.
"Russian women who love to wear high heels and tiny bikinis should perhaps avoid those," she says.
"When you leave the hotel, it's nice to be communicative, to express your satisfaction for the service, to smile and say thank you," Ms Radcenko concludes in her advice to her compatriots. Mr Madonna, the head of a luxury hotel group called Soft Living Places, said he hoped the short film would help "better integrate" Russian tourists to Italy.
Teaching uncouth Russians how to behave in a more civil way should not be construed as Italian arrogance, he said, but a way of gently shepherding tourists towards more culturally acceptable behaviour.
"It is mortifying for the people who dedicate so much time and attention to preparing dishes when they are asked to serve them all at the same time, as the Russians often do," Mr Madonna said.
"But we don't want to give them instruction, just to offer advice on some of the peculiarities of the Italian way of life."
The Telegraph, London