Thursday, 3 April 2014
A little bit about the Culture and Lifestyle of Italians
There is way too much to get all of it's Culture down in one post so here are a few of the main ones which define an Italian, at least to my mind.
When I've been to Italy with friends or relatives who arrive there for the first time things they notice first is the loud talking. In fact to their ears it isn't friendly chat, I've been asked on more than one occasion what it is a group of people are arguing about but when I listen in it's never an argument, usually an enjoyable discussion on the best way of cooking some favourite dish, or how best to use up a bag of biata (chard) or similar. Heated discussions are the norm, and the topics are generally in this order: food, family and/or friends, then politics, they do love to talk about politics but have dire political stability. In general all talking is loud! No worries about anyone else can hearing private conversation. Want to call someone over the road? Shout their name out loud and start talking before they even start crossing over, no one will bat a eye.
Every warm evening make sure you go for una passeggiata (a walk) along a local boulevard to the piazza. A big passtime and a top cultural event. Snooze in the afternoon after a long lunch, though both these are traditions are changing, shorter meals and air conditioning in offices help prevent the previous necessary sleep, though air cons are still not much used in homes, still.
Stand close to the person you are talking to, personal space is smaller for Italians than more Northern Europeans or Americans. Same goes for waiting spaces, if you are the only occupant in a large waiting room expect the next person to arrive to sit right next to you and ignore all those other empty seats over there. Touch each other while you speak, and make sure to use your hands to express your meaning. Be careful to use the correct terms when speaking to people, don't be overly familiar to your boss and don't call children by a formal title, and don't mistake masculine for feminine.
Expect to spend 3 times longer in banks and official agencies/offices, and to wait 3 times longer for official processes to go through. Same when you hire builders to deal with work at you home. Time is different there, they take longer to motivate themselves for one thing, another is that official business needs to be done in triplicate with many forms to sign and offices to visit before the simplest thing can be dealt with. Forget queues, what are they in Italy? The old lady behind you will expect you to let her go in front, while everyone behind you will gradually seem to be in front now, it's very subtle, and if you aren't doing the same then you're just showing you aren't a true Italian.