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.


Anonymous said...

You are a good resource for all things Italian. Thanks for visiting the blog!

Mary Aalgaard said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog today (chia). I love reading about other cultures, and Italy is a favorite. I was there for about a week back when I was in college. Very beautiful, fun, and yes, I thought everyone was having an argument! Love the idea of a nightly walk to the piazza.
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Glenda Cates said...

Sounds like a fascinating place to visit but not to live.

Jean said...

I had a meeting in Florence in July several years ago. I took my mom with me. Our lodging rooms were not air conditioned. Quite a surpise for both of us, but the week went well.

Jean, back visiting for the A-Z Challenge from Rantings and Ravings of an Insane Writer

Life SPW said...

I thank you for the cultual info. I often equate loud talk with anger. I now understand the importance of touching and personal space and context is everythingwith regard to speech. Also thank you for visiting my blog.

Arlee Bird said...

I tend to be pretty quiet and like things quiet around me. My first wife seemed more like the Italian type because she like to get loud. When she was with her friends they always sounded like they were arguing. My second wife came from an Italian family, but they were all pretty quiet. Go figure.

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DayDreamer said...

Thank you Helen.

Mary, I'll be posting about the piazza in a later letter, but going every evening is just what everyone does They don't watch TV, they go out for a walk.

Glenda, that pretty much sums up my thoughts, I love love love Italy but to live there would be stifling, plus other reasons.

Jean, my father has air con but he is in the minority, no-one else they know do, for some reason they prefer to wilt in the heat.

Life SPW, the closeness is disconcerting when you aren't used to it, it's usual to stand almost nose to nose while chatting.

Arlee, they say there's always one who goes against the grain, in your case it's two, how funny. Being quiet has many merits, I must agree with you.