Oh, Those Italians!

I’ve often said that Italians are among some of the warmest people. There are, however, many other quirks and interesting aspects of their culture that are endearing. *These are just my personal observations, however, so please don’t take this as a definitive list of anything.

Let’s talk food.

  • In a single meal, they can have salumi with bread, and then pasta with bread, and still more bread after.
  • There could be cake and pie on the counter, and yet they opt for Nutella on bread for dolce. Or marmelata on pane. Or Nutella on previously mentioned pie.
  • Cooking seems to run in their veins.
  • They put way too much food on the table, and serve overly large portions. And they always want you to eat. Eat everything, eat always, eat more. Mangia, mangia!
  • Pasta could be just the first course…to be followed by meat and vegetable or yet another pasta dish.
  • It’s not uncommon during Sunday lunch with the family to serve rabbit or wild boar (the latter especially in the north), as though it’s as simple as preparing chicken.
  • They never seem to tire of cheese or salumi…or bread, pasta, caffè, or pizza.
  • They lay a tablecloth and table settings down before every meal (tablecloth size depending on the number of people sitting down to the table).
  • Not all your food has to be on your plate. For example, it’s rather common to rest bread on the tovaglia (tablecover).
  • They cringe at “instant” consumables. For example…packaged noodles? Che schifo.
  • Many of them make homemade limoncello. With pure alcohol. And they make flavors too – fragola, mirtillo, arancia, finocchio, melone…mmm

When it comes to relationships…

  • They instantly adopt you into their families as one of their own. This means cooking in the kitchen, sitting down to meals, and getting hugs and kisses as frequently as any sister or daughter. This means dad comes home with treats for you all. This means they miss you even if you’ve just gone away for the weekend.
  • Families are tight-knit units. They’re highly protective – parents over children, men over women. This can be said of any loving relationship, but it sometimes feels like they take it to the next level here. Overindulgence? Is that an actual term? What does that mean?
  • They casually walk into a room, even if the door is closed, to bring you cioccolata or merenda, or simply to ask a question.
  • They’re a very huggy, very kissy, very touchy-feely kind of people (and I do mean this outside of the romantic sense as well).
  • Despite the reputation that Italian men have for being overly amorous (which is a rather appropriate reputation, frankly), they are still a rather chivalrous bunch.

Fun Discoveries

  • Being known for saying “Ciao, bella” is not an exaggeration – everyone really does say it all the time.
  • The hand gestures. Oh, the hand gestures. One could create a video series on usage.
  • It’s perfectly fine to cross the street anywhere you like, as long as you’re cautious of oncoming traffic.
  • Maximum capacity –on a bus, on the metropolitana, in a restaurant– is a thing to be disregarded.
  • They have two different ways to say “I Love You”: Ti voglio bene amongst friends, or from mother to daughter; and Ti amo between lovers.
  • You say something is nice, and they reemphasize with molto bello (really nice). This also applies to food and other beautiful things/people. Molto buono, molto carina, molto bella. You certainly can’t fault them for being appreciative.