12 Features of the Italian Lifestyle That Can Impress Even Experienced Tourists
My name’s Oksana and I’m from Russia. I’ve been living in Italy since 2014 and I’ve just started to discover the real country. The usual things that come to a tourist’s mind are the Colosseum, Romeo and Juliet, Cosa Nostra, pizza, pasta, La Scala, and so on. I’m not going to tell you about the tastiest pizza and the beauty of the Amalfi Coast since everyone knows about these facts. Instead, I’m going to share my own observations that surprised me a lot and changed my overall impression of the country.
Exclusively for Bright Side, I have collected 12 interesting facts about Italy.
12. Italians have a special understanding of distance.
You can cross Italy from north to south in just 10 hours. That’s why Italians’ view of distances differs from the views of people from other countries. A 2-hour journey from Milan to the closest Liguria beach (120 miles) is extremely long! A trip from a suburb to a city should also be planned carefully in advance.
11. Italians love and appreciate their homeland.
Italians are proud of their origin: when you meet for the first time, they’ll definitely tell you the name of the village where they were born, then the province, and then the country. One of the possible reasons is the genetic memory about the past when Italy consisted of scattered duchies and counties and republics and kingdoms on the Apennine Peninsula.
10. There are many dialects in Italy.
In Italy, there are almost 100 dialects that are all completely different. In fact, they’re just different languages entirely. When you enter a city, you can probably find 2 signs: in Italian and in a local dialect.
I studied Italian at the University of Bergamo. Once, in Rome, I spoke to a street artist and thought he was a foreigner as his accent was really awful. It turned out that he was a native citizen who just spoke in a peculiar accent.
By the way, Dante Alighieri’s works are written in standard Italian — The Divine Comedy is based on the Florentine dialect. That’s why the citizens of Florence consider their dialect to be the most beautiful.
9. The perfect country for older people.
There are lots of older people in Italy. Italians wait for the day of their retirement when they may quit their boring job and take up something they like such as traveling, writing books, and so on. By the way, the retirement age always increases as the average life expectancy in Italy is rather high: 82 years old.
If you find yourself near a gorgeous old villa with the most beautiful views, it’s probably a nursing home because Italians believe that elderly people deserve only the best.
8. Italians don’t encourage the ambitions of the younger generations.
Italians don’t have lots of opportunities when it comes to careers. The most ambitious students graduate from universities and go to London, Berlin, Helsinki, or Milan at the worst. 30-year-old people have to work for free (in some cases, employers pay €200-€300 a month) to gain necessary skills and experience. In Italy, young entrepreneurs are people under the age of 40. After 40 years old, people can finally start building a “real” career.
My colleagues from Milan were really surprised when they met a 25-year-old Editor-in-Chief from China and a 30-year old TV producer from Russia.
7. Italians aren’t in a hurry to have babies.
Italians decide to have babies later in life. According to Eurostat data, in 2016, the average age women became first-time mothers was 32 years old and men became fathers at the age of 35. It’s interesting that a 40-year-old woman is more likely to have a baby than a woman under 20 years old (8% against 2%). The brightest example of late motherhood among Italians is Monica Bellucci who gave birth at the age of 39.
It’s also prohibited to name kids after living parents.
6. Italians get married late too.
In Italy, couples usually decide to get married when they already have 2 or 3 children. The thing is, it’s rather hard to file for divorce according to the law. If a couple has no children and no shared property, the process can take an entire year. If parents have children, they’ll probably spend around 3 years and a lot of money on attorneys.
5. Not everyone can open a bank account.
A foreigner may open a bank account if their relative or a friend who already has an account in this bank can vouch for this person. A bank may even refuse to answer your questions on the phone. You’ll be provided with all of the information only if a bank officer can identify your voice. Otherwise, you’ll have to go to the bank and ask questions personally (trust me, I’ve been there.)
4. Italy’s society is really inclusive.
There are all necessary conditions for physically challenged people: they don’t stay at home but go to swimming pools and restaurants, go on vacations, raise children, and so on. Thanks to inclusive upbringing, children know that there are people who are different from them and it’s OK.
An Italian will never park in a handicap spot if he doesn’t have a valid permit to do so.
3. They have a strict eating schedule.
In Northern Italy, restaurants are open only for lunch (from 12 PM till 2:30 PM) and dinner (from 7 PM till 11 PM.) In other cases, you’ll only have a chance to get a sandwich or a salad at a bar. If an Italian fails to have lunch before 2:30 PM, they won’t eat at 3 PM — they’ll have to wait till dinner.
There are no 24-hour supermarkets here (well, I’ve never seen any.) Life comes first, and shop assistants and cashiers aren’t an exception to the rule: everyone wants to spend time with their family and get rest on Sunday. And if a restaurant (or a shop) operates on Sunday, then it’ll be closed on Monday.
2. You can be fined if you unsubscribe from telecommunications services.
In Italy, you have to read all service agreements carefully. As a rule, an attractive monthly subscription fee’s effective within 3 months or one year and then it gets 30% higher.
I had an incident with my home Wi-Fi: in 12 months, the monthly fee increased from €29 to €39, and I had to pay a €100 fine because I decided to cancel the service before the date mentioned in the agreement. It’s the same with SIM cards: if you want to unsubscribe from your provider, you’ll have to pay.
1. A bidet’s a must for Italians.
You won’t find a bathroom without this device in Italy. It’s interesting that furniture manufacturers developed a method to transform a bidet into a baby bathtub.
What surprised you the most? Do you have anything to add to this list? Share your impression of Italy with us in the comments!