Since my seven weeks in Italy there are a few things I have fallen in love with about their culture and a few things that I have had a hard time adjusting too(well just one really). Here is a list of a few of those things.
1) The community/neighborhood: In Italy it is very common to see many of the same types of stores(small grocery stores, tabacchis, cafes, etc.) repeated block after block. The American in me first thought about how I just didn’t see how the storeowners could survive when people have so many options to choose from to buy the same type of product. But when I asked one of my Italian friends the first week I was here they explained to me that people in Italy are very tied to their neighborhood, so sure there may be a lot of similar stores very close but they choose to go to the one closest to where they live because they have relationships with the people. These stores are also quite more expensive than regular chain stores that may be less than a mile away, but people really enjoy the relationship and one on one service they have with the people who work at the local stores. I myself actually experienced this in the first neighborhood I lived in (I was in one of the larger apartments and they moved me to put a professor and there family in). I knew the owners of the café, the mini supermarket, and some of the bread/pastry shops in my neighborhood. I would have small conversations with them (as much as I could as I don’t speak too much Italian) and sometimes the café owner would even invite me in and give me a free cappuccino or espresso or the mini supermarket owner would give my roommates and I a free bag of grissini(famous bread in Italy) or chocolate.
2) Italians love their families: Sundays in Italy are typically considered family days. It is very common to spend the entire day with your family, and unlike in America, actually look forward to it. You might have a big dinner with your family and just sit around the house and talk or go to the local Piazza (like a square) and eat dinner there and take a walk along the river. Some of the students I know from school even designate certain weeknights to spend time with their brothers or sisters. This is something I really think America has strayed away from; as we get more and more busy spending time with family is put on the backburner. It seems a bit selfish to me in a since, and I’m not pointing any fingers because I definitely do it too, that any free time we do have it spent with friends or pretty much anything else.
3) Being Italian late: Italians are never on time. I am very OCD about time and being there when you say you are going to be. So this is something that has taken a lot to get used to, and I still really haven’t. It’s acceptable even at most work places to show up later than the time you were suppose to just because it’s part of the Italian culture to take your time and not be in a hurry- the very opposite of America.
4) The food: Food is a huge part of Italian culture. It’s not just that the food here is amazing (which, it is- I really don’t know how I’m going to be able to go back to America and eat Italian food there) and they take pride in it, but to them it’s a means of socialization and expressing their identities within Italy. It’s very common for dinners to last two or three hours because these are the times people socialize with one another, dinner more or less isn’t about the food but a means to be with people and have a good time. There are twenty different regions in Italy, each with their own types of foods they are known for so the types of food they cook, and how they cook them, really expresses their roots in the country.