A British web site Business Insider shared 10 things that confound the faithful to Her Majesty (and foreigners in general) on a visit to Bel Paese. Of course, some are stereotypes, but nonetheless endearing. Perhaps they say as much about the English as they do about Italians.
- The Noise
It is probably the first thing that strikes some foreigners on a trip to Italy: People talking on the street either to each other or on the telefonino; horns trumpeting wildly; and televisions turned on at full tilt. Wherever the unsuspecting victim turns, he or she is hit by a confusion of sounds, screams, and shouting.
- Endless Lunches
A typical meal in any Italian restaurant calls for at least 3 courses—appetizer, then first or second course (which are never eaten together) and the latter can be with or without side dishes, and then sweets, drinks, and the inevitable coffee. The series takes at least 2 hours seated at the table.
- The Unsalted Breakfast
Forget eggs, bacon, and ham. The typical Italian breakfast is eaten, in fact, at a bar, which is actually a sort of coffee shop closed in the evening and where espresso is served all day. It is a hymn to sweetness, from croissants to biscotti to shortbread, all accompanied by a hot beverage like latte, cappuccino or tea.
- “Hand Games”
Inherited from the Greeks, the art of the gesture is one of the characteristics that makes Italians unique. Big and small, the movement of hands accompanies any story, capturing attention and making it more engaging.
- The Family
Always respectful of tradition, Italians put family ties in first place and, unlike other cultures, have blurred generational boundaries. They tend to be excessive with their children, allowing them to do what they want and justifying behaviors that elsewhere would be considered rude.
- Perpetually Angry Motorists
If you are not certain whether you can compete with these crazy drivers that rarely respect traffic lights, who drive practically attached to the bumper of the car in front, and regularly cut you off, then it’s better to avoid renting a car. Rely, instead, on local taxi drivers, who, being Italian, drive exactly like the others. See # 1 about horns.
- Kisses and Hugs
The concept of personal space is unknown to Italians. It’s absolutely normal to approach another person in public and exchange effusions, behaviors that others may mistakenly take for sexual advances, but which is only a tricolor way to socialize.
- Not Open All Day
At half past twelve in small towns, shops close, and Italians go home to eat and don’t raise the shutters again before 3 pm, but in summer, especially in the south, not before 4. If you are planning a day of shopping, best to take this into account.
- The Ritual of Coffee at the Bar
It’s not to be missed and is often repeated several times during the day. In general coffee is consumed at the counter. If you plan to sit at a table, there is a service charge. It follows some “strict” rules—namely never ask for an “espresso” (you’ll be a mark as a tourist) but simply “a coffee” and never order a cappuccino after 11 am, let alone with lunch or dinner.
- Take it Easy
There is a reason that Italy is home to the “slow food” movement. Italians are masters in the art of putting off until tomorrow what you can or cannot do today. Arriving late for appointments is a practice commonly accepted, which remains incomprehensible to many foreigners.
Cosa ne pensi or What do you think?