Common misconceptions and clichés about life in Italy

Hello everyone,

Old clichés die hard, as the saying goes... and living in Italy can generate lots of misconceptions in the eyes of the people.

What are the most common misconceptions about the expat lifestyle in Italy?

What are the most common clichés about life in Italy in general?

Did you have a biased view of the country before moving there? What is you view now?

Thanks in advance,


I had in mind to find chuches full of many Christians praying on Sunday since Rome is often known as the eternal city . But i found the opposite of it. Churches are only acting as tourist assets and love making arround churches. But all the same the people are very good and especially to us foreigners to their country.  I love it.

At first I liked the church bells ringing all the time.  Now on Sunday morning at 7:00 I am disturbed by them.  And they ring all three, not just one, and they ring them for a long time, as if to wake up every person in my village and remind them to go to church.  I am protestant.  Nuff said!
Italians don't drink more than one glass of wine, usually, don't swirl it in the air and sniff it, or look for color.  Beer...if it is a big glass they share it with their spouse. 
Portions on the plate are a whole lot smaller than in the United States.  You won't need a doggie bag.
Getting a driver's  license is REALLY difficult, and expensive.  In my old state, I paid 20 bucks and took a simple test that discussed rules, and was not a logic exercise in the stilted language of a lawyer.
italians are always late to events, meetings, and classes.. I taught watercolor workshops on Saturdays and some would arrive and hour late!  They expected me to retrace my material!
Cokes are served without ice, french fries without ketchup.
Drivers in Northern Italy are very good, but drive too close on the autostrada.  In the south they are ridiculously dangerous, and do some of the most stupid things, besides cutting in front, across and hogging both lanes.
Living space is smaller and kitchens are small.  You get used to it.  Cars are smaller and you realize that having that huge gas hog in the states was a waste of the materials to make it.  My old Highlander would make three of my I20s here in metal, etc.  I get 52 miles to the gallon.  My car is not sold in the U.S:, but should be! 
Driving on Sunday on the autostrada is nice because trucks are not allowed to use it. 
Beaches are crowded with rental chairs, and having a fire on the beach to roast hot dogs is not allowed.
the health system in Italy is wonderful.  Poor people can get help and be well.  I pay a small fee for my medicine and if I have to go to the hospital it is FREE. 
I have written a lot, and I have more but here is a funny one.  Fireworks.. here are shot off at midnight, every village festival has this, and more on Xmas, etc.  always midnight.  Too bad for young kids who miss their sleep to stay up..   Doing fireworks when soon it is dark.. NO.
I have a blog about my life in Italy.  Right now I am writing about my vacation out of Italy, but if you go to my blog you can slide down to info you might be interested in.  Driver's test, food, finding products for cooking, etc.  Go there by this link....

Dave Lester

Who runs the world? The Italian mamma. She runs a tight ship and keeps everyone in check from the whereabouts of your socks to your next doctor's appointment, doesn't matter if you are 4 or 40.


I think it is a general misconception that all Americans are wealthy.  I find most Italian tradesmen tend to overcharge for their work unless you know them or a family member of theirs. On the other hand, I find the Italians right there if you need anything, always ready to help. They have been so very good to us.

Hi, my name is Filipe
I lived most of my life based in Geneva but I traveled alll my life.. was a banker and a diplomat.
for many years I rented an apartment in Monte Carlo but closed it 5 years ago because it just does not correspond anymore to my current life style... as suchm I went very often to neighbouring Italian towns and since I also worked in Rome for a while I speak italian.

however, I did not go "down" since 2010 and no wonder how is it to live in Alassio... or even San Remo...

As a great lover of theatre, art, classic music  opera... I love Italy but I) also love to meet interesting people and discover other, less classic, sides of expat life.

Pls do no hesitate in contacting me... will be a pleasure.


Not everyone spends their nights dancing in fountains nor falls in love with a wine maker who owns a villa in the Tuscan hills

Life is cheap here. Eating out is great and affordable. Fresh fruit and vege also very cheap and accessible. Then again it's all releative to how much you earn as the majority of the normal people don't earn much.

The general picture of the Italian is one of a fun loving happy guy or girl living for sempre la dolce vita. Instead, Italians have a tendency for depression, a negative view of life, already happy when there is not a disaster coming. Non c'è male, they say when you ask how they are doing, nothing bad to report! I have written a whole book of stories about this, Living in Italy: the Real Deal - How to survive the Good Life. Sneak preview at http://italiaanse-toestanden.duepadroni … ex-UK.html

This  might happen in the big cities and touristy places, but when you live in the rural communities it is still very prevalent.   I only frequent on special occasions but my neighbors go every week without fail, they even clean and arrange the flowers.  The church might be up a mountain in the middle of nowhere  but it is well supported, and is the centre of the community.

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