The lifestyle in Italy

lifestyle in Italy
Updated 2023-04-23 11:42

Family, art, food, wine, fashion, etc., are just some of the things that describe the Italian way of life. Here is a complete summary of the Italian lifestyle to help you adjust once you have settled in.

Communication, the Italian way

The image that foreigners share of Italians is that of people who speak very loudly while gesticulating, especially with their hands. However, if we scratch the surface of this cliché, we can see that these people live their Latin identity with determination and passion. Also, Italians have two essential tools for speaking: their voice and the rest of their body. If you come from a country where people are calm and reserved, you will be surprised when you stroll through the streets of Italian towns and villages. There is no room for monotony in the hustle and bustle. That said, Italy is a complex country with a thousand facets to its culture, depending on the region. From the Alps to Sicily, via Tuscany and Sardinia, temperaments and ways of expressing themselves vary enormously.

What are Italians like?

The Italian way of life has been shaped by the character of its natives. These warm-hearted people are known throughout the world for their outspoken nature. Expansive, they do not hesitate to break the ice with foreigners, who are sometimes intimidated by such friendliness. Daily, once the constraints of modern life and its worries have been put to one side, Italians like to enjoy life, whether it be through gastronomy, beauty, art, family, gatherings and parties. But this is always done within a certain decorum that Italians apply in their daily social life, and that is specific to their culture. This includes behavior in certain social situations, respect for others, and a sense of belonging.

Eating habits in Italy

Italy has earned its reputation as a gastronomic country. With the help of sunshine and fertile soil, this nation has a cuisine that is now exported worldwide. However, it has kept the know-how and tradition of good Italian eating to itself.

The day begins with breakfast (colazione), often taken at the bar. Simple but comforting, it usually consists of coffee, cappuccino, tea, or milk, as well as pastries (including the famous cornetto, or brioche, depending on the region, a kind of croissant generously filled with jam, honey, chocolate, or cream). According to Italian tradition, cappuccino should not be taken after 11 a.m., just like coffee with milk, which is generally reserved for breakfast.

Lunch (pranzo) is usually between 12.30 and 2 pm, depending on whether you are in the north or south. During the week, if you are working, you will eat a meal on the run. This is an opportunity to try the trattorie, small neighborhood restaurants with a family atmosphere and relatively low prices, which can be found even in big cities like Milan or Rome. However, the situation is different if you have more time or the possibility to have lunch with an Italian family. A traditional Italian meal consists of three courses: the first (pasta or rice), the second (meat, fish, and eggs, accompanied by vegetables (contorni), and finally, fruit and coffee. On weekends, the dessert will obviously be a little more elaborate, and Sunday is often reserved for a family lunch.

Between lunch and dinner, there is a tradition that some Italians still honor, dating back to ancient times, namely the siesta (called pisolino in Italian). While this tradition tends to disappear with the obligations of modern life, especially in the big cities where life has become frenetic, southern Italians still close their shops for a welcome break from the blazing sun during the summer months. Closing times are generally from 1 pm to 4 pm, although this allows for late opening, usually until 8 pm.

Aperitifs are important in Italy, even after a working day in the middle of the week. Northern Italy, especially Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto, are famous for having given birth to spirits such as Martini, Vermouth, Campari, Aperol and Select, which are found in world-famous cocktails such as the Americano, Spritz and Negroni.

Dinner (cena) is sacred. The Italian way of life places great importance on the family, and this meal has a special place in the home. Between the north and the south, this gathering generally takes place between 7.30 and 9.30 pm. The Italian dinner ends the day in style with fresh, seasonal products that Italians are particularly fond of, including vegetables used as a sauce for pasta or risotto to accompany meat or fish. Sometimes during the week, dinner is light, with salads, cheese, soups, and fresh fruit as dessert. At the weekend, dinner can be more substantial with pizzas, pasta dishes, or more elaborate meat dishes such as lasagne, roast meat, meatloaf, etc. Dinner in a restaurant, for example, can be finished off with a coffee or a liqueur such as Amaro, Grappa, Limoncello or another.

Life after the meal in Italy

Energetic, even at the end of a long day's work, Italians take the sweet life literally. There is a pleasant tradition called passeggiata, which consists of going for a walk and going to the town or village square to get some fresh air, talk, or even enjoy an ice cream in summer. Beware, there is no question of going there in your office clothes; your best attire will be required for this Italian-style stroll which, apart from the pleasure it provides, is also an important social activity.

Coffee is an art in Italy

Coffee and Italy are two inseparable elements, and this drink is the object of a real cult, just like tea in Asia, for example. The Italian barista is a true expert, respected and appreciated by Italians. If you're a coffee lover, you can expect the following in Italy:

  • Espresso, 100% Arabica coffee, which could be compared to the absolute in perfumery
  • The Cappuccino, Espresso with milk, topped with a dome of frothed milk
  • Doppio (double) is a double espresso
  • The Ristretto (reduced) is a small Espresso
  • Lungo (long) is a large Espresso
  • Macchiato is an Espresso with a cloud of milk, hot or cold
  • Caffè con panna (coffee with cream) is an Espresso with a dollop of whipped cream
  • Caffè Freddo (cold coffee), also known as caffè shakerato, is an Espresso with ice cubes, with or without sugar, all shaken together.
  • Caffè Americano is an Espresso with hot water
  • Caffè Corretto (literally corrected) is an Espresso to which the barista adds a drop of grappa, Sambuca, or other liqueurs of choice.
  • Caffè Marocchino is a coffee with chocolate cream (sometimes gianduja) at the bottom of the cup, topped with an Espresso and milk foam.
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