Do and don't in Italy


Are you living in Italy? We need you to share your experience of the local customs :)

Is it difficult to adjust to the local customs in Italy?

Could you please share with us a list of the do's and don't's in Italy?

Thanks!

One thing that clearly stands out is the language:
Do not expect people to speak english to you in italy - They often don't speak it, and if they do, they see it as arrogance from your side if you don't try to speak some italian to them.

The same can probably be said for france aswell, and ought to be common sense. If they see you are trying, they will often at least meet you halfway.

That's true, Italy and France are two countries that don't really like the English language. Nor the English people.
I find Italy a beautiful country, but it doesn't seem too secure for regular people. So can't trust it. :D

EuropeWord :

That's true, Italy and France are two countries that don't really like the English language. Nor the English people.

I can't agree with you mates ;)

Mature people might not like the english language just because ... they don't understand it :|

But fortunately it's quite different with the new generation :)

Young people know it's very important to speak english, and they are generally more open minded than their elders. After all, they are the "european generation"!

You may be right, but this is what I realised during my vacations there. I tried talking to several people in both countries and most of them did not seem very happy to talk to a foreigner. Although some of them knew English.
I may be wrong, but this is just my opinion.

Julien :
EuropeWord :

That's true, Italy and France are two countries that don't really like the English language. Nor the English people.

I can't agree with you mates ;)

Mature people might not like the english language just because ... they don't understand it :|

But fortunately it's quite different with the new generation :)

Young people know it's very important to speak english, and they are generally more open minded than their elders. After all, they are the "european generation"!

To be honest, it really will just depend on each individual person.  I have found that when I speak Italian or French, then apologize for not speaking it well, (because I'm still learning) they are quite friendly and helpful to what I need.  At that point, most of them will speak to me in English.

The fact is the English language is not widely spoken. Not if you compare it to Denmark and the likes. Most people of a certain age haven't a clue. Younger people are more switched on. But the Italians are gregarious people and in most tourist contexts they'll meet you half way. Off the tourist trail...well, forget it. As has been said already it's only good manners and common sense to come at least a little bit prepared.

PaulF :

One thing that clearly stands out is the language:
Do not expect people to speak english to you in italy - They often don't speak it, and if they do, they see it as arrogance from your side if you don't try to speak some italian to them.

The same can probably be said for france aswell, and ought to be common sense. If they see you are trying, they will often at least meet you halfway.

I agree that it IS arrogance on the part of most tourists to expect the people in the counry they visit to speak their language
let's turn the tables... a tourist from france or italy goes to the USA  -  let's say arkansas
he/she walks into a deli and orders in french or italian
what are the chances that the person behind the counter will understand him/her?

let's get serious here - paese vai usanza trovi... the visitor must adapt and not vice versa!!

EuropeWord :

That's true, Italy and France are two countries that don't really like the English language. Nor the English people.

I'm English and have never had any problems with Italians. Are you sure it was the English and not Americans they have the problem with! Alot of European countries have a dislike towards Americans, France especially. There are also quite a few Italians with the same feeling.

JohnD63 :
EuropeWord :

That's true, Italy and France are two countries that don't really like the English language. Nor the English people.

I'm English and have never had any problems with Italians. Are you sure it was the English and not Americans they have the problem with! Alot of European countries have a dislike towards Americans, France especially. There are also quite a few Italians with the same feeling.

well, I am American and I live in Italy
I have never gotten any flack from anyone about my origins and I have lived in several cities over the last 20 years

as for language.. in your country when you meet a foreign tourist are you able to speak his/her language well enought to converse?
as a tourist you are the visitor and should respect the "house rules"

the idea that english - whether it be british, american or otherwise - should be automatically spoken in any country a native english speaker chooses to visit is not only arrogant, but ignorant as well

forgive me if I am repetitive!

Some years ago I spent a summer at an art school in Umbria. I had time to take but a quarter of Italian before I left, but it was enough to navigate the basics. The very basics. One day I went into a tiny bottega in my village. In Italian I ordered a quarter kilogram of chocolate. The older women behind the counter were thrilled and seemed to be honored. And I was almost shocked myself that I could do it.

But it was easy to get the impression that the further south one goes in Europe, the less English is known. This impression led to an amusing but at the time miserable experience on a very hot Italian train from Brussels back to Florence. To make the story short, I assumed the the Italian family who came into the couchet didn't speak English after I had introduced myself to them in Italian, stating that I was American, and they continued in Italian. During the long ride into night, I felt I could hardly talk to them with my piddling knowledge of Italian. It never once occurred to me to ask if they spoke English. Well, night came and I wondered how we were going to arrange things. Suddenly grandpa revealed in excellent English just how things would be done. Then the husband made a remark in English. I was nonplussed, and who knows, they may have enjoyed that very much. There you go.

Do: visit all possible excibitions, art galleries, museums, nightlife, Milan has amazing nightlife
Don't: dress junky, italians pay attention at the way you dress, and it appears they judge people by their look, especialy northern italy;

Yes, I think they do judge your looks a lot in Milan.  Hard to know what to do as a man, though - if I don't shave for a week and have a bit of a beard, I get compliments!

If you always have the intention of speaking Italian to start with, you tend to get treated well - even if you have to stop and apologise for not speaking much Italian.  Much like a lot of countries where English is not spoken.

When crossing roads with a green man, it seems that confidently stepping out will stop the cars (scary though it may seem).  Timidly edging across the road seems to encourage cars to zoom past either side of you!

EuropeWord :

That's true, Italy and France are two countries that don't really like the English language. Nor the English people.
I find Italy a beautiful country, but it doesn't seem too secure for regular people. So can't trust it. :D

So not true. Most young people can understand english and read it due to internet chatting. Most people in Italy do like English or American people, they are just a bit shy in speaking the language because they lack the ability to communicate well in English. What do you mean "it don't seem secure for regular people"? It is much safer than most places that I have lived in.

Hi,
I have lived in Italy now for a bit more than 4 years and it has had its ups and down but I guess that is normal for any experience outside your own home country.
It depends a lot on what your expectations are, your background and your willingness to adapt to a culture that may differ quite a bit from your own.

One way to put a silver line as you start your day is always to have a coffee in the morning at one of the bars.
In fact, after living here for such a long time, it hasn't dawned on my until recently that this is perfect material for a blog.

So if you want to know a bit of Italy, my blog could be one way:

A Swedish Coffee Bean in Rome

It's quite easy to adjust to customs in Italy, as many our 'western' :  happy hours, movies, etc.
What's more difficult are daily things, like, trying to make an appt. with a Roman, talking straight to your boyfriend/girlfriend (they read between the lines, we tell it like it is), or adjusting to the lack of lines/queues, websites that don't work, and banking from 1292.

FMaggi
Burntbythetuscansun

Hi I am italian. It's not true we dont like english language. And 
it's not true we dont like english or american people. We dont like arrogance in general from every nationality.
Anyway we dont speak well english because in Italy it's not necessary to speack english. We speak only in italian.
And we are very shy to speak in another language cause we arent' used to.
But we feel very joyfull if you try to speak italian even if not well we surely are happy to help you.

excuse my english.

Hi all,

Just came back from Milano and I loved it! Even have a mad idea to move from Paris to Milano!
It's true, it's not easy to find english speaking people in Milano.My friend and I have visited some nice places like Corso Como and tried to talk to local people! Great experience... not really easy to get well with the person you don't undrestand.
Italian people are very friendly even if they don't understand you.
Very positive experience anyway.

As you see I'm french so my english is not really perfect :)

Below are just my observation I have made since coming to Italy,  I could be misinterpreting some things and if so I apologise to any Italians out there.   Where I am from has just as many issues.

A lot of Italian can't speak english but I have never been made to feel uncomfortable because I don't know Italian that well.  I have found everyone here very friendly.  I haven't meet anyone here that has been racist or not liked another culture.  I actually get the feeling the Italians are fascinated by other countries and cultures.

Italy is a strange place because on the one hand I think they are disorganised and lazy but you can't complain because they are aware of this and it's as if this is the lifestyle they want.  I am not from this country so I accept that.

Can't walk around in bare feet,  even inside the house on hot days.

Drinking any alcohol,  even a nice cold beer on a hot day,  must be done indoors with the curtains drawn.

It was good when I first got here because it was so Italian but now this formagio and cafe after every meal is getting annoying. I have actually stopped drinking coffee now because I am so sick of hearing about it.  cafe cafe cafe!!! ahhhhhhhh!!!

People here live with there parents.... well... forever...  I know a doctor who is 45 years old and has never moved out of home!  Where I am from it is expected that somewhere between the ages of 18-21 years old you move out.  It isn't that your kicked out but you want to move,  here it is so different.

Parents do everything for their children (this is when they are even middle aged, I mean everything) and it is kinda of expected.  I am used to it being the other way around and the children do everything for the older parents.

Tradition over rides everything here,  even common sense.  It's like they know there is a better way how to do something but don't, simply because it isn't the way they have been taught. 

I know a lot of people here that have never had Chinese or Mexican food and are terrified of it!!

The drivers are terible!!!  I looked death in the face in the form of a cars bonnet several times here with drivers overtaking on solid lines and missed me by a cats whisker.  Its the wild west out there!!  I find it insulting that my country permits Italians to simply exchange their license for an Australian one but I have to sit a driving test again to get an Italian license!!!

Families live in the same home for generations.  Where I am from people usually move house at least 5 or 6 times in their lifetime. 

And finally shops close for lunch for like  4 hours and usually there is no Sunday trading.  Its rare to find a shop open from 8:30am to 9pm without closing down.

Hi Paoletta,

I make some big generalisations and hoping people would realize this and forgive me.  I know a majority of Italians probably don't live with their parents their whole life and have a beer in public etc etc.  I just come across these incidents noticeably more than where I am from.  I not even really saying they are bad,  just interesting.

It was surprising to meet some people that hadn't tried Chinese food before,  I know its not that much of a big deal but I come from a place where Chinese is quite common. 

I always get told to put on slippers in the house,  not anymore because everyone gave up on me.  :)  I think because I would get a cold.

One thing I will stick to though is the drivers here in Italy,  it,s horrible!!! :)

I am technically not in Milan but to the south near Opera.

I hope I clarified some of the things stated.  It is meant to be light hearted banta :)


Ciao

Ha! "...regular people." 
You say it as if 'regular people' actually existed. Americans in Italy are NOT regular people; they are quite irregular.

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