5 Stereotypes about Italian People analyzed by an Italian Guy
Italy is often considered a very beautiful country by many people, because of its history, monuments and artistic inventory. Other ones are completely fascinated by Italian food, even if most American people who have never been to Italy, will surely remain surprise how much true Italian food is different from imitations you can find abroad (there are even "fake" Italian recipes you will never truly find in Italy, but we will see this nextly). Someone is also curious about Italian people and many stereotypes have been told about them. In this article I will analyze the most common ones in order to show what of them are true and what are simple rumors.
Loud & Joyful People
This is maybe one of the common stereotypes about Italian people: they speak very loud and, in general, they always tend to be recognized abroad just because they are really noisy. This stereotype is generally true, however it needs to be better analyzed: Italian people are really loud, however they are not the only ones: it often happens to find English or American tourists here in Italy who are even louder than Italian ones. Even in some American movies you can have an example of how many people tend to be loud and joyful. Also Irish people may be considered similar to the Italian ones, as in both countries it is usual to have fun, drink beer in a pub and take part to parties, full of music and singing people.
Do you think Italians are really noisy basing on your experience?
Noisiness often depends on the Italian region they come from: people from the Northern Italy tend to be more reserved and discreet, so that they are more silent than other ones. Instead people from Southern Italy are generally loud: about these last ones it is often said they are also very sociable and hospitable. This is true, even if also in the Northern Italy you can find a lot of nice and warm-hearted people: maybe the only difference is that they tend to express it explicitly less than people from Southern Italy, that does not means they are less nice than them.
Another common stereotype states Italian people are really crazy when they are driving. They are also very angry when someone does not respect rules. This stereotype is unfortunately true in many places: I will always remember the violent impact I had after a week in the USA, when I was coming back to Italy: after I left the airport and I went to the railway station in order to take the train to home, I saw a lot of Italian people who were crossing the railways, instead of using the subways. In addition, it is common to find pedestrians who cross the road with red lights. In the daily life I would never have noticed this, but after having spent a week in a place in which people seem to be more careful about these rules, the difference can be easily spotted.
Anyway, this does not means Italian people are in general crazy when driving or uninterested about traffic rules. In my experience, if you live in a provincial area full of villages, it is most frequent to find these types of people, why in big cities (like Milan for example), you can find Italian people are generally more respectful of traffic rules (at the same time, they may be more angry when driving if someone does not respect rules). The fact is that Italy is full of villages, and so provincial reality is much more extended than the typical big cities' one: that's why some stereotypes which seem to completely apply to some provincial areas are often extended also to people living in big cities.
Breakfast & Coffee Ritual
The Italian Breakfast
In addition to the coffee hour, also breakfast is another common Italian ritual. It usually consists in going at the cafe and ordering a cappuccino with a croissant. There eggs, bacon and omelettes are not considered typical dishes to eat in the morning. While having breakfast, Italian people also read the newspaper (many cafes offer it fresh daily). Following the complete ritual every day may become expensive on a long term basis, that's why most people tend to have breakfast at home and to read internet news.
The Coffee Hour
This is simply an element of Italian culture, just like tea ritual is in the English blood: the coffee hour. Italian people love to drink coffee and they usually do it at the cafe. They usually drink it at the counter. Espresso is the most drinked coffee in Italy. Apparently, it is a completely different coffee ritual if compared than the American one: you will hardly find people walking on the streets with plastic cups. However young generations are different and among them is more common to drink more elaborated coffee beverages while they are walking: Starbucks is still not present in Italy, however similar chains like Arnold Coffee (only in Milan and Florence) offer a complete American coffee experience to Italian people (and maybe in the future also Starbucks will star to open their shops in Italy, having seen American trend has started to circulate also in this country). Italy is becoming over time very conservative about its traditions (you will always find people drinking espresso at the cafe's counter), but at the same time more open also to new trends from the world.
Italian People Take It Easy
This stereotype is unfortunately true among many people: taking it (too much) easy seems to be completely inside Italian DNA. While for many people outside Italy it is common to arrive early to a date or a meeting, in Italy it is the opposite: arriving 10 minutes later is often considered a normal behaviour. I wrote "unfortunately" before because I think it is much better to attend a commitment in time.
Italians Have Long Meals
Food is something special for Italians, so much that a typical stereotype about them states they have very long meals. When you go to an Italian restaurant you may have even a 6 courses meal (appetizer, first course, second course, side dish, dessert and a digester), and that seems to follow and promote Italian tradition. In the common life, people tend to have fast and short meals, especially when they have to work. In addition, big meals are more typical of Southern Italy than of Northern part.
Italian Food You will Never Find in Italy
It is very common to find apparently Italian recipes promoted outside Italy, while they are completely unknown inside the country. I will list some examples of "Italian dishes" which have nothing in common with Italian's traditional cuisine:
- Spaghetti with meatballs: they are a very common dish you can find outside Italy. They are not an Italian dish, even if some people believe this: instead they belong to the so called Italo-American tradition. In addition, Joe Bastianich (a famous entrepreneur specialized in restoration) promoted this recipe and, being Joe's family Italian (even if he is born in USA), it is easy to believe this dish is part of Italian's traditional cuisine.
- Fettuccine Alfredo: despite common believes, Fettuccine Alfredo (made with butter and parmesan cheese) are really an Italian dish, however it is very hard to find it in Italy, while it is common to eat them outside the country. That is because this dish has been invented in Alfredo di Lelio's restaurant (located in Latium region), but typical restaurant's guests were American tourists: so the dish started to be known abroad, while in Italy never got much popularity. Four restaurants in Rome claim to have invented Fettuccine Alfredo, and maybe they are the only places in Italy in which you can eat them. Surely the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken variant is everything but an Italian dish, as pasta with chicken simply does not exist in Italian's traditions.
- Pepperoni Pizza & General American Pizzas: I have written an article (you can read it here) just talking about pizza in Italy and their variants abroad, however I summarize here the content: pizza you order from Pizza Hut, Domino's or other American chains and local pizzerias is completely different from Italian's pizza model.
Did you know all the things said in this article about Italian people?
© 2016 Alessio Ganci