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5 Stereotypes about Italian People analyzed by an Italian Guy

Updated on August 24, 2016
Alessio Ganci profile image

Traveling is maybe one of the most beautiful opportunities we have. When traveling I also love to review hotels, restaurants & attractions!

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.

The Milan Cathedral, one of the most famous Italian monuments.
The Milan Cathedral, one of the most famous Italian monuments. | Source

Loud & Joyful People

Loudness is one of the most common stereotypes attributed to Italian people
Loudness is one of the most common stereotypes attributed to Italian people | Source

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.

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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.

Crazy Driving

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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

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The Italian Breakfast

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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

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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.

Italian Food

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.

An Italian pizza, cooked at home by Giovanna Rezzoagli (the Author's mother)
An Italian pizza, cooked at home by Giovanna Rezzoagli (the Author's mother) | Source

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.

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© 2016 Alessio Ganci

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    • Alessio Ganci profile imageAUTHOR

      Alessio Ganci 

      2 years ago from Italy

    • Paolo Ugo profile image

      Paolo Ugo 

      2 years ago

      HISTORY OF ALFREDO DI LELIO CREATOR IN 1908 OF “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), NOW SERVED BY HIS NEPHEW INES DI LELIO, AT THE RESTAURANT “IL VERO ALFREDO” – “ALFREDO DI ROMA” IN ROME, PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE 30

      With reference to your article I have the pleasure to tell you the history of my grandfather Alfredo Di Lelio, who is the creator of “Fettuccine all’Alfredo” (“Fettuccine Alfredo”) in 1908 in the “trattoria” run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (Piazza disappeared in 1910 following the construction of the Galleria Colonna / Sordi). This “trattoria” of Piazza Rosa has become the “birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.

      More specifically, as is well known to many people who love the “fettuccine all’Alfredo", this famous dish in the world was invented by Alfredo Di Lelio concerned about the lack of appetite of his wife Ines, who was pregnant with my father Armando (born February 26, 1908).

      Alfredo di Lelio opened his restaurant “Alfredo” in 1914 in Rome and in 1943, during the war, he sold the restaurant to others outside his family.

      In 1950 Alfredo Di Lelio decided to reopen with his son Armando his restaurant in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 "Il Vero Alfredo" (“Alfredo di Roma”), whose fame in the world has been strengthened by his nephew Alfredo and that now managed by me, with the famous “gold cutlery” (fork and spoon gold) donated in 1927 by two well-known American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for the hospitality).

      See also the website of “Il Vero Alfredo” .

      I must clarify that other restaurants "Alfredo" in Rome do not belong and are out of my brand "Il Vero Alfredo – Alfredo di Roma".

      I inform you that the restaurant “Il Vero Alfredo –Alfredo di Roma” is in the registry of “Historic Shops of Excellence” of the City of Rome Capitale.

      Best regards Ines Di Lelio

      IN ITALIANO

      STORIA DI ALFREDO DI LELIO, CREATORE DELLE “FETTUCCINE ALL’ALFREDO” (“FETTUCCINE ALFREDO”), E DELLA SUA TRADIZIONE FAMILIARE PRESSO IL RISTORANTE “IL VERO ALFREDO” (“ALFREDO DI ROMA”) IN PIAZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE A ROMA

      Con riferimento al Vostro articolo ho il piacere di raccontarVi la storia di mio nonno Alfredo Di Lelio, inventore delle note "fettuccine all'Alfredo" (“Fettuccine Alfredo”).

      Alfredo Di Lelio, nato nel settembre del 1883 a Roma in Vicolo di Santa Maria in Trastevere, cominciò a lavorare fin da ragazzo nella piccola trattoria aperta da sua madre Angelina in Piazza Rosa, un piccolo slargo (scomparso intorno al 1910) che esisteva prima della costruzione della Galleria Colonna (ora Galleria Sordi).

      Il 1908 fu un anno indimenticabile per Alfredo Di Lelio: nacque, infatti, suo figlio Armando e videro contemporaneamente la luce in tale trattoria di Piazza Rosa le sue “fettuccine”, divenute poi famose in tutto il mondo. Questa trattoria è “the birthplace of fettuccine all’Alfredo”.

      Alfredo Di Lelio inventò le sue “fettuccine” per dare un ricostituente naturale, a base di burro e parmigiano, a sua moglie (e mia nonna) Ines, prostrata in seguito al parto del suo primogenito (mio padre Armando). Il piatto delle “fettuccine” fu un successo familiare prima ancora di diventare il piatto che rese noto e popolare Alfredo Di Lelio, personaggio con “i baffi all’Umberto” ed i calli alle mani a forza di mischiare le sue “fettuccine” davanti ai clienti sempre più numerosi.

      Nel 1914, a seguito della chiusura di detta trattoria per la scomparsa di Piazza Rosa dovuta alla costruzione della Galleria Colonna, Alfredo Di Lelio decise di trasferirsi in un locale in una via del centro di Roma, ove aprì il suo primo ristorante che gestì fino al 1943, per poi cedere l’attività a terzi estranei alla sua famiglia.

      Ma l’assenza dalla scena gastronomica di Alfredo Di Lelio fu del tutto transitoria. Infatti nel 1950 riprese il controllo della sua tradizione familiare ed aprì, insieme al figlio Armando, il ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” (noto all’estero anche come “Alfredo di Roma”) in Piazza Augusto Imperatore n.30 (cfr. il sito web di Il Vero Alfredo).

      Con l’avvio del nuovo ristorante Alfredo Di Lelio ottenne un forte successo di pubblico e di clienti negli anni della “dolce vita”. Successo, che, tuttora, richiama nel ristorante un flusso continuo di turisti da ogni parte del mondo per assaggiare le famose “fettuccine all’Alfredo” al doppio burro da me servite, con l’impegno di continuare nel tempo la tradizione familiare dei miei cari maestri, nonno Alfredo, mio padre Armando e mio fratello Alfredo. In particolare le fettuccine sono servite ai clienti con 2 “posate d’oro”: una forchetta ed un cucchiaio d’oro regalati nel 1927 ad Alfredo dai due noti attori americani M. Pickford e D. Fairbanks (in segno di gratitudine per l’ospitalità).

      Un aneddoto della vita di mio nonno. Alfredo fu un grande amico di Ettore Petrolini, che conobbe nei primi anni del 1900 in un incontro tra ragazzi del quartiere Trastevere (tra cui mio nonno) e ragazzi del Quartiere Monti (tra cui Petrolini). Fu proprio Petrolini che un giorno, già attore famoso, andando a trovare l’amico Alfredo, gli disse che lui era un “attore” della cucina romana nel mondo e gli consigliò di attaccare alle pareti del ristorante le sue foto con i noti personaggi soprattutto dello spettacolo, del cinema e della cultura in genere che erano ospiti di “Alfredo”. Anche ciò fa parte del cuore della bella tradizione di famiglia che continuo a rendere sempre viva con affetto ed entusiasmo.

      Desidero precisare che altri ristoranti “Alfredo” a Roma non appartengono e sono fuori dal mio brand di famiglia.

      Vi informo che il Ristorante “Il Vero Alfredo” è presente nell’Albo dei “Negozi Storici di Eccellenza – sezione Attività Storiche di Eccellenza” del Comune di Roma Capitale.

      Grata per la Vostra attenzione ed ospitalità nel Vostro interessante blog, cordiali saluti

      Ines Di Lelio

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