Si dice- Mi hanno detto- ma lo sai che??- Non lo sai?? (people say-I was told- do you know that?-don’t you know that?). These are the most common expressions used by Italians when they start gossiping. Some studies carried out at the University of California and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that gossiping helps people to feel better as it lowers their levels of stress.
Italians really took these results at heart, as they love gossiping and talking about other people. In times gone by, it was not unusual to find old women outside their houses chatting with their friends about the neighbors, especially in small villages.
Today Italians still adore chattering: some people do it just to relax or because they like talking away with people, while others, sometimes, do it with a bit of malice. In general, though, Italians like to gossip without meaning any harm, they love the chatter, the sense of bonding it creates with their interlocutors. And don’t be mistaken: gossiping is not only a women’s affair in Italy, men do it, too!
Mind: it’s not like Italians gossip about everything. Some topics are hotter than others:
– relationships. Gossiping about others’ relationships is one of the most common topics: rumors about betrayals, fights and lovers’ bickering are common material for the curious, in Italy as anywhere else in the world. Something interesting to know: men like to gossip about the women they date, sometimes going into plenty of details… details that may, at times, not be entirely real. It’s not only girls that meet around a table with a glass of wine and discuss their partners. Men do it, too!
– work. One work’s environment and his or her colleagues are one of the hottest gossip topics in Italy; not only do people love talking about what happens at work, but love doing it while working. Some statistics show that the place of work is one of the most frequent spots for people to talk about others; however, this has often led to unpleasant events that also required disciplinary actions. Stricter actions are taken when the gossip becomes libel; in that case, a person can also risk being sentenced as decided by la Corte di Cassazione, the Supreme Court.
Morbid curiosity and gossiping is so widespread that medias use it as a way to increase their shares, too. News about VIP’s private lives are often source for debate and discussion. The same can be said for the lives of politicians and tv personalities. Unfortunately, the same happens in relation to tragedy: nothing seems to attract people more than that. Television producers take great advantage of it, sometimes creating shows focused more on the sensational background to the events, rather than on the event itself. Something very much Italian, when in comes to the good, old “pettegolezzo”, is blackmailing: many an Italian VIP have found themselves involved in nasty fights with the tabloids over the “accidental” leak of compromising photos or phone records.
All in all, though, the reason we Italians like gossiping is because we love to talk, to interact, we love human contact. Gossiping helps to keep our minds off everyday’s problems, at least for a few minutes: when done without malice, gossiping is, to an Italian, just as refreshing as a nice espresso.