Every culture is a world of its own. Verbal communication and day to day way of life are the true expression of what the culture of a certain place is like.

However, some behaviors could be misunderstood and considered inappropriate, as we tend to view them through the lenses of our own culture. We should understand, though,  that things might be different in another place and that many times a particular habit we consider rude, may not be such for people with other cultural backgrounds.

When going to Italy, bear always in mind that you should be more flexible and broaden your cultural patterns, because some of our customs could be easily misinterpreted. Clearly, it is true that not every behavior which is considered unordinary for other cultures is normal in Italy, but yes, we do have some kinks and quirks which are simply part of our cultural ‘package’.

Here is a list of some things a lot of foreign people find unusual, but in fact are very frequent and widespread in Italy.

Queueing – or not queueing

That of not respecting the line is a bad and rude habit some Italians still have. Some believe to be playing it smart by trying to overtake a long line of people, but this cannot certainly be considered the right thing to do. In fact, this custom is frowned upon by tourists and Italians alike. Unfortunately, many people are still doing it, forking out the usual excuse: “Sorry, I am in a hurry”!

Queue in Florence. Ph. Chris Sampson on flickr

Courtesy: “Please”, per favore, “thank you”, grazie,  and “you’re welcome”, non c’è di che.

Unlikely other cultures, Italians are not the types of people who always say “please” , “thank you” or “you’re welcome”. This happens not because we are rude, but simply because we have different habits other countries. Italians obviously use these words and say them when it is necessary, but perhaps  not as often as other cultures do.

The “io voglio“, I want

If you hear an Italian saying “voglio”, I want, instead of using a polite expression when asking something, do not get surprised. Even if it may sound a bit arrogant, it actually is not. If we linguistically analyze this expression and translate it into English it seems quite rude to ask a person something with the “io voglio”, but culturally speaking it is not a pretentious way to do it for us Italians. For example, you will often come across people ordering food with the “I want”  expression, as it is not felt as wrong or rude to do so. However, some people replace it with a more polite “vorrei”, I would like.

Italians are a bit noisy

When we Italians speak, we often do it loudly, almost screaming, especially when coming from the South. In fact, if you go to a restaurant, you will often hear bursts of voices all around as we seem not to manage to keep our voices down, even in public!

Loud speaking, an Italian habit

Some people do not respect their turn while talking

Some people seem to find it normal to take over their interlocutors; whereas this may be acceptable while being with friends or with people with whom one is familiar, it may not be as easily digested in a different context. There is not a true explanation to this habit, but the well known flair we Italian have for expressing our own opinion, always and at all costs!

All these things have given Italians the wrongful fame of being quite rude and impolite, as well as having helped the idea that we are the most loutish of all Europeans. Whether true or not, just remind that accepting differences is the right key to visit and understand how life is like in another country.

 

6 Comments

  1. Italy is one of the best countries on the face of the globe! They have the very best food, deeply entrenched culture and tradition and gorgeous scenery/ ancient architecture.! So some of the locals are a little salty. Have you ever been to New York? Toughen up snowflakes! You’re a visitor in their world! Make a slight effort to speak basic phrases in Italian and respect their culture! Some of the most memorable encounters on my trip there was sparring with the locals.

  2. We are in Italy now and can’t believe the unfriendly arrogant behaviour – quite disappointing and we will head off to Germany to spend our money instead. I was wondering if Brexit has been the cause and they think because we speak English we come from UK!!

  3. I am visiting Italy now and I am having the same experience, rude people… I feel like I am visoting uncivilized country, the Italians don’t even respect each other, in my way to amalfi our bus driver stopped in the middle of the street and started arguing and swearing at another driver the argument went on for 6 min, it was shocking . .my last time visiting this country, never again.

  4. I feel the same.. I traveled around Italy for 20 days (September 2019), it was the most unpleasant experience with native I have had. Especially in Rome. I don’t intend to visit Italy again.

  5. I’m in Italy now and it’s only been a sour experience. Lots of rudeness and people staring and their expressions are awful. I definitely look like a tourist. Blonde hair and a fanny pack. I’m not sure if I’m doing anything wrong but I just want to hide in my hotel until I leave this town. I hope it’s just this town full of weirdos and not just how Italians are. Every experience I have with these people is uncomfortable and unpleasant.

  6. Hahaha, I thought you were describing us Chinese, they are so alike. Let us shake hands and (keep the kiss till later).

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