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.


One Comment

  1. 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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