Italy is one of the top summer destinations. Every tourist in the world should want to set foot in this beautiful and internationally renowned country rich in artistic treasures. Here are some important facts about the Italian culture that you might want to know before planning your dream vacation.
Italy is located in the southern part of Europe, bordered by Austria, France, and Vatican City. Rome is the country’s capital; hence, the religion is Catholic for the most part, although there are Jewish, Protestant and Muslim communities.
Italian is the official language in this republic, and it is spoken by almost 93 percent of its population, though, there are still variations and dialects under this mother tongue, which are spoken by 50 percent of the population. It is remarkably hard to distinguish similarities between these dialects, according to linguists.
Italian society places foremost value on the family as a basic unit of the social structure. The northern part of Italy has quite a nuclear or small family structure, while the southern part banks on an extended family. In general, the family is important to Italians, as it is where they get emotional and financial support.
As you would have already known, appearance is important in Italy. Hence, fashion is more of a social concern. They believe in the phrase “first impressions last”. This founding on the non-verbal aspect of communication has repercussions in the way they interpret, accept, assess, and provide means for socialization. Often, the way a person looks is the basis of his or her social standing. Hence, most Italians are fashion conscious. They are attentive to details in clothes, shoes, accessories, hair style, and make-up. This concept of “bella figura” or good image is also where they get their confidence and demeanor.
Since Roman Catholicism is the primary religion in Italy, the Church's influence on people is high. Newborns are usually named after a saint, and they celebrate their saint's day as if it was their birthday. Hierarchy is also widespread in the Church, and this influence is apparent in all Italian relationships.
Etiquette in Italy is rather enthusiastic. A person who sees an acquaintance usually greets that person with a handshake sometimes complemented by kissing on both cheeks. For men, a tap on the back comes with the handshake. Calling cards are common for Italians especially in social situations. Interestingly, these include basic contact information as well as academic information.
During special occasions, gift giving is customary. Here are some points you should bear in mind.
- Chrysanthemums are used for funerals.
- Red flowers mean secrecy.
- Yellow flowers mean jealousy.
- Wine should be top grade.
- Do not wrap gifts in black.
- Purple also means bad luck when used to wrap gifts.
Dining and table manners are also important in Italian society. These should be exuded with class and formality.
- Mind your clothes when invited to a dinner.
- You can be late but not more than fifteen minutes.
- Always bring a gift. Don’t go to a party empty handed.
- On the table, do not sit until you’re invited to sit down.
- You are what you eat and how you eat.
- The host gives the first toast, and as an honored guest, you should return the toast.
These simple facts about Italy’s culture are important to bear in mind if you’re planning to go there. You should know how to blend in, especially in this country where values and etiquette are of the highest premium.