We often hear that Italians are passionate and that they speak loud. Who hasn´t heard about The Godfather or Mario Bross? But do they really represent the country? It´s true that they are crazy about fashion –In Italy wearing white socks is nearly punishable by law! It´s also true that they eat pasta (probably every single day) and that they talk with their bodies. However, The Boot is much more than that. Here you will experience history in every corner, you will find out that Italians never ever buy sauce at the supermarket and of course, you´ll enjoy the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Let´s forget about the stereotypes and prepare yourself to live La Bella Italia!
1. Italians can’t live without pasta
Along with any other Mediterranean country, Italy is famous for its food. It’s true; Italians love their pasta, which makes up a huge percentage of their diet. Even though this meal is famous worldwide, when you live in Italy you will realise that the way Italians prepare pasta has nothing to do with the method used by the rest of the world. For instance, “cooking pasta” means cooking the pasta and the sauce- Italians never ever buy sauces at the shop! Another important point is that each kind of pasta has a specific cooking time and they all should be al dente, which means that the pasta has been cooked so as to be firm but not hard. Top tip: Do not ever have pasta with ketchup! Instead, have a go and make your own tomato sauce. You only need olive oil, pepper, fresh basil and fresh tomatoes. Buon appetito!
2. They won’t speak English to you- Learn some Italian
It´s not just the fact that their English is not very good, it´s simply because they don´t feel they have to speak another language that is not Italian. In this sense it´s important to remember that they are a very proud nation with an important culture and heritage. Wherever the place in Italy you have decided to move to, be aware that you will get points if you make the effort to speak basic phrases in Italian. Did you know that in fact Italian is a newborn language compared to the thousands of local dialects spoken along the country? Top tip: Learn some basic Italian phrases to survive in the country:
Buongiorno! Come stai? (Good morning, how are you?)
Scusi (Excuse me)
Parla inglese? (Do you speak English?)
Per favore (Please)
For a full list of Italian expressions, check out this blogspot.
3. The importance of the family
Ok; it might not be as intense as the Godfather made us believe- The image of a large family with more than six children is just an old memory. However it’s true that Italians keep a very close relationship with the family. Even though families tend to be smaller nowadays, people still love to spend time together. In Italy this is especially common during the Easter period and Christmas. Top tip: If you ever get invited by an Italian friend to a family meal, don’t expect the reunion to finish after one hour…
4. Yes, there are people that pay tax
First of all, it´s not true that no one pays tax in the country. From employees to pensioners (Of course there are people that don’t, like in any other country) the population pays taxes. In this sense, Italy’s fiscal monitoring regime has recently changed and today authorities ask foreigners living in the country to declare more information about their assets outside the country. For more information about how it affects expats, have a look at this article on The Telegraph. Top tip: If you need to deal with any paperwork in Italy, be aware that bureaucracy here is very slow, so don’t get desperate!
5. North and South of Italy: Two different worlds
Whoever travels around the Italian boot will quickly understand that the North of the country is different from the South. Apart from the landscape (The North is a green and mountainous destination whereas the South is arid) and the economy situation, differences are highlighted when it comes to people’s character. For instance, southern Italians need to have a proper break after lunch (a sort of “siesta”). But what is even more interesting is that people from the South are never on time (This also affects the transport, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait on the platform for a while). Top tip: If you finally decide to move to anywhere in South Italy you’d better learn how to be patient!
If you are just thinking about visiting the country, of course the capital of Italy is a good starting point. If you need a place to stay, check out accommodation options in Rome with Expedia. For the latest cultural and music events in the city, have a look at Turismo Roma website.
Marta López is a Spanish travel writer based in London. She confesses that she is “a spaguetti lover”. Apart from pasta, she loves literature, photography and cooking.