Italian Stereotypes: True or False?

Today is the official 2 month mark since I have left the states. In honor of my two months spent in Florence, I would like to dedicate this post to the Italian stereotypes and what is really true or false. Of course, before I arrived in Florence, I had many ideas in my head about what Italy would be like. Although I knew my perception of Italy and Italians could be completely false, I had nothing else to base my expectations off of besides the typical stereotypes I would hear in America. I feel like I have learned so much about the Italian style from living in Florence. Here are a few things I found to be true and not so true…
 
1. Italians eat pasta and pizza everyday.

So true! Although it may sound like an exaggeration, Italians love their pizza and pasta. I didn’t understand how they could eat so many carbs and not gain weight but, I’ve realized that the portions of the pasta dishes are about half the size you would get in America. In addition, the streets are small and chaotic here so biking or walking to work is very common for Italians to do. Even I have been eating pasta or pizza everyday and haven’t been gaining weight! When it comes to walking to school, going shopping, or going to the grocery store, I average about 9 miles a day! 
 
2. Italians love coffee in large quantities and drink any kind of coffee at any time of the day.

This one is both true and false! Italians do love coffee, but they are very particular about it. To start, it is completely normal to get a large to-go cup of coffee in America at a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Although Starbucks exists in more modern or larger cities like Rome, Florence is a very traditional city where you can only find your coffee in a small bakery or bar. In most cases, they don’t even offer a “take-away” option because they are meant to enjoy at a table or bar with company. In addition, the size of the coffee is much smaller. The largest cup of coffee you might find is the cappuccino, which is only consumed before midday. You would be able to order a cappuccino anywhere past noon, but the Italians will think its extremely odd because it is just a morning drink to them. Instead, caffè macchiato is an Italian favorite and no, I am not talking about about the Starbucks version of a macchiato. This is served in a small espresso cup with a few drops of steamed milk to top it off. Furthermore, if you were to order a coffee, you shouldn’t be surprised to get a small cup of espresso with no milk or anything in it. Italian coffee and an espresso is the same thing. 
 
3. Italians are fashionable at all times.

So true! You will never find an Italian in sweatpants or active wear on the streets. If they are riding bikes they are most likely coming to or from work. Even on the way to workout, Italians will always change their clothes to and from the gym. No matter what the weather is or where they are going (even the supermarket or to take out the trash) Italians always have fashionable outfits on and will try to dress with designer clothes and accessories like Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses, Levi jeans, or Gucci handbags. 
 
4. Italians speak very loud and always need to speak with their hands. 

So true! This one I learned from not only observation, but also from Italians who are from here. Although it sounds like they might be angry or yelling at someone at a restaurant or on the phone, it’s just the way they communicate and speak their language. In addition, hand gestures are a way they communicate as well. There are specific hand gestures they all use which helps them to further emphasize what they are trying to say. 
 
5. The Mafia exists and is dangerous. 

This is unfortunately true however, it exists but is not a problem in the northern regions. Mafia is more prevalent in the south and in Sicily as well.
 
6. All Italian men are mamma’s boys.

In Italy they are called mammoni and yes, for the most part this is true! Children in America typically leave home at 18 to attend college and start their own life outside of their parents home right after. In Italy, it is normal for kids to live at home until they are in their 30’s. Although they may not be very proud of it, they mostly do it for financial reasons and when you have your mom to cooking, cleaning, and doing your laundry for you, men don’t see what the big rush is to move out.
 
To me, the best thing about traveling is learning about new cultures and becoming a more well-rounded person. My parents always made it a point to travel as a family when I was little and it really stuck with me. Because of my travels, I have been able to experience new things, meet new people, and learn about other cultures and lifestyles. I’m excited to continue to learn more in the month and a half I have left here! 
 

 

-DM 
 
Getting in my daily dose of pizza with a friend.

 

Caffe Macchiato 
 
 
 
 
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2 comments

  1. I loved this! Usually writing about stereotypes is made with the purpose of disproving them; However, you have done the opposite, and in a very non-offensive way. Everything you wrote made me like the idea of going to Italy even more than I already did! It was interesting to read about Italian culture from a non-Italian living in Italy, because it means you have fresh eyes on the subject. If I ever visit Italy it'll be interesting to see if my experience matches yours. I'm especially excited to see the fashion!

  2. Living like a native in any country is a great way to get beyond preconceived notions and stereotypes. Your perspective on what degree these stereotypes are actually true is very interesting, and it seemed like gaining that cultural awareness was very fun for you. I noticed in Japan that young adults wouldn’t move out until they were married as well. My older host brother was twenty- four and lived at home. He worked long shifts and didn’t get much free time off, so I can understand how it would be difficult for him to live on his own. Italy is such a beautiful country! I hope you enjoy it!

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