The culture of Italy features a set of unique traditions, values, customs, and beliefs that form the core of the culture of the Italian people. These traditions have heavily influenced Italy’s lifestyle and way of life since the last century and are still practiced in modern Italy. The Italian customs are indirectly connected to the ancestors, which speaks a lot about the rich Italian history.
What makes Italy such a certain European country?
Italy featured several smaller nations with their own customs and traditions that were unified in the 19th century and formed the base of the Italian culture today. With a 60 million population comprising 20 religions. There are diverse conversations, dialects, and accents these people share through common customs, values, beliefs, and traditions.
Family is one of the key fundamentals in Italian values, with greater emphasis in the south, smaller in the center, and northern parts of the country. Having a common meal together, like a Sunday lunch when the women cook and serve, guided by Nonna while the men sit at their table chatting and enjoying a mature conversation, is the way of life here. Senior family members hold a special place of power while the younger members become a source of wisdom. People celebrate religious status vividly here along with other occasions.
Many students are still supported financially and emotionally by their parents for their university education and help them settle down with their partners. Grandparents spend much time interacting with their grandchildren; their parents slog their way out in the modern world to sustain their respective families. Indeed, it’s a wonderful place to study. So, do apply for an Italy student visa once you get admission here.
Males have more preferences when it comes to social gatherings and interactions as compared to females. This is because children have strict rules dictated by their father or a senior member of the family.
Greetings are enthusiastic and should be given with direct eye contact and a small smile. Air-kissing on both cheeks can start once there is a deeper relationship involved. Unfortunately, people often judge the basis of their first impressions. Hence, it is critical to demonstrate respect and propriety when greeting people, especially if you meet them for the first time.
Most Italians are Roman Catholics featuring almost 80% of the population. This makes it ideal for Vatican City to be placed in the heart of Rome city. In addition, the Vatican is a state on its own, with its residents and working population getting benefits from tax reliefs and good discounts.
The Italian traditions are mostly linked with the religions, many also featuring in the Italian holiday calendar. Every Italian region has its own local religious festivity where the patron local Saint is carried by their believers from one church to another on their shoulders as a procession. In addition, every day of the year is named after a Saint.
Italy has more catholic churches than any other country worldwide. The church attendance is low as compared to the number of churches involved. However, the church still holds a high power and influence in how society runs.
Italian holiday calendar
The most common Italian holidays in their calendar are:
- 1st January – The first day of the year or New Year’s Day
- 6th January – The Epiphany
- 14th January – Valentine’s Day
- 8th March – Festa Delle Donne or the international women’s day
- 1st May – Labour Day
- 2nd June – Festa Della Repubblica to commemorate the unification and formation of the republic of Italy
- 15th August – Ferragosto
- 1st November – Italian Ognissanti or All Saints day
- 8th December – L’immacolata Concenzione
- 25th December – Christmas holidays
- 26th December – Santo Stefano
- 31st December – Capodanno or New Year’s Eve
The Italian language is very formal, and there are set protocols to be followed if you want to be widely accepted and fit into society. Language is one of the key aspects of the culture of Italy. There are well defined formal and informal communication codes that need to be followed while conversing with someone. Titles associated with the person’s profession are extremely critical. The mentality of the population varies as we go down from the North to the south.
Almost 93% of the Italian population speak native Italian with 50% or more of these people having a regional dialect as their mother tongue. Friulian is spoken by almost 0.6 million people in Northern Italy, yet it contributes to only 1% of the Italian population. Other languages like German, Ladin, French, Albanian, and Slovene are given equal recognition with the Italian language.
Italian dressing codes
Clothing is another key aspect of the culture of Italy and can be deciding factor of your family background, education level, and social status. The first impression created by clothing and dressing codes lasts long and, at times difficult to change. Fashion is synonymous with the Italia culture and lifestyle, especially the latest designer labels and trends. Appearance and dressing sense is one of the fundamental aspects in determining the kind of person.
Gifting and dining
Gifting is a great part of the Italy culture. Red and yellow flowers are not the ideal color to be gifted with as they represent secrecy and jealousy. If you are gifting wine, it should be a vintage one. Quality is much more important than quantity. Chrysanthemums are used at funerals. Hence, it should be avoided as a gift completely.
Similarly, black and purple are considered mourning and bad luck colors. When you gift someone, it is normal to open it right after receiving it. All gifts should be wrapped while handing them over to the concerned person.
A dinner invitation has dress codes defined as avoiding the dress code will leave several stares and glares at you. Formal dressing is the way to go in case of dinner invitations. Punctuality is optional for up to 30 minutes when invited to a dinner or party. Table manners are very critical elements in the culture of Italy. People are expected to follow the hostess and not sit down until instructed. The host raises the first toast, followed by a return toast by the honored guest.
Business relationship and culture
Trust and faith are two key aspects of doing business in Italy. Italians generally prefer face-to-face contact while conversing, making it important to spend time in Italy to invest in a relationship. Personal connections are important while doing business with you. The first appearances make instant and lasting impressions on the business partner.
All meetings should be scheduled at least 2-3 weeks in advance and recorded in formal writing. Reconfirmation of the meeting by fax or telephone is considered a norm. August is a closing month for the Italians, so you should avoid any business transactions during this month.
In a business negotiation, people talk about a business only after a brief interaction or social talk where they approach you basis your openness to speak about yourself. The Italians like setting and running the pace of the negotiations. You can simply follow their leads while switching topics from social back to business discussions. Hierarchy is one of the pillars for doing business as Italians pay a lot of emphasis to seniors or elders. Business cards are often exchanged after a formal interaction or a negotiation.