• Eva

In Italy, Nonna Knows Best and Other Italian Stereotypes...

Updated: Sep 18, 2018

Oh Italy, Italy, Italy. For such a small country it has so many stereotypes, which is probably the fault of the billions of people who have passed through here (because you already know that every path has already been beaten).

All these stereotypes for better or worse are some of the major reasons people come here in the first place. You want to know if the rumors are true. Are Italians really as obsessed with pizza as people say they are? Is it true if you marry an Italian man, you’ll always be fighting for that number one spot against his mother?

Well, as your honorary Italian experts we’ve got some answers for you. Here’s 10 Italian stereotypes and the truth on if they’re the real deal or not.

1. Pasta, Pizza, Pasta, Pizza e Basta!

If you come to Italy hoping to eat pasta all week only to switch it up and enjoy some Mexican on the weekend, you came to the wrong place. Italians take food very seriously. Here food is religion and nothing can compete with the millions of variations of homemade pasta and pizza that’s around every corner and in every home.

Although, it’s not impossible to find different variations of food here it’s not common and guaranteed it won’t taste like what you’re used to back home. As foreigners, we know how easy it is to get tired of the pasta pizza rotation, so when you finally cave and chow down on that McDonald’s we won’t judge. Just be prepared for the many sides you’ll receive from the Italians walking by.

P.S the best pizza is DEFINITELY not in Naples.

2. Mamma is the Queen of the Castle

Nothing places more fear in the hearts of women everywhere than an Italian man’s love for his mamma. Of course we can’t speak for all Italian men but the love for mamma is strong. Let’s put it this way, if your boyfriend has to list his favorite people on earth be sure that you may hear him say first is God, mamma, then you. The excessiveness of this varies, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Pro Tip: Go for the guys who have left Italy before, they won’t need mamma as much. You can thank us later.

3. The Real City of Love is in Italy

I once told an Italian that the city of love was in France, and I’m happy to report I made it out of that conversation alive.

Italians pride themselves on a few things food, style, and romance and the proof is in every classic Italian film. Thousands of people flock here every year in the hopes that they might fall in love, and if they don’t fall in love then at least find a great lover in the process.

Are Italians romantic? They can be, but trust that most of the times it borders on corny but if you’re into that you’ll love it here! Are they great lovers? We’ll never tell, but hit up a local bar or get swiping on Tinder and see for yourself.

4. Everything in Italy is Beautiful

Ok, so Italy is beautiful we can’t deny that! There is gorgeous landscape, incredible artifacts and the people here are not so bad on the eyes either but that doesn't mean everything is pleasant to look at. Some of the most well known cities, ahem, Rome and Milan, can be straight up ugly. To be clear, these cities are not entirely disappointing (I for one am in love with Rome) but I can count on more than two hands how many tourists have been surprised by just how they really looked vs. what they expected to see based off of Instagram.

5. There are Two Languages in Italy

So you’ve probably heard that Italians talk with their hands, which they do, but if you thought it was just hands waving around sporadically as their mouths move you’re wrong. Every gesture has an actual meaning. Think of it as super basic Italian sign language.

You're hungry? They’ve got a gesture for that. You want to leave? There’s another gesture for that. You’re pissed? I’m sure you can guess which gesture is appropriate.

6. Uhh Yes, You Need to Learn Italian

Speaking of languages, yes, you need to speak Italian to survive here. Granted, if you’re coming for a week a full working knowledge of the Italian language is not needed but if you turn into one of those visitors who just can’t help but keep coming back, then it’s time to start studying.

For the most part, Italians don’t really speak anything else besides Italian. Sure, you can find some people who can speak English, Spanish, or even Albanian but don’t count on being able to maneuver around the city so easily if you’re banking on that. At some point, you’ll need to find an apartment, go to the post office and maybe even open a bank account. In those cases, it’s best to know what you're doing.

7. The Opera Isn’t the Only Drama in Italy

I’ll admit, this is my favorite stereotype and I’m going to call it as true. Italians are dramatic as f…! For an American like me, I find it really enjoyable to watch. Italians feel everything and they express everything they feel. You’ll hear it in how loud they speak, in the gestures they use, and the way the customer service reps roll their eyes when you ask them a question.

In relationships, Italians are famous for being jealous and possessive, basically they’re a real life soap opera. Of course we can’t say that it’s true in all cases but in my opinion, it may stem from the unconscious desire to fulfill the romance stereotype and the expectations or frustrations that come with it.

Guarantee if you bring this up on a date night with an Italian you’ll be talking for hours. Again, you’re welcome.

8. The Bella Figura is Key

Fashion, la moda, however you say it style is one of the first things that comes to mind when people think about Italy. Don’t believe me? Just try googling ‘what to wear in Italy?’ and see how many hits you get.

Italy is home to one of the most famous Fashion capitols of the world, so you better believe that having a bella figure or presenting yourself well is essential. That means, pajamas, basketball shorts and flip flops are a MASSIVE no no. Plus, flip flops just hurt your feet. The good thing here is that most Italians are very traditional when it comes to style, so you don’t have to go crazy trying to look good. You just need to seem like you made an effort and lost.

9. Catholics are Prudes

You may be surprised at this but a fair amount of Italians are not so heavy on religion. I know, the Vatican is here, the pope is here! Catholicism as we know it was born here! Well, if you have conversations with enough Italians you’ll learn that while most people here were raised in the church they haven’t really carried that over into their adult life. So any thoughts that you had about Italians being uptight because of religion don’t always apply.

10. Italy is just like home

Last but not least, please don’t make the mistake of coming to Italy and believing that everything will be just like it was at home. As wonderful as life can be here, it doesn’t come without it’s problems. The phone connection is weak, traffic can run rampant in big cities like Rome, and the majority of Italians don’t believe in Ketchup or barbecue sauce (something I just don’t understand).

When you arrive, do it with an open mind, an open heart and let Italy show you what she has to offer. You’ll be happier that you did.


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SM Morgan 

Santa Monica, USA