Home stories 25 Things I’ve Learned About Italy

25 Things I’ve Learned About Italy

written by M.E. Evans February 5, 2013

I’m often asked to compare Italy to the United States to give people an idea what it’s like living here. It’s not easy to do that without generalizing a lot because like the US, every part of Italy is different. So, I set out to Google the shit out of Italy to see what I could learn.

  1. The mother-in-law is one of the top cited reasons for divorce.

  2. The infidelity rate is in the 60% range, yet divorce is only 11% [Italian society of divorce lawyers]. I don’t know what this means. Like, a lot of people cheat but nobody gets divorced? I don’t know.

  3. Mammoni is a cultural phenomenon where sons live at home into the thirties or forties and their mother basically does everything for them like laundry, cooking, etc. There are some cases where this is because of the economy. Other cases, it’s just that the sons choose not to move out because they prefer to be home. Think of Buster from Arrested Development.

  4. On average, people do not marry until their 30’s, and they don’t move out of their parent’s house until they marry. This is mainly due to economic issues and more recently, Mammoni.

5. People don’t clean up their dogs shit. If you’re in Florence, you should always keep your eyes on the sidewalk. On a different note, everyone in Florence seems to love dogs and they spoil the shit out of them (pun intended, hey oh!). Oliver’s head gets rubbed down and molested every four feet while we’re on a walk.

  1. Most of the apartments, restaurants, etc are COLD in the winter (compared to the US). Heat is very expensive.  Keep whining about your 4 dollars per gallon gas people, it’s like 4 dollars PER LITER here.

  2. Italy is a Catholic country. But a lot of people I know say they are Catholic and Athiest at the same time. This confuses me.

  3. The smoking rate is 27.3% of men and 22% of women. Sometimes it can seem like everyone smokes but I think that’s because a lot of young people do and sometimes multiple generations like Grandma, Mother, And teenage daughter.

  4. Coffee is a big deal and Italy has great coffee, however, everyone drinks it like they’re throwing back a thimble of gasoline. Sitting down to have a nice, big, cup of coffee is not common. Stand up, chug espresso, then go smoke.

  5. Someone told me recently that friends and family members do not share “personal information.” I don’t know what that means. Maybe that they prefer to be very private?

  6. Florence has a lot of Neo-Nazis and Fascists.

  7. Graffiti is used mostly for love. “Dear Angelina, my little star, I will always love you,” is what most of the spray paint around the city says. Yes, seriously. It’s not gangster at all, it’s pretty much bad poetry. Or racist.

  8. Italy has one of the lowest ratings in Europe for women’s rights.

  9. Northern and Southern Italians generalize heavily about one another. To give you an example of north vs south generalizing, it’s common to hear these things, “Oh, she’s from Milan so she’s probably really rich and snobby,” or, “Oh he’s from the South so he probably beats his wife and doesn’t work.” And no I’m not exaggerating. People say these things.

  10. Italians are really underpaid. An Engineer, for example, is likely to make only slightly more than someone who works at a cafe. It is creating a brain-drain where the smartest people in the country are leaving in search of higher wages. Way to go Italy, you totally just lost the new Di Vinci by being cheap.

  11. Education is mostly free in Italy. By free, I mean that it’s paid for by taxes.

  12. Italian men are known for being romantic but also for lying.

  13. If you want the morning-after pill, you’ll possibly have to go before a panel of assholes who will tell you that you’re plenty old to have a baby so, no, you can’t have the pill. Then you’ll threaten to ship your baby to them if you have one and they’ll just stare at you like you’re the asshole.  At least, that’s what happened to me.

  14. The food is amazing. While Americans have the reputation for food obsession (and being chubby), these people are actually obsessed with food. In my husband’s region, a birthday dinner lasts around 4 hours. Yes, eating the entire time for 4 hours. Yes, you do want to kill yourself after, and yes, I do sometimes sneak my food to the dog under the table who then pukes on the rug.

  15. Americans have a horrible reputation here for being loud, slutty, stupid, and trashy. I can actually see how that opinion formed. I am all of those things. But seriously, most of the tourists here from the US are really old, middle-class Americans who haven’t traveled much. They often complain a lot, demand too much, and say really odd things to the locals. The other group here are 18-year-old college students who are spending a semester abroad. They are suddenly allowed to drink and have no social obligations to act like a normal person so they go crazy, drink, dance, and try out European men like ice cream flavors. In the US these are the same good Christian girls who often go to Tufts, Yale, and many, many good schools. Lady in the US, a topless dancer in Europe.

  16. Europeans are not circumcised and so all the dudes have elephant trunks in their pants. Americans, Canadians, and Australians are the weird ones who chop their willy’s up. This reminds me of a story from art school. The nude model came in and two different girls leaned over to me and asked, “what is wrong with his Weiner.” I mumbled, “uhm…he’s not American or Jewish?” For the record, it does seem weird to me to cut up your junk.

  17. The youth unemployment rate is incredibly high and it’s very difficult to find a decent job. This is why most of our friends have left the country.

  18. Making friends as an expat is really difficult in a lot of places because Italians see the foreigners as temporary. 

  19. Bella Figura. It’s a thing.

  20. Liking your wife seems to be weird. I read a study that said it’s because Italians do not always marry for friendship or even love since there is still a strong tendency towards tradition (making family and having children)(http://www.acop.com/press/2010/10/married_couples/.)

So anyway, welcome to Italy!


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