5 Cultural Differences between the United States and Italy

By: Katherine DeVito, Fashion Merchandising and Management 

Having been in Italy for 3 weeks, I’ve noticed many differences in culture between Italy and the US. I chose the top 5 biggest cultural differences that serve to remind me that I’m not in New York anymore. Enjoy!

  • No coffee with milk after 12 noon, only espresso shots.

Italians limit their consumption of coffee with milk to the mornings because that is the best time for your body to digest it, unlike most Americans who have a constant need for lattes

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  • No exercising or wearing non-presentable clothing in public.

Italians are very prideful of their reputation, so being seen in exercise or lounge clothes would make them seem like they’re not put together at all times. Recently, some Italians in Florence have begun to run during their lunch break on Wednesdays, which is “breaking the rules” but is slowly becoming more socially acceptable.

  • Dinner is always served in courses.

Appetizer

1st course: always pasta

2nd course: typically meat

Sides: salad or vegetables

Dessert

Espresso or wine

Italians take their time eating and split their meals into courses so they can appreciate all of the different flavors in the proper order. Dinner is most commonly eaten from 7pm on and takes at least an hour and a half, but there is no rush at all. The waiter will never give you your check or ask how everything is going, you must ask for your check or if you need something.

  • Many stores and restaurants are closed for 3 hours in the middle of the day for “riposo” (rest).

Many businesses close from 12-3pm or 3-6pm for lunch and a rest. Italians are big on pacing themselves and not moving too fast. They are very aware of their bodies and are careful to not overwork it like many Americans tend to do.

  • The quality of food.

Italians are huge on using all fresh ingredients and rarely use anything frozen or processed. They utilize fruits and vegetables that are in season at the time. The portions are also not as big as Americans hype them up to be. Also, fast food is not very popular here. Many Italians passionately love food and like to sit down and take the time to appreciate it.

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