Many people know quite a bit about Italian culture here and there just from watching movies and sometimes those tidbits about Italian culture are true, and some are not.
Other aspects of Italian culture and its curiosities just aren’t that well-known to most people, from aspects of the country’s food, to the habits that are part of everyday life.
The following is a brief list of curiosities about Italy that will delight, surprise and amuse you.
1) Importance of Family. Yes, this is a well-known aspect of Italian culture to the point of being nearly caricaturised in films, but the truth of it is still very real. Love of family is so important in Italy that the idea of the ‘nuclear family’ is truly odd. Grandparents, aunts and uncles all are part of everything. Children are brought up to stick close to home, and when those kids grow up, their own children are also incorporated into the entire family unit. Many businesses have family members running them, and thus business meetings can become quite boisterous and animated.
2) Provincial Affection vs Love of Country. Since Italy did not become a unified nation until 1870, Italians to this day are more likely to profess love of their home provinces rather than view Italy as one entire country.
3) One Beloved Dessert. While there are many traditional desserts from the various Italian provinces, there is one sweet treat that is most well-known abroad: tiramisu. When you consider how long Italian food has been around, this dish is a very recent creation, having only come around in 1970. The name literally means ‘pick-me-up’ or, more metaphorically, ‘make me happy,’ as the dish famously includes coffee and cocoa.
4) Love of Cats. It is quite literally a crime to kill a cat in Rome. Romans love cats so much that they’re considered a true asset to the city. Killing a cat invokes a hefty fine to the tune of 10,000 Euros and up to three years imprisonment. Rome’s 300,000 cats are the only ones allowed around the ruins.
5) Contributions to Music. Musicians might know this well, but just about all of the words indicating tempo, volume, or other dynamics (how a note or entire piece is played) are in Italian. Some common words you might have seen, even if you were only involved in music for a short while, are: allegro, adagio, poco a poco, staccato, pizzicato, andante, and so on. Also, Italy is the source for many instruments such as the viol, violin, viola, cello and piano. Plus, Italian musicians and composers are some of the most well-known, including Corelli, Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Verdi and Puccini.
From music and art to food to government, Italian culture not only has contributed much to the world we know at large, but it truly has its curiosities and quirks, which, by themselves, lend colour and vibrancy to life as a whole.