Italy Culture and Traditions

The 5th most populous country in Europe, Italy is a major cultural influence that's brought incredible contributions to the world of art, architecture, music,
and cuisine. Living life to the fullest, Italians indulge in all the good things in life and spread culture throughout the world.

Culture and Traditions
Italy's culture is very broad - with some of the most significant developments in art, music, fashion, and food -the country's influence on many world cultures is encompassing. The birthplace of opera and ballet, it's no question that Italy is a major cultural force that's favored by many people all around the world. It's the heartland of art, beauty, and knowledge in Europe, and its people are well known for being welcoming, sociable, and indulgent.

Here is a list of traditions and customs that are common in Italy:

  • Traffic in major cities is generally chaotic with drivers being impatient and a disregard for other vehicles on the road.
  • Conversation is an art form and Italians are often found in cafes, piazzas, or restaurants engaged in deep and loud conversations regarding a whole range of different topics. Talking loudly and animately defines how Italians immerse in discussions.
  • Italians are very straightforward and will not hold back any of their opinions or convictions, which other nationalities might take as an attack.
  • Dining and eating are taken very seriously, which explains their 1-2 hour lunch breaks with most stores closing at 12noon and reopening at 2 in the afternoon.
  • Italians love being outside and on the streets - if they don't see a neighbor for a long time, they usually ask where that person has been hiding.
  • The piazza is the central meeting point of Italian culture and people are often seen walking, sitting, and conversing in the square in the morning, afternoon, and after dinner.

Art and Architecture
Italy is home to half of the world's greatest art treasures and known for its wide range of architectural achievements. There are over 100,000 monuments all over the country, 50 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and large numbers of visual art pieces that are found in almost every corner in major cities.

Italy's art history is part of the world's art history - with the Italian Renaissance considered as the golden age of painting. Famous painters and artists of the time include Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Paulo Uccello, Titian, and a number of many others. Redefining fine art with the use of perspective and the science of anatomy, the Italian Renaissance gave birth to the most famous and most recognizable pieces of art works the world has ever known.

Such famous art works include Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel, his David statue, and Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper and the world's most prized painting, the Mona Lisa.

Italy is also home to the finest works of Western architecture, such as the Colosseum, the Milan Cathedral, St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Italian literature rose to prominence with Dante Alighieri's masterpiece, the Divine Comedy. Literary Petrarch created the sonnet, and among the most famous philosophers in the world were Italian - Niccolo Machiavelli and Giambattista Vico. The most celebrated children's book in all of Italy is The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi in 1883, and stands as one of the most famous and beloved children's stories in the world.

Italians value education, as evident by its free and required education system for ages 6 to 16. They also take good care of their people with a healthcare system that's 2nd best in the world. Because of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, Italians are extremely family-oriented.

With Milan as the foremost fashion capital of the world, clothing and dressing in Italy takes on a whole new form. You won't find laid-back and casual dressing in the major cities - a need to dress up with proper and decent shoes is essential. Though there are no dress codes in the cities, Italians show great respect for traditions. Not a fan of revealing too much skin, dressing up in Italy requires well-fitted clothes that give off a polished look. When going out, it is expected that people dress up, such as no shorts for men and no flip flops for women.

One of the world's most favored food, Italian cuisine is based on the Mediterranean diet of pasta, fish, and vegetables. The world's best pizzas are found in regional parts of the country, as well as the best wines in the world, and the best desserts. Characterized by simplicity, most Italian dishes are made from 4-8 ingredients only - with an emphasis on quality of ingredients rather than quantity.

Gelato is a world-famous Italian type of ice cream, while tiramisu is another Italian favorite for dessert. With cuisine that's based on local and familial traditions rather than by concoctions of chefs, Italian food is homey, filling, and gastronomically pleasurable.

With celebrations that adhere to national and religious events, Italy is a country full of celebrations. Here are some of its popular festivals:
The Venice Film Festival
The oldest international film festival in the world, it is held in Libo Island in Venice and contested by the most prestigious filmmakers in the world.

Italy's Carnevale
A pre-Lenten carnival found in many places of the country, the most famous one is found in Venice, with parades of people in elaborate costumes and masked balls are visited by tens of thousands of people each year.

Battle of the Oranges
Every 3rd week of February in the northern city of Ivrea, willing participants are grouped into 9 teams that hurl oranges at each other. A fun and humorous tradition that's based on 2 historical events, it's the perfect example of Italians halting time to enjoy life.

The official language of the country is Italian, which is spoken by about 93 per cent of the population. There are a number of dialects spoken in the country, including Sardinian, Friulian, Neapolitan, Sicilian, Ligurian, Piedmontese, Venetian, and Calabrian.

Italians have also left a lasting impression on Hollywood. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Leonardo DiCaprio, John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Sylvester Stallone, Susan Sarandon are some of the Hollywood actors with Italian roots.

Last Updated on: January 11th, 2018