Italian People: 5 Main National Traits

I am going to list just a few main traits of the Italian national character. Don’t see these as stereotypes, but rather a useful tool for understanding Italy. Anyone is free to disagree, but my personal observations and experiences have been confirmed from some published sources :)

1. Deep appreciation of history. Italians tend to be keenly aware of their land’s long history. The people who have settled on this peninsula three thousand years ago never had any good reasons to move elsewhere. When you see a typical Italian, you can bet your Berlitz guide that you would have seen the same face back in the days of the Roman Empire. With the exception of the Langobards and their descendants, of course. However they arrived in Italy so long ago, that the complaints about them ruining the Latin language have been silent for centuries (Lorenzo Valla, a great grammarian, was unsympathetic to these barbarians from the North for mangling good grammar).

2. Catholicism. It is sometimes surprising to see religious devotion in so many Italians, old and young. However, for most of population the matter begins and ends with veneration of saints (oftentimes local) and the secular side of the religious feasts.

3. Keeping up appearances. In Italy it is essential to have the very best of things and to look as good and stylish as humanly possible. Such appearances rarely reflect one’s actual budget. If need be, the budget will be stretched to make a high quality purchase. For instance, Italians own the most number of watches per capita in the world.

4. Never trust the government. This is by no means a unique trait, but if you consider how often governments in Italy change, this mistrust is based on experience and has an air of humor about it. The sentiment certainly works both ways. One of Italy’s most prominent politicians has been quoted to say that it is not impossible to govern Italy, but it is simply useless.

5. Realistic conformism. Italians would not have been so successful if it were not for their eagerness to adapt to new circumstances, especially when this guarantees survival.

See also:

Italian wedding superstitions

La Bella Vita: Live and Love the Italian Way

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