- The most common Italian stereotypes
- Let’s start analysing the various stereotypes about Italians!
- Italians can’t speak foreign languages.
- Every day in Italy starts with a coffee.
- Italians eat pizza and pasta everyday.
- Italians are fashionable.
- Italian men are “Latin lovers”
- Italian men are “mammoni”
- Italians do not respect the traffic rules.
The most common Italian stereotypes
If you are planning to study Italian or you just want to travel to Italy, you will certainly have in mind some Italians stereotypes!
First of all, what is a stereotype?
A stereotype is a set of beliefs about the typical characteristics of a social group. It is a generalization about the group that does not consider the specific individuals’ characteristics. Normally stereotypes do not have a negative connotation, we are the ones who create them.
Let’s start analysing the various stereotypes about Italians!
The first stereotype is, of course, that Italians gesticulate and express themselves with their hands. Gesticulating is an integral part of the Italian culture! This is one of the Italian habits that foreigners find surprising and inexplicable. Many foreigners don’t understand the necessity to gesticulate while talking, and for this reason, they come to the conclusion that Italians speak with their hands.
But is it true?
Of course, it’s not true. Okay, we Italians love to gesticulate because this allows us to enrich what we are talking about. Gesticulating adds nuances to what we want to say or it changes the meaning of our speech BUT we express ourselves through words, grammar and syntax, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to speak on the phone, right?
In the italian’s culture, every gesture has a meaning and it can show to the interlocutor a feeling of a state of mind that varies according to the situation.If you want to learn the most important ones, take a look at this lesson on Italian hand gestures!
Why do Italians gesticulate?
Some people think that the centuries-old tradition goes back to the period when the ancient Greeks colonised southern Italy. It seems that people gesticulated using their whole bodies to draw attention in crowded places. Another explanation says that this tradition dates back to the centuries when the “Bel Paese” was occupied by foreign powers such as Austria, France and Spain between the 14th and 19th centuries: Italians needed to communicate in an alternative way.
However, it’s true. Italians still gesticulate today, but they don’t speak with their hands.
Italians can’t speak foreign languages.
That’s unfortunately true. Italians struggle to speak foreign languages, and this is shown by surveys, which show that most Italians don’t know how to speak foreign languages because of the school system that doesn’t encourage students to study languages other than Italian.
Every day in Italy starts with a coffee.
That’s true! Of course, not all Italians drink coffee but coffee, whether you want to or not, is an integral part of the italian culture.
An Italian consumes an average of one and a half cups of coffee per day. Coffee is drunk at breakfast, to wake up, and after lunch. Coffee is a drink that is consumed during business or pleasure meetings, it is an excuse to chat with someone, to spend time with your beloved ones. When Italians wish to meet or just to chat with someone, they invite people to “go for a coffee”.
Coffee is a symbol of hospitality, a symbol that shows that we want our guests to feel at ease and for this reason it should be consumed in a café or at home, sitting down and not in a hurry as it happens in some other countries.
Italians eat pizza and pasta everyday.
What? Are you kidding, right? That’s one of the stereotypes that foreigners have and it’s one that’s absolutely not real. The Italian culinary tradition is, in fact, very varied. It’s true, we love pasta and pizza, but we have such a wide choice of dishes that we would never just eat the same thing every day. We Italians know how to cook and how to eat well! All right, we love to eat Italian food every day, but pasta and pizza merely represent 30% of what our cuisine has to offer. Just think of tiramisu, risotto, tortellini, focaccia, arancini… Okay, I’ll stop now, or otherwise, I’ll make your mouth water!
Italians are fashionable.
Italian fashion is something that we, as Italians, are very proud of. Italy is globally recognized as the homeland of art and fashion. According to foreigners, Italians always dress fashionably, even if it’s only to do simple errands such as shopping or going to university. It is true that as Italians, we follow trends, and it is not a coincidence that Italian fashion is famous all over the world: just think of Versace, Prada, Valentino or Armani. Shopping in Italy attracts a lot of tourists, but you don’t have to dress up in designer clothes to be fashionable!
Italian fashion has not become popular lately, it has been popular for centuries, since the Renaissance. In all cases, the Italian textile industry today also competes with other European textile industries, such as the French one.
Italian men are “Latin lovers”
One of the most common Italian stereotypes is that Italian men are “Latin lovers”. Not by chance “Italians do it better”.
But why is there such a stereotype?
The first Italian to be defined as “Latin lover” was the actor and dancer Rodolfo Valentino, who embodied in the female’s imagination the romantic ideal combined with transgressive and exotic charm. He was then followed by other stars, such as the Italian actor Raoul Bova.
However, apparently foreigners are still crazy about Italians: a survey showed that 10% of respondents would choose to have a flirt with an Italian on a holiday. According to foreigners, Italian men are handsome, charming, seductive and they have the gallantry to make any woman fall for them.
Today, Italian men have maybe forgotten the tradition of romance and gallantry, but they still preserve the art of seduction, that they show through their sympathy, their smiles, their silver tongue and their irony.
Italian men are “mammoni”
”La mamma è pur sempre la mamma” (en: the mother will always be the mother). With this sentence, we want to emphasise the importance and the uniqueness of the mother figure.
This Italian stereotype goes a bit against the “Latin lovers” one, as the word “mammone” would mean something like “mamma’s boy” but in a derogatory way; in fact, it refers to a man who is psychologically dependent on his parents, especially on his mother. Very often the parents want them in the house, to protect them and to pamper them.
Unfortunately, this stereotype is also true. In Italy, today there are more than 7 million young people or 67% of young people between 18 and 34 years that still live with their parents. This happens because they are the ones who suffer the most from the economic crisis. In fact, only 27% of young Italians are able to find a job immediately and become economically independent.
Italians do not respect the traffic rules.
On the safety front, we Italians are among the most feared. Why?
Well, because motorists dart carelessly, without following the road signs, while pedestrians cross the road without paying attention to the traffic lights. It is not a coincidence that in Naples they say that “the red light is not a prohibition, it is just a piece of advice”. For this reason, several tourist guides recommend foreigners to follow a local pedestrian to arrive safe and sound at the end of the road.
Now that you know a little more about Italian stereotypes and about Italian culture, do you want to study this beautiful language?
With the use of VocApp, you will be able to learn or to improve your Italian knowledge! With this application and website, you can create an account that allows you to have access to language courses to learn Italian. Through them, you can create and play with flashcards to learn new words in a fun and effective way. If you are interested in learning more about Italian culture and useful vocabulary for a trip to Italy, you can start the course Italian for travelling. In this course, you will find vocabulary about food, means of transportation, you will find curiosities about Italians and also explanations of the famous Italian gestures!
What are you waiting for? Visit the VocApp site or download our application and start to learn Italian!