10 Common Italian Stereotypes That Are Actually True

10 Common Italian Stereotypes That Are

Italy, the land of contemporary fashion, historical art and… men who adore their mothers, hand-gesturing enthusiasts, and gatherings about Dante?

Actually, yes!

While most Italian stereotypes are inaccurate–for example, all Italians are not mobsters and the men don’t look like Super Mario–there are a handful of stereotypes that hold some small kernel of truth.

Below are the 10 most common Italian stereotypes that are actually true.

10 Common Italian Stereotypes

1. Italians Can’t Live Without Pasta

Italians live for food–in particular pasta. In fact, Italians consume the most pasta in the world, averaging 60 pounds a year for every man, woman, and child in the country.

While most Americans cook dry pasta out of a box, Italians make pasta with precision from scratch. This dedication to quality plus the fact that Italians are the top consumers of pasta, makes Italy the champion of pasta.

2. Italians Talk With Their Hands

What if you could communicate with someone only through hand gestures? Well, in Italy, you can! Italians use hand gestures to enliven conversations, strengthen their point, and communicate on a non-verbal level.

There’s a running joke in Italy that you can understand a conversation that’s out of hearing range just from watching someone’s hand gestures. This endearing habit makes Italians some of the most expressive and passionate speakers in the world.

3. Italians are All About ‘La Famiglia’

Family is so important in Italy that you’ll find that many Italians either live close to their parents or in the same house. In fact, it’s common for adults in their 20’s and 30’s to live with their parents.

The ties that bind families together are undeniably strong. Families often gather weekly for a meal or stay in close contact. And yes, mamma rules the roost.

4. Italians are Habitually Late

Everything in Italy happens on its own timeline, including work and appointments. If you comment on someone’s tardiness, most Italians will tell you that they just wanted to stop for a coffee or smoke a cigarette before arriving, and that they were in fact on time–Italian time!

This relaxed mindset can also be seen on the streets, as most people walk at a relatively leisurely pace. While habitual lateness is viewed as a negative thing in the United States, in Italy it is a reflection of taking life slowly and appreciating the moment.

5. Italians are Die-hard Football Fans

Juventus, Milan, Inter—these are just a few of the most famous names you’ll hear being thrown around when Italians are discussing football. Italians take soccer very seriously, and when there’s a game on, all attention is directed toward it.

Italians can’t get enough of football because it’s a chance for them to unite with their local team and express their regional pride. Since Italy was first composed of individual regions, Italians mostly identify with their regional culture rather than with Italy as a whole.

6. Italians Love a Good Cappuccino

Breakfast in Italy is sacred. Unlike a typical American breakfast, which includes eggs, bacon, and toast, an authentic Italian breakfast usually includes a cornetto (similar to a croissant) and a cappuccino.

The quality of cappuccino in Italy, and coffee in general, is taken very seriously as well. Italians love the mix of coffee, milk and foam, and it’s an art in itself. Italians will travel blocks to find the best cappuccino.

7. Italians are Obsessed with Fashion

Like coffee, fashion is wildly popular in Italy. Just look at all of the famous designers that hail from Italy, including Prada, Armani, Versace…the list goes on. Italians feel an obligation to “fare la bella figura,” or appear nicely in all respects, and fashion is a big component of that.

While everything doesn’t have to be designer, Italians like to wear high-quality fabrics. Individualism is also valued in Italy, and men aren’t afraid to wear bright colors. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see men wearing orange, blue, or pink pants.

8. Italians Aren’t Scared of Public Affection

Italians are no strangers to affection. In fact, it’s very common to see lovers embracing and kissing one another in public. What’s more, don’t be surprised to see two male friends expressing affection by walking closely together, perhaps with one arm across the other’s back for a few moments as they talk and stroll.

The warmth and outgoing nature of Italian culture encourages the expression of emotions, whether it’s crying, screaming, or showing affection. This is one of the reasons why Italians greet one another with the classic kissing of the cheeks.

9. Italians Love the Opera

A nation riveted by Puccini, Rossini and Bellini, Italians love the opera. Hordes of people attend outdoor performances in amphitheaters, and it’s not surprising to find people discussing their favorite opera composer or the last performance they saw.

Italians are very well-versed in opera and have strong opinions about the art form. Opera is similar to soccer in terms of  its widespread appreciation, attendance, and passion. It also showcases the beauty of the Italian language, which is another reason why it is beloved throughout Italy.

10. Italians Can’t Get Enough of Dante’s Divine Comedy

Ask any Italian to recite the Divine Comedy and chances are they will be able to recite at least some, if not a substantial amount. Italians are required to dedicate a significant amount of time studying each part of the Divine Comedy—Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.

Dante is idolized in Italy for writing in the most purest form of Italian, the Tuscan dialect. The famed poet is so popular you’ll find societies devoted to studying the medieval text.

Well, there you have it. Can you think of any more Italian stereotypes we should add to the list? Do you agree or disagree with some of them? Let us know in the comments below!

nadiaBPost Author: Nadia B.
Nadia B. teaches Italian in New York, NY. She graduated summa cum laude from New York University, with a double degree in Italian Language and Literature and Classical Music Performance. Learn more about Nadia here!

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16 replies
  1. Paolo Fiorentini
    Paolo Fiorentini says:

    I’m italian and I can say that’s all true, especially about football, pasta and talking with parts of the body. Italy is the best place if you want to go on holiday 🙂

  2. stefano
    stefano says:

    i’m italian and this article is very racist. we are not always on late . It’s time to finish to insult Italians. Italy is the 7th powerfull industrial nation on the world because they are a lot of italians that work a lot..

    • Marianna
      Marianna says:

      Frankly I agree with the article. I’m italian and I can constate that even official things and events begin on late. Came on, even my esame di stato began more than 10 minutes later then scheduled. And even if some italians are punctual the majority is not, and being late is widely accepted. It isn’t a good thing, but it is not frowned upon harshly either.

    • sarah
      sarah says:

      take a chill pill I’m Italian as well and I’m not offended. You are lucky you are not muslim or african american because the things they are going through are worse

    • Melissa
      Melissa says:

      I don’t know. Besides the pasta and football most of it is true. But they forgot one huge thing. Italian men RESPECT AND LOVE their mammas. Women seek mamma for advice, knowledge, comfort, mothering skills. We do have very close knit living families. That’s one part they did get right.

  3. Giovanni
    Giovanni says:

    I’m 100% italian and I consider this article untrue because it describes an over-exaggerated stereotyped form of Italian. We are not in that way. Maybe only the dumbest italians are as described here (and unfortunately there’s a lot of dumb people in Italy)

  4. Angelo Farosi
    Angelo Farosi says:

    This is ridicolous. We ALSO eat pasta (besides other innumerable dishes).We can gesticulate , specially when abroa not speaking well foreign language or in Italy. when helping foreignera not knowing italian. We obviously love our families,who doesnt? We are not habitually late; we would not do business.We have our favourite teams, like in many othwr nations. We ALSO like cappuccino like other 1000 things. We are not obsessed by fashion, we only dress in a way we are used to. Public affection: Kisses on cheeks are very common in the western world.Opera and Dante: be sure if you ask 100 people if the saw an Opera or read Dante in the last year (out of school)…they didnt ( unfortunately…)

  5. Gianluca Cuthbertson
    Gianluca Cuthbertson says:

    I’m half Italian and half Scottish, and this list definitely has some stereotypes that are actually true. I myself would rather drink a nice, well made coffee instead of something quick and cheap; but hey that’s everyone right?

  6. Stafan
    Stafan says:

    Its all true I have tons of family members in my house from grandpa to my brothers. We do eat pasta a lot talk mostly with hand gestures. And this is true stuff

  7. Andreas
    Andreas says:

    Predominantly true to American “Italians” – who like many American whatever imaginary ethnics they claim to be know little about the genuine cuisine, culture, etc. – but not really true to authentic born in Italy Italians. Pasta, as example, doesn’t often feature in the diet of some real Italian regions and it isn’t as predominant as know no better stereotypes would have non-Italians/non-authentic Italians believe.


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