Italian culture traditions and customs. Surviving Roman daily life and Italian culture in Italy:

Italy is really many different nations in one and has in fact been a unified nation for a shorter period than most "New World" colonies. These articles provide interesting insight into Italian culture traditions and customs...

 • The food culture      • Etiquette       • Festivals
• The Italian Lover      • Religion     • Carnivals

Italian culture: Identity

The Italians identify first with their village, this is known as "Campanilismo" - that area visible from the bell tower of the church in their village. "Campanile" meaning bell tower.

But first and foremost Italians give priority to themselves, then their families, the village, province, region, and finally the country.

Italian culture traditions: The Italy food culture

The principle reason why many visit Italy is for the food. And who can blame them! The dining has to be among the best, if not the best, in the world.

Italian Breakfast: Many a tourist has walked tummy grumbling out of their hotels in the morning. Italians are not big on the "most important meal of the day". Breakfast in Italy is usually a croissant and an espresso.
Luckily for some of us most Italian hotels are catching on and now serve plenty of cereals, yogurt, fruit, cold meats and bacon and eggs.

Lunch and Supper: (Tea and dinner) The menu is usually the same for both and depending where you are in Italy the main meal could be either lunch or supper.

Meals are made up of "antipasto" - starters, then "primo" - a pasta or rice dish, "secondo" - the main meal, usually white or red meat. (Remember vegetables, fries and salads must be ordered separately.) After that comes cheeses, breads and salami and /or other cured meats. Lastly is "dolce" - sweets, which can be desserts or fruits. And finally an espresso (not a Cappuccino) or a liqueur (like Amaretto).

Table etiquette: As in most countries you start with the outside cutlery and move your way in after each course. Napkins are on the right and bread will be on the left.
Napkins are placed on the lap and forearms (not elbows) should rest on the table, not on the lap (as in Anglo-Saxon fashion).

Word of warning: If you do get invited to lunch with some italian friends, do expect a few courses. Go easy on trying to impress the host by eating gigantic pasta proportions (for which you will be heartily encouraged) rather pace yourself for the food assault that's about to follow! (It happened to me once, say no more.)

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Italian culture traditions: Festivals

The Italy food culture is celebrated by what can only be described as diet busting Italian food festivals. Bring it on.
In Rome it feels like a food festival every weekend. If money belts are supposed to be buckled tighter nobody mentioned that to the Romans. Oil, gold and property mortgages may drop and fluctuate but restaurants in Rome are doing a brisker trade than ever!

Most food festivals, or should I rather say, more food festivals happen in Summer. In Rome and Lazio (amongst others):

fun facts about italy
  • Amatrice in Rieti celebrate Amatriciana. The full name is "Sagra degli spaghetti all'Amatriciana". The 30th and 31st August. They celebrate their Amatriciana pasta - fried bacon and tomato sauce.

  • Ariccia in Castelli Romani (just outside Rome) celebrate "Sagra della Porchetta" in the 1st week of September. There is a youth festival with music and good food (good prices).

  • Montefiascone (Viterbo) has a BIG and widely praised wine festival, dedicated to a white wine called "Est, Est, Est!"

    A Cardinal named Johannes de Fuch was sent by King Henry V to mark the best cellars with the words "Est" - "IT IS!". Apparently the cardinal was so impressed with the wines from Montefiascone he marked "Est, Est, Est" on the taverns, what's more, after having done the wines thorough justice he was later buried in the graveyard of San Flaviano Montefiascone.


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Italian culture traditions: The Italian lover

Apparently all is not well with the famed Italian lover. If television is to be believed Italian males are having trouble finding their customary 2 partners - the faithful wife that keeps house like Mama does, and the whore-lover who fulfills the needs of the libido.

italian culture traditions

Having to fulfill their needs in a society moving towards equality is an ever increasing challenge.

Another spanner in the works is that many Italian males (again, if television is to be believed) are suffering from an inferiority complex relating to the size of their equipment. Apparently Rocco Siffredi has created havoc for the average Italian who now believes his abilities to be short of the Italian median.


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Italian culture traditions: Italian religion

italian culture traditions

Almost all Italians are baptized but perhaps only 40% are practicing Catholics. About 85% of Italian Religion is accounted for by the Catholic faith. The remainder of Italian religion is made up of Muslims, Protestants, Jehovah's witnesses, Jews and Buddhists. Freedom of worship is written into the Italian Constitution.

The Roman Pantheon was the first building in Italy (and perhaps in the whole world?) dedicated to the people of Rome to freely practice their religion/spirituality.

The general audience given by the pope is usually every wednesday morning at 11Am in St Peter's square or the Papal Audience Chamber. Tickets are free but you need to book. Fax the "Prefettura della Casa Pontificia" at fax.06 6988 5863.
There are also blessings from the library window at noon on Sundays.

Italian culture traditions: Carnivals and celebrated holidays in Italy

There are many celebrated holidays in Italy separate from the National holidays in Italy. In the ancient Roman Empire at one stage there were 182 celebrated holidays in Italy and Rome!

Today in the smaller towns of Italy you can find the most colorful carnivals.
Tufara in Molise re-enact the sacrificing/burning of a figure called "Carnevale" a huge straw puppet and a metaphor for all the sins of the population.
Nocera Tirinese in Calabria still practice medieval rituals and at Easter a few devotees flagellate themselves.
Spring is a time of rejuvenation and many towns throughout Italy celebrate with free theatrical shows of music and dance.
At Cocullo in Abruzzo they even celebrate with many snakes around the statue of St Dominic the Abbot who is the protector of snake bites.
In Siena they celebrate the "Palio", arguably the most famous festival in Italy. On the 2nd July and 16th August bareback jockeys race around the main square of Siena in races with "no holds barred".
In Rome at Easter you have the famous marching of the cross from the Roman Colosseum to the Palatine on Good Friday.

Find insightful comments from visitors who have toured or lived in Rome and Italy at Italian culture traditions and customs.

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