Q&A: Italian Traditions Customs
"In these Italian Traditions Customs articles we discuss the Italy food culture, hygiene, Italian mommy's boys, wedding customs, strange customs and we end with a joke..."
Rodger asked: How can I get the best cultural experience of Rome Italy?
I will be touring Rome in March 2008 and I was wondering about...
"Italian traditions customs and culture i.e. What are typical Italian food customs, wedding customs, Italian Christmas customs and other Italian culture customs and traditions? And any ideas of getting the best Italian cultural experience outside of Rome?"
Arnika replied to Italian traditions customs:
My fiance just recently bought a new car and a friend of his that has Italian roots threw some spare change into the back of the car, he said it was an Italian custom for good luck. So I researched it...
It's true. It started about 2000 years ago as an offering to the God of roads or travel as a payment for safety, but now it's a superstition, done more for fun than anything else.
Jill replied to Italian traditions customs:
I had a great experience of Italian family life and culture, I traveled on a train down the entire east coast. I saw such amazing details of Italian life, the funniest is when they call each other on their mobile phones when they are sitting only three seats away from each other. They all take their family, pets and lunches on the train and it is pure entertainment watching them play out their lives on the way to their summer destination. I say travel by train and just hop off whenever you feel like it - be prepared to be amazed.
Oh yes, it's amazing how many older women I saw wearing black! After their husband dies some of them wear black for the rest of there lives.
Patrick replied to Italian traditions customs:
Find the best location (meaning most Roman) to live. The more you are among Romans the better. Most tourists choose to stay in a hotel near the main train station, this is the most “non-roman” place to book your Rome accommodation!. It's cheep but most of the residents there are “new Italians” meaning foreigners mostly from developing countries. The place is great but there is little roman about it.
And then quite simply, take a walk around Rome, get a guide book or take notes from this site. Eat at trattorias and Pizzerias (not restaurants), they have a more homely feel and the staff and owners often like to converse. Also eat in places away from the main tourist squares.
Cockney Jock replied to Italian traditions customs:
Italians enjoy their meals and take their time to eat, they don't shove their food down their throats in 35 - 45 minutes. I still enjoy going to a restaurant in Italy and being able to sit 3 or 4 hours and enjoy the courses and allow my food to settle before I begin the next course. They cook with olive oil, eat a lot of unprocessed meats and fresh vegetables from the market, and cook simple and not over spiced (depending on the area I guess) and don't overload their plates.
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MaryAbbeymore replied to Italian traditions customs:
I am an American who has been living in Italy for the last 9 years. Italians are very big on hygiene, you might find some who are very dirty, but they are in the minority.
I think Italians are the Europeans who spend the most time and money on hygiene and personal appearance. In all Italian bathrooms you will find a shower or bathtub, toilet and a bidet. If you do not know what a bidet is it looks like a sink but it's low on the ground and Italians use it to wash their feet and intimate parts.
Many Italians wash their intimate parts every time they visit the bathroom, and others 1 or 2 times a day. For Italians the thought of cleaning with only toilet paper is quite disgusting. They say it's not clean enough.
Italian women spend millions of Euros yearly on perfumes, the hairdresser, shampoos, cosmetics, etc.and so do the Italian men. I know plenty of Italian guys that who spend a lots of money at hair dresser on cologne, shampoo, face cream, waxing, gym, designer clothes, etc.
In the hotel I work at a Croatian client told me that Italian men are nothing like Croatian men because they take such good care of themselves (almost better than women in most other countries). I think the majority of Italians shower every day, the ones who go to gym take 2 or more showers.
Italian women, and a lot of Italian men shave almost everything. I've yet to see an Italian woman with hairy armpits. I'm telling you all this because I've noticed a lot of stereotypes about Italian women with hairy armpits, it's false!
Marcus from Roman Life Rome Italy replied to MaryAbbeymore re: Italian traditions customs:
Wow Mary, thanks for all that information! But what I would like to know is how you know so much about Italians shaving and bathroom habits?!
Jeff replied to Italian traditions customs:
A peculiar Italian problem is the stay-at-home son or what they are called in Italian "mammone" - mommy's boy. More than 80% of men between the ages of 18 and 30 still live at home with their parents, enjoying the coddling doting mamas to wash iron clean the room etc so the son is free to spend his time and his income on pleasing himself. Who would want to give that up if they didn't have to?
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George replied to Italian traditions customs:
As a half Italian half Aussie I can give you the honest low down on the Italians....
Social, extremely family oriented, and usually a faithful people. Hospitable and excellent cooks. If you are a friend they've "got your back" so to speak. And they sure know how to chuck a party. They are also mostly hard workers.
Can gossip a lot and force feed you even when you are not hungry. Can be waaay to noisy, and some of the guys can be pretty sleazy.
Just like in any culture, good and bad points, but i love my Italian family, they always make me feel welcome and are smiling and laughing.
Sandy replied to Italian traditions customs:
Did you know it's an old Italian custom to never give a knife as a gift but to always ask for some small payment?
My friend's Italian grandfather asked for a quarter before "giving" him a set of beautiful cooking knives. Apparently the tradition is because if you were to give a person a knife and that person killed someone with the knife then you would feel that it is your fault.
Another one is if you give a wallet as a present you should put a penny in it, this is so that the person will always have money, if you give them an empty wallet its said that they will always be poor!
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Pasha replied to Italian traditions customs:
Some Italian wedding customs are:
- Sugar coated Jordan Almonds as gifts from the bride (in uneven numbers for luck), these are also sometimes thrown at the bride and groom as they enter the reception area, also for luck.
- Putting sugar cubes in the bride and grooms glasses, it increases the effervescence and sweetness of the wine as a metaphor that your life may be the same.
- A full cocktail bar beforehand, with cheeses, breads and tasty Italian snacks
- A Sunday wedding is the luckiest
- In some areas of Italy it is tradition to give money instead of presents to the bride and groom. The money is not given to them personally but displayed in a rainbow design on their bed as a wish of prosperity.
- Sometimes the groom carries a piece of iron in his pocket, supposedly to keep evil spirits away
- Releasing white doves is another Italian tradition.
- The month of May is sometimes avoided as it should be reserved for the veneration of the Virgin Mary.
- Rain on the wedding day is supposed to be lucky - “Sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata.”
- The wedding cake table is usually also packed with a medley of delicious desserts.
JackB replied to Italian traditions customs:
Sofia just got married, and being a traditional Italian she was still a virgin.
On her wedding night at her mother's house she was nervous, but her mother reassured her, "Don't worry, Sofia Luca is a good man, go upstairs and he'll take care of you."
So she went.
When she got upstairs, Luca took off his shirt and exposed his hairy chest. Sofia ran downstairs to her mother and said, "Mama, Mama, Luca's got a big hairy chest!"
"Don't worry, Sofia", says the mother, "All good men have hairy chests, go upstairs and he'll take good care of you."
So up she went again.
When she was in the bedroom Luca took off his pants exposing his hairy legs, again Sofia ran downstairs to her mother, "Mama, Mama, Luca took off his pants, and he's got hairy legs!"
"Don't worry Sofia, all good men have hairy legs, Luca's a good man, go upstairs and he'll take good care of you."
So, up she went again.
When she got up there, Luca was taking his socks off and on his left foot he was missing three toes. When Sofia saw this, she ran downstairs.
"Mama, Mama, Luca's got a foot and a half!"
"Stay here and stir the pasta", says the mother "this is a job for Mama!"
Marcus from Roman Life Rome Italy says: For more on Italian tradition customs tips visit my page on Italian culture customs and traditions.
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