Ten Things I learnt from the Italians

I moved to Italy when I was 20 and left when I was 37 so I guess you could say I became an adult there. I am sure that many defining parts of my character where finely honed by the Italian culture and here are some of the best bits I brought back with me…

Italian Food

I learnt to cook! Not that I couldn’t cook before but I moved on from Learner to Cook. Mum is the best cook I know and my brother is a chef so the appreciation of good food runs in the family. However the Italians are very conscious of their food and adore telling you how their Mediterranean diet is the best in the world. I like that they use products that are in season and grown locally or at least Made in Italy

Italian Wine

Young people do not HAVE to get blindly drunk to enjoy a Friday night in Italy…sometimes it happens but it’s not a necessity. Enjoying good wine and spirits is a huge part of the Italian lifestyle. Alcohol costs a lot less and there are no age limits in bars but underage drinking exists on a much lower scale than here in the UK. Youngsters there don’t have to get trashed to prove they’re as big as the next guy or to be able to say they had a good night out.

Italian Art

Everywhere you go in Italy you cannot help but be in awe of your surroundings. Churches, town halls, villages with wall art and artists painting, sculpting or creating masterpieces in the village square for all to see. Every place in Italy, be it a tiny village or a city, has something beautiful to show.

Italian Fashion

Some of the greatest designers in the world are Made In Italy, every Italian is enormously proud of their standing in the world’s fashion stakes and this is so visible as everyone takes pride in what they wear and the majority look like models themselves. Makes it a damn sight harder to keep up with the Rossi’s I can tell you!

Italian Family

The Italians I had the pleasure to meet, all put family in first place. The elderly are looked after and respected by all. Italy is also VERY child friendly sometimes verging on the extreme as some parents let their children run riot in restaurants, shops and public places shrugging their shoulders as if they can’t do anything about it. ‘They’re children!’  Hell for waiters and shop owners but be rest assured any holiday in Italy with children will be delightful as you can take them everywhere you go and people will stop to praise them.

Con calma

or Take it easy… yes, there’s no rush, don’t go stressing yourself out, take your time and get it done properly. There’s always tomorrow.

Italian House rules

Whenever you wash your dishes by hand you MUST always rinse the soap off. True! You wouldn’t  dream of leaving shampoo in your hair. Money – don’t get in to debt. Pay as you go and go without if you can’t afford it. This makes for easy sleeping at night.

Italian Patriots

They all share a deep adoration for their country, after all they have got it all; sea, sun, sand, mountains, skiing, lakes, beautiful cities and beautiful people. Their summer vacations are taken within their boundaries, Sicily, Sardegna, Puglia to name a few. Ski trips to Trentino, Courmayeur or Alto Adige, Weekend trips to Florence, Venice, Pisa…I could go on forever.

The Italian language

Of course, I came away bilingual. My written Italian isn’t perfect as their grammar is unbelievably complicated but I can read and of course talk till the cows come home just don’t get me started on their politics….

photo by kerben


  1. newdaynewlesson
    March 1, 2010 / 8:57 PM

    So how do you compare it to England then? Better? Worse? Different?

    • Alessandra
      June 14, 2012 / 9:57 AM

      England gets my vote at the moment and part of me is sorry to say that but it is true.  Alessandra

  2. March 2, 2010 / 2:57 PM

    Tricky one to answer.

    Better in many ways. The food, the cost of living, the life style, the art, fashion. The close knit families, the sense of community.

    Worse – I don’t like their schooling where young adults can still be studying at university in their late twenties – it seems so complicated and boring. I don’t like the fact that the best jobs are difficult to get hold of if you don’t know someone who can help you. And their incredibly long-winded and useless bureaucracy is enough to make you want to take a gun to your head.

    Different because they are wonderful, chatty, passionate, friendly, beautiful people (they really are a beautiful race) Trouble is many of them know it and therefore are no longer beautiful if you know what I mean.

  3. June 14, 2012 / 8:02 AM

    Every holiday I have taken in Italy has been such a joy, whether it’s been city breaks in Venice and Rome, chilling out on Lake Garda or travelling around Tuscany. You’re right, such a great attitude to children which has always made things so much more relaxing. And, of course, all children can find something they like on an Italian menu.

    • Mari
      June 25, 2012 / 1:51 PM

      You’re right and this post was scheduled whilst we were in France over the past fortnight where strangely enough the menu d’enfant wasn’t so child friendly. I was surprised there was no pasta, lots of chips and moules marinieries which my two (aged 4) both turned their nose up at!
      Lovely to meet you this weekend

  4. Alessandra
    June 14, 2012 / 9:54 AM

    Thank you Marianne, these days it is very hard for me to be proud of Italy and, I’m sorry to say, the Italians: this reminds me of the “good bits”.  Maybe there will be better days for my country and a new Renaissance!
    Ciao ciao.

    • Mari
      June 25, 2012 / 1:52 PM

      I’m sure there will be, you cannot ignore the beauty of your country or the fabulous people living there. Like all things in life this is another circle of evolution and we all have to hang on and hope for the best because the indole of the Italians which is so dear to me, that will never change (I hope!)

  5. June 15, 2012 / 8:44 AM

    LOVED your post… Having Italian blood myself through my Grandmother, I can relate! A wonderful country, where I always feel home… Have a lovely weekend. xx

    • Mari
      June 25, 2012 / 1:53 PM

      Thank you! I was actually on holiday but hadn’t shouted it out after our break in last time hence the delay in replying.
      As for me it’s always a pleasure to get back to Italia whenever I can xx

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