Italy - Culture Overview
You can see the influence of the traditional Mediterranean culture on the inhabitants in the central and southern parts of the country. In southern Italy most people are shorter with olive skin and dark hair. On the other hand, in the north they tend to be taller, blonder and have lighter eyes; most likely due to close by Germanic influence from across the Alps.
Whether from the north or south, Italians share one common thing - a love and lust for life! They're lively, sociable and have a passion for everything they do. They talk loudly and always express themselves using hand gestures. Italians aren't afraid to show emotions; give each other hugs, kisses...etc.
Religion and Art
Most Italians are Roman Catholics. The influence of the church can be seen in everyday life as well and in their stunning art pieces and fascinating archeology. Most religious monuments and paintings as well as local traditions based on Christian celebrations and the lives of the saints. Italians are proud of their artistic heritage and so they should be. Italy has produced some of the greatest artists in the world; Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael, to name just a few. Museums, churches and courtyards all over the country proudly display the works of Italy's finest artists.
Italy is home to the Opera and Opera music. Everyone's heard of Rossini, Verdi and Puccini - the classics. It's accessible to everyone, from upper class city dwellers to simple peasant farmers. Most Italians will have a firm grasp or knowledge of opera and will attend a performance whenever possible.
Work and Relax
Italians are very hard workers but they also know how to relax and enjoy themselves. In major cities it's quite normal for people to work a full five days and then half a day on Saturday, but it's also normal for them to take a long lunch break every day, often going home and spending several hours eating and sleeping, before coming back to work.
Food and Drinks
The main meal, which is adoringly prepared and savoured, normally takes place in the evening. It's a very social and family orientated event. Italians often go on eating, drinking and socializing well into the early hours.
The typical Italian home is simple yet practical and always colourful. You'll see balconies with fresh red roses hanging on bright blue railings, tables full of apples, grapes, fresh cheese and bottles of local wine; colourful flowers everywhere, tiny courtyards and gardens with picturesque statues. The homes reflect what the people of Italy love; beauty, color, style, family and friendship.