From gestures to food, to art, and, of course, language, Italians are known for being expressive in everything they do.
So if you’re thinking about learning Italian or visiting Italy, there are some things you should definitely know about Italians. There are many parts of our culture that are famed around the world – our food, music and coffee have not gone unnoticed. However, there are also many fun quirks and mannerisms in our culture that you might not be aware of yet. Please check also our last article about Amazing Destinations to be visited in Europe.
General Facts About Italy
- Total Population: 60.6 million
- Capital: Rome
- Life expectancy: 83,49 years.
- Highest Mountain: Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) – 4 810 meters above the sea
- Land area: 301,340 km2 (116,350 square miles)
- Largest Lake: Lago Benaco
- National Day: 2 June.
- Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic
- Prime Minister: Giuseppe Conte
- Currency: Euro
- Official language: Italian
- Religion: 74.4% Roman Catholic (Christianity)
- Official Website: www.italia.it
- Member of Nato: Yes
- Member of EU: Yes
- National song: Il Canto Degli Italiani
- Time zone: CET +1, CEST +2
- Country Number/Prefix: +39
- Country Code: IT
Now, Let’s dive into all things Italian – allow me to share five fun facts about Italians that might help you understand the culture even better!
Five fun facts about Italians
1. Coffee after lunch is a must
Italians usually start the day with a cappuccino, followed by an espresso after lunch and sometimes a coffee even after dinner. Coffee is usually enjoyed standing up at the bar – in part because the amount is often a small shot of espresso which takes less than a minute to drink – or prepared at home, with a Moka pot. One thing you need to know for sure is that in Italy, there’s always room for coffee!
2. You can use hand gestures to communicate
Want to strike up a conversation with an Italian but don’t have a firm grasp on the language yet? Don’t worry. You can rely less on the vocab and try and talk with your hands – Italians will likely understand you anyway. Italian is all about gestures, but make sure you learn when and how to use each one. Not all hand gestures are innocent in Italy and you don’t want to find yourself in an awkward situation!
3. Never refuse food from Italian grandmas
The worst crime you could ever commit in Italy is refuse a homemade meal by an Italian grandma. The family (la famiglia) is the most important aspect of an Italian’s life and grandparents are very highly respected. Particularly the food cooked by Italians grandmothers is considered sacred. So, when invited to an Italian table, the answer to the question “are you full?” is always “no”.
4. Pineapple pizza doesn’t exist in Italy
Hotly contested, pineapple on pizza is something many people disagree on. In Italy, there’s no such discussion: pineapple is considered a fruit, not a pizza topping. For Italians, fruit on a pizza is not acceptable. This is mainly because pineapple is not an Italian product but also because a pizza topping is only considered acceptable if it’s not too overpowering – unfortunately not the case for this particular fruit!
5. Never go out with wet hair
If you want to see an Italian seriously lose their cool, just go out with wet hair. In Italy, if you go out without drying your hair, you’ll risk getting a “colpo d’aria” – or, literally, a “blast of air”. This is said to cause anything from a sore neck to indigestion. In Italy, a sudden change of temperature is generally considered bad for your health, so when Italians get sick, they like to blame it on the wind.