Something Else Italian!

Here are a couple of interesting Italian things. No, not “THEM”! Something else Italian. Courtesy of Ann (anncruise) who always sends me fun Italian things. No, she doesn’t send “THEM”!  Sheesh!  I wouldn’t tell you if she did. You know how I am about sharing.

s - ann


If you’ve spent time in Italy you know that life in Italy and life in America are very different. While both cultures have their pros and cons, we think Americans can learn a lot from the way Italians live.

Traditionally, Italians have an easy-going and positive outlook on how to go about daily life. Italians live “la vita bella” (the beautiful life). But the beautiful life doesn’t mean the luxurious life — it means a relaxed, family-centric lifestyle.

Check out seven lessons Americans can learn from Italians below.

1. Eat slowly, locally and with others.

There’s really no such thing as Italian fast food. Sure, you’ll find a McDonald’s here and there, but in Italy the concept of eating transcends “fast and cheap.” Italy is all about “slow food.” Dinners are unhurried and eaten around a table (not a TV or computer screen) with one’s family. In Italy, food is natural, authentic and sourced locally.

2. Drink a little bit, but not too much.

Italians love their vino. But they don’t overdo it. Here in America, there’s a culture of binge-drinking. In Italy, a bottle of wine is shared among friends or around the dinner table. Stumbling around drunk in Italy is not viewed favorably. Italians like to drink, but they know how to keep it classy.

3. You should indulge a little every now and then… perché no??

There are so many delicious treats in Italy — rich gelato, mouth-watering pastries, decadent chocolates. Much like the philosophy on drinking, Italian culture has a “perché no?” take on treats. “Perché no?” translates to “why not?” The idea is to treat yourself by having a little bit of something tasty (because, why not?) but not having so much that you’re gorging yourself. Take Italian gelato shops for example… the normal size of a “coppa” (cup) would look tiny compared to the average size of a cup of ice cream in America.

Photo Courtesy of NIAF
Photo Courtesy of NIAF


4. Stop hurrying, start relaxing.

Life is less hurried in Italy. People don’t rush around with to-go cups of coffee, but rather sip their espresso at the “bar” (aka coffee shop). Meals tend to linger, whether they be at restaurants or at home. Pedestrians tend to meander. There’s significantly less emphasis put on being on time — rather, the emphasis falls on how that time is spent. Many Italians take a siesta of sorts — a break during the day, from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., to eat lunch and relax.

5. Having family nearby is the best thing ever.

Families in Italy tend to stay in the same area, rather than moving around. Grandparents often care for grandchildren, siblings remain close and extended families are huge and welcoming. While it’s more common in the U.S. to go away for college and settle down somewhere other than where you grew up, it tends to be the opposite in Italy. Having family nearby is deeply valued in Italy. Having nonna(grandma), aunts, uncles and cousins drop by for dinner during the week or having a weekly extended family meal every Sunday is common and brings everyone together.

Photo NIAF
Photo NIAF


6. Gather and spend time outdoors.

Part of the great communal feel of Italy comes from the fact that people tend to congregate outdoors. Friends will meet up at a piazza and hang out there, rather than in a home. Piazzas are vibrant, outdoor hubs where tons of people gather, children play and tourists roam, creating a lively atmosphere. Similarly, many Italians do most of their shopping at a mercato, outdoor markets where vendors sell everything from food and wine to clothing and leather goods. In America, we have malls — which are great. But there’s nothing like wandering a mercato, sampling the fare and interacting with other locals.

7. Maintain a “bella figura.”

Bella figura literally translates to “beautiful figure” — but it’s more idiomatic than that. The idea of maintaining a bella figura is more like the idea of maintaining a good public image. Italians don’t get drunk in public, eat while they walk or wear pajamas to the dinner table because it would have a negative impact on their image. Bella figura is more than just looking good, it’s a way of life that emphasizes aesthetics and good behavior.



 Finally, I really couldn’t resist this Nonna – Courtesy of The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and Ann.

37 thoughts on “Something Else Italian!”

  1. That does indeed show that Italians live a much more relaxed and laid-back life than we Americans. We’re always rushing around thither and yon, grabbing food on the run, and in a hurry to be somewhere at a certain time.. So thank you Marie and Ann for giving me a hint of what living in Italy would be like. I have learned so much about Italy – and enjoyed doing it – through this site. And all because I fell in love with three young Italian singers! So thank you Piero, ignazio, and Gianluca!!!

    1. I say thank you too and agree exactly with your comments Allene… all because of three wonderful Italian boys!!! ♥♥♥

  2. WELL DONE, Marie and Ann! I think I need to move to Italy and enjoy “la vita bella” ! What a wonderful way of life; and geographically it is such a beautiful country. And I remember when I was in Rome—All the women were so beautifully dressed and groomed when they went shopping. I was very impressed!

    I especially like the commitment to and love of family. Mine scattered to the four winds a long time ago (and many have passed away) and I miss the camaraderie and joy of being with them. When I was a little girl, my mother’s family was so large that we had to have 3 consecutive seatings for Christmas dinner! (About 30 of us!)

    Thank you for all the “pros” of living in Italy. No wonder The Boys love home so much!

    1. Thanks for all the great info Marie. I was in Italy with my two sisters in 2009. Rome,Tuscany, Venice, Amalfi, Pisa and other beautiful places. What lovely people the ITALIANS are. I love the culture more so now because of my great LOVE for IL VOLO. Thank you guys for coming to America and sharing your beautiful voices to the WORLD. Thank you ITALY for sharing these gorgeous young men with us.

  3. We’ve been to Italy. What a beautiful country and people!! We first visited Italy in the 70’s when we were stationed in Germany. The Italians were very gracious and cordial to us then and that hasn’t changed over the years!! We went back in 2011 and the people were the same!!!!
    No wonder our guys are so special!!!!!

  4. Thanks Marie and Ann! I like all 7 things. Marie, pack your bags and we’ll move to Italy, bet Leelee would like it too!! Who wouldn’t?

  5. Marie, this is absolutely wonderful and so good for us to see. we in America could learn a few things from them, I hope Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio convert us to their way of life and not the other way around. could you please sent this to the newspapers and TV stations around America. it might start them thinking!

  6. How many guys in Canada or the States would let a grandma play soccer with them?? Can’t see that happening & that’s without criticising them. To bad out seniors aren’t treated with the respect that Italy treats their seniors.
    Thanks Marie & Ann for the insight into Italy’s customs. Now we can see the background of how & why the Il volo guys conduct themselves. It gives us more undrstanding & helps us to feel closer to them.
    This makes me want to really pack my bags & start touring Italy, hopefully in the coming future but n their summer.

  7. Thank you Marie and Ann. Beautiful article. The footage of the Nonna playing soccer is priceless! What a wonderful way of life in Italy. I admire so many things about them, but especially their deep love and respect for family and the elderly. Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio are shining examples of superb upbringing. This back round really lets you know how these three have become such genuine young men.

  8. Thank you for this compilation of fun Italian facts and tidbits Ms. Crider. I have decided to make myself a bucket list just so that I can put go to Italy on it!

    1. I’ll add “Bring back a handsome Italian with red glasses.” How does that sound? 😉

      1. Oh Isabel, that would be such a kind and thoughtful thing to do for this old pirate. I’m sure I could make being the cabin girl worthwhile with Piero on deck, afterall he will need to retire to a cabin now and then…

  9. I watched the DVD “Visions of Italy” after reading the “magnificent 7” – Marsala and Agrigenta are both included. Il Volo music, Flight Crew and bella Italia – Grazie! Life is Great…

  10. I was in Italy (Rome) last May and yes loved it. Like you reported, Marie, the life style is not so rushed and the people seem to enjoy each other…..including the older generation! I would go back in a minute. By the way, no sign of Ignazio, Piero or Gianluca. I was asking about them, but no one seemed to know them. I bet that has changed now!!!!!!!!!

  11. Very interesting! Thank you Ann and Marie for putting these together. I agree with all 7 things. I wish I can be like that more often. Oh Nanno must be a pro soccer player. She is good!

    Happy Mother’s Day everyone. I wonder how our guys will spend this special day with their mom. Oh yes I can imagine a bit with the 7 things above!

  12. Thank you Ann and Marie. I am so proud to be a full blooded Italian because of the history and Il Volo and their upbringing. Hoping/planning to go there next Spring for the first time in my life. I may not want to come back!

  13. Thank you Marie for passing along this information. It is good to know since my grandson and I will be in Italy in July to see the boys perform in Taormina. Wishing all of the mothers out there a very Happy Mothers Day.

  14. Loved this post Marie. That Nonna was so cool with her ball skills. Did you happen to notice how the cars just whizzed by and no one even seemed to let it interrupt the game.
    Gotta love the Italians for their sense of cool and ” bella figura”.

  15. Yes, I noticed the cars. I also noticed that nonna never lost her purse. What a woman! Bet she has played a little soccer in her day! Thanks Connie, you ol’ pirate you.

  16. The 7 important ways Italians live is so right on target… I too am 100% Italian… Both my parents were born in Italy…I grew up in Brooklyn with my entire Giglio family living within blocks of each other… My fathers sister, My aunt and her children lived right next door, my Grandparents live one block away as did some more of my uncles… There were so many Giglio children with the same name in school that the teachers would get confused… All the first born boys are named after the paternal grand father, all the first born girls named after the paternal grand mother… .With my father having nine brothers and sisters, there were a lot of cousins with the same name and we all went to the same school… Sunday supper was an all day affair that started right after church and lasted till the evening hours… Love of family first, love of food second with love of friends mixed in.. There was always room for one more at the table in an Italian house hold… Thanks for the memories… Reading your seven ways Italians live really brought back the beautiful memories I have of my family when I was young in Brooklyn NY…

      1. I really wish I knew an Italian family I could go visit next time I go to Italy. I know a convent of nuns who live two blocks from the Vatican who have invited me to stay with them next time….but its just not the same. I work as a churchmouse but on vacation the pirate likes to play!

      2. You are very welcome, Anncruise… We were blessed… My childhood friends who I still keep in close contact with, always tell me that going to my house on Sunday was a thrill… First the food, then the family laughing and just enjoying each other, The kids playing and the adults singing… My sister playing piano and my brother guitar, my dad the harmonica… I thought every family did this … Till I got older and found out differently.. But in my Italian family gatherings this was quite a normal Sunday…..

  17. Lovely Jeannette.

    I’m only a half-breed, but our Italian house was always bursting with family, food and friends too.

    1. It is such a wonderful childhood, having your best friends be your cousins …. You see that with Gianluca and Piero … They are always sharing pictures of themselves with their cousins… I don’t think I appreciated it until it was not there anymore… When We moved from Brooklyn to California, we were not in an Italian neighborhood any longer like you have in the East… The few Aunts and I Uncles and Cousins I did have in CA. lived far away and not right around the corner.. We saw them on special occasions and holidays rather than daily… What a difference it made… We lived in a more beautiful neighborhood than we did in Brooklyn, but we did not have the family around us … My parents did however keep up our Italian traditions… My sister was thirteen years older than me and my brother ten years older… So by the time I was around ten, I had nieces and nephews and the house was full every sunday with family and a big Italian Dinner on the table after church… Some things never change no matter where you move to .. THANK GOD…
      Jeannette Giglio

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