There are so many differences between Italian and American culture. Last night, I went to a presentation on campus about culture and social life in Rome. While it was quite humorous, I definitely learned a few things I didn't know before, some good and some not so good...
-Italians love to stare...One of Temple's staff members Gianni explained to us that if an Italian stares at us, and we feel uncomfortable to just stare back. He says that Italians are very curious people.
-There is no such thing as personal space in Italy. I learned how very true this one is today when I took the metro to the Colosseum for class. Gianni mentioned that Italians don't have a privacy bubble like us Americans do. They stand very close to each other and don't mind if they are touching someone else. The Champions League Final took place today, so fans from all over Madrid and Britain came to Roma for the match. The metro was SO crowded...I would argue it was more crowded than the Broad Street line on the day of the Phillies championship parade. We were crammed in with literally no breathing room.
-Bella Figura literally translates to mean beautiful figure, but it means being a beautiful person with a good appearance (not just physically). Gianni explained that Italians don't get drunk in public or eat while they walk because they are trying to keep the perfect appearance.
-Italians don't stop at stop signs! You need to be VERY careful crossing the street at all times.
-It's considered extremely weird here to get any kind of food or drink to-go. Italians like to relax and enjoy their food and drink and then move. It's also weird to get certain types of coffee after 11:00 a.m. here.
-Gianni gave a word of advice to the guys in the room about trying to pick up Italian girls. He said that Italian girls are VERY skeptical of American guys because they are used to Italian guys being very forward with them. He mentioned its best to take it slow and hang out with the girl a few times in a group before going on an actual date. He also said that it's wise for guys to say they are from California or New York City because Italian girls have grown up watching movies and TV shows that take place in those locations.
-This is a serious tip. As I'm sure many of us have heard, Italian men are stereotypically quite forward. Rape doesn't hold up very well in court here. There is an unspoken rule that if you enter an Italian man's apartment, you are giving up the right to say no. In one court case, the court ruled that if a woman is wearing tight jeans, she obviously couldn't have been raped because she would have had to help the man take the pants off. It's really sad, and I think this is one area that the United States might be excelling in.
-Everything is MUCH slower here. It's great. Dinners last three hours, waiters don't bother you to leave. In class, my professors ask if we want to stop for espresso's on the way to our next site visit. It's great. I love the stress-free life.
-My favorite cultural difference: siesta time! At home, I love to take naps and I guess that could be considered lazy, but here, everything shuts down from noon til three and everyone takes a rest. I love it!
Are there any major cultural differences I may have missed that you noticed when traveling in Europe?