With its renowned art and cuisine, Italy has long been a cultural center for the world. Ancient Roman civilization, the birth of the Catholic Church and Renaissance culture have left enduring impressions that extend far beyond its borders.
In the modern day, Italians are incredibly proud of their rich heritage. A love of music, art and fine food is woven into the fabric of each and every Italian life.
The rugged landscape of Italy has helped shape its people and their culture. With few roads connecting cities and villages, Italians have had to work hard to thrive in the countryside and city environments. This has forged a strong sense of family and community with tight bonds between neighbors and friends.
Religion plays a big role in most of the country. The majority of Italians are Roman Catholic, and the Vatican is a central part of the nation’s identity. Those who do not practice religion are primarily Jews or Muslims, though the latter only make up about 1% of the population.
Having a long tradition of opera, ballet and theater performances, Italians are very fond of art. In fact, many of the great artists of the past were Italian, including the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
Music is another important part of the Italian culture, with classical, opera and jazz all having their origins in the country. Moreover, Italy is also credited with developing progressive rock and italo disco. The country has a long literary tradition as well, with writers such as Dante and Nicolo Machiavelli being some of the most famous names in history.
Despite its long and complex history of separate states, Italy has always been a very patriotic place. Today, the Italians often identify themselves more by their region, city, town, village or even a ‘quartiere’ (a district within a larger town). Connection and loyalty to one’s home is stronger than the attachment to the entire nation.
It is not uncommon to hear an Italian singing an old classic such as Torno al Suriente (Farewell to the Homeland) in their native language. These songs are not only used in local festivals and celebrations, but can be heard in many cafes and restaurants throughout the country as locals and tourists alike enjoy a good cup of espresso or a cappuccino.
In terms of fashion, the majority of Italians are quite stylish and fashionable in their tastes. They are known to spend a good portion of their salaries on clothing and accessories. The idea of fa il bella figura – the concept of being a ladylike and elegant person – is also very important to them, as they are extremely conscious of their appearance.
When it comes to dining, Italians prefer a light breakfast, which typically consists of an espresso or cappuccino and some sort of sweet pastry or bread with Nutella. For lunch and dinner, they tend to eat in courses. Salads and appetizers come before the main course which is usually a pasta, gnocchi, rice or lasagna followed by meat. The final course is topped off with dessert and a nice cup of coffee.