As a top tourist destination, Italy has become synonymous with fine foods and wine, dazzling architecture, beautiful coastlines, and a rich history. Yet the country also has a distinct culture that varies from region to region, and even from city to city.
For Italians, family is the center of life. They value and cherish their close relationships and tend to avoid making jokes that offend others. They also believe that everyone deserves respect, especially older family members and those who have achieved a certain level of success in life. In addition, Italians are a passionate people and often communicate their emotions through their body language. As a result, conversation is more lively and energetic than in many other cultures.
Italians also take a lot of pride in their country and are devoted to their faith. The Church is deeply rooted in their lives and it is common for children to be named after saints or a particular date of religious significance. They may also have a patron saint that they celebrate on a daily basis, or each trade or profession may have one as well.
It took a long time for Italy to unify as a republic, and it still has a strong provincial feel. People often identify themselves by their region, city, town, or village, and sometimes even their ‘quartiere’ (a district within a town). They feel a deep connection to their hometown and are proud to be from that area.
Because of this, Italians place a great deal of importance on socialization with friends and neighbors. They enjoy sharing food, drink and experiences together. They also like to meet in public spaces, such as piazzas, and have a long tradition of enjoying a relaxed stroll through the town in the evening or early morning – the ‘la passeggiata’.
Italy’s unique geographic location has helped create a wide variety of cuisines, but all Italian dishes share some key ingredients. The use of fresh, seasonal, and local products is a hallmark of the Italian culinary experience. From antipasto to pizza, pasta to panini, the flavors of Italy are as diverse as its landscape.
Italy is home to 20 regions, each with its own special cuisine and regional wines. The best known are Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna. Italians are also renowned for their wines, which are available in all price ranges. The designations for Italian wines include IGT, DOC and DOCG, which signify that the wine has passed through rigorous rules of quality. In fact, the wines of Italy are so good that they have inspired some of the most famous chefs and restaurants in the world.