Italian stereotypes: how others see us (and how we are)

Italian stereotypes: how others see us (and how we are)

This time I’ve decided to talk about Italian stereotypes in the US. How do others see us? Films, TV series, and misbeliefs have contributed to creating many Italian stereotypes. Let’s get a few things straight! Americans often ask me how we can eat pasta everyday and not get fat. It’s absolutely normal for Italians to eat pasta everyday. That’s why it seems strange in the eyes of the foreigner. Nonetheless, the pasta that we make is very simple: tomato, basil, garlic, and a little extra-virgin olive oil. Simple ingredients that are low in calories. Another very common question is why in Italy we don’t have toilet seats in public wc. Well…It’s true! In most part of our public restrooms toilet seats have been intentionally removed. This is because they get broken very often and the owners probably prefer not to replace them after the tenth time! But the real reason is that nobody in Italy would sit down on a public toilet, not even putting paper all around the seat. We simply squat and this is the other reason you won’t find toilet seats: it’s much more hygienic not to have it so its easier to keep it clean when you only have the porcelain!

Italian stereotypes: fashion and the mafia

Giovanni Falcone (1939-1992), judge who fought mafia in the 90s

Giovanni Falcone (1939-1992), judge who fought mafia in the 90s

People often tell me that Italians dress well and are stylish. In fact, appearance and style are important in major cities. Furthermore, in our country we boast many world-renowned high fashion brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Armani, Prada, Ferragamo, and many more.  Ferragamo and Gucci are Florentine! Talking about stereotypes, Italy and the mafia are often linked. Famous films like The Godfather and cult series like The Sopranos have greatly contributed to creating an almost romantic image of the boss of the mob, described as a criminal, but also as a loving father and a man of honor. This is the worst kind of human being. The mafia is unfortunately a reality in Italy that Italians are definitely not proud of. Anyway, when people ask me about the mafia, I always tell them about the courageous judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. They’re the heroes that gave their lives to fight the mafia.

Italian stereotypes: the house and the family

Another of the most famous Italian stereotypes is that we live with our parents until we’re 40. Maybe age 40 is a little too much. It is true that nowadays there aren’t many young people who can leave home before they’re 30. This is mostly because of high unemployment and the economic crisis of the last few years. Actually, the real reason is that Italians find it important to buy a house and we don’t like renting because we consider it a waste of money. This is why we wait a long time to have enough money to buy our own home. People tend to think that generally Italians have very large families. It’s not true! For a few years now, families have had only 1 – 2 children. I often meet American families who have 3 – 4 children, which is unusual here in Italy. It is true that we Italians have a strong bond with the family, not only with the parents, but also with the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. In fact, it’s normal for the grandparents to take care of their grandchildren and the children to take care of their older parents.

Now it’s time for you to come to Italy and get to know Italians close up and emerge yourself in our culture!