“The thing about stereotypes as we all know, there is often truth in them, but it’s almost always a partial truth.” – Alex Tizon

A Partial Truth

Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen! Seems like there is a fair amount of stereotypes about Italy, Italians and Italianity… From The Godfather and mafia to pizza and spaghetti to mandolin and singing, and so on. Yet, not all of these stereotypes are true. Some are completely false, while some contain only a partial truth… Let’s take a closer look!

In Italy the sun is always shining

For God’s sake, this stereotype couldn’t be more false! Sometimes it’s raining or even snowing, sometimes it’s nasty and cold. Sad but true.

Italy is… a Roman Holiday Under The Tuscan Sun on the Venetian gondolas

To begin with, Italy is the state with the highest number of the World Heritage Sites. Hence Florence, Rome and Venice are not the only places of major interest. And still, the message most Italian travel brochures give is that  “Italy is a Roman Holiday Under The Tuscan Sun”.  Including the Venetian gondola rides, of course.

The truth is that travelling between different Italian regions is like travelling between European countries. Italy is diversity itself. It’s amazing, full of temptations and contradictions.The good news is that wherever you go in Italy, you will always find something beautiful, breathtaking and memorable. So, take a chance!

All Italians are dark-haired, black-eyed, olive-skinned

This is a very misleading belief. Not only Northern Italians differ from this stereotype, but lots of Sicilians look like if they’re Dutch. Just to make a point.

All Italians are die-hard football fans

Oh, yes! Juventus, Milan, Inter— are just a few of the most famous names you’ll hear when Italians are discussing football. And they do it quite often… Italian men do take soccer very seriously since it’s a chance for them to unite with their local team and express their regional pride. Given that Italy was first composed of individual regions, Italians mostly identify with their regional culture rather than with Italy as a whole.

However, this stereotype is all about Italian men. And only a handful of women. Moreover, some Italian men break this stereotype as well. Just to be clear.

The Italian language is easily comprehensible even for the “beginners”

Well, it depends… The truth is that Italian language’s pronunciation varies from region to region and sometimes even from city to city. Not to mention a wealth of different dialects, that most of the time result incomprehensible for Italians themselves. Yet, it’s worth to try!

The Mafia is real and the Godfather rules

Italians are not proud of it, but Mafia does exists.  On the other hand, many outsiders believe – possibly, due to the series such as Godfather or The Boss of the Bosses – that the Mafia is just Sicilian. The reality is that there are different Mafias. So, in Campagna reigns the Camorra, in Calabria rules ‘Ndrangeta, while in Puglia there is the Sacra Corona Unita. Just to sort things out.

Obviously, not every Italian is a Mafioso and most will feel insulted whether you use the term, even when if you mean it as a joke. Beware!

Italians eat only spaghetti and pizza

This stereotype is a partial truth. Don’t get me wrong, Italians do eat spaghetti and pizza… Italians do eat pasta everyday, sometimes even twice a day. Yet, given the variety of Italian cuisine, even the most addicted ones could not limit themselves to spaghetti and pizza only!

Moreover, around Italy the menu changes from region to region. But the greatest thing is that the quality of ingredients is always very high and the food tastes extraordinary good! Not by chance, eating in Italy is very important business.

Italians talk with their hands

True! In Italy people can’t help themselves to use hand gestures to strengthen the point or enliven conversation. Seems like they couldn’t speak with their hands tied up! Not by chance, Italians are considered the most passionate and expressive speakers in the world. Fascinating, isn’t it?

To be continued…

Have in mind other stereotypes associated to Italy? Share!

This post is also available in: English Italiano