top of page

Italian Cultural Observation’s, Things To Know…

Cultural differences in Italy. always keep your receipt after purchases when leaving a cafe or shop.

It’s the small things that go unnoticed between countries that are the most interesting culturally. Here are some of the most important and varied observations in Italy.

Receipts: You need to take your receipt when leaving a cafe or restaurant and not only from clothes or other shopping stores. Unlike many countries, the importance of showing your payment once leaving a cafe or restaurant, or from any purchase is vital. Your small bill, of even .50 cents, if not in receipt of payment can land you a big fine from the Guarda Di finanza, the finance police, who make random checks on people leaving shops, bars or restaurants. Don’t forget to wait for your receipt next time you’re in Italy and make sure you keep it with you after your purchase when leaving wherever you’ve been.

In the car: flashing your lights: this is a very important observation that can save a life. It's rather a simple action that has two very different significations in the UK and Italy. If you are on the road driving and faced with another car behind you or at a junction, in the UK, flashing your headlights to the other car is a way to allow permission to them to go ahead, however in Italy if someone is flashing at your car it means quite the opposite ~ I’m coming through, so get out of the way.

Mother’s Day in Italy, la festa dalla mamma is on the 8th of May 2022. It’s on the second Sunday in May and not in March as in the UK.

Mother’s Day in Italy is in May
Mother’s Day in Italy is in May

If you’re planning on meeting someone then you could be waiting around for a long time…Afternoon in Italy can be up to 18:30. “Let’s meet in the afternoon“ they say but the usual 13:00 or 14:00 timing of afternoon as you probably know it surely will not be what your Italian friend means! Evening time, as mornings and afternoons are sectioned into early and late.

Smurf’s are called i Pufi in Italy, as is Captain Birdseye, aptly named Captain Findus here in Italy.

The 17th is Italians unlucky number, not the 13th

17 is the unlucky number in Italy, not 13. Tuesday the 17th being especially unlucky whe s Friday the 13th means nothing here.

Touch wood as an idiom in England has a similar meaning here in Italy, but they use sreal rather than wood: ‘tocco ferro‘ touch steal and absolutely not touching one’s head whilst saying it.

Sicily is nearer to Africa than Rome, and did you know that the desert sands from the Sahara blow across the seas occasionally arriving on Sicilian cars and properties. Don’t think it’s dust or building works!

As for food, there are also a few important cultural difference to be noted.

Coffee and milk is not had after meals unlike in many restaurants in the UK or US as an after dinner coffee is consumed in Italy. An espresso with no milk is the preferred digestive aid often taken ‘amaro’ meaning butter without sugar. Milk is a no no after food as hinders digestion.

Salads are often consumed after meals not as a starter, where a simple plate of leaves dressed in olive oil and a pinch of salt are useful in cleansing the palate and stomach. Heavy salad ingredients are avoided such as carrot.

Tortellini pasta is served in a clear stock ‘brodo‘ rather like a pasta soup, and not served covered in sauces.

Fried breadcrumbs not cheese are served on top of some dishes in the south of Italy, which started as a food of the poor, where families where unable to pay for cheese but now a stable part of recipes. So now you know how it’s done in Italy! We look forward to seeing you soon…


bottom of page