The Rich Culture of Italy

Italy is selected for this study because of its diverse culture, beauty and rich history. This is a country that has the oldest and the widely studied history in architecture, food culture, church and religion, art and design, governance among other things (Beriss 201). The history of the country has significantly influenced the contemporary culture witnessed today. The current culture has its basis in the historic accounts and as explained in this paper, the historical foundations of every renowned culture in Italy have formed the current structures, beliefs and views (De Donno 8). The country takes pride in its history and made its diverse culture a tourist attraction site. With millions of tourists visiting the country, Italy is making significant steps in maintaining its culture such that it influences other states while they remain true to their culture.

Italy is one of the countries that record an extremely rich culture in the world. The country comprises small clusters of French, German and Slovene Italians in the north, while the South is made up of Albanian Italians and Greek Italians (Burlina et al. 5). The ethnic make-up is rich because these communities had lived in Italy since 1720 when they invaded for different reasons. The Jews came into Italy during the Roman republic, while others, such as the Germanic tribes, joined the country after the fall of Rome (Agnew 90). Italy was invaded by numerous countries for different reasons, such that most people started in Venice but ended up Italians. History has it that one would be many things before they were finally identified as Italian in between. Many leaders tried to unite Italy in the 18th century, including Napoleon Bonaparte, who launched Italian nationalism in 1796, and Niccolo Machiavelli was trying to liberate the country from the Barbarians (Moroncini et al. 32). This is not all about Italy, but an introduction that explains the rich culture of the country to date. It is estimated that the country receives more than 94 million tourists annually as per the 2019 data. Millions of tourists visit the country for its rich culture and everything to do with culture, including art, fashion, and cuisine (Pireddu 92). The identity of Italy has made tourism one of the fastest-growing and most profitable sectors in the country.

Italy is a peninsula in Southern Europe with a population of approximately 61 million, with 96% Italians and the minority 4% residents from different regions, including Africa, other European countries, and Americans. The Italian culture is regularly allied to music, painting, and nutrition. It is remarkably renowned as the motherland of the Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Culture, and the epicenter for Renaissance. Italy has 80% of its population as Roman Catholics and Muslims, while Protestants are the minority (Ferrari 23). However, since they are the majority, the Roman Catholic Church influences the social structure heavily. This influence is also seen in families where family ties in Italy are stronger than in other parts of Europe. The church heavily influences the social order of the country.

Findings Review

Communication (Verbal)

The official language is Italian, with close to 94% of the population speaking Italian as the native language while the minority uses other languages. Some of the dialects available in Italy include Sardinian, Piedmontese, Sicilian, Calabrian, Friulian, Ligurian, and Venetian (Pireddu 93). Italians are direct communicators speaking openly about their emotions and remaining clear about their point. Italians expect honesty from their conversation partners and this inhibits them from reading into understatements. While communicating with Italians, visitors or business people are advised to avoid ambiguity and indirect speech. Italians are inquisitive, open and bold when communicating and this is labelled as a part of their culture. When one meets with an Italian, he or she should be ready to be asked questions about their background, and life story. Foreigners often find it difficult to make conversations with Italians because in the process of giving a life story, the Italian will find mistakes and offer advice on to correct. Italians may speak in loud voices and could grow uncomfortable with prolonged periods of silence. They hold regular meetings with family and friends to keep their communications active. They joke throughout conversations to lighten up the mood but their sense of humor could be cynical, ironic, self-deprecating and sarcastic. A large percentage of the Italians find online communication as an impersonal mode of communication which is unhealthy in maintaining friendships.

            During conversations, Italians stand in close proximity with the individual they are conversing with, standing less than a meter away from each other. This distance is not noticeable amongst themselves and if one moves further away with an Italian during conversations, they will tend to think their partner is avoiding them. Italians are affectionate and tactile; it is common to see them kissing, hugging, holding hands or back slapping in public (De Donno  14). They tend to touch their partners during conversations to show their engagement level. They make direct eye-contact during their long held conversations, inadvertently staring out of curiosity. Italians are more expressive using facial expressions and tone of voice constantly motioning with hands whenever they need to make emphasis. Visitors should expect their Italian hosts to be theatrical during conversations as they use many gestures. Italians who move in to other countries such as Australia interpret their body language as reserved and stiff. When counting, Italians begin with their thumbs instead of the index finger as commonly used by various people in different countries.

It is important to establish that family life in Italy is given a priority, especially the extended family. Most of the families live together cohesively instead of the idea of Americans holding on to the nuclear family (Taormina, Robert & Lucia 299). Italians create and spend time together as families, enjoying the main events of the year together. They rear their children to remain close with the family members in childhood and adulthood. The church has also influenced the normal social courtesies. In Italy, most individuals are courteous, from their speech to their dressing. The normal dressing in the country is smart casual, and beachwear is confined to the beach. They wear conservative clothes when visiting traditional communities and religious buildings, while formal wear must be indicated on invitations if the host wants it. Another area where they extend their courtesy is when vising a friend’s home for dinner; one is expected to dress well and bring a gift of sweets or chocolate (Pireddu 93). The host should lead when sitting and starting a meal while the visitor should take a small portion of what is offered. If one does not want more wine while dining, they should not leave their glasses full to avoid refills. As part of the courtesy behavior, one should not smoke in public buildings, cinemas, or transport (Agnew 91). This is the most basic part of the culture that everyone should learn, including tourists visiting the country, to avoid being at loggerheads with the authorities and the locals.

            While considering Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, Italy practices individualism as a fundamental dimension of culture. Italy has a high score of individualism when compared to other companies. Italians tend to look after themselves and their immediate families with their idea of families appearing from that of other individualistic countries such as USA. Italians value families, including the extended families and often meet to have fun as a family since they enjoy spending time together. Considering power distance as a crucial factor by Hofstede, the Italians in the North prefer decentralization of power and prefer equality. Formal supervision and control is highly disliked among the youth. The younger generation prefer teamwork, and an open management style.

Italian cuisine is one of the most influential cultures globally, and many view it as a form of art. The Italian meals contain pasta, cheese, and wine as important components. Italian cuisine has a rich history spanning back to Ancient Rome. It is denoted that with every conquest, the spices and ingredients from the new territory would be included in the Roman cuisine (Pireddu 94). Romans experimented with a wide array of ingredients, including fish sauces, ostrich meat, roasted game, and different vegetables. Pasta, the main food in Italy, is traced back to the Etruscans, who, according to history, conquered Rome in 800BC. The evidence was identified in a mural found in the Etruscan tomb depicting the making of pasta. The oldest cookbook in the world was published in the 1st century AD and in it were all the ancient Roman recipes (Moroncini et al. 45). The book illustrated bread-making and fermentation of grapes to make wine from grape juice. This rich history is part of their cuisine in the modern-day; for instance, pasta is currently produced in different shapes, lengths, and widths under a wider collection, including fusilli, linguine, spaghetti, and lasagna (De Donno 25).

Italians do not just eat for nourishment, but that is part of life and culture in a land where family gatherings are frequent and centered around food and other family networks (Beriss 200). The menu on the Italian foods is extremely diverse such that every region has a different type of Italian food from the next. For instance, some of the food viewed by the world, like Italian, including pizza and spaghetti, is mostly taken in central Italy (Taormina, Robert & Lucia 300). However, the case is different in the North of Italy, where the common ingredients are potatoes, fish, pork, and various types of cheeses. The most dominant ingredient is tomatoes, served fresh or cooked into the sauce in the south of Italy. Other common meals in the South include peppers, capers, olives, eggplant, garlic, and ricotta cheese.

The art and architecture of Italy have been a key attraction site in Italy for years. The rich culture in art and architecture stretches back before Roman times and continues in the present modern-day world. Some of the most stunning sceneries include the Renaissance, the elegant streetscapes of Florence, and Venice’s palazzi (Burlina et al. 8). Too, galleries and churches make beautiful scenery across the country, including the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Italian architecture is obsessed with the classical, utilizing order, symmetry, refinement, and elegance. The Greeks established the style in the Southern cities they colonized. The style was later embellished and refined further by the Romans; it was later rediscovered and tweaked by the Renaissance architects (Ferrari 45). In the 1930s, the Fascists utilized the style in the modernist buildings, which stand to date, giving the country a memorable scenery from its architecture.

            One of the most common differences between the American and Italian cultures is a sense of punctuality and time. In America, people try to be on schedule and punctual in their meetings and appointments. Americans are used to walking fast on the streets and trying their best not to waste time unlike Italians. In Italy, people are not in a hurry or in any pressure to keep time. Most services including the most fundamental such as taxis will arrive ten minutes later than the agreed timelines (Beriss 203). A trip to the work station, grocery store or post office is swift in America as opposed to Italy where people take their time and could even take a detour for no necessary reason.

Conclusion

In summary, Italian culture is one of the richest cultures because of the history that it bears and the generations that have passed while the culture reigns. It was thought that after modernization, the rich culture of Italy would erode or be corrupted but instead, their culture corrupted all other cultures in Europe and other parts of the world. Italian architecture is widely renowned and has been borrowed by various architects from different countries because of the beauty of their elegance. The country produced the best architects, engineers, sculptors, artists, and painters in the ancient world, but this became their legacy. Most of the interior design finishes of the highest quality are produced in Italy, and the country is mother to some of the most renowned artists in the world. Italian cuisine started as early as the 1st century with the first cookbook discovery, which detailed the Roman recipes. Some of the most authentic and food that one can consume are either borrowed from Italy or made in Italy. The cuisine is part of the tourist attraction elements since they have read about the rich history of the cuisine and the current food served in the country. The Roman Catholic church has its headquarters in this country. Since Catholics are the majority, they have influenced the social order such that individuals are expected to be courteous, morally upright, respectful, and mindful of others.

Works Cited

Agnew, John. “Ecocritical Approaches to Italian Culture and Literature: The Denatured Wild.” (2017): 90-92.

Beriss, David. “Creole Italian: Sicilian Immigrants and the Shaping of New Orleans Food Culture.” (2020): 200-203.

Burlina, Chiara, Alessandro Crociata, and Iacopo Odoardi. “Can culture save young Italians? The role of cultural capital on Italian NEETs behaviour.” Economia Politica (2021): 1-27.

De Donno, Fabrizio. Italian Orientalism: Nationhood, Cosmopolitanism and the Cultural Politics of Identity. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2019.

Ferrari, Silvio. “Law and Religion in Italy: A new Model of Civil Religion?.” State and Religion. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG, 2020.

Moroncini, Ambra, Darrow Schecter, and Fabio Vighi, eds. Resistance in Italian Culture, from Dante to the 21st Century. Franco Cesati editore, 2019.

Pireddu, Nicoletta. “After Identity. Migration, Critique, Italian American Culture.” Italian Culture, vol. 37, no. 1, 2019, pp. 92–94. Crossref, doi:10.1080/01614622.2019.1601896.

Taormina, Robert J., and Lucia Samantha Urbano. “Building the Italian Economy: A Proposal for the Renaissance of the Italian Municipalities.” Advances in Applied Sociology 10.08 (2020): 299.

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