17 Things Italians Do Better Than Others

Italians get easily recognized when traveling. 

Come on people! We are loud, we do speak with our hands, we are not ashamed of singing in public, we have a love for pizza and pasta that nobody can match. Whether we go on vacation in Cuba, venture to the culturally more similar Argentina and Uruguay, we get easily spotted.

But, once conversation starts, the magic happens: everyone loves Italy, everyone loves Italians. Except there are also many stereotypes. So, when some of you associate us with pizza, pasta and mafia, we prefer to think of ourselves poets, artists and sailors; as the country that – despite everything – continues welcoming everyone; as the place where in time of need famous designers will turn their factories around to produce face masks. Yes, there are a number of things Italians simply do better.

Here they are.

pizza
Pizza is only one of the staples of Italian food

17 Things Italians Do Better – For Real

Pizza and pasta

Sorry to break the news guys. Your pizza and pasta may be good, but ours is just a whole different thing. First of all, Italians have invented pizza – just imagine: a few, very simple ingredients and it’s done, there for you to eat. So easy, yet so satisfying, and oh so often gotten wrong. 

The same with pasta. Oh the number of times I have seen it made wrong! Did you know that we toss the pasta (all of the pasta we have cooked) in the sauce as soon as it is cooked, obviously al dente? The image you have of the pasta with just a bit of tomato sauce on top is plain wrong. Honestly, try to do it the way we do and you will see the difference.

Festive meals 

Got a job promotion? Let’s have dinner to celebrate? 

Christmas? Biiiig lunch. 

Easter? You got it, lunch time! 

Class reunion? No, no lunch this time. It’s dinner. 

You got it. Italians love to celebrate everything and anything over a meal. But mind you, our festive meals are no simple things. Think more of an endless number of courses that will have you seated at the table for a minimum of 2 hours, and at times even up to 5. We stuff our faces as if we hadn’t eaten in a year, when chances are our mothers fed us like kings and queens the day before. 

Come to think of it, we Italians appreciate food even as a pick me up. Your boyfriend broke up with you? Here, have some nutella. You are stressed? Nothing that a good slice of cake can’t fix. 

We love food so much that we talk about food even when we are eating – I mean, we have to plan our next meal after all, right?

Art

Italians invented art. No, really, they did! This is the country with the highest concentration of UNESCO sites (in case you wonder if this is true, check this out). This is the country of Machiavelli, Leonardo and Caravaggio. It’s the country of Pavarotti. It’s the country of design, luxury items, fashion and incredible architecture. In other words, Italians are genius. 

Yeah I know I like a good brag.

Italians

Hand and body language

So I may be the exception to the rule – a rule that is changing, by the way – as I speak more languages than the average Italian (in fact, than the average human being). But Italians aren’t exactly masters at languages. They will get by with Spanish, because the languages are similar in a way. But English? Ahem… most Italians know a few words, but that’s about it. 

So what happens when Italians have to talk to someone but don’t know the language? My, hand gestures and body language, of course! We are the masters of that. We have invented that. We can have entire conversations without needing to speak a word. 

And in case you are wondering how you can learn Italian or any other language, check out my post 20 Useful Tips For Learning A New Language.”

Cultural mixes

Italy is an incredibly varied country in terms of culture. Sardinians are in no way similar to people from Trentino; the culture in Sicily is very different from that of Lombardia. Italians from the south will point fingers at those from the north to name the differences (most likely something to do with food, or the fact that their mama sends them the best food parcels). But take them outside the country and they all become one! 

planning a trip to Italy

Sport appreciation

Italians forget all their problems when there’s a sport event on TV – financial crisis, unemployment and what not. Soccer used to be the one and only sport Italians cared about but that isn’t the case anymore. Sports such as rugby, swimming, basketball are getting more and more fans. 

Helping those in need

Italians will always complain that they don’t have enough, that taxes are too high, etc. You will often hear that xenophobia is on the rise, and that they aren’t happy about the arrival of migrants in search of a better life. But really, the vast majority will always be happy to give a hand, to help those in need. 

Laughing even through hardship

Even in time of terrible hardship (look at what has been happening in most recent times) Italians will bring out their best sense of humor and laugh at themselves and their misfortune, just to cheer themselves up. If you joke about them, Italians don’t mind either. But give them a hint of racism, and they will destroy you with their humor. 

Romance

There is one final thing Italians do much better than anybody else: romance. Whether it is a summer (or winter fling) or the love of their life, Italians will give it their best. They will never pretend to be in love: they really are, even just for a day.

coffee in Italy

Coffee

Fact: you can drink good coffee anywhere in the world (well, almost). Also fact: coffee in Italy is a million times better. Give Italians a simple coffee pot or an espresso machine, and they will work their magic to create the most perfect drink. It’s so good that you don’t even need to add sugar to it. I promise!

Make sure to read my post How To Order Coffee In Italy: The Best Italian Coffee.”

Gelato

Let me first clarify that gelato is Italian for ice-cream, and not just a kind of ice-cream. The difference between Italian ice-cream and everything else is quite simply that Italians do it better! They use fresher ingredients (and usually less); less cream altogether; and the result is perfection that melts in your mouth or – if you don’t eat if fast enough – in your hands.

Tipping

Italians are SO. MUCH. BETTER. at tipping. In fact, they don’t tip at all! Wait – what? Yeah, you got it. Tipping in Italy is not a custom. That’s because Italians actually get paid fair wages. So when you sit down for a meal, order a private cab, go on a guided tour you won’t have to worry about having to tip. At restaurants, you may just want to round up your cheque and leave whatever excess cash you are paying. And if service was really that exceptional, 10% is more than enough to leave.

food destinations

Aperitivo

Other countries do happy hour. Italians do aperitivo. Forms may vary, but this usually consists of a drink – anything can do, but drinks of choice are usually a good Spritz, a glass of Prosecco or even a Negroni (which may well be the most alcoholic cocktail you can think of), accompanied by some small snacks such as olives, potato chips or peanuts. In some places, snacks are taken to the next level and in fact you end up having a proper meal! 

Relaxing

There’s an Italian saying that it is hard to translate in other languages – dolce far niente (sweet nothing). It very much indicated something that Italians do oh so much better than other people in Western countries: relaxing. The art of doing nothing in Italy is practiced in many ways: sipping coffee; going for a leisurely walk; peoples’ watching and – this takes real skills – napping in the middle of the day.

Wine

Do I really need to explain this one? 

Driving a Vespa

The rest of the world has scooters; Italians have Vespas. The best – which admittedly are a bit harder to come across now – are the ones with manual transmissions. They aren’t the easiest thing to find, but Italians do it oh so well. So much so, that they are even portrayed in Hollywood movies while they do that (remember Roman Holidays?).

Getting old

The average life expectancy in Italy is higher than that of most countries. Some parts of Sardinia are even blue zones – people there live an even longer life. This is thanks to a combination of good, healthy food and a balanced diet; regular exercise (nothing major! Italians just love to walk); a happy life and strong social and family bonds. 

Can you think of any other things Italians do better than others?

Further readings

Still unsure on whether you should be visiting Italy? Check out my posts:

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50 thoughts on “17 Things Italians Do Better Than Others”

  1. Gosh, I studied abroad in Rome and I just loved being surrounded by Italians. You are totally right on all of these accounts! I miss it everyday. My dream is to spend at least a month in Italy exploring, meeting more spectacular people. Cool post!

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  2. hihi, there is something in this. I’m not Italian, but my good friend is Italian, and you sound like him! πŸ˜€

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  3. The Italian passion for the Azzurri as I watched from a bar in Venice as I watched them beat the US in the ’06 World Cup group stages remains one of the most frustrating memories of that entire trip – quadruply so because you went on to beat France and take the whole thing! All the other traits you mention, however, quite fun! πŸ˜‰

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  4. Here’s a passionate vote for #s 2, 3, and 4!!! Tops in expressions for great food, great art, and great talk!!!

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  5. I don’t have an Italian friend (well none yet!) but I’d sure love to have one. I love your pizza and pasta though and I hope to someday go to your country and taste the real thing. I didn’t know there is a some sort of a regional rivalry in your country, it’s sure interesting to know about it.

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  6. Haha, my best friend is Italian and I recognise all of these qualities in her! I still haven’t been to Italy but I’d love to go!

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  7. Awesome! I have a couple of Italian friends and they’re super nice (and fit into some of these!)

    I would like to thank the Italian gods for all the pizza and pasta I’ve had and will keep having!

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  8. Ahahahaha – this was absolutely hilarious to read and reminded me of every single one of my proud, beautiful, football obsessed craaaaaazy loud Italian friends and I love them to bits. You know why? Cause they’re exactly like us Greeks πŸ™‚

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    • All my Greek friends say to us Italians “Una faccia, una razza”. Definitely true – we are very similar. Scarily so!

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  9. This is a really great list! I haven’t been to Italy and haven’t met a ton of Italians through the years, but I love these generalizations! It has me thinking about what we as Americans are able to do… going to take me a while πŸ™‚

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  10. Haha, yes for sure on the taking with signs and the hands, something Italians do better than anyone else! I have a lot of Italian friends and they sure fit the above bill πŸ˜‰

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  11. I have to say I love the Italian expressiveness. The way Italians communicate, with the gestures, expressions and the intonation is beautiful. It makes any language come alive.

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  12. LOL, you maybe should add in national pride? Italians and football are something else too – it’s actually great fun to be in any City where the local team has a big home match.

    I’m a huge fan of Italy though I still have plenty of places there to visit!

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    • Ohhhh if you want to see real football fanatics you need to go to South America – Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. They taught us Italians how to be football fanatics πŸ™‚

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  13. This list makes me laugh, I studied in Rome for a semester and agree with all of these. Would add the odd ability to eat so well and still say so fit! My host mom loved to force me to eat not just seconds but thirds.

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  14. What a cute post. My stereotypes of Italy are all good: art, truffles and red wine. What more can you ask for – all that and a warm beating heart. Love it.

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  15. Hi! I would also say THE CLOTHES. Most of my Italian friend were also well dressed. No wonder,when many designers actually come from Italy!

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  16. ahh, I love this post and I love the Italian way! I have an Italian first name that I also love! I need to get back over for some of that pizza and pasta though! mmmm!

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  17. Oh girl I so love this post :))
    Of course there’s nothing a good meal cannot fix if you’re Italian … Oh and the football thing it drives me crazy:))
    I’m currently living in Italy … and if I need my dad to help me and there’s a game … there’s almost no way he’ll leave the game!!
    Beautiful country, beautiful people, lovely language and exquisite food!!
    Ciao!

    Reply

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