We Italians get easily recognized wherever they travel. Whether we visit the United States, go on vacation in Cuba, venture the culturally more similar Argentina and Uruguay, people can easily spot us as Italian. Conversations soon start, appreciation shown for our beautiful country. Then, the old stereotypes kick in. However, although most of the world defines Italian by the pizza, pasta and mafia stereotype, an old national saying states “Italiani brava gente” (good people) and we’d rather think of ourselves as a country of poets, artists and sailors. Yes, there are a number of abilities Italians have over everyone.
So, here’s my list of nine abilities that Italians have over everyone:
1. We have turned a stereotype into a virtue
Since we are known for the pizza and pasta country, we have gone above and beyond our limits to create the most amazing pizza and pasta dishes. Italy is the only country where pizza is a gourmet dish and where just 3 ingredients are necessary to prepare a sophisticated pasta course. Not bad for a stereotype.
2. There’s nothing that a good meal can’t fix.
Whether we celebrate Christmas, a wedding or a promotion at work, we are bound to have a meal. But it won’t just be a simple lunch. It will be a 15 courses meal that will last anything between 2 to 5 hours, during each we stuff ourselves as if we are camels drinking before the longest ride through the desert. And when we feel a bit down, we indulge in some treats – a mouthwatering gelato, a delicious torrone snack, or a good spoonful of nutella. Eating is a huge part of our culture. We spend endless amount of hours shopping for the best ingredients, preparing our meals and even just talking about what we ate or what we plan to eat next.
3. We appreciate beauty.
Our love for beautiful things has brought us to express ourselves with some of the most incredible art, music and culture. Italian design, fashion and luxury goods are only some of the modern ways to express the artistic genius of which Leonardo, Machiavelli, Caravaggio and many others were our world ambassadors. The same goes with Pavarotti, who sang Italian opera in the world’s best opera houses.
4. We always manage to communicate.
We are not exactly masters at foreign languages. We get by with Spanish and we may know a little English, but we are so expressive and communicative that we always manage to make ourselves understood. An Italian will never get stuck for being unable to speak the local language! On the other hand, if you don’t speak Italian, you may confuse a plain and friendly conversation for a heated argument, just because of our hand gestures and our facial expressions. Nothing to worry about!
5. We are one yet many.
We manage to overcome all our differences, forget our regional rivalries and become one big family as soon as we step outside the country. But the minute we step back in, it all goes back to being very local and there is no way a Sardinian would want to be mixed up with someone from Naples or Venice.
6. We forget all our problems if our national football team is playing.
The financial crisis won’t get any worst just because we stop worrying about it for 90 minutes to watch a football match. And if our national team wins, we don’t mind so much that the country may be going bankrupt; there may have been a recent natural disaster for whose reconstruction the government plans yet another raise in the taxes and unemployment rates may be skyrocketing. It’s time to celebrate!
7. We always help others.
We may complain about it, we may feel we don’t have the resources for that, but we are never going to push away and turn our backs the thousands of desperate people who flee war and poverty and cross the Mediterranean in search for a better life. We are the geographic centre of the Mediterranean, but we like to think of it more as its beating heart.
8. We have a good sense of humour.
Isis threatens to attack Rome and the Vatican? We don’t really worry so much. They will never find their way through the congested traffic of the capital. And if they do, we may as well make sure that they make the most of their experience in the country and give them the best recommendations for restaurants and places to stay.
9. We take summer flings to a higher level.
We may know that it is not meant to be, we may know that there are no chances it will work, but we give each relationship our best. We don’t just pretend to be be in love. We really are.
Do you have any Italian friend? What are their funniest abilities?