Things Not to Say to Italians
By: Liz Flynn
There are many stereotypes that people associate with Italy and the Italians. While some of these are true, there are other stereotypes that the Italians find quite offensive. There are many things that you should avoid saying to an Italian if you want to avoid causing offence. Here are six of these.
Do You Know the Mafia?
When people have watched mobster movies, such as ‘The Godfather’, it is easy to assume that everyone in some way knows someone in the Mafia. However, this is a distressing topic of conversation for many Italians. Not only is it highly unlikely that they will know a mobster personally, they may be from an area that has been severely affected by the criminal activities of the Mafia. Some of the areas where the economy has been particularly badly affected and the mob have wreaked terror include Calabria, Sicily, and Campania.
Do You Speak English?
While in many European countries English is widely spoken, this is not the case in Italy. They have a great respect for the beauty of their own language and consider it rude that people who speak English think that they should, too. If you are visiting Italy, it is well worth investing in a phrase book and putting in a bit of effort.
Shouldn’t You Have Left Home by Now?
It is a shock to many people who are visiting Italy the number of people who are in their thirties and still living with their parents. This is especially the case if the visitor comes from a culture where it is normal for a person to leave home in their late teens or early twenties. To a certain extent, it is a cultural norm for Italians to stay at home with their families until they are married. However, for many people, they simply remain with their parents as a result of high unemployment rates and a poor economy. Therefore, living with their parents is not something that most people in their thirties are happy about so you should avoid asking that question.
I Prefer French/ Californian/ Australian Wine
The Italians are well-known for their production of wine and it is one of the largest consumable exports from Italy. They are extremely proud of the quality and diversity of their wine and do not like it to be compared negatively to wine that is produced in other countries. Saying that you prefer wine produced in France, Australia, California, or any other location will make you no friends.
Is Everyone in Italy Corrupt?
It is widely acknowledged that Italy is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. In fact, these corrupt activities cost the honest taxpayers an estimated $60 billion each year. This is a distressing situation for the honest citizens of Italy, so it is safer to avoid this line of conversation altogether.
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