As a result of its long, complex history Italian culture is rich and diverse. The nation has many festivals and holidays so there are always reasons to celebrate and occasions on which to enjoy Italy’s architecture, music and art while sampling the countries renowned dishes and delicacies.
Over the years Italy has acquired some national holidays which aren’t celebrated in other countries. On national holidays the opening hours of most amenities will be reduced and there may only be limited transport available.
Italian national holidays which aren’t celebrated in the UK include:
January 6th – Epiphany
April 25th – Liberation Day
May 1st – Labour Day
June 2nd – Anniversary of the Founding of the Republic
August 15th – Feast of the Assumption
December 8th – Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Towns also individually celebrate the feast days of their patron saints. Below are the feast days for Italy’s major cities:
April 25th – Venice: Feast of St Mark
June 24th – Florence: Feast of St John the Baptist
June 29th – Rome: Feast of St Peter and St Paul
September 19th – Naples: San Gennaro
Many companies are also closed in August, the month when the majority of Italians holiday.
Italians put a lot of emphasis on family and family values. A strong and supportive family structure is advocated and in the south of the country extended family members often live together in a multigenerational way.
As Italy is traditionally a Roman Catholic country the nation has more Catholic Churches per capita than any other. In recent years church attendance has dropped significantly but the influence of the Church remains strong. Religious imagery and icons are a common feature in public buildings and every day of the year has a patron saint attached to it. Professions and trades are also associated with specific patron saints. Also, as the Catholic Church emphasises the importance of hierarchy it is something which can be observed in most Italian relationships.
In Italy appearances matter and styles of dress are often used to symbolise standing and connections. It is often said that in this nation first impressions are lasting and being fashion conscious is something of a prerequisite.
In Italy table manners are continental in style. The fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right.
Italians prefer to enter business relationships with people they know and trust and face to face contact is always appreciated more than less personal forms. Networking can be really important as many people who get ahead do so with the help of personal contacts, building solid relationships is really advised.
Italians are fairly expressive in terms of language and gesture, they are known for being emotional and passionate communicators.
Southern Italy is generally more relaxed and slow paced than northern Italy.
Because of the importance of hierarchy, age and power are respected in Italy.