Italian Culture and Traditions

Italy is home to more than 60.2 million individuals as of January 2020 and is ranked 23rd in population size when compared with other countries throughout the world. Italy population is equivalent to 0.78% of the total world population. Italian culture is steeped in the arts music, family, architecture, and food. Home of the Roman Empire and a major center of the Renaissance, culture on the Italian peninsula has flourished for centuries. Here is a brief overview of the Italian customs and traditions.

Population of Italy

About 96% of the population of the Italy is Italian, though there are many other ethnicities from all over the world that live in this country. North African Arab, Albanian, Italo-Albanian, German, Austrian and some other European groups fill out the remainder of the population of the Italy. Bordering countries of France, Austria, Switzerland, and Slovenia to the north have influenced Italian culture, as have the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Sicily and Sardinia.

Languages spoken in Italy

Italian is the official language of the country. About 93% of the Italian population speaks Italian as their native language, according to the BBC News. There are a number of dialects of the language spoken in the country, including Sardinian, Neapolitan, Friulian, Sicilian, Ligurian, Piedmontese, Venetian and Calabrian. Milanese is also spoken in Milan. Other languages spoken by native Italians include Albanian, Catalan, Bavarian, Cimbrian, Corsican, Croatian, French, German, Greek, Slovenian and Walser.

Family life in Italy

"Within the Italian Culture Family is an extremely important value," Talia Wagner, a Los Angeles-based marriage and family therapist, told Live Science. Their family solidarity is focused on extended family rather than the West's idea of "the nuclear family" of just a mom, dad and kids, Wagner explained.

Italians have frequent family gatherings and enjoy spending time with those in their family. "Children are reared to remain close to the family upon adulthood and incorporate their future family into the larger network," said Wagner.

Religion in Italy

Roman Catholicism is the major religion in the Italy. This is not surprising, as Vatican City, located in the heart of the Rome, is the hub of Roman Catholicism and where the Pope resides. Roman Catholics and other Christians make up 80% of the population in the country, though only one-third of those population are practicing Catholics. The Italian country also has a growing Muslim immigrant community, according to the University of Michigan. Muslim, atheist and agnostic make up the other 20% of the Italian population, according to the Central Intelligence Agency. 

Art and Architecture in Italy


Italy is known best in the world because it has given rise to a number of architectural styles, including classical Roman, Baroque, Renaissance, and Neoclassical. Italy is the home to some of the most famous structures in the whole world, including the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Colosseum. The concept of a basilica — which was originally used to describe an open public court building and evolved to mean a Catholic pilgrimage site — was born in Italy. The word, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is derived from Latin and meant "royal palace." The word is also from the Greek basilikē, which is the feminine of basilikos which means "royal" or basileus, which means "king."

Italy also is home to many castles and there are many large castles in the Italy, such as the Valle d'Aosta Fort Bard, the Ussel Castle and the Verrès Castle.

Florence, Rome and Venice are home to many museums, but the art can be viewed in public buildings and in the churches. Most notable is the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican, painted by the Michelangelo sometime between 1508 and 1512.

Opera has its roots in the country of Italy and many famous operas — including "La Traviata," and "Aida"  both by Giuseppe Verdi, and "Pagliacci" by Ruggero Leoncavallo — were written in Italian and are still performed in the native language. More recently, Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti made opera more accessible to the masses as a soloist and as part of the Three Tenors.

Italy is also a home to a number of world-renowned fashion houses, including Armani, Benetton, Gucci, Versace and Prada.

Italian cuisine

Italian cuisine (food) has influenced food culture around the world and is viewed as a form of art by many. If we talk about the Italian meals then there are Wine, cheese and pasta are important part of Italian meals. Pasta comes in a wide range of shapes, widths and lengths, including penne, linguine, spaghetti, fusilli and lasagna. 

For Italian people, food isn't just nourishment, it is considered as life. "Family gatherings are frequent and often centered around food and the extended networks of the families," said Wagner.

No one area of Italy eats the same things in meals as the next. Each region of the Italy has its own spin on the "Italian food," according to CNN. For example, most of the foods that Americans view as Italian, such as pizza and spaghetti, come from the central Italy. In the North of Italy, rice, fish, potatoes, sausages, pork and different types of cheeses are the most common ingredients. Pasta dishes with the tomatoes are popular in Italian meals, as are many kinds of stuffed pasta, risotto and polenta. In the South, tomatoes dominate dishes, and they are either served fresh or cooked into sauce. Southern cuisine also includes capers, olives, peppers, olive oil, garlic, artichokes, eggplant and ricotta cheese.

Wine is also a very big part of the Italian culture, and the country is considered as the home to some of the world's most famous vineyards. The oldest traces of Italian wine were recently discovered in a cave near Sicily's southwest coast. "The archaeological implications of this new data are enormous, especially considering that the identification of wine [is] the first and earliest-attested presence of such product in an archaeological context in Sicily," researchers wrote in the study, published online August 2017 in the Microchemical Journal.

Doing business in Italy

Euro is the Italy's official currency. Italians are known for their family-centric culture, and there are a number of small and mid-sized businesses within the country. Even many of the larger companies such as Benetton and Fiat are still primarily controlled by single families. "Many families that are migrated from Italy are traditionalists by nature, with the parents holding traditional gender roles. This has become challenging for the younger generations, as gender roles have morphed in the American culture and today stand at odds with the father being the primary breadwinner and the undisputed head of the household and the mother being the primary caretaker of the home and children," said Wagner. 

In Italy Meetings are typically less formal than in countries such as Germany and Russia, and the familial structure can give way to a bit of chaos and animated exchanges. With a bit of wariness Italian business people tend to view information from outsiders and prefer verbal exchanges with people that they know well.

Italian holidays

Mostly Italians celebrate Christian holidays. The celebration of the Epiphany, that is the celebrated on January 6, is much like Christmas. Belfana, an old lady who flies on her broomstick, delivers presents and goodies to good children, according to legend. 

Pasquetta, on the Monday after Easter, typically involves family picnics to mark the beginning of springtime.

November 1 commemorates Saints Day, a religious holiday during which Italians typically decorate the graves of deceased relatives with the flowers.

April 25 is the Liberation Day, marking the 1945 liberation ending World War II in Italy in 1945.Many Italian towns and villages celebrate the feast day of their patron saint. September 19, for example, is the feast of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Napoli.

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