Before you begin working your way to foreign language fluency, it helps to understand the culture behind the language you’re learning. After all, language exists to help a group of people express their ideas and beliefs. Italy is an old country with a rich history and culture. As you begin your Italian language program, gaining a strong grasp on this history, the values, and the etiquette will help you rapidly achieve success. In particular, Italians have lively social lives where they meet people through clubs and while going out on the town.
When you are new in town, you will want to meet people and make friends [Forming Italian Friendships]. You may also be a bit homesick and want to meet others from your home country. One of the best ways to do this is find organizations of people of your nationality. Many British and Americans have social groups in Italy that you can join, both for long and short periods of time. These clubs are a great way to meet new people. They often have various Italian classes to help you get acquainted with the culture and the language.
If you are wishing to meet Italians, making acquaintances is not difficult at all. Italians are outgoing people who enjoy meeting in bars and the “piazza” and participating in outdoor activities. If you are willing to go out and be social, you will surely meet people.
If you are younger, you may want to go to the nightclubs. You can ask your hotel or some friends about the best places to go. Clubs are often large and may span several floors of a building. The cover fee is often pretty expensive, but does include your first drink.
If you want to gamble, there are plenty of casinos. Just remember to bring your passport. Italians must have proof of work before they are allowed in. You must dress in evening wear to attend the casino. Also make sure to pronounce the Italian word “casinò” correctly, with the stress on the third syllable, otherwise someone may think you are asking for a brothel!
Italy, and the Italians in turn, are loud. While Americans and Britons tend to be a quiet, more private culture, the Italians are noisy and live their lives in public. Private conversations are not held behind closed doors, but rather in public for others to hear. People share their opinions loudly and openly. Italy itself is noisy as well, especially in the city. It rings with sounds of cars and mopeds and of friends shouting to one another over the din. The streets and sidewalks are crowded. Newcomers to the culture may find the noise overwhelming, as there is little escape from the sound in the city. It may seem disconcerting at first, but you will quickly grow used to it, and may even find it comforting. Perhaps English author Tobias Jones puts it best in his book The Dark Heart of Italy, “After a while, other countries begin to seem eerily quiet, even dull.”
Italian people are not afraid to be loud and will easily argue their points. You will often see friends and acquaintances talking over one another as they engage in a friendly argument. Conversations are loud, fast, and boisterous. The people are full of life and it shows in their manner of speaking. Italians are not afraid to say what they are thinking and feeling, and expect others to do the same. Those who are new to Italian culture may struggle to keep up, but in time will pick up the flow and pace of the language.