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Cultural Quirks: Five things the expat needs to know about Italy

If you’re planning a relocation and expat life in Italy, we realise you probably have a lot to think about. The last thing you need to be thinking about is all the cultural differences you’ll need to acclimatise to.  Don’t worry though, as that is where we come in with this handy list of all the things you need to prepare yourself for.

Family focus

It might sound slightly cliché and stereotypical, but Italians really do place a large focus on family.  Whether it’s congregating for something as simple as a meal, to the large quantities of businesses that are family run, there is a real family culture throughout Italy. Even many of the larger companies that are world renowned as being Italian, such as Fiat and Benetton are still primarily controlled by single families.

Cuisine

We all know and love Italian cuisine, popular foods like pizza and pasta can be found worldwide, and although there are many restaurants that truly strive for that authentic Italian taste, enjoying the joys of Italian cuisine in the country of its birth is hard to beat. Wine, cheese, pasta and a good strong coffee are important part of Italian meals, which is hardly a surprise. In the North of Italy, things differ from the typical Italian restaurant menu, with many meals consisting of items like fish, potatoes, rice and pork. As you’d expect, pasta dishes with tomatoes are popular, as are many kinds of stuffed pasta, polenta and risotto. Strong and distinctive ingredients are much loved further south when it comes to cuisine, and although dishes still tend to be dominated by tomatoes, many menu items include the distinctive flavours of capers, peppers, olives, garlic and artichokes.

Public holidays

As with many European countries, Italians celebrate most Christian holidays, including the likes of Christmas and Easter. In addition to those you’ll already be accustomed to celebrating in the UK, in Italy, you’ll also enjoy Pasquetta, on the Monday after Easter. The holiday typically involves family picnics to mark the beginning of springtime. Another new public holiday you can expect to become accustomed to comes at the beginning of November and commemorates Saints Day – a religious holiday during which Italians typically decorate the graves of deceased relatives with flowers. Many Italian towns and villages additionally celebrate the feast day of their local patron saint, such as the feast of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Napoli, which takes place in September.

Climate

Hardly surprisingly, Italy has a very Mediterranean climate, enjoying hot, sunny and dry summers with cool, wet winters. In this sense, the climate doesn’t differ hugely from the UK, however summer months tend to enjoy much less rainfall in Italy than the more unpredictable summer of Britain. In southern areas of the country, summer temperatures soar, tending to reach the high twenty to low thirty celcius range.

If you’re planning to take on the expat lifestyle, make sure you check out our dedicated international removals page.

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