How to look Italian
There are some things that Italians do, almost automatically, without even noticing.
I have decided to list the most common ones. When you come to Italy, try to behave in the same way to look like us!
1. gesture. The Italian language has a complicated structure and so it requires long sentences for expressing concepts that, for example in English, are translated in a quicker way.
So very often, better said almost always, hands help us to simplify and give the idea. So it’s not making big gestures with arms and hands but it is to use hands to explain, as if we had to communicate with a deaf person or somebody who does not speak our language.
2. Start sentences with “Allora”.
Actually the word “allora” means “then”. It is a part of the language that implies a consequence. So it should be used at the end of the sentence. For example: If you do not want to gain weight allora (then) do not eat candies. Instead, in everyday life “allora” is used to start sentences. It gives those two little seconds of time you need to organize ideas before speaking. So Allora does not really have a meaning, but we say it all the time.
3. BOH. This is a tiny little word, technically an interjection, which I think is a magnificence. It should be said with a closed “o” and with a face that says “I really do not know.” So if you ask any Italian for an information that he does not know the very typical answer is: “boh”. It is not rude, simply the way it is. Nothing is more typically Italian.
4. thanks and please
For sure you say “grazie” to thank and “prego” in response to a “grazie”.
A little more problematic is the use of “per favore” (please). It is polite always to use it, but not as many times as it is used in English. This means that in practice “per favore” is not used more than once or twice in the same context, especially among friends and relatives. So don’t be afraid of being judged rude if you don’t keep on saying please.
5. Buongiorno, Buona sera and Buona notte
Buon giorno is always right up until there is light.
Buona sera is used when the sun starts to go down
Buona notte is said only when you go to bed.
6. concept of time
Time is relative because, in itself, it does not exist because it is a human invention. In fact we always live in the present. In Italy time is MORE than relative. For example, if the meeting starts at 9:00 you are perfectly on time to arrive at 9.15. I would even say that if starts before 9.15 the organizers can be considered rude!
So BE PATIENT in Italy and give yourself time. Think of this as a luxury, as a change to stop running and enjoying life.