Italian Mentality


Ciao a tutti! :blush:
As I was born and raised in Italy, I thought it might be interesting for you if I help you understand the Italian way of thinking which is always one of the hardest things to grasp for someone who comes from abroad. Some things may seem rather obvious, but in reality we can be quite complicated.

Today I wanted to focus on the so-called “dolce far niente” (the sweetness of doing nothing), which I think is one of the most misunderstood principles. It’s always automatically interpreted as laziness, but it is not. Romans believed in the importance of otium (idleness), which had not a negative connotation, but a positive one. Otium was seen as free time to be employed to recharge oneself and for “creative thinking”. So no, il dolce far niente is not a passive condition, but an active one. Nowadays we always look at Eastern cultures in search of ways to practice mindfulness, fight stress and feed our creative mind, but in reality we already had our own “method” in our Western culture.

I hope my explanation is clear enough :blush: It would be interesting to hear what you think about Italian mentality and way of living; if you have questions and you want the perspective of the insider, just ask away :grinning:


This reminded me of a scene in the Eat, Pray, Love (2010) movie (starring Julia Roberts among others) that tries to tackle an explanation for the dolce far niente paradigm:

My personal belief is that dolce far niente intrigues and at the same time attracts so many, without actually being able to pin-point it exactly, since it’s embodied in the lifestyle. Just like in a food dish, there’s that ingredient that gives you this “yummy” feeling, but you are not able to identify which one exactly.


I don’t think Italians are lazy :slight_smile: Ever since I arrived here, I’ve quickly noticed how people are able to actually enjoy a nice day, instead of stressing out about problems or their jobs literally all the time. Some, yes, might perceive the concept as as laziness, but I think doing nothing and recharging is something more of us should do more often.


True. One should not living for work, but working for living, as we say here.


Another trait typical of Italian people is the so-called “campanilismo”.

The term “campanilismo”, a derivative of the word “campanile” (bell tower), helps indicating how local-minded we tend to be in Italy.
Campanilismo is the excessive bond one has for the hometown and the connected customs and traditions, which often becomes rivalry toward other close towns.
The term derives from campanile, because it was the bell tower that used to represent the “border” between towns.


This is quite interesting! I’ve never heart of this term before. Thanks for explaining it!

Everyone agrees that Italians are very proud of their culture and history, and I did notice some people take it to the extreme. I had no idea there’s a word for that :slight_smile:

PS: many Italians admit they couldn’t ever leave their country or even home town. Now I wonder if “campalinismo” has anything to do with it. Hmmmm… this is something to ponder on!


It’s probable! I mean, especially old people are very influenced by this kind of mentality and the fact that they have probably never travelled in their life doesn’t help :persevere:

I want to point out the fact that campanilismo is not “being overly attached to Italy”, but rather "being proud and overly attached to the natal town".


We were discussing with some American friends and it came out the topic of success. In Italy people are not expected to be successful and to achieve certain results like in American culture. If on one hand this allows you to just be yourself in society, on the other hand people tend to be rather bitchy with those who are successful in life and be condescending toward those who promote mediocrity.


Haha I love it! After my recent trip to Italy to discover my Italian roots I was impressed seeing this mentality and I absolutely love it! There is something so beautiful in live in getting rid of negative energy by dolce far niente :slight_smile:


Interesting! I haven’t noticed this before. May be because I can sometimes be naive and don’t believe Italians can be bitchy! :rofl:
I’ll certainly look for signs from now on, though! Makes me wonder if people think this about me as well! (gosh, I hope not!)
I’ve “gone up”, so to speak, from mediocre jobs to better career choices, once I learned the language and some extra skills. Thank you for pointing this out :hugs:


I agree, they certainly don’t like people to flaunt it.


I’ve met few people who flaunt their success (not all Italians, other nations too), but most of the people I know are really modest. Even if some of my Italian friends earn twice as me, or have inherited money or have successful businesses, they’re still down to earth and have never looked down on others (at least that’s my personal impression).

Maybe that’s the reason why fkasara said people tend to be bitchy. If most Italians are down to earth, then seeing those few flaunt their successes can indeed be kinda annoying :smiley:


This was my favourite part of spending a year in Italy, I really learned how to relax!


… from all the wine, am I right? :smiley: hahah! Just kidding!
Although, Italians do drink a lot of wine. I think it’s part of their culture. Every time I refuse to have a glass with lunch, everyone stares at me like I’m some kind of weirdo :stuck_out_tongue: I did learn a lot from Italians, but if there’s one thing I cannot do, is have some wine and then drive back to work.



I hope everything is fine with you and everyone here.

I am happy I found this website because I like Italian people and special Italian food. Can I ask you how to comunicate with Italian person at busines? We have something to do just I am not sure how to talk and if is something to be carefull on.

Thank you and wish you very nice time


I don’t know what kind of business you’re into, but, generally speaking, I would say that Italians like to talk A LOT even in a work-related field and before closing a deal, it could take a lot, as it’s a way for Italians to test the waters and see if your product/service is interesting and if you’re a reliable person.
Also, as Italians we value a lot the quality of a product (fundamental point) and the presentation/good look which it’s important for a good first impression.

Italians are also quite good judges of characters and if you show that you’re down-to-earth, you have a good chance to establish a good business relationship.

Just be yourself and try to avoid topics like politics and stereotypes related to Italians (mamma boys and all that stuff), I would say.

Good luck :slight_smile:


Thank you a lot for your answer.

We have a house with place for restaurant near middle of city and they are thinking about the place to open one of their restaurant but they have two other places to check which one is the best.

I am trying to everything for them to stay here and open and be better then other two places at their eyes.

Thank you for your answer and great help with

Have a nice time


Having a day to recharge is definitely something more cultures need to understand and take. I don’t see it as alzy at all.