Italians are indifferent to all kinds of cultural activities, whether it be reading a book – 44 percent had not read a single book in the past year – going to the cinema or visiting a museum, gallery or monument, the Eurobarometer report, which quizzed 26,000 people across 27 countries, found.
In fact, Italians came 23rd in the survey – only the Hungarians, Romanians, Portuguese and Cypriots have less interest in culture than they do. The survey also asked people if they indulged in activities such as dancing, singing and drawing.
Just eight percent of the Italian population showed a "medium to high" interest in cultural pastimes.
But the lack of interest in cultural activities is not just limited to trips to the museum: Italians are also watching less television than they were in 2007, the report found.
Comments in the Italian press ranged from the results being a "real insult in a country that boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage which is envied by our European partners" to "Italians are more interested in phones and tablets".
An editorial in La Stampa said the results were "alarming", adding that "Italians do not dance, do not write, do not take photographs, do not draw or do not do creative work on the computer. What then remains if they've even reneged on television?"
Although a similar trend is occurring across Europe, in part due to the financial crisis, Italians' lack of interest in their cultural offerings is also due to "fatigue", La Stampa said. People are "worn out" with a precarious economic situation that sees their time and enthusiasm "sapped by job searches and short-term employment contracts…the widespread tendency is to isolate themselves, to not even turn on the TV".
Meanwhile, the Swedes, Danish, Estonians, French and Dutch are the most cultural Europeans.