Eating well, driving badly, and daily naps: The habits you pick up in Italy

Eating well, driving badly, and daily naps: The habits you pick up in Italy
Eating an entire pizza by yourself - using a knife and fork, and with a side order of cheese - is completely normal in Italy. Photo: AFP
Moving to a new country always brings changes to your lifestyle and habits. But what are the new habits people usually pick up after moving to Italy?

We asked members of The Local's Living in Italy group on Facebook about the habits they'd picked up since moving to the country, and they had plenty to say about the subject.

Small, everyday things had changed for many people. Some told us they now “pay for nearly everything in cash not plastic.”

“In the UK I rarely carry more than £50 cash,” said one British member. “Here (in Italy) I panic if that is all I have.”


While some described ditching their tumble driers and now “being able to dry my washing outside”, others reported becoming snappier dressers since moving to Italy, saying they now wear “nice shoes and hats.”

“And cardigans. Never owned a sweater in Texas;” said one reader.

Other new habits were more like survival skills, with one member reporting “learning to scan ahead for potholes” and another saying that they now look several times before crossing a road, advising: “Be very careful, no matter if the light is green, red, or orange.”

Food and drink

Perhaps unsurprisingly in a country famed for its cuisine, an awful lot of the new habits people reported centred around food.

Whether discovering new favourites, gaining a better appreciation for fresh and seasonal produce, or just making time for lunch, many people reported that their eating, drinking, and shopping habits had changed radically since moving to Italy.

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Of course, many people reported picking up the famously Italian habits of eating late, drinking (only) wine and water with meals, and “having fruit trees and actually eating fruit”.

READ ALSO: 17 ways your eating and drinking habits change when you live in Italy

Some people said they're now “drinking only bottled water” which is “unthinkable and an extra expense” in their home country, while others noted that they've “started eating pizza with a knife and fork”, and one admitted: “I'm now an olive oil snob”.

One person noted that the weekly shop had become daily – and looks very different here in Italy.

“While living in Florence with an Italian friend I learned to buy the food we were going to eat fresh pretty much every day,” one member wrote. “It was funny listening to a group of Italian friends getting ecstatic over the seasonal crop of green beans.”

“I remember in one fancy deli watching a very plump green worm crawling out of a ripe tomato. Organic, obviously.”

READ ALSO: What you need to know about shopping at Italian food markets

Meanwhile, several people reported enjoying “eating an entire pizza by myself and it being considered normal,” and “wine every day with lunch and dinner.”

And many have swapped frothy coffees for black espresso and are now “taking multiple coffee breaks throughout the day, which is not considered lazy but essential.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte enjoys a coffee in the Chamber of Deputies. Photo: AFP

Pace of life

Many people move to Italy hoping for a change of pace and a better quality of life, and many of those commenting have found just that.

“I have a more relaxing and enjoyable life,” said one reader. “I live in more detail at reduced speed.”

Obviously lifestyles vary considerably depending on whether you're working or retired, and where you live – few people would describe central Rome or Naples as relaxing – but still, many reported a reordering of their priorities, positive changes to their daily routines, and more enjoyment of life in general.

Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Many readers told us they'd been partaking in “three-hour lunch breaks” featuring a riposo (the Italian version of a siesta).

We all know lunch is of paramount importance in Italy, and having a lie down afterwards is not just for weekends and holidays. While not every Italian does this (it's pretty much unheard of in Milan, for example) plenty of readers reported that it's normal where they live – and that they've enthusiastically embraced the concept themselves.

“I could never go back to the nine to five now. It doesn't seem like a natural way to live,” commented one, adding that their employer allows two hours for lunch.

READ ALSO: Cheese, wine and family: the Italian way to live beyond 100

And others reported that they now go for a regular passeggiata, turning the act of taking a simple stroll into an elevated art form.

Perhaps all that good food and napping has something to do with it, but “having more patience” was something a lot of people mentioned.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Others told us they're busy “drinking limoncello and enjoying life” and described “drinking more coffee, smoking, drinking more wine, dancing, playing music, and feeling better in general with what I have.”

Importantly, many said they were now “complaining less”.


The trend seemed to be for peoples' once-polished manners to deteriorate after moving to Italy.

“I now forget to say please and thank you when I'm at home in the UK, and I have responded to people speaking English with a “boh” which did not go down well,” said one reader.


And another said they now “point at people when talking to them – my mother would go crazy.”

Queuing has become a distant memory for some, who said they now barge right in along with the Italians, or “laugh at Brits in airports with their elbows out desperately trying to maintain their place in any queue.”

Many people also mentioned being baffled by “all the kissing.” If you find this Italian habit confusing, here's a guide to doing the Italian cheek kiss.

Bad habits

And of course no nation is perfect. Italians have their share of bad habits too, and many readers reported picking up some of these less admirable characteristics themselves.

While swearing or shouting more and starting smoking again after previously kicking the habit back home were popular themes, driving was unsurprisingly the one area where readers have seemingly picked up the worst Italian habits.

READ ALSO: Ten Italian driving habits you need to be aware of

One member said they were guilty of “driving like a lunatic”, and another admitted to “being an absolute asshole in traffic” – though many commenters empathised that this was the inevitable effect of driving on Italian roads.

And one reader confessed to  “not taking traffic lights too literally when I'm in a hurry on my scooter”, which might just be the most stereotypically Italian habit of all.

Thanks to everyone who commented – we had some great responses!

Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.