Italian Customs and way of life differs to other Western Cultures in many ways.
Their hours of business for shops are usually from 9.30 ? 13.30, after which most shops shut for siesta time then reopen from 16.30- 19.30.
However many large companies have their set work hours 8.30 ? 16.30 with lunch provided for the workers from 13.00 ? 14.00.
Most commercial offices and services also close for the siesta e.g. banks, post offices and museums and churches.
So when travelling, make allowances for the fact that if you arrive at a town at lunch time, 13.30, the only things that will be open. will be the restaurants.
La Passeggiata ( the stroll) normally commences around 18.00 for those who do not work shop hours
and the aim of La Passeggiata is to see and be seen, especially in your latest gear before having dinner. This is most popular on a Sunday afternoon.
La bella figura is to be shown off. This is the time for socializing and catching up with your friends and all the young ones (giovani) are cruising on their bikes, stopping at bars for a caf? or generally slouching on their parked bikes or poised like young models against walls on the footpath.
The aim is to check out the passers- by and to eye off and eyeball the opposite sex!! Make sure you take off your sunglasses so this is possible!!!
Eating and Drinking
Italians are not big breakfast eaters. They usually have a cappuccino and a croissant or bun for breakfast and they have this standing up at the bar counter. It is usually the tourists who are seated paying double price for the coffee.
Cappuccino is a breakfast drink only as Italians usually have the short expresso through the day. Coffee making is an art in Italy, especially in the south. Napoli could be said to be the home of the great caf?, where everyone has their favourite bar and the barista makes it with his own particular flair and if you return often, he will remember how many sugars you take and maybe even after a year if he particularly warms to you.
The large meal of the day is saved for lunch because lunch is followed by the civilised siesta and then after, walk off your meal with a passeggiata.!!
Italians do not eat lunch before 13.30 so if you arrive at a restaurant before this, the waiters might not be ready, the same at night, Italians eat usually at 21.00 in the evening so if you are hungry at 6.00, you might like to have a quick snack otherwise you will only be accompanied by other tourists in the restaurants.
After Dinner (Dopo Cena)
Italians do not sit around at restaurants and drink the rest of the bottle like other cultures. They also usually have their children with them as babysitting is also not in their culture. Everything is a family affair.
Drinking without eating is frowned upon and seen as senseless to the Italians. Wine is to accompany food not to make one drunk, and maybe a small digestivo is taken after a meal.
If the restaurant puts a bottle of Lemoncello (lemon liqueur)or Amaro (red almond liqueur) on your table, one is meant to only have a thimble full, not the whole bottle.
If you do attempt to drink the whole bottle, you will be very sick as it is pure alcohol.!!! Sicily and the Amalfi coast are famous for their Lemoncello.
In the north, Turin, Venice, Milano, there are many different types of grappa on offer, particularly in winter, these can also be put in your coffee to warm the cockles of your soul when there is snow outside.!!
Once the meal is over, In summer, it is time to do another passeggiata perhaps to find a buon gelato (icecream).
In all the large cities, the streets are still pulsating at midnight.. The summer is too exciting and hot to be wasted on sleep, so do not attempt to go to bed early as the beeping and the shouting below your windows, will only wake you up!!
There is nothing worse than trying to sleep on a hot steamy night when everyone else is outside having fun.
Especially do not try to sleep in Napoli on New Year?s Eve, the firecrackers, the rockets and the car beeping go all night!!
How to Communicate in Italy