Moving to Italy
Situated in southern Europe, Italy is a country that really does have it all: It’s famous worldwide for its delicious cuisine, its trendy fashion industry, luxury sports cars and motorcycles, diverse regional cultures and dialects, as well as for its beautiful coast, alpine lakes and mountain ranges (the Alps and Apennines).
No wonder this country is often nicknamed the Bel Paese (the Beautiful Country). Italy boasts the most number of UNESCO sites in the world and effortlessly intermingling history, art and la dolce vita (the good life).
- Currency: 1 Euro = 100 cents
- Currency Coins: €01, €0.02, €0.05, €0.10, €0.20, €0.50, €1, €2
- Currency Notes: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500
Given its long boot-like shape and varied geography, the weather in Italy varies considerably from north to south. The inland northern areas of Italy have a relatively cool, mid-latitude version of the Humid subtropical climate, while the coastal areas of Liguria and the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean climate profile.
Between the north and south there can be a considerable difference in temperature, above all during the winter: in some winter days it can be −2 °C (28 °F) and snowing in Milan, while it is 8 °C (46.4 °F) in Rome and 20 °C (68 °F) in Palermo. Temperature differences are less extreme in the summer.
Languages and Culture
Italian is the official language. As a language, Italian is considered to be one of the most similar to Latin in terms of its vocabulary; however, dialects differ between regions. German is spoken in the South Tyrol region (bordering Austria). French is spoken in all the border areas from the Riviera to the area north of Milan (border with France and Switzerland).
Recommended Language School
- Cactus Language (54 locations countrywide) – http://www.cactuslanguage.com/
Appearances matter in Italy, the way you dress can indicate your social status, your family’s background, and your education level. The concept of ‘bella figura’ or ‘good image’ is important to Italians who will unconsciously assess another person’s age and social standing in the first few seconds of meeting them, often before any words are exchanged.
Italians are also more formal in addressing new acquaintances and colleagues. Someone using an informal greeting like “ciao” to someone they have just met will be interpreted as rudeness rather than friendliness. When being introduced to an Italian, a person would say “buongiorno” (good day) and shake hands. Ciao is reserved for use among friends.
Many shops are closed between 1pm and 3.30 pm throughout Italy to make allowances for siestas. When shopping for clothes, many stores will not allow a person to try on shirts and blouses, and returning or exchanging an item, even if it is flawed, is not often done.
For more information:
Recommended Culture Awareness Courses