Culture Potpourri

Some habits that make Italians seem rude

Every culture is a world of its own. Verbal communication and day to day way of life are the true expression of what the culture of a certain place is like.

However, some behaviors could be misunderstood and considered inappropriate, as we tend to view them through the lenses of our own culture. We should understand, though,  that things might be different in another place and that many times a particular habit we consider rude, may not be such for people with other cultural backgrounds.

When going to Italy, bear always in mind that you should be more flexible and broaden your cultural patterns, because some of our customs could be easily misinterpreted. Clearly, it is true that not every behavior which is considered unordinary for other cultures is normal in Italy, but yes, we do have some kinks and quirks which are simply part of our cultural ‘package’.

Here is a list of some things a lot of foreign people find unusual, but in fact are very frequent and widespread in Italy.

Queueing – or not queueing

That of not respecting the line is a bad and rude habit some Italians still have. Some believe to be playing it smart by trying to overtake a long line of people, but this cannot certainly be considered the right thing to do. In fact, this custom is frowned upon by tourists and Italians alike. Unfortunately, many people are still doing it, forking out the usual excuse: “Sorry, I am in a hurry”!

Queue in Florence. Ph. Chris Sampson on flickr

Courtesy: “Please”, per favore, “thank you”, grazie,  and “you’re welcome”, non c’è di che.

Unlikely other cultures, Italians are not the types of people who always say “please” , “thank you” or “you’re welcome”. This happens not because we are rude, but simply because we have different habits other countries. Italians obviously use these words and say them when it is necessary, but perhaps  not as often as other cultures do.

The “io voglio“, I want

If you hear an Italian saying “voglio”, I want, instead of using a polite expression when asking something, do not get surprised. Even if it may sound a bit arrogant, it actually is not. If we linguistically analyze this expression and translate it into English it seems quite rude to ask a person something with the “io voglio”, but culturally speaking it is not a pretentious way to do it for us Italians. For example, you will often come across people ordering food with the “I want”  expression, as it is not felt as wrong or rude to do so. However, some people replace it with a more polite “vorrei”, I would like.

Italians are a bit noisy

When we Italians speak, we often do it loudly, almost screaming, especially when coming from the South. In fact, if you go to a restaurant, you will often hear bursts of voices all around as we seem not to manage to keep our voices down, even in public!

Loud speaking, an Italian habit

Some people do not respect their turn while talking

Some people seem to find it normal to take over their interlocutors; whereas this may be acceptable while being with friends or with people with whom one is familiar, it may not be as easily digested in a different context. There is not a true explanation to this habit, but the well known flair we Italian have for expressing our own opinion, always and at all costs!

All these things have given Italians the wrongful fame of being quite rude and impolite, as well as having helped the idea that we are the most loutish of all Europeans. Whether true or not, just remind that accepting differences is the right key to visit and understand how life is like in another country.


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2 months ago

I agree with those who posted here how rude and money grabbing Italians are and agressive. I will never travel there again, I prefer the beautiful hotels of Portugal with hospitable hosts. Even Paris beats Italy for looking after it’s tourists. Dirty and corrupt.

8 months ago

Thanks for the opportunity to vent! I live in Italy half time and each time I’m here I miss so achingly the public politeness found in the US. My fiance is italian (and so is my dad), which is why I go back and forth, and I can speak reasonable italian, but I become exhausted dealing with the constant aggression by strangers on the street. Men, women, children, doesn’t matter. Unbearably rude. I’m blond with blue eyes and that does not help matters here. If they acted like this anywhere in the US they’d be turned into street pizza. It’s a national disgrace. Ciao!

9 months ago

In general, Italians are really rude, disrespectful, judgmental and combative– to the point that if they were in the US, England or Scotland, they would regularly get their asses kicked. They are especially disrespectful to foreign women, Asians, and black/brown foreigners. Whereas Germany has moved on from its nationalist fascist past, fascism and nationalism is still very popular in Italy.

9 months ago

I have lived in Italy for two years and while yes there are friendly Italians I find many to be gruff and sometimes rude.
Yes the food is good, but they are so anal about their food rules and the coffee rules that they will frown if you have the audacity to order a cappuccino after 11am. They will openly argue with you about why you would choose to order a cup of cappuccino.
But the biggest problem here is are the opening hours that people from western/northern Europe or north America might find infuriating – between the hours of 3 to 7pm the restaurants close. So if you’re really hungry at 6… you’re stuck waiting.
The pharmacies, barber shops and some stores close between midday and 3PM. So if you get a headache at 1PM you have to wait 2 hours before you can get some painkillers.
I could talk about their driving but I think the whole world knows the Italians cannot drive or abide by the rules of the road.
From my experience I’ve encountered much nicer people had had better experiences in Spain and Portugal and everywhere in France outside Paris. The Portuguese in particular are very friendly people!

1 year ago

My experience in Italy has been bittersweet. I have met people who are really rude even when you try to speak their language, they look at you with a disgusting face, and they like to complain and argue between them, sometimes for no reason. Personally, I don’t like when people fight and it’s even worse when it is in public since it makes me feel vulnerable.
On the other hand, I have met very nice people that appreciate your effort in speaking their language. They give you advice on what to do, visit and where to eat. Willing to help and listen politely. And they even show happiness that you choose their country as a vacation or work destination.
So, as in any other country, I guess you will find both kinds of people.
Food is delicious 😀 and they will proudly defend it over any other cuisine which sometimes can be annoying because they are not willing to taste food from other cultures.

1 year ago
Reply to  Inge Burbank

Dear Inge,
Italians might seem to be rude sometimes, but it’s not something that you would face on a trip too much! People in Bologna (and in Emilia Romagna usually) are lovely! I live close to Bologna since last year, and I faced nothing else just helpful, lovely, kind people. Also, here up north, that loudness isn’t really a thing either. You will be just fine, and you will love Bologna for sure!

Inge Burbank
1 year ago

My husband and I are planning a trip to Bologna in May 2022, and reading that Italians are loud and rude concerns me since I’m quite sensitive. Also, I wanted every day to be a pleasant experience. Will I be up against a lot of rudeness? Honestly, I expected Italians to be friendly and jovial.

Carlos Abarca
2 years ago

OK, I worked in a Cruiseline, I am from Mexico, used to smile and diabetes type sweetness, and although I find some italians rude, it is more like Russians, they are said to be so rude and dry, but is just the way they are, and say, Russians consider someone smiling with no reason to be crazy or dumb, give them a chance and they are the coolest guys ever, same with italians, they are dry and “Rude” because it is their normal behavior with people they don’t know and probably will see just once

Simple, not every culture smiles and has the same behavior as you

Jose Sans
2 years ago

Being from NYC, I found the rudeness just like back home in some places. Though keep in mind, the lower paid the worker, the more pissed off they seem.
Now, I also spent 10 years in Miami, a very tourist oriented city and the tourist workers get burnt out quick. There is only so much emotional labor they can give for what they are getting paid.
Anyhow, how I dismantle the Italian rudeness is with patience and a smartphone. Some start off like you are bugging them and don’t even look your way. Just ask the question in Italian, then show them the translation in Italian. Wait.. even if they ignore you. Ask again. CALMLY. Give them the power. Then 90% of the time they loosen up and become helpful.
Also, if you are dealing with service staff more than once. TIP them!! They will then be very helpful.

2 years ago

This kind of behaviour to tourists keep them away from first touristic destination cause Italy has a lot to give to tourists.i love Italy but hate Italians.

Sana K
2 years ago

Italians are so rude and arrogant to tourists. I feel sorry for people who go to Rome for their honeymoon expecting a romantic experience. The country is dirty, there is rubbish and graffiti everywhere and the people are so rude. I don’t know what they are getting so snobby and entitled about when their capital city is a dustbin. The Vatican has beggars all over the place and con artists. If I was an Italian I’d have some f* humility and hang my head in shame. They should be so lucky that tourists from clean and civilised country are willing to contribute to their economy.

2 years ago

People complaining here are so silly: all over the world you’ll find people snobby to tourists. I found snobby and rude people also in “civilized” countries like France (that is almost proverbial), Austria, Germany and the UK. The secret is understanding that when you’re a tourist, you have to interact with lots of people and necessarily some of them are rude. Just enjoy the positive sides of the country (and here, people complaining about graffiti are laughable: never seen graffiti in NY, London, Paris or Berlin?).

2 years ago

Ugh I agree with all the comments. I have been twice and I can’t stand Italians. So unhelpful and act entitled. Snobby to tourists

Al. Neri
2 years ago

I just came back from Milan, Italy yesterday 12/01/2019 & was there for 7 days. When I arrived in Milan from a connecting flight from San Francisco to London to Milan, I got a rude awakening from an Information Booth Clerk at the Linate Airport whom I asked for help because of my luggage being lost in transit to Italy. This Information Booth clerk was so rude to me that I finally told her she was rude & shouldn’t be working as an Information Desk Clerk. All I wanted to ask her where I could get help to find my luggage since there were no signs of flight names that arrived that day on the carousels area. It only has the numbered carousels from #1 to # 5 & no other signs of Airline Arrivals. This was around 8:00 pm evening arrival.
During the course of this trip to Milan, there were only 3 or 4 Milanese individuals that were polite when I asked for directions. Even coffee shop owners were just hostile when trying to order some coffee. I guess it’s their culture or something.

2 years ago

I have been living in Italy for one month now and the country sucks. Rude people, graffiti everywhere, dirty, smelly, corrupt tax system and just an awful country going to the dogs. I can’t wait to get back home in 5 weeks.

2 years ago

Italy is one of the best countries on the face of the globe! They have the very best food, deeply entrenched culture and tradition and gorgeous scenery/ ancient architecture.! So some of the locals are a little salty. Have you ever been to New York? Toughen up snowflakes! You’re a visitor in their world! Make a slight effort to speak basic phrases in Italian and respect their culture! Some of the most memorable encounters on my trip there was sparring with the locals.

2 years ago

We are in Italy now and can’t believe the unfriendly arrogant behaviour – quite disappointing and we will head off to Germany to spend our money instead. I was wondering if Brexit has been the cause and they think because we speak English we come from UK!!

2 years ago

I am visiting Italy now and I am having the same experience, rude people… I feel like I am visoting uncivilized country, the Italians don’t even respect each other, in my way to amalfi our bus driver stopped in the middle of the street and started arguing and swearing at another driver the argument went on for 6 min, it was shocking . .my last time visiting this country, never again.

2 years ago

I feel the same.. I traveled around Italy for 20 days (September 2019), it was the most unpleasant experience with native I have had. Especially in Rome. I don’t intend to visit Italy again.

2 years ago

I’m in Italy now and it’s only been a sour experience. Lots of rudeness and people staring and their expressions are awful. I definitely look like a tourist. Blonde hair and a fanny pack. I’m not sure if I’m doing anything wrong but I just want to hide in my hotel until I leave this town. I hope it’s just this town full of weirdos and not just how Italians are. Every experience I have with these people is uncomfortable and unpleasant.

Lao Zhang
3 years ago

Hahaha, I thought you were describing us Chinese, they are so alike. Let us shake hands and (keep the kiss till later).