There are many delicious treats like gelato, mouth-watering pastries, and decadent chocolates. Much like the philosophy on drinking, Italian culture has a “Perché no?” take on treats. “Perché no?” translates to “why not?” The idea is to treat yourself by having a little bit of something tasty (because, why not?) but not having so much that you’re gorging yourself.
Italians love their vino (wine)...but they don’t overdo it. In Italy, a bottle of wine is shared among friends or around the dinner table. Keep it classy and don’t fill the glass to the edge.
There’s really no such thing as Italian fast food. Sure, you’ll find a McDonald’s here and there, but in Italy the concept of eating is not “fast.” Italy is all about “slow food.” Dinners are unhurried and eaten around a table (not a TV or computer screen) with one’s family. In Italy, food is natural, authentic, and sourced locally.
Life is less hurried in Italy. People don’t rush around with to-go cups of coffee, but rather sip their espresso at the “bar”. Meals tend to be longer, whether they are at restaurants or at home. Many Italians take a Siesta of sorts, from 12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m., to eat lunch and relax. This is called Riposo.
Families in Italy tend to stay in the same area, rather than move around. Grandparents often care for grand-children, siblings remain close, and extended families are huge and welcoming. Having family nearby is deeply valued in Italy. Having nonna (grandma), aunts, uncles and cousins drop by for dinner during the week or having a weekly extended family meal every Sunday is common and brings everyone together.
Bella figura literally translates to “beautiful figure” but it’s more idiomatic than that. The idea of maintaining a bella figura is more like the idea of maintaining a good public image. Bella figura is more than just looking good, it’s a way of life that emphasizes aesthetics and good behavior.
Allora (so, then, well) is one of those filler words that’s highly useful when thinking of what to say in Italian. Used by itself, it can express impatience: Allora! (Come on!, Hey!) Allora comes from the Latin “ad illa horam” (at that time) and means precisely that, when talking about the past. Allora means “then” in several senses of the word (well/so, at that time, in that case).