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  • Comparing and Contrasting the United States and Italy
    Discover some of the more drastic differences between our two worlds
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    As an American of Italian descent, who married a native Italian, I'm well aware of the profound differences between the United States and Italy. Sometimes, they are so different that I can hardly believe Americans and Italians come from the same planet. Yet, they are both my people. Here's what I know about the most dramatic differences between the United States and Italy:

    American Patriotism
    Americans wave flags, sing "God Bless America," and shoot off fireworks, especially during Fourth of July celebrations but even at other times of the year.

    Italian Patriotism
    Italians show love of country pretty much only when the Italian national soccer team is playing – and only if the team is playing well. On those occasions, the people wear blue (the team's color, not the red, white, and green of the Italian flag). Everyone pokes fun at the fact that even the players don't know the words of the national anthem. So, before every game, the entire country hums rather than sings. On any other day, Italians don't think of themselves as Italians. They prefer to be Napoletani, Calabresi, Siciliani, Milanesi, etc. To show love of region, they speak it in their dialect, wear it in their style, eat it in their specialty meals, and flaunt it in both demeanor and customs.

    American Lunch
    Workaholics, Americans rarely take their full hour for lunch. They prefer to eat desk side. God bless America, God bless the drive through.

    Italian Lunch
    The opposite of workaholics, most Italians believe in long lunches, where people eat numerous courses and laugh and eat some more. And then take a nap afterward. (In the south, most still have a siesta built into their work schedule.) I think we Americans have forgotten what a nap is.

    American Television
    Everyone is familiar with America's beloved sitcoms and wild reality programs. (Hello, even the Italians spent quality time with the Jersey Shore cast.)

    Italian Television
    Although Italians have their share of "reality" (Grande Fratello and L'Isola dei Famosi come to mind), they still indulge in variety shows – yes, a la Sonny and Cher or Donnie and Marie – and many a game show. No matter what the show, as long as there are half naked girls prancing around, then it's a surefire hit.

    American Sex Scandals
    Here in the New World, when a politician gets caught doing the deed with someone other than his wife, he goes through a typical cycle that takes him from denial to confession to shame to apologizing to stepping down from his job and casting off any future greatness. Just ask Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner.

    Italian Sex Scandals
    Here in the Old World, when a politician gets caught in a sex scandal, he earns a round of applause. Even if he allegedly breaks the law by hosting orgies replete with underage prostitutes, no one seems to mind…at all. Just ask Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

    Di Meglio is the Guide to Newlyweds for About.com. You can follow her life and work at the Two Worlds Web site.


    Article Published 7/5/2011

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