After living in Itlay for almost 7 months, I have made some observations about the differences in our cultures. Before arriving in Italy I had assumed some things that are not necessarily true.
I used to think that the culture would be very traditional especially in the roles of men and women. This is something that I have come to realize is not true! In my opinion Italian men are the epitomy of what would be considered "metro-sexual" in the States. Appearance is very important to them. They seem to be very weight conscience (as do all Italians). Their clothing looks very feminine (tight pants, tight shirts, fur-clad clothing etc....). The idea of chivalery seems to be nonexistant as well. For example, my friends and I were drinking coffee at a cafe and a bum/gypsy came up to us begging for money. The tactics used here are sometimes more aggressive (with words only) and we were obviously annoyed. He kept screaming to us about "nunca Dio" (we don't have a God...) etc...He also went to another table filled with Italian women and did the same thing. He didn't go to the table with the man that was sitting right beside us. In America the man would have definately stepped in and would have told him to leave us alone. But not here. The man felt no instinct to help us or to step in at all. (Eventually he went away on his own).
After speaking with many Italian women, the differences between American men and Italian men are definately evident. Most Italian men are very much "momma's boys" most live at home until their 30's and even 40's! This is also true for most Italian women. The ambition to leave their "hometown" is usually nonexistant and the American ideal of "ambition" doesn't seem to exist. It is odd that in the country where the fantasy of romance, poetry and chivalry seem to fill our American minds that at this day and age is simply not true. I have come to realize why this sterotype seems to stay in our minds while looking at it from the naked eye. One simple reason is that they live at home until they are 40!!!!! They do not have a choice but to have extreme PDA in public. So as Americans, we see a couple making out on a blanket in the park and we think "Wow! How romantic! They must really be in love... They can't keep their hands off eachother... etc...." The real reason is that they are 30 years old, live with their momma, and don't have anywhere else to "court" their girlfriend(s). (This blog is seeming to become a little harsh... It is clear that I have spoken to several disgruntled Italian women).
Another difference that is evident is the idea of confrontation. Italians are not afraid of confrontation. I actually think that they enjoy it. In America we are afraid of it. I think that the reason for this is that it is relatively "safe" to have a screaming match in Italy. (It is illegal to punch someone with a fist.... only open faced palms can legally be used in a fight). In America (especially in certain area's) you could be frightened for your life if you were to enter into such wild confrontations! In Itlay, verbal fighting seems to be accepted and in some cases expected.
The idea of order and rule following is something that differs as well. Rules in Italy seem to be only suggestions. (especially when it comes to driving). For example, when they came out with a machine that would catch your license plate while you are speeding on the autostrada the same week that this technology was released everyone already had discovered how to get out of it! (spraying hairspray on the plate would make it unreadable).
I have noticed many more interesting differences between America and Italy and I will write more blog entries on this topic soon! Caio!!!