Traveling to Italy is exciting and for many a dream come true. Understanding the cultural differences like dealing with life on Italian time will make your trip less stressful and more entertaining. Don’t miss all of our Travel Tips HERE to help make your vacation run smoothly.
Time Concepts in Italy
A huge difference cultural difference between those of us in the States and Italians is the concept of time. We live in a culture where time is money and being time efficient is worshiped. Our time is rushed: between home to work, work to engagements, engagements to home, home to chores. Head on the pillow and then repeat. Can you count how often phrases like ‘I can never find the time’ or ‘where is the time going’ are heard? When is the last time you sat down and enjoyed a two hour meal without thinking of all the things you should be doing.
We are a stressed and rushed culture that is racing to Italy to relax. Ironically, many tourists find they can’t relax and are more stressed traveling. In fact, those people become irate and frustrated with nuisances that continually disrupt their trip schedule. The delays with the trains, all the chit chatting in lines, the shop keepers on sudden lunch breaks, restaurants that don’t open on time. One could go mad in Italy.
Unless one takes time to understand the Italian concept of time and learns to embrace this. Hopefully, this understanding will evolve into a personal lifestyle change that is eye opening. Time may mean money, but time is also precious and should be spent lingering over conversations or investing in relationships.
Being late is not a sign of poor character.
Being late is completely acceptable, being on time is American.
Nothing is predictable, except maybe being late.
Italians live in the moment and for the moment.
How to Cope with Italian Time
Breathe. All the time. Things somehow, always work out.
Eat gelato. Anytime my train is late or someone hasn’t shown up I go get a gelato. This immediately makes me happy and there are gelato shops everywhere.
Adapt. That slow chatting line at the market driving you crazy? When it’s turn, chat it up. You earned it. Enjoy the attention and the experience.
Have a plan B. Train strike? Find a bus or change your plans. Restaurant closed? Go follow your nose for a new secret spot.
Learn to SLOW DOWN. That is one of the greatest life lessons my travels to Italy have taught me.