I have officially been in Rome for almost seven weeks now and while Rome has started to feel like a second home, I have also discovered several cultural differences here in Italy compared to the United States.
Food was one of the first differences one notices when they get to Rome. Not only the type of food that is eaten, but when and how food is consumed is different. Rome has not disappointed me with the type of food it has with pizza, pasta, and gelato shops on every corner of every street that all taste amazing. Along with restaurants and shops lining the streets are seating areas. I have found it is so much more common to eat outside in Italy than it is in the United States. I would say that I have seen less than ten restaurants without a large outdoor seating area. Meals in themselves are a little different here as well. Italians typically have a lighter breakfast that consists of something along the lines of a cappuccino and a croissant sometime between 8:00-10:00am.
Lunch is had sometime between 12:30-2:30 and usually consists of pasta, a sandwich, or pizza.
Before dinner there is something called ‘Aperitivo’ which can most easily be compared to happy hour in America. Aperitivo occurs sometime between 5:00-7:00pm where small plates like appetizers are brought out when one orders a drink.
That leaves dinner being eaten sometime between 8:00-10:00pm. For dinner, it is typical to start off with a bowl of pasta and then order meat as a second course followed by dessert and an espresso.
Here in Italy, we are required to separate our garbage in four different categories: paper, glass, organic, and plastic. We separate our garbage into separate bins in our apartment, then take the individual bags down to the street and place them into the appropriate containers. Italians take recycling properly seriously and you can get fined if you don’t follow all the rules. It might take a little bit more work on my end to make sure the garbage is properly taken care of, but it helps the environment in extreme ways.
One of the things I noticed after just a few days of being here is the slower pace of life in Italy. Italians take their time walking on the street, shopping, eating meals, and everything in between. It can be a little annoying when I’m running late to class and want to walk with a purpose, but for the most part, I have enjoyed slowing life down a little bit.
While these differences have taken a little bit of time to get used to, they make Rome unique and the city I have learned to love!