In my experience, every Italian I know has tried to demonstrate that Italian stereotypes could be very tricky.

What is an Italian Stereotype?

A Stereotype is a simplified and persistent subjective characteristic applied to a place, an object, an event or to a recognizable group of people who share certain characteristics or qualities. It is derived from the greek word “stereos” (hard, solid, rigid) and “typos” (imprint, image, group), hence it means “rigid image”. A stereotype can have a negative meaning and, in this case, sometimes reflects the opinion of one social group about other groups. Clearly, stereotypes rise from some kind of truth: a cultural feature, an historical fact or a habit. Nevertheless, the “actual fact” is then distorted by people who often are just full of hot air. Eventually, they apply this idea to a large group of people. In addition, stereotypes don’t take into account the continuous evolution of things.

Who has not dealt with a stereotype at least once?

Personally, both as Neapolitan in the North of Italy and as Italian abroad it has always been the routine. Unfortunately, I have often found myself trying to reassure people I am not related to the Mafia. Orthat I don’t usually shout at people. Unless you try to bite my dessert, that’s another story!

As the Italian writer Silvia Zoncheddu once said, “the stereotype deceives the mind and distorts the spirit”. In fact, the stereotipo (Italian word for stereotype) is nothing but a wrong over-generalized idea.

With this in mind, I decided to shed some light on the 15 most common Italian stereotypes. Hopefully, it would be of some help. So, let’s start!

1. Italians are obsessed with food

Italian stereotypes

This is one of the Italian stereotypes that I cannot deny. Food is everything, our lives revolve around it. For instance, take my mom: her first question in the morning is “what do you want to eat today?”.

Probably, you’re thinking that it is a normal question. But, is it normal that during lunch she asks what do we want to eat for dinner? And also, is it normal that during dinner she asks what do we want to eat the next day? But, besides my family’s weirdnesses, food truly plays a crucial role in Italians’ lives. In fact, every celebration, birthday and kind of occasion ends up in “what should we prepare to eat?”.

However, could you blame us? In my opinion, preparing food is an act of love, for both yourselves and others. Nonetheless, not every Italian is a remarkable cook.

2. Italians eat pasta and pizza everyday

Let me destroy this myth: we don’t eat pizza everyday, even if I’d wish to. Similarly, we don’t eat only pasta. In general, it’s our favourite dish and it’s delicious (especially the fresh made). But we have a wide range of options at our disposal, so this is surely an Italian stereotypes.

By the way, if you want to learn more Italian words and expressions related to food, here there are useful books for you:

3. Italians communicate with hands

Totally and undeniably true! Probably, this is one of the few correct Italian stereotypes. Indeed, no matter how hard we try, we can’t help but use our hands while chatting. In fact, we are capable of communicating without using any words. In this case, all we need is hands and facial mimic.

But don’t you think it’s easy! After all, gestures could mean various things according to their speed, direction or facial expression.

4. Italians are lazy and always late

Italian stereotypes

Absolutely not! The fact that we live in a fairytale land doesn’t imply that we spend our days doing nothing. On the contrary, we work very hard and when it’s possible, we love enjoying the wonders that surround us.

Also, Italians are not always late! Of course, it depends especially on how you’ve been taught. For instance, my parents taught me that punctuality is a form of respect. Therefore, I hate when people are late, even if only 5 minutes. In the same way, I can’t stand when people are too early. Like my boyfriend when picks me up. If we arrange 8 PM, you can’t show up at 7:30 PM and complain that I am late. I am not late, you’re too early.

However, sorry for this personal outlet. Let’s proceed with the Italian stereotypes.

5. All Italians are mafiosi

Not at all! But unfortunately, one of the first things associated with Italians is the Mafia.

And let’s be honest, the media don’t help us. In fact, since TV series like “Gomorrah” have become worldwide phenomena, the parallel Italy-Mafia has become more rooted. Undoubtedly, it is crucial to talk about it in order to understand it and fight it back. Nevertheless, the downside is that the association “Italian-mafioso” (a person related to the Mafia) becomes too easy. And nothing could be more wrong.

Historically, we all know that the Mafia was born in the South of Italy as an alternative to the absence of the government.

But eventually, from that area it spread all over the world. Thus, nowadays there is no place on Earth that the Mafia didn’t reach. And no one is proud of it.

6. Italians can’t live without coffee

Italian stereotypes

Yes, yes and yes…a billion times yes! This is not one of Italian stereotypes, this is a sacred truth! Coffee is indispensablefor every Italian, except for a tiny niche of people. And, off the record, I think the intelligence service should investigate to find out what lies beneath this strange behavior.

Truly, coffee is pure magic: in the morning its scent in the house is the sweetest “good morning” of all. Really, coffee can change your day and the way of seeing things. Additionally, its preparation with the traditional moka is an important ritual. Here in Italy, knowing how to use it represents a fundamental step in everyone’s growth .

Another key point, coffee is the base of Italians’ social life. In fact, usually coffee is an excuse to chat for hours with friends or to ask someone out. Even, you can casually meet someone after a long time and have a coffee to update on your lives.

7. Italians are “mammoni

This Italian stereotype affects mainly male Italians and, for once, let me defend them. Naturally, we know that in Italy family bonds are very tight. And we also know that young people leave their home later than in other places.

However, this situation doesn’t make Italians mammoni, namelypeople that don’t want to leave their mother or family. Indeed, usually it is due to the lack of a job, which prevents them from living on their own.

As a young Italian, I can assure you that we want to have our independence as all young folks do.

8. All Italians are Soccer fanatics

Italian stereotypes

Unfortunately, I must admit that the majority of Italians are soccer fanatics. Also, there is a great percentage of women that love football too. 

To be clear, I have nothing against football, but I can’t stand the craziness of fanatics. In fact, every match seems to be an excuse to let prejudice and hate explode. Really, I can’t understand how what should be a joyful moment can bring out the worst of us.

Luckly, not everyone is such a fool!

9. All Italians are Latin lovers

Are all Italians latin lovers? If I should answer on the basis of my experience it would be a decisive no! Like in every Country, there are shy men and womanizers. Naturally, it depends on a person’s character. Here, men know a lot of ways to say “Ciao bella!” (Hello beautiful!). And it could be extremely annoying. Nonetheless, I have encountered very few Casanovas in my life.

Still, I think that the reasons for this Italian stereotype lie in the cinematographic industry. Indeed, lots of films in the past depicted Italians men as Don Giovanni (latin lovers).

10. All Italians have a Vespa

Italian stereotypes

This Italian stereotype could have been true in the past, but not today. Personally, I find very romantic the idea of associating Italians with images of the movie Roman Holidays. However, those times ended so long ago.

Nowadays, far less people have a Vespa Piaggio in their garage and the majority is in the South of Italy.

11. Italians are fashion-addicted

That’s another “yes and no” answer to this Italian stereotype. Of course, Italy is the land of so many worldwide known stylists. For example, Armani, Versace and Dolce and Gabbana. However, not everyone can afford their products. Plus, it is very rare to see someone in a Gucci jumpsuit buying cucumbers at the supermarket.

Nevertheless, I think that the majority of Italian people have an innate taste in choosing the outfit. In general, we like to be well dressed on every occasion.

12. Italians drive like crazy

I cannot but confirm this Italian stereotype. Indeed, in big cities trying to cross the road often requires skills like supersonic speed and sharp reflexes.

Seriously, Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible” is nothing compared to us. But don’t worry, we do have traffic lights to help you!

13. Italians are effusive people

Italian stereotypes

I am quite proud of this Italian Stereotype. Even if I have to confess that it suits Southern Italians more than the Northerns.

Nonetheless, a great part of Italians are friendly and effusive. Additionally, physical contact is important to us. In fact, when we meet someone we don’t just shake our hands, but we also kiss on both cheeks. Unfortunately, not always we understand that people from other cultural backgrounds may consider this habit inappropriate.

If you are one of them, sorry for that! But believe me, it was done with the best of intentions.

14. Italians can’t speak English

This is another Italian stereotype that was truer in the past. Of course, there are still lots of people who don’t have a proper command of English. Yet, lots of things have changed.

Nowadays, English is taught since primary school and is taken far more seriously. And it couldn’t be any different as tourism is vital for our economy and the world of work requires it. Honestly, you will hardly find someone who can discuss fluently in English about nuclear power. But now, the majority of Italians can help you out during your vacations.

Plus, this Italian stereotype could be an excuse to learn Italian. It’s such a beautiful language.

15. Italians are loud

Italian stereotypes

Yes and no. I don’t totally agree with this Italian stereotype. Personally, I hate when people are loud, as I love calm and peace. Still, I have to admit that not all my fellow citizens are quiet.

Of course, it depends on one’s education, character and context. As a matter of fact, extroverted people are loud as they share their thoughts and feelings lively. However, you won’t find people in a grocery shouting “I’ll take two kilos of potatoes!”. We’re able to talk in a normal way, just like you.

On the other hand, in the appropriate context Italians could be loud. For instance, Italians are likely to be the life of a party…especially after a couple of Aperol Spritz.


So, we saw how these Italian stereotypes (and stereotypes in general) could be very deceptive.

As shown above, stereotypes are social categorizations that simplify reality to the extreme, not considering its complexity. Particularly, they rise from the distrust of the “other” and the inability of perceiving the endless shades of our lives. However, we can make a change and fight stereotypes. For instance, we can do that by traveling and being opened to diversity.

So, what are you waiting for? Plan your travel to Italy and help me show the inaccuracy of the Italian stereotypes.

And if you want a guide in order to visit Italy, try out one of these books!

By: Maria Rosaria Savarese

Deeply in love with her hometown Vico Equense, near Sorrento, Maria Rosaria enjoys sharing her passion for her land and its culture.