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An American Living in Italy:
Getting Things Done in Italy

 

    The differences between American culture and Italian culture are as interesting as they are numerous.  One of the most striking differences can be seen everyday when you need to get things done.

     In Italy, before you do business with someone, you should be introduced.  Preferably, the person introducing you is a family member of the person to whom you are being introduced.  Being introduced by a family member is the best way to go.  However, If you are not introduced by a family member the next best choice would be having a close friend of the person introduce you to them. 

     For example:  For the first four months after my arrival here in Italy I would get pizza at a shop that was near to my house.  I was paying about 6 Euro for each pizza.  When my Italian father (my next door neighbor has kinda adopted me) found out that I was getting pizza at a shop around the corner he was upset.  I would even say that he was hurt because I had not consulted him about this important issue.

 

     With a tone of dismay in his voice he asked "Why didn't you ask me where to go for pizza?"

     Then, with determination, he told me "Tonight you will come with me and we will get some good pizza.  I know a man who..."

     I did go with him later that night.  We drove ten minutes out of the way passing, perhaps, 10 pizza places on our way.  We arrived at a small place that was hidden in the labyrinth of small secondary streets.  (In Italy "secondary streets" and "alleys that are barely wide enough to get your car through" can be used interchangeably.)

 

    I was then introduced to Paolo, the maker of the best pizza I have found in Naples.  The price?  3 Euro per pizza --exactly half of what I was paying.  I can now get pizza for a family of four for around 12 Euro (appx. $16.00 US)  I sure am glad that I know someone.

    Since then I have been sure to ask before I buy anything.  Nine out of ten times I have been introduced someone close to, or in, my neighbors family.   This has saved me much time and money.  Of course it is a little less convenient than I would like, however, I feel better doing business with people who I know.

   This is just one manifestation of the strong, interdependent Italian family structure whose roots can be traced back to ancient times. (more about the family in another article)

     In a nutshell; in America independence is emphasized and independence is required for success, while in Italy, to be successful one must be able to depend on family and friends.

 

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