How Italians See Themselves and How Italians are Seen Abroad

Stereotypes are rife when it comes to any nationality, but as with other nationalities, when it comes to Italians it’s impossible to paint everyone with the same brush. For an example, when an American woman asks a question like, “Should I marry and Italian guy”” it’s really impossible to answer. Obviously, every Italian man is different, although there are certain trends that hold true with many Italians.

While people from the outside may have certain stereotypes for any particular culture those inside it also view themselves in a particular way. The purpose of this article is to examine some of the common ways that Italians see themselves and how others see Italians, so we can learn where these views are similar and where they differ. The Italian Perspective Italians Italian people generally think that foreign cultures believe that Italians are very friendly, kind, extroverted and that they always smile. Many Italians fear being associated with only two clich”s: food and mafia.

The Italian view
As far as the country is concerned, the majority of Italians think that Italy is considered an amazing country thanks to the variety of the landscape and its historical and artistic treasures.

The most common themes dealt with when talking about Italians are certainly football, food, women, men, the language and the country itself.

The Foreign Perspective
On the whole, foreign people see Italians as kind, friendly and hospitable. Some people think that there is a sharp contrast between Southern and Northern people, with the former being the more helpful, outgoing and kind. Some negatives include arrogance, presumption (because Italians think that Italy is the most beautiful country even if they always criticize it) and self-confidence.



Italian perspective

Foreign perspective


Most Italians tend to think that football (calcio or soccer) is the most important sport in the world and that it is the most beloved by men. Foreign people think that Italians are football mad, but they think that Italian soccer is a high quality soccer and agree that it is famous worldwide. In the soccer world Italians are known for their defensive-minded play.


When talking about “traditional” food Italians think about pasta and pizza, and have some problems when they go abroad because they do not like Italian food the way it is cooked outside Italy and at the same time they are not as open minded about tasting food that is not Italian When talking about Italian food, foreign people mainly think about pasta and pizza.


Most Italian women think maintaining a slim figure, following fashion and the latest trends are very important. Now that the old image of the fat Italian family is slowly fading a lot of foreign people think that Italian women are very attractive and sensual.


For Italian man going after women is considered almost a duty. There isn’t a standardized image of the handsome Italian man, however, Raoul Bova is considered one of the most representative Italian sex symbols. Men are usually seen as playboys and Don Giovanni-esque philanderers and sweet talkers. Some think that Italian men are too far interested in their looks and appearances. Moreover, a lot of women think that Italian men are quite jealous. Also Italian men are often defined as “mammoni” due to the fact they live with mamma until a very advanced age, and are often spoiled. The reality, however, is that many adult children live with their parents in Italy for economic reasons as well as it is nearly impossible to find an apartment to rent in a major city for an average starting salary.

Fashion &


Fashion is a great pride for Italians because they think Italian fashion is really successful abroad and when people think about fashion they associate it with Italy (Valentino, Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, etc.) Plus, Italians are not just known for their fashion but also their personal style. Many Italian spend a great percentage of their income just to keep on trend and in style. Italian fashion is considered refined, sophisticated and expensive. Many Italians are seen as having an impressive personal style that always looks put together.


Italians think that their country offers a lot of natural beauty due, above all, to the different landscapes in each region. In Italy you can find everything from mountains to beaches and some of the most beautiful in the world at that. As far as the country is concerned, foreign people think that Italy is very beautiful and the most mentioned towns are Rome, Florence, Venice and Naples. Like Italians, they think that Italy offers a rich variety of landscapes but Tuscany is largely considered one of the most beautiful regions of the country.



The Italian language is seen as musical and pleasant to hear. The Italian language is seen as musical and romantic, but many people say that it is difficult to learn.

This is an overview of the opinion of Italians from a national and an international perspective, however, this content was obviously taken from general surveys and is no way the definitive answer on the subject. Everyone has their own beliefs and experiences, which may either support or reject what you’ve read here. And it’s important to remember that people are individuals and while a culture may have certain beliefs and traditions it’s always important to get to know the people inside it for who they are.