International Studies Abroad ®est. 1987


Culture Corner

Italian Culture

The Italian Pace
In Italy, patience is truly a virtue. Take a restaurant, for instance. Italian servers may seem to be ignoring you, but in reality, they just like to give customers time and space to talk and socialize. The slower pace and long waits also apply to many public offices and events. Italians do not like to stress over things, but rather tend to relax and enjoy life to the fullest with a slower pace. And since you are a foreigner in Italy, try to make an effort to adapt to this culture.

One of the most fundamental rules of Italian culture is moderation. At first glance, Italians might seem to drink a lot, but upon a closer look, quite the opposite is true. They do drink - spumante to celebrate, limoncello to digest, aperitivo to taste and vino to mix with food - but with moderation, not in order to get drunk. In fact, the quickest way to lose the respect of your Italian friends and neighbors is to get drunk in public. Drinking on the streets is also considered very disrespectful.

Family has a very important role in Italy and life evolves around family. The majority of young adults move out of the family homes very late (in their thirties), partly because of unbearably high living expenses, and partly due to strong sentimental attachments to the family. Dating rituals are complex and very different from the U.S. Since the majority of Italian young adults live with their parents, the occasions to invite boyfriends or girlfriends to their house are also rare. Living together before marriage is slowly gaining popularity.

Monuments & Must-Sees

  • The Pantheon - ancient Roman temple built in 126 AD
  • The church of Santa Maria del Popolo which holds two famous Caravaggio paintings
  • The street vendors in Piazza Navona
  • Daily markets in Campo dei Fiori
  • The Vatican City and Vatican Museums
  • The Colosseum and Roman Forum
  • Drop a coin in the Trevi Fountain
  • People watch on the Spanish Steps

Cultural Activity Suggestions

Rome has endless activities for international visitors to enjoy. Listed below are some different cultural activities to do while in Rome . You can do many of these activities on your own, with friends, or they may be sponsored by ISA. Upon arrival to Rome, different sponsored cultural activities will be announced throughout your program abroad.

Roman Forum
Explore the Roman Forum and imagine the streets as they were in the days of the Roman empire. Tour the surrounding the Palatine Hill, Circus Maximus, and the Coliseum.

Museums & Art Galleries
Tour the famous Borghese Art Gallery and the Vatican museum. Walk through the Piazza Navona area, in the heart of historic Rome, and marvel in its baroque history

Porta Portese Market
The biggest and the most popular market of Rome where you can find lots of new and used clothing.

AUR Sports clubs
The AUR facilitates numerous sports teams and clubs for degree seeking and study abroad students. Students can participate in sports such as basketball, volleyball, softball/baseball, soccer (men and women's), running, yoga and even American football! Teams and clubs meet regularly play against local Italian universities and club teams, giving students a great opportunity to interact with locals.

Cultural Immersion

Language Exchanges
Students will be given the opportunity to meet local students wishing to share their knowledge of Italian and learn English in exchange. This activity, based on student interest, is a great way to get to know other students of Rome, and share your culture and language with others while learning more about your surroundings and Italian culture!

The AUR offers volunteer opportunities with their Student Life department which all interested study abroad students are encouraged to participate. Students can work with MADAction, a project for the study and protection of the extraordinary Maromizaha rainforest, or through Caritas, which provides food and shelter to those in need.

ISA Student Blog:
Stay connected while you're abroad and share your experience with your peers back home! Each summer and semester the ISA Student Blog features ISA students as bloggers, photo bloggers and video bloggers who document their time abroad to share with their friends, family, prospective students and more. If sharing your study abroad experience through blog posts, photos, videos and other media while receiving professional guidance and feedback appeals to you, consider applying to be an ISA Featured Blogger, Photo Blogger or Video Blogger. The Site Specialist for your program will email all accepted students to notify you when ISA is accepting applications for the ISA Featured Blogger programs.

AUR Blogs:
Read more about the various departments at the AUR on the Departamental Blog Page.

Cultural Blogs:
We also suggest you check out the plethora of other cultural blogs available on the web to learn more about others' experiences in Rome, cultural happenings, and expat lives.

Language Resources

Helpful Phrases

Parla Inglese? Do you speak English?
Non parlo Italiano. I don't speak Italian
Non capisco. I don't understand
Permesso. Excuse me. (Used when you want to cut through a crowd.)
Prego. The response to 'permesso'
Vada via! Go away! (Used when people are bothering you)
Aiuto! Help! (If Vada via! Is not effective.)
Come sta? How are you?
Buon giorno. Good morning/afternoon
Buona sera. Good evening. (In Florence, 'buona sera' is used after 1 p.m.)
Arrivederci. Goodbye

On-line Dictionary Resource

Verb Conjugation
We suggest you look up some helpful websites dedicated to verb conjugations in Italian.

Beware of translation websites...much can be LOST in translation!