Some people confuse Spanish and Italian because the two languages sound more or less the same to them. However, there are important cultural differences between the two languages, in addition to the linguistic ones. Let's see what they are.
1. The role of women in the family
The Italian mamma (mother) is the backbone of Italian families and the one who holds everyone together. She is usually the one who rules the house, manages the finances, and brings order to the household. For this reason, she is a highly respected figure in society.
This family bonding means that, for example, children take longer to leave home and, when they do, they continue to live very close to their parents.
In Spain a woman’s role in family life is not so prominent and Spanish children, unlike Italian children, do not have the same problems flying the nest.
2. Bueno vs. bello
For a Spaniard, if a coffee is tasty is described as bueno (good). For an Italian it is described as bello (beautiful). It is not unusual to hear someone ordering a "bel cappuccino" at a bar.
Italians really appreciate the aesthetic value of things and it is reflected in all aspects of their lives ... even in the way they talk.
3. The Spanish are rigorous and the Italians are more conciliatory.
One of the big differences between the Spanish and the Italians is that the former are rigorous, drastic, and quite practical in everything they do. The latter, on the other hand, like to negotiate, and are more conciliatory. There is very rarely a yes or no answer for them and they are happy to explore many different options. That is why Italy is one of the countries with the most political parties in Europe.
4. New Year's Eve celebrations are very different
Although both the Italians and the Spanish like to celebrate New Year’s Eve with friends and family, they do so in different ways as the clock approaches 12 o'clock.
In Spain there is a long-established custom that, before midnight, twelve grapes are eaten for each stroke of the clock. In Italy, they also count down, but they eat lentils because they are thought to attract money.
5. The language
Although Italian and Spanish are Latin languages and have some features in common, they are not immediately understood without prior study. In order to be able to speak either language, you need to spend time getting to know and practise it. That is why all public figures end up using an interpreter.
6. "The Italian way"
The Spanish like to be adventurous and, in general, find shortcuts to do things. The Italians, generally have little respect for the rules and prefer to adapt them to suit themselves. Thus, when VAT was introduced, a book entitled "100 ways not to pay VAT" soon appeared. This led to the well-known expression "doing something the Italian way".
7. Cappuccino only in the morning
Italians do not drink cappuccino or any coffee with milk after 11 a.m. Why? They prefer to have dairy drinks first thing in the morning because they think they are too heavy to digest after lunch and in the afternoon.
Obviously, you can order cappuccino at any time of the day in Italy, but the Italians make it to keep the tourists happy. Italians, with their strong coffee culture, are very strict about this.
8. The Spanish do not have the same timetable as the Italians either.
Spanish timetables do not fit in with most of the other European countries. Italians have lunch at 1 pm and dinner at 7 pm. In Spain, they take it more slowly and lunch is usually around 2 pm or even 3 pm. What is more, Spanish families do not eat dinner before 9 pm.
Questions on cultural differences between Spain and Italy
The main difference is probably the concept of family. In Italy, a very close relationship is maintained between all members of the family, even when the children marry and form their own families. The mother or grandmother is the matriarch and keeps everyone together, usually through large family gatherings where there is always a good meal.
The connection between Spain and Italy is very strong, which is why it is common to find Spaniards living there. In total, according to Italian government data, it is estimated that there are almost 20,000 Spaniards living in Italy.
However, the data show that Spain is home to many more Italians. A total of 252 000 Italians live within Spain's borders. The Italian community in Spain is believed to be one of the largest in Europe.
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