Cultural Difference Between Southern UK and Southern Italy

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Southern UK and Southern Italy are steeped in rich history and culture, but the two regions have some critical differences. Read on to find out more about the cultural differences between the two!

Are you considering growing your business in Italy or selling your products/services to Italians? Despite their distinctions, both countries have unique histories that have shaped them. Being part of the EU, Italy and England show how cultures change countries. Interestingly, they’ve influenced each other over the past 30 years.

You might be curious about how the culture and business works there compared to the UK. Italy and England are different but also have some similarities in terms of geography, culture, and customs. In reality, the way of doing business in both the UK and Italy is more similar than you might assume. 

So, keep reading out to find out how Southern UK and Southern Italy differ in different aspects.

Geography

Even though they have some things in common, the geography of these two countries is quite different. Both have coasts along the sea. England is on an island by itself, and Italy is like a piece of land sticking out into the Mediterranean Sea, connected to the rest of Europe through mountains in the North. Italy has a lot of people and is in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

Southern UK

The southern part of the country touches the Midlands on land and is bordered by the sea, connecting it to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The South is mostly flatter compared to the North, but some hilly areas like the Cotswolds and the Chilterns exist.

The South of England is well-known for agriculture, modern technology, and economy. Many new sectors, including high technologies and service, have emerged in this region. It is also the most popular destination for foreign tourists, mainly owing to London. The capital city, with a population of 7 million people, serves as the economic and political core of the United Kingdom. The City of London is a global financial and insurance hub. The charming villages and gardens thought characteristically English can be found in the calm green countryside.

Southern Italy

Southern Italy has a Mediterranean feel, meaning it usually has warm weather, lovely beaches, and many old buildings and places to explore. Instead of having neighboring countries, it’s surrounded by the sea, which significantly impacts its way of life. People often compare Southern Italy to Spain and Greece because the Mediterranean Sea is nearby. Southern Italy’s isolation has been good for people who love art and history. Many parts of Italian heritage have been kept safe and unchanged over time.

Cultural Differences

The Food

Italy is celebrated worldwide for its exceptional cuisine, rich flavors, and diverse ingredients. Southern Italy and Southern UK exhibit distinct culinary traditions due to their diverse cultures, climates, and historical influences. One of the most prominent differences between Italian and English dining customs lies in the structure of a meal:

In England, a meal often comprises three courses: starter, main course, and dessert. However, Italy follows a distinct pattern: antipasto (starter), primo (first dish), secondo (main dish), and dolce (dessert).

In Southern Italy, the cuisine is characterized by its emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients and bold flavors. Pasta dishes like spaghetti with tomato-based sauces and seafood are iconic. Olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and basil are staples, reflecting the Mediterranean diet.

Conversely, Southern UK cuisine showcases a mix of comfort foods influenced by the region’s temperate climate. Roast dinners featuring meats like beef, lamb, or poultry are expected, accompanied by potatoes, vegetables, and gravy. Pies, pastries, and puddings are beloved dishes, offering a hearty and filling experience. Additionally, tea culture is vital in the UK, with afternoon tea being a tradition involving finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries.

The culinary differences extend to desserts as well. Southern Italy is known for its gelato, cannoli, and pastries like sfogliatella, often featuring ricotta cheese and citrus flavors. In Southern UK, locally available ingredients are used to take the spotlight in desserts like fruit crumbles, custards, and puddings.

Social Behaviors

The way people act formally or casually is quite different between Southern UK and Italy. In Southern UK, there’s a strong separation between different social classes like working, middle, and upper classes. This affects how people behave around each other. English people usually keep their work and social lives separate. They’re proper and severe at work, but at social events, they relax and have fun, often drinking a lot. It doesn’t matter what their job is; everyone is equal at these gatherings.

On the other hand, Italy has its own unique way of being formal or informal. They have interesting rules about titles. In Italy, even with a primary university degree, people call you a “doctor,” not just a medical doctor. Having a fancy business card is important to show you’re important. Making personal connections matters a lot. Sometimes, showing a business card leads to long conversations, showing how essential appearances and formalities are.

Parties show another difference. In England, parties start formally because of work-related behaviors, then become relaxed. Everyone is equal at these parties, no matter their jobs or money. In Italy, it’s the opposite. After work, they dress very carefully for parties, and who you talk to depends on their job and how important they seem.

Another thing is clubs and groups. Italy’s rules are stringent and written down, and influential people are called “Presidents.” Meetings can go on for a long time with no clear decisions. In the Southern UK, the rules are short and practical, used when needed. This is also seen in their legal system, where past decisions matter more than a strict set of rules.

Greetings

Greeting customs provide an insightful glimpse into the cultural fabric of a society. In Southern Italy, as in many Mediterranean cultures, kissing on the cheek is a common greeting among acquaintances. This practice contrasts with Southern England, where a handshake is the prevalent way to greet someone. It’s important to note that Italians tend to start the kiss on the right cheek, a detail that visitors should remember to avoid potential awkwardness. While not as prevalent as in countries like England, this friendly gesture adds warmth and familiarity to interactions in Italy.

Hand Gestures

Italians are renowned for their animated use of hand gestures while communicating. Their hands become an integral part of their speech, emphasizing their words’ nuance. A simple conversation may appear passionate to outsiders due to the flurry of hand movements. This expressive habit is rare among people of South England and can sometimes lead to misunderstandings, where a lively discussion might be mistaken for an argument. 

Even in unexpected places, like a male restroom, the use of hands during conversation is a distinctive trait, although it might present practical challenges. 

Driving Styles

Driving styles in Italy and England diverge, and this divergence becomes particularly noticeable in the realm of nonverbal communication. English drivers generally focus on the road ahead and both hands on the steering wheel, prioritizing safe navigation. However, this might result in a need for more attention to pedestrians or bystanders on the side of the road.

On the other hand, Italian drivers adopt a different approach. They tend to split their attention, often glancing to the left or right to engage with their surroundings, including passengers or even their partner. Using one hand on the steering wheel and another on a partner’s leg uniquely expresses their relaxed driving style. 

Weather

A stark difference in weather patterns becomes evident when comparing the climates of the Southern United Kingdom and Southern Italy. The weather in the south of both regions showcases unique characteristics that influence travel experiences and local lifestyles.

Southern Italy is renowned for its delightful weather, especially on sunny days and warm temperatures. However, the timing of travel plays a crucial role. August, a peak holiday season, often brings scorching temperatures that might deter some travelers. The contrast between inland and coastal areas is also noteworthy. Regions like Tyrrhenian and Ionian, as well as mountainous terrain, counterbalance the heat with refreshing breezes. Conversely, the eastern coast, valleys, and northern plains can experience fog and humidity.

England, known for its infamous rain, often faces a misconception that its weather is uniformly damp across the country. However, this is only partially accurate. The country’s weather patterns tend to reflect a north/south divide, a concept familiar to American observers. A more consistent and milder climate prevails in Southern England, offering a higher likelihood of pleasant weather. Sunshine is more abundant in the southern regions compared to the north of the UK.

The Bidet: A Surprising Difference

In Italy, a distinct fixture commonly found in bathrooms is the bidet, which is a vital part of personal hygiene. Unlike in Southern England, where bidets are relatively rare, they are prevalent throughout Italy. From hotel bathrooms to restaurant facilities, the bidet is a common sight. This small, basin-like fixture may seem unfamiliar to those from England, but it is a norm in Italy. Travelers to Italy should notice its presence, as it is an integral part of the local culture’s approach to cleanliness.

Final thoughts about Italy

Thank you for reading this article. You can continue to explore our articles about Italy in our Blog or access some other articles about German Education and Housing, how to start a Business and Statistics, Finance and Travel Business. If you need services related to company formations, nominee services, banking or payment processing services, please get in touch, and we will introduce you to our trusted partners.

Final thoughts about the United Kingdom

Thank you for reading this article. You can continue to explore our articles about the United Kingdom in our Blog or access some other articles about German Education and Housing, how to start a Business and Statistics, Finance and Travel Business. If you need services related to company formations, nominee services, banking or payment processing services, please get in touch, and we will introduce you to our trusted partners.

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