Italy and Germany are two European countries with very different cultures and ways of life. In this post, we will explore the three major differences between Italians and Germans: communication styles, fashion and work-life balance. These observations are based on personal experiences and conversations. They are generalizations. But I believe that there’s always some truth to these.
Italians are speakers – Germans are listener.
This is my personal interpretation after travelling to Italy and discussing with mixed friends over the last couple of years (read about my explorations in Italy here). While Italian, a Romance language, uses a simple word order with subject-verb-object, German, a member of the Germanic family, presents more complicated sentence structures. An Italian may immediately hear the subject, correctly guess the following words and react without even listening the entire argument. That speeds up conversations in Italian. On the contrary, a German often needs to listen until the very last word of an argument to understand it because verbs are often put at the end. That slows down conversations and, in my experience, makes German discussions much calmer compared to Italian ones.
We should maybe all learn Italian. According to Babbel (read their study here), Italian is the 7th easiest language to learn for English speakers. German doesn’t even make it to that list.
Italians set fashion trends – Germans optimize sports equipment.
Fashion and appearance are important in Italy. And that makes this country so beautiful, amongst hundreds of other obvious reasons like history, landscapes, food and art. Especially after shopping in Rome, I find it genuinely hard to dress in a feminine way in Germany. Maybe my personal taste just doesn’t suit the generally sporty German shops.
However, if you are preparing for a backpacking trip to Asia, or for a trekking weekend in the Alps, you’ll have a much larger technical choice in Germany. For example, one of my friends in Italy even considered ordering abroad to get properly equipped for their backpacking adventures.
Italians work to live – Germans live to work.
This is a complete exaggeration of course. However, if you look at the usual timings in both countries, you may consider the joy of life more important in Italy than in Germany.
While for example Italian colleagues may meet up for coffee and focus on small talk for half an hour, German teams may serve coffee while seriously discussing budget restrictions for the upcoming months. While Italian restaurants only open at 7 PM in many cases, German restaurants may receive their dinner reservations for as early as 5.30 PM. I may meet Italians friends for a walk at 11 PM while most of my German community is already asleep.
Different but not so different
In conclusion, this blog post highlights three major differences between Italians and Germans: communication styles, fashion, and work-life balance. While Italians tend to be more expressive and have faster-paced conversations, Germans have more structured and slower-paced discussions. Italians prioritize fashion and appearance, while Germans excel in optimizing sports equipment. Additionally, Italians prioritize enjoying life and taking time for small talk, while Germans have a stronger work ethic.
It’s important to note that these cultural statements are generalizations and individual experiences may vary. As a German with Bulgarian roots, I know just too well how your behavior is influenced by different factors. Roots, personality, experience and believes make you the person you are.
However, I believe that cultural stereotypes can provide insights into different cultures and help guide our interactions and expectations. For example, we may learn to expect espresso instead of milk coffee when we order “caffè” in Italy. We may take time for small talk during a meeting with our Italian business clients. And maybe we plan our next shopping for hiking boots in Munich rather than in Rome…
Let me know in the comments, if you would confirm or disprove any Italian or German stereotypes. Do you have any funny examples of culture clashes or similarities?