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Italians are warm, welcoming people who love to relax, celebrate and socialise with family and friends. And celebration and relaxation usually take place around the table either at home or in a restaurant, where they can enjoy the traditions of the Italian cuisine.
Italians have a passion for eating but also for talking.
In Italy conversation is an art form. As you walk in the streets or stop at a café in one of the many squares, you will notice Italians of all ages engaged in intense and animated discussions on a wide variety of topics ranging from family, work, politics, gossip, food, wine and sports, especially soccer.
From the largest cities to the most rural of villages, there is one place that remains the central meeting point of Italian culture the piazza (square). No matter how big or small a piazza may be, you can be sure there will always be a people sitting, strolling, walking, talking and interacting with one another. Piazzas are also the main focal points for festivals, gatherings, celebrations and political events.
The only times during the day that the piazzas and streets around Italy may be deserted are around 12.30-14.00 and 19.30-21.30. These are the times when Italians are home enjoying a meal.
To the real Italian, lunch is a 1 to 2 hour affair with traditionally a two to three course meal, which explains why most things halt for two hours during the day. Stores shut down, banks close, and the streets are empty.
At around 2 oclock people start to emerge from their houses and populate the streets again until around 19.30 when it is time for dinner.
After dinner, the streets come to life again as Italians stroll around the piazza to work off their meal or head off for their evening engagements.