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Italy is rich in culture, history and traditions. Italians are very proud of their past and therefore fond of their identity (and their family, too). Although foreigners do assume otherwise, Italians tend to be very patriotic and are united under the same language - spoken with different accents and dialects - the same religion (90% is Catholic), the same passions... fashion, food, and sport (soccer, of course). Northern and Central Italy tend to be more industrious and educated, while the Southern part of the country is more rural and laid back. You can breath history everywhere you go and that shows the respect this country pays to its artistic and historical heritage. Their keen eye for artistic beauty makes the Italian people very aware of their look. Things to like about Italians are their natural inclination to socialize with all kinds of people and their sense of humor!
Italians are friendly, although English is not spoken too fluently. They speak very rapidly! You have to beware of gypsies in big cities (such as Rome), theft is very common, especially in Naples and Rome. Conde Nast Traveler did a story on safety in foreign countries and did an experiment where a guy wore a fake Rolex watch in a notoriously bad part of Naples to see how long it took before it was stolen. It was less than a minute! It is definitely worthwhile to learn a few Italian phrases. Ask the locals where to eat, your best meals will be discovered this way.