Guest Blog: Italian Culture

Did you know that our school has a systems thinking coordinator? Today’s post is a guest blog from Al Ticotsky, who works with teachers at our school to help our students be better critical thinkers. We are lucky to hear his reflections all the way from Venice, Italy:


Recently, my wife and I traveled to Italy.  We had long wanted to see the beautiful cities, countryside, art, architecture, and other treasures there.  Every day we experienced something new, and our trip was one of our best vacations ever.

Buying Fresh Produce in Venice

As I have reflected on my experiences, I realize that some of the most lasting impressions have come from unexpected aspects of my travel.  Mr. Einsidler, a high school Spanish teacher, and I were talking, and he differentiated between Culture with a capital C and culture with a lower case c.  He described Capital C Culture as including things we see in museums and tangible products of humans.  Lower case c culture refers to the everyday life and characteristic features of a social group.

Mid day break

I carried home two specific impressions of everyday life in Italy that I hope to incorporate more often in my own routines.  First, the people in many towns slowed down midday.  Shops and offices closed for an hour or two, and people had lunch as a true break in the day.  When we walked through the streets, we heard laughter, conversation, and the sounds of meals being prepared and shared.  We smelled delicious aromas of freshly prepared foods.  Not only was the food we ate of exceptional quality and freshness, but the presentation and enjoyment of it was very important as well.  My schedule may not always allow for a midday break, but I can be more mindful of my meal and my surroundings.

The art of conversation

The second social custom increases civility in mundane interactions.  Instead of launching into business directly with service workers, we learned how important and courteous it is to make eye contact and offer a greeting like “Buon giorno” or “Buona serra,” depending on the time of day.  We also used the words “Signore” and “Signora,” especially when addressing people for the first time.  Combined with using a few phrases of basic Italian, the good manners embodied by those simple words usually made our interactions friendly and helpful.

A few years ago, a colleague and I presented a workshop in Texas.  The teachers there addressed us each as “sir” in conversation.  I returned the respect and used “sir and “ma’am” to the participants, and the level of civility and engagement in the workshop was extraordinary.  Since then, I have found that here in the United States, as well as in Italy, using respectful titles often makes social interactions pleasant and friendly.

In addition to the awesome works of Italian Culture and geography, my memories of our trip are filled with the experiences from daily life in another culture.

~ Al Ticotsky


Would you want to visit Italy?  Have you ever noticed any aspects of Culture with a Big C or culture with a little c?  Add your comments and questions here for Mr. Ticotsky, or ask our Italian math teacher, Mrs. Kalpas, about her impressions.

2 replies »

  1. This is cool!!

    I think the people of Venice, Italy are very nice! I’d like to visit there someday. The way Mr. Einsidler talked about the big C and the little c was really creative!
    I think in China, the big C means ancient traditions (ex. Chinese New Year), and the grand palaces of the emperor long ago. The little c would pretty much be the modern China now. Chinese people have restaurants like America’s, and people there are starting to English.

    Best Wishes!!
    😉 ~ Anna

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