Lifestyle in the best metropolies around the world - Milan (Italy)

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I often think about life in big cities: always on the run, traffic stacks, different nationalities, high concentration of restaurants with every kitchen you can think of and boutiques at every corner. In my life, I lived and traveled for work or study in cities like Bucharest for a bachelor’s degree, shortly after New York on the “work and travel USA” program for almost six months, then followed Turin, Moscow, and more recent Milan. Now that I’ve got married and moved to a rural area near Milan, I admit that sometimes I miss the atmosphere and energy of a big metropolis and with great pleasure return time by time for business purposes or shopping.

While traveling in different counties, I’ve noticed that lifestyle, fashion preferences and customs different from city to city. 

Today we’ll see MILANO (Milan) in the North-West of Italy – a colorful, dynamic, and historical city, a place of art exhibitions and one the capitals for fashion! When you arrive in this city, the most noticeable things are:

  1. Thousands of fashion boutiques for clothes, shoes, and jewelry of all targets for luxury to mass-market and fast-fashion. Besides, there is still the tradition of merchants to trade in the local city opened markets. Since there are a great metro connection and other public transportation, you can easily access every part of the city. 
  2. Architectural fascination and art in general, from buildings of great construction to squares and roundabouts, churches, museums, art galleries, opened shops, and more.
  3. Restaurants of all ranges, from the simplest osteria, trattoria, Locanda, pizzeria and fast food to Michelin restaurants. Here you’ll find every kitchen you can think about: Italian, Mediterranean, Brazilian, Japanese, Chinese, Moroccan, and more. Many places have vegan, vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free and other special dishes for any exigency.
  4. All nationalities from around the world, many of them living already for years as residents, and many others coming as tourists all the year around.

How about the native Italian residents and their habits, preferences, and culture? This is what I found about living among them:

-      Italian women divide their style in three categories: the majority are the ones that prefer nude tones and tailored traditional wear – elegant classical style; then there are those who love trends and choose to wear very colorful and daring outfits; and last but not least, there is the category whose wardrobe is composed by jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers, casual and easygoing at all times. Italian women generally give particular attention to accessories of high quality: shoes, belts, bags, and jewelry. When it comes to business code, it’s usually a well-tailored modern two pieces costume accessorized with fashion pieces, like a logo belt, a silk scarf, a Louis Vuitton logo bag and others.

-      Aperitivo time is a must-have, especially on Thursdays and Fridays! After working hours, around 7 pm, Italians love to gather with friends or co-workers for a drink, snacks and a small talk. Most commonly they take it a “Spritz” which is a mix of white wine Prosecco mixed with sparkling water and Aperol or Campari.

-      Italians are very energetic and charismatic people, that love to have a good time and live by the code “la dolce vita” (which means “sweet life”)! Coffee and cigarette breaks are taken as part of the routine. Generally, anybody has the liberty to take one whenever they feel the need to and as often, they need to (particularly if the boss is itself a person of these habits).

-      A very important moment of the day is lunchtime! Every day between 12 pm and 2 pm, most offices and companies are closing for a lunchtime break, and it’s a rule that everybody follows. From past generations, it is a moment to pause work, return home, and have a good pasta at the same table with all the family members. In our days, many workers find a job a long way from their home, so they would eat in local small restaurants. However, for those who still have the possibility, they will always choose to follow this tradition, and return home for lunchtime. The same rule is applied in most restaurants in Italy: if you enter after 2:30 pm, you may get surprised to hear that “the kitchen is closed”.

-      All Italians talk with gestures and often on higher tones - it’s just part of their nature and must not be interpreted as agitated or angry in anyways.

-      Young Italians are raised in a culture of many traditional aspects, so they start to work around the age of 25-27 after getting a university degree, and build their corporate career from the bottom (as “apprendista” = “beginner”) with minimum wage, no matter how great of capacity they have. Only after the age of 28 years old, they get to rise their professional level (that in commerce starts from Level 4 the lowest) and get to Level 1 (of top managers). It is the long run; each level guarantees a minimum wage (and the same time a higher tax-cost for the business owner). Most Italians get to work for the same company from graduation until pension and it’s considered normal. The most important for them is to sign a long-term contract (so-called “Contratto a tempo indeterminato”) that is considered a “guaranteed working position” and will allow getting a bank loan for a house, a car, and other valuable assets. That is one of the reasons many Italians live at their parent’s homes until the age of 35-40 years old.

-      A business meeting is starting always with a cup of espresso or a glass of water, with some small talk about the weather, recent political news or family. Only after getting comfortable and in a way more “familiar” with the guests, they start to talk business. During the meeting will prevail the Senior Leaders, all others, if invited to attend, are usually listening without questioning or interrupting, only when requested specifically to answer to some questions or is required to give data information.

-      When you meet with Italians, usually you shake hands, but when living you kiss on each side of the cheek, left and right (if it’s casual meeting within new/old friends). Although, if it’s a business meeting, then first they exchange business cards and hands-shake, and when salutation always hands-shaking and sometimes accompanied by padding on the shoulder or elbow while shaking hands – that means a deeper and more friendly appreciation.

Have you met Italians, or maybe had the chance to get friends or do business with one? What do you think about Italians, particularly the residents of Milano-city? Let me know in the comment section here below.

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With my best wishes,


MetropolitanMe Blogger