A little insight into how the Italian work ethic is different

6 Sep

As a Canadian living in Rome, you get several indications that the Italian work ethic is different. For example, just try to get something — anything — done between 12:30 and 3:30; every shop, post office, bank, gas station, tabacchi (to buy metro tickets), etc. will be closed. The markets pack up 15 minutes before closing time, or shopkeeper continues to shut his door as you are walking in.

I used to think it was because Italians in general seem to make much lower salaries than their western counterparts, and were simply unmotivated to be productive (it will forever be a mystery to me how Italians can afford their shoes).

But I think I’ve figured it out – and the secret lies in coffee usage! In North American offices, coffee is a ritual largely of the workplace. Of all the coffee you drink in a day, what percentage of it is consumed at work? For us, coffee is the fuel and lubricant that give us the energy and clarity to get through the work day.

But, I’ve just read in my Italian book that Italians drink 600 cups of espresso or cappuccino a year: 70% at home, 20% at cafes —

Cremina - the perfect sugar for coffee; it's sugar blended with a little coffee until smooth and creamy......

and only 10% at work.

Clearly the caffeine jolt of coffee is being used to fuel personal lives in Italy. Is coffee consumption the reason Italians have developed such a highly evolved “dolce vita?”


6 Responses to “A little insight into how the Italian work ethic is different”

  1. rachelplayfairachel September 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm #

    As a Canadian woman living in Spain myself, I’d have to say it sounds a lot similar. No surprise there!

  2. Antiqua Tours March 7, 2013 at 12:10 am #

    I think the main difference is that your job is not your identity. Nobody ever asks me first, “What do you do?” My job is just a means to make money. Work is not you life. Work is a means to enjoy life. Sarah May

    • A Life in Rome... March 7, 2013 at 12:15 am #

      Yes, that’s true…but I also rarely come across people in Italy who are passionate about what they do, feel like they are making a positive difference in their community & world, developing new and beneficial creations. I guess I know a lot of people in sustainability, creative, non profit and entrepreneur roles in canada and the USA. I miss that energy and passion in Italy. But Italy does not easily foster that kind of work and attitude.

  3. Sylvia March 7, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    Love your Blog Carla! Will follow .


  1. An post-script to my “coffee at the Italian office vs work ethic” post « Love & Luce - September 8, 2011

    […] following my post the other day, which muses about the impact of coffee on the work ethic of Italians, I happened to have my first business meeting in Italy at an […]

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